Johar Sweeps to Victory in Hollywood Derby
Date Posted: 12/2/2002 9:23:11 AM

Johar overcomes rough start to win the Hollywood Derby.
Photo: Benoit photos
The Thoroughbred Corporation's Johar and jockey Alex Solis circled the field from last place on the final turn to win the $500,000 Hollywood Derby (gr. IT) at 1 1/8 mile on the turf.

Overcoming a rough start, the 3-year-old son of Gone West defeated Mananan McLir by 1-1/2 length. Royal Gem was third as 2-1 favorite Century City failed to rally from a stalking position as they hit the stretch.

The winning time on a firm Hollywood Park turf course for trainer Richard Mandella's Johar was 1:48.70.

Johar was banged by Inesperado on his outside coming out of the starting gate and was forced to take up, leaving him at the back of the nine-horse field on the clubhouse turn and through the backstretch. As Johar hit the turn, Solis took him six-wide and he circled the field, blowing past the leaders coming down the stretch.

Solis said the problems at the break may have been a blessing.

"I was able to see they were moving a little early (on the front end), so I was happy about that," he said.

Mandella said he was thinking about next year with Johar "and all of those mile-and-a-quarter and mile-and-a-half races he'll have a chance to win. We've always thought he was a nice colt."

His reaction to the start wasn't as optimistic.

"I could see he got set back (at the start)," Mandella said. "He's last down the backside -- they went :49 and change -- and I was cussing him like a sailor. But I let it all go at the quarter pole when he circled the field."

Pacesetters Music's Storm and Union Place backed out of it after recording fractions of :24.59, :49.74 and 1:13.40, with Rock Opera and Laffit Pincay Jr. going to the front as they came into the stretch. Mananan McLir, who had a great trip at the rail for Patrick Valenzuela, edged to the front in mid-stretch, followed by Royal Gem and Jerry Bailey, but neither had an answer for the winner's winning drive.

The homebred Johar, who did not race at 2, was coming off a similar late-running victory over many of the same foes in the Oak Tree Derby (gr. IIT) at Santa Anita Oct. 13. Out of the outstanding race mare Windsharp (by Lear Fan), a former Matriarch (gr. IT) winner, the Hollywood Derby was Johar's first try against Grade I opposition. He is now 4-for-11 lifetime. The $300,000 winning purse more than doubled Johar's career earnings to $582,215.

In spite of his earlier win, Johar was sent off at 9-2 and paid $11.80, $6.20 and $4.60. Mananan McLir returned $12 and $7.80. Royal Gem's show price was $6.40. The $2 exacta was $126.

(Chart, Equibase)

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