In the winner's circle, David Whelan invited everybody to have a drink after Tsunami Slew won the $125,750 Carleton F. Burke Handicap Sunday at Santa Anita.
"Me, I'm going to have two drinks," Whelan said after sweating out a stewards' review of a foul claim by jockey Chris McCarron, who finished second aboard Yashgan, two lengths behind Tsunami Slew, in the 1-mile turf race.
For the second straight day in a stakes race, the stewards disallowed a jockey's objection. In the Burke, McCarron contended that Tsunami Slew interfered with his horse leaving the gate.
"I had to take a chance," McCarron said. "I had instructions (from trainer John Sullivan) to be laying third, and what happened at the start sure took away that strategy."
Instead of being third, Yashgan was last in the field of seven. Best of Both and Tsunami Slew, who went off the 6-5 favorite, dictated the early pace, with My Habitony and Dr. Daly in good position behind them, and Barberstown, the second betting choice in the crowd of 38,407, running at the rear, ahead of Yashgan.
On the stretch turn, Tsunami Slew started to dispose of Best of Both. "Midway through the turn, I thought I had the leader," said jockey Gary Stevens, Tsunami Slew's rider. "I was only worried about the horses with late run then. But in the last quarter-mile, this horse turned it on like I've never seen him do it before."
Stevens, who has won 10 races in the first five days of the Oak Tree meeting, is three for three on Tsunami Slew, having also won the American Handicap at Hollywood Park and the Eddie Read Handicap at Del Mar this summer.
Between the Read and Burke, Tsunami Slew ran seventh in the Budweiser-Arlington Million, with Rafael Meza riding because Stevens was committed to ride Hilco Scamper at Saratoga. Trainer Eddie Gregson attributed Tsunami Slew's poor showing in the Million to a soft turf.
Now the 4-year-old son of Seattle Slew, purchased by Whelan's wife, Elizabeth, as a yearling for $275,000 and owned in partnership with about a dozen other people, has won six stakes, four at Santa Anita, and Sunday's was the most important. The Burke was designated as a major race for the first time this year, and Tsunami Slew's win will enhance his stud value when he's retired to the breeding shed next year.
McCarron's foul claim didn't unsettle Stevens. "It's tough to take a horse down (on the disqualification) for something that happens out of the gate," Stevens said. "And this contact was very slight."
Tsunami Slew, increasing his career earnings to $814,925 with Sunday's $78,500 win, was timed in 1:59 3/5, more than two seconds slower than the course record, and paid $4.40, $3.60 and $3. Yashgan's prices were $5.20 and $4, and Best of Both, who finished third, 3 3/4 lengths behind Tsunami Slew, paid $4.60.
Barberstown, who won the Del Mar Invitational Handicap in his last start, made a mild rally to finish fourth. Jockey Fernando Toro said Barberstown "didn't have his mind on running" at the finish, and trainer John Gosden said: "That's the way they are--one day they're on and then one day they're off."
Trainer Neil Drysdale sensed that Tsunami Slew might be too much to beat Sunday, one reason he shipped Both Ends Burning to Bay Meadows instead of running in the Burke. Both Ends Burning won Saturday's Tanforan Handicap.
Another trainer, John Russell, scratched El Asesor from the Burke a couple of hours before the race. "The race just looked too tough," Russell said. "I entered hoping a couple of horses would scratch, but when they didn't, I did."
The Breeders' Cup on Nov. 2 at Aqueduct will mark the end of Tsunami Slew's racing career. He ran fifth in the Breeders' Cup Mile on grass last November at Hollywood Park, and Gregson must choose the race at Aqueduct.
"It'll probably be the ($1 million) Mile," Gregson said. "But if the turf comes up soft, he might go in the ($3 million) Classic (which is 1 miles on dirt)."
Stevens suggested another possibility, the $2 million Breeders' Cup Turf, which is 1 1/2 miles. "The way he relaxed and ran today, I'd like to see him stay on grass and go long," Stevens said.
Does the jockey know best? He has so far, every time he's ridden him.
Horse Racing Notes
Trainer Charlie Whittingham said Greinton is going to stay in New York, despite his last-place finish in Saturday's Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park. The Breeders' Cup is now a possibility, even though it would cost Greinton's owners $360,000 to supplement him into the Classic. Whittingham attributed Saturday's poor performance to the muddy track. "First time he ever ran in the mud and he couldn't handle it," Whittingham said. "If he didn't need the race (to get back into the Horse-of-the-Year picture), I would have scratched him." . . . Chris McCarron rode four winners Sunday. . . . Mesh Tenney, who trained such stars as Swaps, Prove It, Olden Times and Candy Spots, has returned to training after a 12-year absence. Tenney, 77, has three horses owned by Rex Ellsworth, whose Swaps won the Horse-of-the-Year title in 1956. Tenney has spent the last 12 years running a cow ranch in Arizona. . . . Alex Solis rode Best of Both in the Burke because Eddie Delahoussaye was ill.