Gulfstream Park Race Report: Turf Tussle

Gulfstream Park Race Report: Turf Tussle
Photo: AP/Equi-Photo
Del Mar Show, outside, passes North East Bound and TV Sports Director, partially seen inside, to win the Fort Lauderdale Handicap.
Published in the Feb. 2 issue of The Blood-Horse
Jerry Bailey's bag was packed for a flight to Southern California to ride Squirtle Squirt in the next day's Palos Verdes Handicap (gr. II). However, having just piloted Del Mar Show to victory in Gulfstream's Fort Lauderdale Handicap (gr. IIIT), the Hall of Fame rider was steamed enough to power the airplane by himself.

"It's apparent why he's served so many suspensions; he's a reckless rider," Bailey said of Eibar Coa, whose ride on Mr. Livingston made Bailey's life miserable throughout the 1 1/16-mile race. "It was obvious leaving the gate that he was going to push me as wide as he could. I didn't just have to overcome those other horses, I also had to overcome Coa."

The two riders, both ensconced near the top of Gulfstream's jockey rankings (through Jan. 27, Coa and Pat Day were tied for the lead with 21 winners with Bailey just three back), had angrily exchanged words earlier in the week when Coa felt Bailey purposely interfered with him.

"He said he would get even with me," Bailey said of the confrontation.

"I told him if he had a problem with me he should tell me to my face and we could settle it anytime," retorted Coa.

In the Fort Lauderdale, Coa said he was simply trying to maintain his inside position while Bailey sought to bully his way up the hedge. "I was just trying to stay in there and he kept trying to push me away."

The day after the race, the Gulfstream stewards suspended Coa for 30 days.

Del Mar Show encountered more obstacles during the running of the race than a New York cabbie at rush hour. While Tv Sports Director assumed the lead through reasonable splits and North East Bound contented himself just off the leader's flank, Bailey and Coa first renewed their unpleasantries around the first turn when Bailey tried to move into a closer stalking position along the hedge. Coa diverted Mr. Livingston's path just enough to make that impossible. Del Mar Show was checked and shuffled back about three lengths to sixth place. Bailey righted the 5-year-old's path and once again went on the attack nearing the half-mile pole, but Coa again rejected that by urging Mr. Livingston farther toward the inside. For a second time, Bailey clutched up the reins of Del Mar Show, losing momentum and again dropping back.

Realizing the hedge was a path he could not take, Bailey swung Del Mar Show four wide rounding the final turn and found some running room, taking aim at Tv Sports Director and North East Bound on the lead. With Galic Boy in just behind and Mr. Livingston himself in tight on the inside, the Fort Lauderdale was anybody's race down the stretch. Still, Coa and Bailey were not done.

"At the three-sixteenths pole he looked over his shoulder to push me again," said Bailey, who, instead, had taken his mount outside. There, Del Mar Show was able to lengthen his stride and collar North East Bound in the final yards for a neck win, achieved in 1:41.54.

"It was a horrible trip; it was just unbelievable," said winning trainer Bill Mott. Mott was doing the unbelievable himself by saddling the Fort Lauderdale winner for the fifth time in the past eight runnings. Each of his winners was ridden by Bailey, who has won six of the past seven renewals. "He ran spectacular, but you hate to see him get roughed up like that. It was almost like he ran two races."

As a result, the trainer expects the lightly raced son of Theatrical, a homebred who is one of only three remaining horses that compete in the famed red and blue silks of the late Allen Paulson, to skip a planned start in the Feb. 23 Canadian Turf Handicap (gr. IIIT). "I can't remember ever seeing Jerry so angry before," he concluded. "Something has been going on between the two of them for as long as I can remember."

Cake Walk
The following afternoon generally belonged to another top rider, Edgar Prado. Although the 34-year-old native of Peru scored with five of his eight mounts on the abbreviated card--reduced from the usual 11 races to nine due to a shortage of entries--one that got away still stings.

Prado was aboard 3-5 favorite A New Twist for trainer John Kimmel in the seven-furlong Forward Gal Stakes (gr. III). The race was expected to anoint the daughter of Storm Cat as the leader among 3-year-old sprinting fillies. Following a second-place finish to division leader Forest Heiress concluding 2001 in Aqueduct's Valley Stream Stakes (gr. III), A New Twist turned the tables on that rival three weeks ago in the Old Hat Stakes. With Forest Heiress on the sidelines for the Forward Gal, it seemed as if A New Twist only needed to show up to win.

But nobody mentioned that to Take the Cake. The chestnut daughter of Fly So Free, bred and raced by Elizabeth Valando, came to Gulfstream having fostered high expectations with wins in her first two starts in Kentucky last fall. She disappointed though by doing little running while well in arrears of A New Twist in the Old Hat.

"The last time she was a little short," said trainer Carl Nafzger, who still admitted his pre-race instructions to jockey Rene Douglas included settling for a smaller portion of the purse if a win appeared unlikely.

Douglas, though, was going for the whole enchilada in the Forward Gal, and by the turn had glided Take the Cake up the inside to a striking position just behind A New Twist and her front-running nemesis Cherokee Girl. He swung the filly to the outside for a drive and blew by the pair for a handy 3 1/4-length win, timed in a slowish 1:25.47.

In explaining the loss, Kimmel mentioned the extra furlong and the six added pounds as factors, but primarily blamed the short turnaround for A New Twist faring no better than an all-out second. "She's only about 950 pounds and there's not enough of her to come back so soon in such a hot climate," he said.


(Chart, Equibase)

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