Wally Dollase-trained Good Journey survived a bumping incident in the stretch drive to win the $500,000 Citation Handicap (gr. IIT) on Saturday at Hollywood Park. Under Chris McCarron, Good Journey completed the 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.30 on "good" turf. Dollase also saddled fourth-place finisher I've Decided, with his son, Craig Dollase, the conditioner of fifth-place El Cielo. All three Dollase runners ran as a coupled entry for wagering purposes.
I've Decided set the early pace under David Flores, with Decarchy tracking a length back after a moderate half-mile. The leaders continued in that order through the subsequent quarter-mile as Good Journey remained in fifth, though closer to the pace. Good Journey continued to edge closer while wide on the second turn and rallied through the stretch –- bumping with Decarchy as that one led in mid-stretch –- to earn the half-length victory.
"There was a war on from the quarter-pole home," said Kent Desormeaux, who rode Decarchy. "He re-headed the eventual winner three times trying to get back in front of him, so there was certainly no lack of effort on his part."
"We know he can run," Wally Dollase said. "This horse really kicks in. Chris rode him perfect, of course. He laid about five, six lengths off, then he just took off."
Decarchy finished second, two lengths clear of Irish Prize. I've Decided, El Cielo, Quake, and Native Desert completed the order of finish. Sara fan was eased. Five horses were scratched, including Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) winner Val Royal.
"This horse ran very, very well," said McCarron, who won his 279th stakes race at Hollywood Park, one behind all-time leader Bill Shoemaker. "I thought he'd be further back, but I was very happy he was that close to the pace because he was going very well. It was not like he was running off and getting into a spot where he couldn't capitalize from it."
The win marks the first in a stakes for Good Journey, who finished third in the Robert F. Carey Memorial Handicap (gr.IIIT) in his most recent race prior to the Citation. In his only two 2001 races prior to that, he finished second in two allowance races, beaten 1 1/2 lengths by Decarchy in one of them. A 5-year-old son of Nureyev, Good Journey has won three of 10 career races and earned $300,000 for Saturday's victory. Good Journey was bred in Kentucky by Flaxman Holdings Ltd., which co-owns the horse.
As part of the favored entry, Good Journey returned $5.40, $3, and $2.20. Decarchy paid $4.40 and $3. Irish Prize was worth $2.40 to show. The $1 exacta paid $9.80.
Rain hadn't been forecast until late in the day, but it began in the morning and was accompanied by strong winds. The gloomy conditions required turning on the overhead lights around the track. The sun broke through near post time, but heavy rain throughout the day helped downgrade the turf course to good and limited attendance to 8,124. (Chart, Equibase