Lone Star Park Race Report: Texas Workout

Published in the June 22 issue of The Blood-Horse
Refusing an opportunity to predict or boast, trainer Darrell Vienna coyly and simply said he would let Suances do the talking. A few days later, on June 15 at Lone Star Park, Suances rushed to the podium and delivered an eloquent speech in the $250,000 Dallas Turf Cup Handicap.

But his oration, which lasted just under two minutes, might have been more notable for its implications than its assertions. With irrefutable candor, Suances insisted he was the vastly superior horse this day, and with unmistakable authority, implied he just might be one of the best turf horses in America. For its vision and profundity, this was the sort of speech that might be recalled again and again over the next few months, maybe even on Oct. 26, Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships Day.

Leading for every jump but the first few, Suances after 1 1/8 miles won the Dallas Turf Cup by 1 1/2 lengths. But that might have been the most dominating 1 1/2 lengths ever seen at Lone Star Park. The 2-5 favorite appeared to be out for little more than a routine workout. In fact, David Flores, who had the only first-class seat in the race, described it as a workout.

"I really never turned him loose," Flores said. "He was on cruise control. It was as easy as it looked."

And it looked extraordinarily easy. It appeared as if Flores could have fired up a cigar, eased back, and read the newspaper. The only threat either he or Suances ever felt was boredom.

Our Main Man, who had arrived a few days earlier from California with Suances, rallied to finish second, with stakes winner Candid Glen another 1 3/4 lengths back. Suances completed the course in 1:49.09. It was the fastest time for the distance at Lone Star since 1998, when the course played much quicker. Not bad for a workout.

"That's a great horse," said Flores. "You look in the future and this could be a Breeders' Cup horse. He feels like that kind of horse."

Suances hesitated for an instant when the latches of the starting gate sprung open. But he quickly asserted himself and dragged Flores to the lead. They took the field of eight older horses through a casual opening half-mile in :48.43. Maysville Slew, a stakes-winning veteran with more than a half-million dollars in his bankroll, moved closest to the leader on the backstretch. But Suances spurned the challenge before it even developed.

Flores eased up slightly, and Suances spurted to an advantage of 2 1/2 lengths in mid-stretch. The jockey gathered in the big horse and had a firm hold when they passed under the wire, with Suances pricking his ears. Flores could have left his whip in California.

"I just got him on his feet the first part of the race, and he took me to the lead very easily," Flores said, "just pulling a bit, and then he relaxed...I was just guiding him to the wire; he was doing it all by himself."

Beyond the wire, Flores needed another half-mile, along with assistance of the outrider, to get Suances pulled up.

"He probably got mad at me because I never let him run," Flores said, half-joking. "He's improving and has so much potential."

The victory was the eighth in 10 starts for Suances, who was once among the top-rated 3-year-olds in Europe. Suances earned $150,000 at Lone Star for his owner, the Red Baron's Barn of Jed Cohen of Los Angeles. Suances has earned $363,720 in his career.

High expectations accompanied him to this country two years ago, but he was injured in a freakish accident before he was to make his United States debut in the American Derby (gr. IIT). On the day of the race, Vienna explained, Suances kicked through a gate made of corrugated metal. While pulling his right hind leg back through the jagged opening, he severely lacerated an ankle and severed a ligament.

Because of its location, the injury was slow to heal, Vienna said, delaying Suances' American debut by more than a year and a half. In March, after a wide trip on what might have been the slower part of the course, he finished five lengths behind Sarafan in the Explosive Bid Handicap (gr. IIT) at Fair Grounds. But luck's wheel turned for him just before he traveled to Texas. Suances defeated Sarafan, as well as Decarchy and The Tin Man, in the San Francisco Breeders' Cup Mile Handicap (gr. IIT) at Bay Meadows.

And so the Dallas Turf Cup was another step in a comeback that could soon place Suances among elite cohorts. His next podium will probably be the Eddie Read Handicap (gr. IT) on July 28 at Del Mar.