That ninth, tiebreaking meeting between Greinton and Precisionist, scheduled to take place Sunday in the $300,000 Californian Stakes at Hollywood Park, is off. What's more, these two standout 5-year-olds may never meet again, because Greinton's career could be finished by a leg injury that he suffered earlier this week.
News of Greinton's injury, a tendon problem in the left foreleg, didn't surface until entry time for the Californian on Friday morning. But apparently the English-bred horse injured himself last Sunday when he may have stepped on a clod of dirt during a six-furlong workout.
According to trainer Charlie Whittingham, a filling developed in the leg and the condition didn't improve. Greinton had been scheduled for a pre-race blowout Friday.
Sources close to the owners of Greinton said the horse would be sidelined for the rest of the year. Considering his age and value as a stallion, it is likely that Greinton will be retired to stud.
Bred by Stavros Niarchos, the Greek shipping magnate, Greinton was purchased for $550,000 after winning three of five starts in France and joined Whittingham in California in the summer of 1984. The horse's owners are Mary Jones Bradley of Santa Monica and Howell Wynne of Dallas, who each have a 37% share, and Whittingham, who owns 25%.
Greinton won 7 of 17 starts in the United States, including last year's Californian and Hollywood Gold Cup and this year's Santa Anita Handicap. His earnings of $1.9 million rank him 18th on the money list.
Greinton and Precisionist met eight times, with Precisionist winning by a neck in the San Bernardino Handicap at Santa Anita on April 13 to square the rivalry at 4-4.
"I feel bad for Charlie and for Mrs. Bradley," said Ross Fenstermaker, who trains Precisionist. "We had a friendly rivalry, and I'm sure they'd feel sorry for us if our horse got hurt. As for Sunday's race, though, you can't be sorry about not having your best competition in there. Greinton was always a tough competitor."
With Greinton sidelined, a few trainers who probably would have skipped the one-mile Californian decided to enter. This is the seven-horse field, in post-position order:
Precisionist, to be ridden by Chris McCarron, carrying 126 pounds; Fast Account, Pat Valenzuela, 115; Skywalker, Gary Stevens, 121; Super Diamond, Laffit Pincay, 115; Herat, Rafael Meza, 118; Sabona, Eddie Delahoussaye, 115, and Innamorato, Frank Olivares, 116.
"They don't give you nothing," Fenstermaker said. "We've still got some horses to beat. There's some early speed in there besides my horse, horses like Herat and Innamorato."
In the Santa Anita Handicap, Herat, at 157-1 odds, set the early pace and almost hung on to win, but Greinton passed him inside the sixteenth pole and won by three-quarters of a length. Precisionist, second behind Herat most of the way, faded to sixth.
That was one of the poorest performances in Precisionist's 29-race career, which has resulted in 14 wins, $2 million in purses and last year's Eclipse Award as the nation's best sprinter. Precisionist won the $1-million Breeders' Cup Sprint Stakes last year, and he is being groomed for the $3-million Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita this Nov. 1. At least, he won't have Greinton in his way the rest of this season.
Horse Racing Notes Greinton's injury harpooned Hollywood Park's weeklong advertising campaign that focused on the rivalry with Precisionist . . . Going into the weekend, Hollywood was down more than 8% in handle and 13% in attendance from last year. . . . Bill Shoemaker, who'll ride Kentucky Derby winner Ferdinand in the Belmont Stakes a week from today, says Rampage is the horse to beat. "He ran good in the Derby and finished strong after having some tough luck," Shoemaker said of Rampage, who was fourth in the Derby.