Del Mar Race Report: That's Show Biz

Published in the Aug. 24 issue of The Blood-Horse
Bing Crosby. Pat O'Brien. David Milch. The connection among the smooth crooner, Irish actor, and award-winning writer/producer goes deeper than their professions in Hollywood. Disturbingthepeace, a horse from modest beginnings, has now won the Del Mar series of sprint stakes named for the first two while being owned by the third.

And like Bing, the son of Bold Badgett is going on the road, not to Morocco, but to Chicago for the Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I). Like O'Brien, who played various men of the cloth, Disturbingthepeace has strung together numerous holy performances. And like Milch, he has authored gritty, white-knuckle work, bereft only of surprise endings. That can be excused when you've won six in a row.

Disturbingthepeace's spectacular premiere on the stakes scene came July 6, when he left Kona Gold in his wake to capture the Triple Bend Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) by three lengths at 16-1. He encored in the Crosby (gr. II) later that month, and on Aug. 18 rang up his third grade II win via the $150,000 O'Brien. The gelding, the product of a $2,500 stud fee, has now earned more than a half-million dollars.

He came to Milch in a true Hollywood story. Trainer Darrell Vienna was looking to buy a package of horses for the creative force behind "NYPD Blue" and "Hill Street Blues." Old English Rancho near Sanger, Calif., was offering some 40 head in the deal. Milch, however, wanted far fewer, and agreed to buy five. Vienna was having trouble picking out the fifth. "Darrell said Disturbingthepeace reminded him of another horse whose name he couldn't remember," laughed Milch. "So he decided to take him."

Vienna, who teamed with Milch to make Gilded Time a Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) winner and Eclipse Award champion in 1992, made some nice choices. Besides Disturbingthepeace, Above Perfection, another of the five bought from Old English Rancho, has won four stakes, including the Las Flores Handicap (gr. III). But the Old English Rancho- and Patsy McKuen-bred Disturbingthepeace is clearly the star of the show.

Disturbingly Quick

With the scratch of Komax, a field of five contested the seven- furlong O'Brien. Although his charge seemed all out to hold off Freespool in the six-furlong Crosby, Vienna was confident the extra eighth would be more to his liking. Hot Market sprung to the lead from the rail, but Victor Espinoza had Disturbingthepeace pressing all the way. Mellow Fellow, Blu Air Force, and I Love Silver let the front pair go, hoping the hot pace would move them up come crunch time.

Hot Market ripped through fractions of :22.63 and :44.65 with Disturbingthepeace breathing fire on his flank. Espinoza began scrubbing on the favorite, and by the bend the 4-year-old was on even terms, and then grabbed the advantage from the pacesetter. They flew past six furlongs in 1:08.82 with Disturbingthepeace sticking his neck in front.

"Victor told me when this horse goes to the lead he keeps firing," said Milch, "but when he makes the lead from behind, he thinks it's over. He begins cruising, and then it's life and death."

Indeed, Hot Market, in receipt of four pounds, fired back at Disturbingthepeace, shaving the margin to a head as I Love Silver threatened down the middle of the track. Disturbingthepeace and Hot Market raced that same head apart down the length of the straight, and that's exactly how they hit the line in 1:21.89, with I Love Silver another length back in third.

Now, for the second year in a row, Milch has a chance to see his red diamond silks in a Breeders' Cup winner's circle. Val Royal became his second Breeders' Cup winner when he annexed the Mile (gr. IT) last year at Belmont Park. Disturbingthepeace is likely to be trained up to the big event. "He had to put out a little more effort than I thought. This was a heart-stopper," Vienna said after the O'Brien. "We probably won't run off this one until the Breeders' Cup."

It should be remembered that following his win in the Juvenile, the fragile Gilded Time didn't go postward again until the Breeders' Cup Sprint a year later. He ran third, beaten less than a length.

"Darrell is a master at bringing horses up off workouts," said Milch. "We can't keep going to the well every three weeks with Disturbingthepeace. We keep wanting to give him a break, but he tears the barn down. He curls back his lip and shows his displeasure by running his teeth along the metal. So we've continued to run him."

There won't be a Hollywood name attached to Disturbingthepeace's next stakes effort. Perhaps simply a Hollywood ending to the unlikely story.

Frankel Factor
Apparently, winning the Arlington Million and Secretariat Stakes (both gr. IT) Aug. 17 wasn't enough for Bobby Frankel, currently in the third year of a dominating tear through big races coast to coast. A couple of hours after the Chicago festivities, Inesperado made a determined move to reward the trainer with his third graded stakes win on the day, the $147,000 La Jolla Handicap (gr. IIIT) for 3-year-olds.

French-bred Inesperado was coming off a victory in his North American curtain-raiser, the Cinema Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Hollywood Park June 30, which he won by a nose over Regiment, one of two Bob Baffert charges in the La Jolla.

Regiment cleared the small field of four and opened up two lengths in the 8 1/2-furlong contest. Mountain Rage settled outside Mutinyonthebounty with the winner last. Jockey Eddie Delahoussaye sensed the dawdling pace of the frontrunner, and urged Inesperado to quicken at the half-mile pole. The son of Zayyani responded, and he and Regiment renewed acquaintances around the turn, before Delahoussaye and Inesperado kicked away decisively to win by daylight in 1:43.92. Regiment was second, with Mountain Rage along for third.

Owned by Charles Kenis' 3 + U Stable, which has raced a bevy of stakes winners conditioned by Frankel, Inesperado has now won six of 11 starts. The colt's $90,000 La Jolla payday runs his career earnings to $240,438. He was bred in France by Barbara Moser and Rachele Lamy. b

Surf and Turf
In case you doubted, trainer Bobby Frankel won the La Jolla a year ago as well with Marine.. .Jockey Eddie Delahoussaye passed Bill Shoemaker to move into third place in Del Mar stakes wins with 94. Chris McCarron is tops with 134 followed by Laffit Pincay Jr. ... Dell Place took the Aug. 16 Relaunch Stakes for 3-year-olds off a layoff at 14-1 for the Glen Hill Farm. The mile turf event went in 1:35.57. Eddie D. was up for trainer Tom Proctor... Del Mar announced it will host The Rumble by the Sea, a match race between mule sensation Black Ruby and his spoil, Taz, Sept. 8. The match race will carry a $10,000 purse. By Lenny Shulman

(Chart, Equibase)