Columbine Stable's Sligo Bay, with the venerable Laffit Pincay Jr. riding, caught front-running Grammarian in the stretch and went on to a one-length win in the $250,000 Hollywood Turf Cup (gr. IT) at 1 1/2 mile Saturday.
The 4-year-old Irish-bred colt by Sadler's Wells, second in last year's Hollywood Derby (gr. IT) but off form for most of 2002, woke up with a 9-1 surprise. The winning time on a fast turf course was 2:27.22.
Trained by Beau Greely, Sligo Bay battled a stubborn Grammarian for the victory after the latter had posted honest fractions of :24.43, :48.40, 1:13.19, and 1:38.65 for the mile. Delta Form, the 2-1 favorite in the field of 11, was third after taking up strongly early in the race and losing ground.
Pincay kept Sligo Bay relaxed in fourth position through much of the race and moved into contention on the turn for home. After putting Alyzig away, Grammarian, with Jose Valdivia Jr. riding, threatened to make their theft tactics successful until Sligo Bay collared him.
Sligo Bay won for the third time in 11 U.S. starts since arriving in this country in May 2001 with a victory in Hollywood's Cinema Handicap (gr. IIIT). But Sligo Bay lost his next eight starts before winning an optional claiming race at Santa Anita Oct. 18 following a four-month layoff. He won for the second time in four starts at Hollywood Park. He was second in the Hollywood Derby by a length to Denon.
"He got sour, so we gave him some rest," said Greely. "We knew he was a god horse, and I'm so glad he could show it. We thought that if he could run back to some of his 3-year-old races, we'd be right there."
And what about Pincay, Greely was asked.
"He rides like a 20-year-old, but we all know Laffit is the greatest," Greely said. "I'm just glad he'll ride for a young guy like me."
"The last time I rode him, he was playing around a lot, but he got a lot out of it," Pincay said. "Tofday, whatever I asked him to do, he did it.
"Down the stretch, I thought I had an easy win but (Grammarian) really took off. But this horse really dug in."
Pincay won for the third time on the day. It was the third time in the last four days he had scored a riding triple.
The $150,000 winning purse improved his career bankroll to about $465,000.
Sligo Bay paid $20, $11 and $7.20. Grammarian returned $19.80 and $9. Delta form paid $3. The $2 exacta was $188.80