DEL MAR — Bill Shoemaker had a choice of riding either Dahar or The Noble Player in last Sunday's Budweiser-Arlington Million at Chicago's Arlington Park. Both horses had only outside chances to win, so Shoemaker based his selection on a better chance to earn more money with The Noble Player.
If Dahar or The Noble Player had won the Million, the jockey would have received $60,000, the standard 10% share of the $600,000 first-place payoff. But Shoemaker, figuring that either mount had a better chance to hit the board than win the race, was in a position only with The Noble Player to make 10% of the purse for finishing second, third, fourth or fifth.
"Summa doesn't pay 10% across the board, but Sangster does," Shoemaker said. "That pretty much made my decision for me."
Summa Stable, whose principal owners are Bruce McNall and Nelson Bunker Hunt, races Dahar in a partnership. Robert Sangster, the English soccer-pools operator, is the owner of The Noble Player.
The Summa partners disagree about paying jockeys. Shoemaker said that about 95% of the stables pay the way Sangster does.
"Because Bunker Hunt owns the majority interest in Dahar, we have to go along with his policy regarding jockey payments," said Howard Senzell, a spokesman for Summa. "The horses we own a majority in, we pay the straight 10%. We've asked Bunker to go for the 10% with all our horses, but he wishes to maintain the policy that he follows with the horses he owns separately."
Last year, Forbes magazine listed Hunt as one of the country's richest men, estimating his wealth at $1.4 billion.
When a jockey doesn't receive 10% from a horse's owner for a non-winning finish in the money, he earns the prevailing rate at the track where the race is run. In stakes races at Arlington Park, that would be $400 for a second, $250 for a third and $75 for any purse winner below that.
In other words, if Shoemaker had ridden Dahar, he would have earned $400 had the horse finished second. But a second aboard The Noble Player would have been worth $20,000--10% of the $200,000 purse.
As it turned out, Shoemaker made $3,000, 10% of the $30,000 that The Noble Player earned for running fifth. A fifth with Dahar (who finished ninth) would have been worth only $75.
Sangster, however, probably didn't even break even. "To ship a horse to Chicago from California for a couple of weeks, you better think you've got a good chance to win the whole thing," said John Gosden, who trains The Noble Player. "The expenses for shipping and paying for the room and board of your help, plus the fees just to run in the race, came to just about $30,000."
Hilco Scamper, the 2-year-old gelding whose five-race unbeaten streak ended when he was trounced in last Sunday's Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga, would have to be supplemented at a cost of $120,000 in order to run in the $1-million Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Aqueduct Nov. 2.
John Roche, who bred Hilco Scamper and races him in a partnership with two other Yakima, Wash., men, could have nominated the horse to the Breeders' Cup for only $500 last year, and he came close to doing so.
When Roche's application arrived at the Breeders' Cup offices in Lexington, Ky., four horses had been written in, but then two were crossed out, including the name of Hilco Scamper.
Ironically, the three other horses on the application have died.
Racing Notes Gate Dancer, a disappointing 10th in the Million in only his second start on grass, is going back to dirt, trainer Jack Van Berg says, and will probably run in the Marlboro Cup at Belmont Park Sept. 14. . . . Flying Pidgeon, finishing third in the Million, earned $110,000 for his owner, Armand Marcanthony of Stuart, Fla., and increased his career winnings to more than $600,000. Marcanthony almost lost the 4-year-old colt on a claim two years ago, but the trainer who put in the claim was too good a speller, writing out the slip "Flying Pigeon," and the claim was disallowed. "I must have been thinking about the actor (Walter Pidgeon) when I spelled the name and sent it in to the Jockey Club for approval," Marcanthony said. Rather than pay $100 to correct the spelling, Marcanthony let the name stand. . . . Lovlier Linda, another horse with a misspelled name, has been retired to be bred next year. Lovlier Linda's owner, William R. Hawn, was going to retire the 5-year-old mare for the past breeding season, but then she won the Santa Margarita Handicap at Santa Anita in February and was left in training. In her last start, she finished third Sunday in Del Mar's Chula Vista Handicap. . . . Teleprompter, who paid $30.40 at Arlington for his Million win, returned $84.20 in betting on the race at Del Mar.