Ogden Phipps' slowly developing Good Reward, making his first start in a grade I event, made all the patience pay off when he came from off the pace with jockey Jerry Bailey to win the $500,000 Hollywood Derby (gr. IT).
The victor, a 16-1 stunner in the 1 1/4-mile event, gave Bailey a sweep of the grade I stakes on the Hollywood Park turf Sunday. He won the Matriarch (gr. IT) aboard Intercontinental earlier.
Good Reward, a regally bred son of Storm Cat
-Heavenly Prize (Seeking the Gold
) has been a long project for trainer Shug McGaughey on the turf this year, at one point losing four in a row. He won his last start, however, the ungraded Storm Cat at a mile on the turf at Keeneland Oct. 10, prompting the decision to ship west.
"After he won at Keeneland, there was a 3-year-old race at Churchill that a lot of the horses that came out of the Storm Cat Stakes went on to, but I think Shug had been pointing him towards this race," noted assistant trainer Graham Wolfam. "Since I've worked for him, when I see him point a horse towards a race they normally come and run pretty big."
McGaughey hadn't won a stakes race at Hollywood Park since 1984 when he won the A Gleam Handicap with Lass Trump.
"I know we didn't get any respect on the tote board, but looking at the numbers, this horse belonged," Bailey said. "His numbers were better than some, maybe not as good as a couple of the others. But you've got to depend on the guy you are riding for, and Shug doesn't waste any trips.
Kent Desormeaux, aboard third-place finisher Imperialism lodged an objection against Bailey for coming out in the stretch, causing them to be squeezed between Good Reward and the runner-up Fast and Furious. The claim was disallowed.
Good Reward went on to win by a half-length over Fast and Furious, who was ridden by Victor Espinoza, with Imperialism re-gathering to finish another length behind in third. The time was 2:01 2/5 on firm going.
"It was Desormeaux's horse (Imperialism) who initiated the contact with me," Bailey contended. "At least, he got pressure from the outside and into me. But it was nothing we initiated."
Desormeaux didn't agree.
"We were in a dogfight turning for home. I'm head-and-head. Next thing I know I'm getting knocked off my feet," he complained. "I don't think the video does any justice to how hard I was sandwiched. You can tell that the horse loses his stride form being bumped around. But he tried really hard. He's a talented individual and he'll win a lot of these races."
Blackdoun, the 9-5 favorite in the full field of 13 3-year-olds, had a world of trouble while trailing the field into the far turn. Trying to rally along the inside for Corey Nakanani, the multiple graded stakes winner was stopped a couple of times and was not a factor, finishing ninth.
"You could run my horse back in a week. He never got a chance to run," Nakatani said. "There were a bunch of horses in the race that didn't belong, and they were just bumping off one another. Knocking each other sideways, and they're just in the way. That's how the best horses don't win, because there are horses bouncing off each other that don't belong in the race."
Far back early as well, Good Reward, under Bailey's guidance, was able to maneuver into contention at the top of the stretch as the pacesetters began to weary. The winner angled out and rallied between horses to hit the front in mid-stretch. Good Reward came out slightly to bump with Imperialism, who was trying to squeeze between a narrow opening between the leaders.
The French-bred Fast and Furious was forced to make an extremely wide move around the final turn but was game in defeat.
"Near the end he got a little bit tired today," Espinoza said of the runner-up. "Just a little bit. Watch out for this horse next time because he is going to be a very, very nice horse."
Whilly, who was close to the pace throughout, finished fourth, followed by Laura's Lucky Boy, Hendrix, Timo, Joursanvault, Blackdoun, Fight Club, On the Acorn, Big Squeeze and Terroplane.
Laura's Lucky Boy (Gary Stevens) took the lead from Big Squeeze after an opening quarter mile of :22 3/5 and led the field until upper stretch while going :47 1/5 and 1:12 1/5. Timo and Terroplane both prompted the pace after Big Squeeze gave up the chase, but neither were around at the end.
The homebred Good Reward, who was chasing top 3-year-olds Prince Arch, Mustanfar and Artie Schiller on the turf in the east this year, earned $300,000 for his fourth win in 12 career starts, improving his bankroll to $477,353.
He paid $34.20, $13.60 and $10.20, teaming with Fast and Furious ($5.60, $4.80), the second choice of the bettors, for a $177.40 exacta. Imperialism's show was $177.40.