Trainer Randy Winick calls Dontstop Themusic a free-running filly, and in Sunday's $250,000 Vanity Handicap at Hollywood Park, the 5-year-old daughter of Stop the Music definitely had free run of the place.
From the first leap out of the starting gate, Dontstop Themusic led the pack, leaving the top three betting favorites--Lovlier Linda, Estrapade and Mitterand--struggling and trailing behind.
Dontstop Themusic dropped out of the front spot only once along the backstretch, momentarily trading places with Love Smitten, who had been keeping pace three-quarters of a length behind the Florida-bred filly.
But into the final turn, none of the fillies or mares in this Grade I invitational could stop Dontstop Themusic. Although all had the stakes credentials to win, none had the power.
Dontstop Themusic's winning time of 1:47 4/5 for 1 1/8 miles was only two-fifths of a second off the track record set by Fran's Valentine earlier this month.
"She ran pretty much how I thought she would," Winick said, proudly. "She doesn't have to have the lead, but she's a speed filly who doesn't like to be fought too much."
Dontstop Themusic's only serious challenger was Salt Spring, a Vanity veteran who placed third in last year's running of the Vanity. Salt Spring, a 6-year-old Argentine-bred mare, had not finished worse than fourth this year, but only on the turf, and went off at 44-1 odds. She finished three-quarters of a length behind after Dontstop Themusic had opened a big lead in midstretch.
Estrapade, another mare who has shown a preference for the turf, finished third in this main-track race on the dirt. The former French runner had started on the dirt only once before and lost miserably--finishing eighth, her poorest showing ever, in Santa Anita's Santa Margarita Invitational Handicap.
Dontstop Themusic, ridden by Angel Cordero Jr. and carrying 118 pounds, paid $11.60, $5.40 and $5.40 to win and earned a winner's purse of $110,000. Salt Spring, ridden by Rafael Meza and carrying 114 pounds, paid $19.60 and $7.40 for second, and Estrapade, carrying 119 pounds with Gary Stevens aboard, paid $5.80 to show.
The field from fourth on was Mitterand, Lovlier Linda, Shywing and Love Smitten.
Dontstop Themusic's Vanity victory was her first Grade I stakes win in 32 starts. The bay mare has won 11 races--all of them on the dirt. She has won 5 of 6 starts this year, and 9 of her last 10 races.
"She's getting better all the time," Winick said. "Every year she has improved. She ran well as a 3-year-old and better as a 4-year-old. And now, she's running better as a 5-year-old."
Owner Albert Broccoli agreed: "She's better than she looked on the (Daily Racing) form and proved it today. . . . She's sharp as a tack."
Broccoli, a film producer whose lastest James Bond installment is No. 14, owns 14 horses but calls Dontstop Themusic the best.
'I'm elated . . . she's better than any of the horse I've owned," Broccoli said about his first Grade I stakes winner--on Sunday, the 14th of July.
Horse Racing Notes
Trainer Ron McNally said Sunday that he intends to nominate M Double M to the $100,000-added Vernon O. Underwood Handicap next Sunday at Hollywood Park. If so, M Double M would join stablemate John Henry, who is expected to make his 1985 debut in the 1 1/8-mile test on the turf for 3-year-olds and up. M Double M could prove a serious challenger to the venerable John Henry. The 4-year-old Nodouble colt, who was taken off the track in the second half of his sophomore year and the first part of this year owing to an injury, has returned to form in style. After finishing third in his comeback the first week of the meeting at Hollywood Park, M Double M has rattled off three straight victories, including the July 5 Pretense. . . . Fred Hopper's Protect Yourself worked 1 1/8 miles in 1:54 2/5, preparing for the $150,000-added Swap Stakes next Sunday. In his last outing, Proect Yourself finished second in the Codex. . . . Trainer Hap Proctor had much praise Sunday for his 4-year-old filly Sales Bulletin, who won Saturday's Love You Dear Stakes at Hollywood Park. "She's a running son of a gun," he said. "She was racing with the second pack of horses, then made that winning move, turning for home. She's a nice filly." . . . R.E. Hibbert's Floating Reserve will skip the $150,000-added Swaps Stakes. That was the word from Joe Manzi's assistant trainer, Greg Otteson, after watching the 3-year-old Olden Times colt work six furlongs in 1:13 under rider Eduardo Mesa. "No, we're not going," Otteson said. After finishing second to Chief's Crown in the Bluegrass, Floating Reserve finished eighth in both the Kentucky Derby and Silver Screen Handicap.