Hollywood Park Race Report: Favorite Place

Published in the May 4 issue of The Blood-Horse
By Jon White
The winner's circle just might have been John Mabee's favorite place to have a fun time, especially following a stakes race on a big day like Cal Fed California Gold Rush Day III.

But after the familiar Golden Eagle Farm burgundy and gold silks were carried to victory by Favorite Funtime in the $150,000 B. Thoughtful Stakes at Hollywood Park on April 28, there was an unmistakable void in the winner's circle ceremonies because of Mabee's death only four days earlier.

Favorite Funtime became the latest Golden Eagle Farm homebred to win a grade I race when she took the Santa Maria Handicap at Santa Anita in February. She got the job done in the B. Thoughtful as the 2-1 second choice. Ridden by Victor Espinoza and trained by Bob Baffert, the 5-year-old Seeking the Gold mare stepped seven furlongs in 1:22.40 to prevail by 1 1/2 lengths. Go Go, the 3-5 favorite, finished fourth.

"I watched the race here at home on television," Betty Mabee said when contacted by telephone. "It was overwhelming. So many people have said so many lovely things about John, and to see our mare win that race--like I said, it's overwhelming.

"In San Diego, they've renamed a school in his honor. It's a school for learning-disabled children that we've supported for over 30 years. It's amazing how many people's lives he touched."

It is a cinch John Mabee would have thoroughly enjoyed the gorgeous weather and the racing on Gold Rush Day.

The richest event on the 10-race card, the $250,000 Cal Fed Snow Chief Stakes for 3-year-olds, was won by 4-1 shot Calkins Road. Charging late under Laffit Pincay Jr., he edged Menacing Dennis by a head. Highly Suspect ended up third, with 5-2 favorite Gobi Dan finishing fourth in the field of 12.

Calkins Road races for his breeders, Thomas and Deborah Shapiro of Los Angeles. Thomas Shapiro is the grandson of L.K. Shapiro, owner of one of the great Cal-breds of all-time, Native Diver, a three-time winner of the Hollywood Gold Cup in the 1960s.

Trained by John Shirreffs, Calkins Road completed his 1 1/8-mile journey in 1:51.07. It was win No. 9,344 for Pincay.

"This is the first stakes winner for our family in about 35 years," Shapiro said. "We have a farm in the Santa Ynez Valley and five mares. I'd like to thank (bloodstock agent) Kathy Berkey for helping us with our mares. This is a moment we've dreamt about for a very long time."

In the $175,000 TVG Khaled Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on the turf, Miguel Rubio's Native Desert, the 2-1 favorite, came on inexorably in the stretch to win by a head in 1:41.87. Trained by Juan Garcia and deftly guided to victory by Eddie Delahoussaye, Native Desert became only the second 9-year-old to win a stakes race at Hollywood Park. The legendary John Henry won the Hollywood Invitational Turf Handicap (gr. IT) and Sunset Handicap (gr. IT) en route to the Horse of the Year title as a 9-year-old in 1984.

The other Gold Rush Day winners in races worth $100,000 or more were: Thomas J. Wafer Jr.'s Ladylore (at odds of 31-1), who took the $200,000 Melair Stakes for Pincay and trainer Bill Spawr in her second start after being claimed March 16 for $28,000; Fast Lane Farms and partners' Smokin' Charlotte (5-2) in the $175,000 Fran's Valentine Stakes for Espinoza and trainer John Sadler; and Nico Nierenberg's Adminniestrator (3-2) in the $100,000 Quicken Tree Stakes for Delahoussaye and trainer Paddy Gallagher.

Friday night racing returned to Hollywood Park on April 26 with the $106,600 Wilshire Handicap (gr. IIIT) for fillies and mares at one mile. Eurolink Raindance, ridden by Chris McCarron, trailed early in the field of five and got up to prevail by a head in 1:34.31.

Owned by Bull Market Stable and trained by Ben Cecil, the 5-year-old Irish-bred daughter of Alzao was sent off at 9-1.

"We always thought she had a lot of quality, but she'd been a disappointment, to be quite honest," Cecil said. "Now, hopefully, she's starting to put things together. This was her first stakes win."

Some hunch bettors no doubt were disappointed when trainer Darrell Vienna scratched Queen of Wilshire from the Wilshire. The mare instead competed on dirt the following afternoon in the $106,100 Hawthorne Handicap (gr. III) at 1 1/16 miles.

Ridden by Pat Valenzuela, Queen of Wilshire set a leisurely pace and held on to win by a nose over Alexine, the 7-5 favorite. The time of the race was 1:43.16. Five started after Ask Me No Secrets (the 8-5 morning line favorite) and Stormy Society were scratched.

Trainer David Hofmans said Ask Me No Secrets was withdrawn because "of a hot left front foot and a 102-degree temperature."

Ernest Auerbach (E.A. Ranches) owns Queen of Wilshire, a 6-year-old Kentucky-bred daughter of Major Impact. The Hawthorne marked her first stakes win.

Vienna also won the $250,000 San Francisco Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IIT) at Bay Meadows with Suances for Jed Cohen's Red Baron's Barn. According to Vienna, next up for Suances is Hollywood Park's Shoemaker Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) on May 27. Cohen also owns Line Rider, winner of the $77,925 Harry Henson Stakes for 3-year-olds on April 24, opening day of the spring-summer meet. With Mike Smith aboard, Line Rider won the 5 1/2-furlong grass event by a half-length in :56.73.

Added Value
Global Finance is scheduled to run next in the Nursery Stakes on May 11. The End Sweep filly prevailed by 3 1/2 lengths in the first race of the meet. She caused quite a stir, too, when her odds plummeted from 9-2 to 2-5 right before the race. According to track officials, the drastic drop in her odds was the result of $118,000 bet on her to win through a wagering hub in Lewiston, Maine... Gourmet Girl is in foal to 2000 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Fusaichi Pegasus, said Pico Perdomo, who trained the Cal-bred mare. Gourmet Girl was voted the nation's champion older filly or mare of 2001...Kona Gold, the sprint champion of 2000, worked five furlongs in a sizzling :57.80 at Santa Anita on April 26. The 8-year-old is gearing up to make his 2002 debut in the Los Angeles Handicap (gr. III) on June 2...Grey Memo probably will race May 27 in Belmont Park's Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I), co-owner Pat Thompson said. Winner of the $1-million Godolphin Mile (UAE-II), Grey Memo is trained by Warren Stute. Despite a recent minor stroke, the remarkable 80-year-old Stute was seen saddling horses opening week. By Jon White

(Chart, Equibase)