The racetrack is the great equalizer. Breeders' Cup Day 2001 hammered home that point. On racing's biggest day, not only did some of the game's heaviest hitters--like Sheikh Mohammed, Juddmonte Farms, and members of the Coolmore group--win races, but so, too, did David Lanzman.
Lanzman doesn't own hundreds of broodmares and horses in training, nor does he pay millions of dollars at auction. The owner of a mortgage company, he has a small stable in California. Nonetheless, on Breeders' Cup Day, Lanzman's Squirtle Squirt won the $1-million Penske Auto Center Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I).
If there was a wider grin at Belmont Park on that day than Lanzman's, it was not spotted or reported. A horse he purchased as a 2-year-old for $25,000, and was later found to have knee chips, was now a Breeders' Cup winner. A horse he talked Bobby Frankel into training was now a possible champion.
Winning a Breeders' Cup race is hard. Winning one of those coveted Eclipse statues is even harder. The horse Lanzman's son named for his favorite Pokemon character has now accomplished both.
Squirtle Squirt (Marquetry--Lost the Code, by Lost Code) was bred in Kentucky by Dr. Audrey Narducci. He was consigned to the 1998 Keeneland November sale where Donna Wormser bought him for $30,000. Wormser sold him to Lanzman at the 2000 Barretts March sale of 2-year-olds in training.
Squirtle Squirt made six starts in 2001, all at either six or seven furlongs. He won three races and finished second in the other three by a combined 1 3/4 lengths.
He began the year on May 2, his first start since the knee chips had been removed by noted equine surgeon Dr. Rick Arthur. Squirtle Squirt made his first three starts of the year at Hollywood Park. He wired an allowance field going six furlongs at Hollywood Park, then was wheeled back 26 days later in the seven-furlong Lazaro Barrera Memorial Stakes (gr. III). In the Barrera, Squirtle Squirt had the lead while pressured going 1:07.98. He finished second by three-quarters of a length to Early Flyer.
On July 1, again at seven furlongs, Squirtle Squirt opened a four-length lead in the Triple Bend Breeders' Cup Invitational Handicap (gr. II), but was caught by Ceeband, who won by a half-length.
Shipped east, Squirtle Squirt made his first grade I start, going wire to wire in Saratoga's seven-
furlong King's Bishop Stakes on Aug. 25. He won by 3 1/4 lengths. In the grade I Vosburgh Stakes at Belmont Park on Sept. 22, his final prep for the Breeders' Cup, Squirtle Squirt had the lead until caught by Left Bank in deep stretch.
In the Breeders' Cup Sprint, there was no doubt as to Squirtle Squirt's fitness. After all, he was turning back to six furlongs after four consecutive seven-furlong races. The difference was that in his previous five 2001 starts, Squirtle Squirt had the lead at the first three calls in every race. Not so in the Oct. 27 Sprint.
On a track not favoring speed, the speedy filly Xtra Heat--who broke from the rail--and Caller One, ran one-two through fractions of :22.45, :44.75, and :56.30. Squirtle Squirt and Jerry Bailey were content to sit right behind those two, then split them in midstretch and drove toward the finish. They hit the wire a half-length in front in 1:08.41.