Aqueduct Racing Report: Big Win for 'The Boss'

Published in March 31 issue of The Blood-Horse
George Steinbrenner has transcended the role of sports franchise owner. Through all the salary disputes, manager firings, front-page headlines, and, of course, the dynasties and World Series championships, Steinbrenner has become a living, breathing part of the "Big Apple" as owner of the New York Yankees.

But when it comes to his involvement in the Sport of Kings, he still is powerless in his attempt to ascend the throne. Here, he has no visions of grandeur, just an admiration for athletes who still compete for the love of the game. To New York racing fans, "The Boss" is merely George, and the track is where he escapes to mingle with these athletes, who demand nothing in return for their heroic deeds. That is why you'll see Steinbrenner at The Big A on a cold, windy March afternoon beaming over his prized four-legged athlete Dream Supreme.

While the 4-year-old daughter of Seeking the Gold will never get Steinbrenner's picture on the back of the New York Post or Daily News, he nevertheless gets excited every time trainer Bill Mott or one of his assistants puts a saddle on her. And he gets even more excited when she returns in triumph, as she did in the March 24 Distaff Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II). Her victory was her seventh in 11 career starts, which include back-to-back grade I scores in Saratoga's Test Stakes and Ballerina Handicap last year.

"She's a very close filly to me," Steinbrenner said, "because a few days before she won the Test, her mother and her baby, by Capote, were struck by lightning at Three Chimneys Farm in Kentucky and killed. I have a great attachment to this filly because of that."

Following her big double at the Spa, Dream Supreme captured the Gallant Bloom Handicap (gr. III) at Belmont, earning her a trip to the Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) at Churchill Downs. Although she finished sixth at nearly 30-1, she was beaten only four lengths by champion sprinter Kona Gold. Following a three-month layoff, she was third in the Shirley Jones Handicap (gr. III) at Gulfstream, which set her up for a return match in the Distaff with Ogden Phipps' Country Hideaway, who had finished second to her in the Ballerina.

Dream Supreme was sent off at 4-5, with Country Hideaway next at 3-2 in the five-horse field that included last year's Gazelle Handicap (gr. I) winner Critical Eye. Aaron Gryder settled Dream Supreme in behind the pace-setting Folly Dollar, winner of four of her last five starts since being claimed by Roy Sedlacek. Country Hideaway, winner of nine of 16 career starts, was another two lengths back in third.

Folly Dollar set a solid pace of :22.99 and :46.18. Turning for home, Gryder steered Dream Supreme to the outside and took dead aim on the leader, but Folly Dollar hung on tenaciously, putting up quite a battle. Country Hideaway was now in gear on the far outside, but never looked as though she had enough punch to run down the top two. Dream Supreme finally got the better of Folly Dollar nearing the sixteenth pole and edged away slowly to win by a hard-earned three-quarters of a length in 1:23.66 for the seven furlongs.

"Folly Dollar is a tough horse to get by when she makes the lead," said Gryder, who has ridden the 4-year-old filly to two of her victories. "We had to work hard to get by her, but I was never concerned that I wouldn't."

Steinbrenner congratulated Gryder for what he called a perfect ride. "He did exactly what he was told, not by me, by Bill Mott," he said.

When it comes to racing, even The Boss knows who's the boss.

(Chart, Equibase)