Sweet Return, en route to Hollywood Derby victory.

Sweet Return, en route to Hollywood Derby victory.


Krone Milks Derby Pace for Sweet Return

Jockey Julie Krone milked a slow pace with unexpected front-runner Sweet Return and the longshot colt had the stamina to hold off his fast-closing stablemate Fairly Ransom to claim Sunday's $600,000 Hollywood Derby (gr. IT) by a half-length.

Trainer Ron McAnally saddled both of the first two finishers in the Derby, switched to 10 furlongs on the turf for the first time this year (it ran at that distance on dirt from 1946-72). Favored Kicken Kris was third in the field of 13, a length behind the winner. The final time was 2:04 1/5. McAnally instructed Krone to show patience.

"Ron told me to save (Sweet Return), but he didn't say where, so I saved him on the lead," Krone kidded afterward. "Going to the gate, he was really sharp. My horse got a flyer leaving there. He kept pulling away and waiting. He took this huge breath around the turn and flicked his ears back. I said, `Oh, man, do I have some horse.'''

Sunday was "Julie Krone Bobblehead Day" at Hollywood Park. As her backers in the Hollywood Park crowd chanted ``Julie! Julie!'' Krone beamed and waved as she went to the winners' circle. Krone won both the Citation (gr. IIT) and Generous Stakes (gr. IIIT) there on Saturday and the Vernon O. Underwood (gr. III) Thursday.

After breaking well, Red Oak Stable's Sweet Return, a juicy 16-1 in the odds, stepped the opening quarter in :25 1/5 and went even slower in the second and third while completing the half in :51 and six furlongs in 1:17 3/5.

Turning the mile in a crawling 1:41, the British-bred 3-year-old son of Elmaamul had a wall of horses – Kicken Kris, Sign of The Wolf, Silver Tree and Bis Repetitas on the grandstand side – all poised to challenge on the outside. But Sweet Return inched away from them all in the lane, taking a 1 1/2-length advantage while holding enough in reserve to keep off Fairly Ransom and jockey Alex Solis in the final stages.

"This horse just dragged me around," Krone said. "He's been racing against all the good ones this year – Fairly Ransom, Devious Boy, Stanley Park – so he deserved this."

Sweet Return closed well in both of his most recent starts at nine furlongs. He was coming off a loss by a head to Devious Boy in the Oak Tree Derby (gr. IIT) Oct. 4, and by 1 1/2 length to Fairly Ransom in the Del Mar Derby (gr. IIT) a month earlier. Gary Stevens was his jockey in each of those races.

While showing tactical speed in almost all of his nine U.S. races, this was the first time he went to the front. The expected pacesetter, Virginia Derby winner Silver Tree, settled into a stalking position while fourth along the inside.

``I told Julie the main thing was to try to get him to relax,'' McAnally said. ``She did what she felt was right -- and she was right.''

The Hollywood Derby was Sweet Return's first graded stakes victory and his second win in in the United States. He earned $360,000 while improving his lifetime record to 3-3-4 in 14 starts with a career bankroll of $523,031.

C S Tateson bred Sweet Return, who was produced by Sweet Revival (by Claude Monet).

Solis was disappointed that Fairly Ransom, who was gobbling up ground in the stretch after being held in reserve for the first mile, couldn't get to the wire in time.

"This is one hell of a good horse," he said of the 3-year-old grey/roan. "I think you will see more from him next year."

Sweet Return paid $35.40, $11.80 and $5.40. Fairly Ransom returned $5.40 and $3.80. Kicken Kris' show was $3.40. The all-McAnally $2 exacta was worth $191.

Secretariat (gr. IT) winner Kicken Kris, the 3-1 choice with New York-based Javier Castellano aboard, stalked well and finished with interest after falling back in the stretch. He was a head in front of Silver Tree, who nosed Bis Repetitas for fourth, at the line.

They were followed by Urban King, Sign of The Wolf, Stanley Park, Californian, Alberto Giacometti, Willard Straight, Senor Swinger and Fortune Writers.

(Chart, Equibase)