Based in Bellevue, Wash., the Heerenspergers made their money in hardware. David started Eagle Hardware & Garden stores in 1989, and sold the chain 10 years later to Lowe's for about $1 billion. They were introduced to racing in the '70s when they bought a trip to the Derby at a charity auction. The couple are used to good horses, campaigning multiple-graded-stakes winner Hawksley Hill as well as Slew of Damascus.
It was just 27 short years ago that Pincay last captured the Blue Grass, aboard Judger in 1974. It's been three years since his business was so bleak in Southern California that his tack was packed for points North so that he could continue his run at Bill Shoemaker's riding title on easier circuits. Pincay changed his mind, got himself on a new dietary regimen, and began winning races in bunches.
"I'm riding good horses now," he said. "It's great to go to the track and ride three or four a day that have a chance. For a long time that didn't happen. I didn't think I'd get to ride a horse like Millennium Wind. He's a dream come true again." There may be something to that California dreaming.
But it was the intoxicating Kentucky environment that made this Blue Grass special. Hofmans credited it with moving his horse forward: "He's gotten so much more mature here. It's springtime in Kentucky and he's in love with everything. And I was more excited leading up to this race than I was for the Breeders' Cup or the Belmont. Maybe it's because I'm getting older; maybe it's because it's Kentucky; maybe it's because of Laffit. But just getting a horse to the Derby means a lot."
And with that Hofmans, a one-time Italian delicatessen owner, was on his way back to California. He was giving a leg up to Pincay at Santa Anita the following day for the Heerenspergers (they won again), and hurrying home to see his 92-year-old father, who'd taken him to the races there as a child. Eugene Hofmans suffered a heart attack just before the Blue Grass. If dreams come true, Eugene will get well soon and enjoy the Triple Crown season his son has imagined.
On the undercard Alannan roared from off the pace to take home the $270,750 Commonwealth Breeders' Cup Stakes (gr. II) over seven furlongs for William Marquard's Eaglestone Farm. The 5-year-old son of Conquistador Cielo, sent off at 17-1, covered the distance in 1:22.39, four lengths better than Valiant Halory. It was an emotional win for trainer Carl Nafzger, who's had Alannan for just three weeks. The horse was previously trained by Michael Tammaro, and before that by his father, John Tammaro, whose body was discovered in a Florida canal earlier in the week after he went missing for a month (see page 2394).
"I didn't do anything," Nafzger said. "John did a great job with this horse at Gulfstream, and I did just what John did--have him lay three lengths off the lead and let him run. John Tammaro won this race." Galloping Out
North East Bound, second to War Chant in the 2000 Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT), gamely held off Brahms to win the Maker's Mark Mile (gr. IIT) April 13 in 1:34.44 over firm turf for Julian DeMarco and Richard DiSano...Overbrook Farm won its eighth graded stakes at Keeneland when Penny's Gold took the Jenny Wiley Stakes (gr. IIIT) April 12...One day earlier Griffinite rallied late to capture the Lafayette Stakes (gr. III) for Paraneck Stable.