With his family already enjoying the sun and sand in Puerto Vallarta, Solis stayed behind for some big business July 6 before heading off to join them. The vacation figured to be choice--"Play golf, rest, play golf, rest," was his admitted itinerary--but he left for Mexico with a bitter taste in his mouth following Kona Gold's uncharacteristic collapse in the $300,000 Triple Bend Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II). The son of Java Gold seemed to have no excuse, especially after his inspiring return to action a month earlier in the Los Angeles Handicap (gr. III). But he came up empty in the seven-furlong Triple Bend, finishing a poor sixth. Some pinned the blame on the gelding's 126-pound impost. The following morning, though, trainer Bruce Headley was quick to point the finger at jockey Pat Valenzuela and D'wildcat, claiming they crowded Kona Gold early on and roughed him up even worse heading for home. "Go watch the replay. Run it over and over," said an incensed Headley, adding that Kona Gold returned to the barn with cuts on his front and back legs. "Just nicks, but it could have been worse. That was deliberate." Valenzuela was later handed a three-day suspension for the ride. The beneficiary of it all was one Disturbingthepeace, a 4-year-old son of the Damascus stallion Bold Badgett who ignored the conflict altogether and won by an easy three. It was an unlikely victory--he had never even run in a stakes race before--and a breakthrough effort for an individual who early on was more or less a wayward soul. "Let me just tell you--the first time we ran him, he tried to breed the topiary horse in the paddock," recalled trainer Darrell Vienna. Still, he ran third that day. He soon became a gelding, too. As part of the package deal that gave owners David and Rita Milch the brilliant filly Above Perfection, Disturbingthepeace nevertheless had looks that initially gave Vienna cause for optimism. Under tack, he acted like he was cut out to be something special. At the end of the day, however, he somehow managed to leave things undone. Sometimes the frustration outweighed the expectation. "Let's say he's made a lot of promises in his young life that he didn't keep," Vienna remarked. "We were looking for what would get him to show in the afternoon what he'd been showing us in the morning. I don't think we ever felt that he was giving us everything he had." The pieces, however, finally seem to be coming together. Under Victor Espinoza, Disturbingthepeace shed Kona Gold and D'wildcat on the curve and went unchallenged the rest of the way, crossing the wire in a sharp 1:21.09. Vienna, ever the realist, cited weight as an obvious advantage--at 113 pounds, Disturbingthepeace was the Triple Bend flyweight. A lack of early speed and the spurious effort of Kona Gold played a major role, as well. Still, the gelding's win streak has now hit four, giving Vienna the feeling that Disturbingthepeace may have finally turned the corner.
"I don't think he's much different," he conceded. "He's just kind of learned about things. The best tonic is winning." b AT THE WIRE
The American Oaks card was taken in by a crowd of 15,308. Among the afternoon's diversions were a free visor giveaway, a guaranteed million-dollar Pick 6 pool, and a jockey dunk tank. Also on hand to sign memorabilia was retired jockey Chris McCarron...The Tin Man held off Devine Wind by a neck to win the $150,000 American Handicap (gr. IIT) on July 4. Bred and owned by Ralph and Aury Todd, the 4-year-old Affirmed colt is trained by Richard Mandella...The same afternoon, no one could catch Buffythecenterfold in the $110,600 Landaluce Stakes (gr. III) at six furlongs. Still unbeaten in two starts, the 2-year-old Capote filly is owned by Allen A. Brian. Mel Stute is her trainer...Though Pat Valenzuela has put the jockeys' race totally out of reach, no rider's been as hot over the last two weeks as Alex Solis. After bagging four the afternoon of June 29, Solis did it again on July 3 and added a hat-trick three days later. He left for Mexico winning at a meet-leading 25% clip...Inamorato broke the ice for the Godolphin 2-year-old corps on July 6, taking his debut at 5 1/2 furlongs. The son of Tale of the Cat comes from the barn of Eoin Harty...Trainer John Sadler gave us our first look at Tizbud on July 7. The 3-year-old colt, a full brother to both Tiznow and Budroyale, ran third in a six-furlong maiden heat for Cal-breds. (Chart, Equibase)