San Juan Capistrano Winner to Get Break from Racing

San Juan Capistrano Invititational Handicap (gr. I) hero Passinetti will be given a short break, trainer Ben Cecil said, and won't likely turn up next until at least the end of the Hollywood Park meeting, which gets underway Wednesday. Passinetti won the Capistrano on Easter Sunday by a half-length at odds of 11-1.

"He had three pretty tough races right in a row," Cecil said, "so now's a good time to give him a break. He may not start until the Sunset Handicap (gr. II)."

The grassy Sunset carries a purse of $150,000 and will be contested on July 20, and like the Capistrano at Santa Anita, is the closing stakes race of Hollywood's spring/summer season.

Owned by Gary Tanaka, 7-year-old Passinetti was a French stakes winner before beginning his North American career under the care of trainer Niall O'Callaghan, finishing second in the 1999 Virginia Derby before being shipped to Cecil in California soon after. He suffered a suspensory injury at the end of 1999, which was severe enough to retire him, and then spent three years in a field in California while his connections tried to put together a stallion deal. Unfortunately, when the deal fell through, the decision was made to geld him.

"It was at the point where we had two choices," Cecil said. "We needed to either find him a good home or bring him back. He had the suspensory injury, but he'd certainly been given enough time to heal, so we brought him back and he's done everything right since."

Passinetti, a Kentucky-bred son of Slew o' Gold has now earned $487,275 from a record of 17-3-2-5. He also won an allowance race by three lengths over Santa Anita's turf course earlier in the season and was Cecil's only winner of the meeting. Cecil's barn has been plagued with injuries and layoffs, most notably female turf champion Golden Apples, who underwent surgery to remove chips in both ankles late last year and only returned to training in March.

"It was a long meet," Cecil said, "but a nice way to end it. Things are certainly looking up now."