Melair and Snow Chief, the swift and the slack of Saturday's Silver Screen Handicap at Hollywood Park, are both headed East, but not to face each other.
Melair, the 3-year-old filly who ran one of the fastest miles in racing history to win the $400,000 Silver Screen as heavily favored Snow Chief finished third, 11 lengths behind, will probably run next in the Test Stakes at Saratoga on July 31. That's a $150,000 race at seven furlongs.
Snow Chief, who had won seven of his previous eight starts--including the Preakness and three other major races--will continue on a schedule that had been planned before the Silver Screen. His next start is supposed to be the Haskell Invitational at 1 1/8 miles at Monmouth Park in New Jersey on July 26. Having already won the Jersey Derby, Snow Chief is eligible for a three-race, $1 million bonus that also includes the Pegasus at the Meadowlands in New Jersey on Sept. 12.
It's unlikely that the paths of Melair and Snow Chief will cross again, which would be all right with trainer Mel Stute, the trainer of Snow Chief, especially if the distance is a mile or less. "I could have put a jet in the rear of my horse and he wouldn't have beaten that filly Saturday," Stute said Sunday.
John Sadler, Melair's trainer, beat 10 colts besides Snow Chief in the Silver Screen, but he plans to keep Melair in the filly division the rest of the year.
There's only a remote chance that Melair and Snow Chief will even run the same day in the seven-race, $10 million Breeders' Cup series at Santa Anita on Nov. 1. Neither horse is eligible, and it would cost between $200,000 and $360,000 to supplement them, depending on the races they ran in. Owners of both horses have indicated that the supplementary fees are too much to pay.
On Sunday, after some of Saturday's post-race euphoria had worn off, Sadler repeated what he said about Melair being the best 3-year-old--colt or filly--in the country. Melair's mile was run in 1:32 4/5 and only three horses--Dr. Fager in 1968 at Arlington Park, Buckpasser in 1966 at Arlington and Greinton last year at Hollywood--have ever run faster.
Buckpasser was Horse of the Year in '66, when he posted a time of 1:32 3/5. Two years later, Dr. Fager broke the record with a 1:32 1/5 clocking, carrying 136 pounds, and he also was voted Horse of the Year. Greinton matched Buckpasser's time in last year's Californian Stakes.
"I think it's a good crop of 3-year-olds this year," Sadler said. "But most of them have come back to beat one another. There's been no horse that's dominated. Of course, Ogygian is a big question-mark, but he has yet to prove himself."
Ogygian, whose career has been restricted by injuries, missed the Triple Crown races, but Saturday won the Dwyer Stakes at Belmont Park for his third straight win.
Stute was asked where Snow Chief now ranks in the 3-year-old picture.
"He's the best 3-year-old . . . colt," the trainer said.
Is Melair better than them all?
"If I had her, I would sure think so," Stute said.
Sadler, a 28-year-old trainer whose best year was 1985 when he won "30 or 40 races," has already won 35 this year, including 20 at Hollywood Park, where he's second in the standings to John Gosden, who has 23.
"The barn has been averaging $100,000 a month in purses through June," Sadler said. "Our goal is to have a $1-million year."
Sadler said that he might overtake Gosden by the time the season ends on July 21 "if they blew up the grass course." Of Gosden's winners, all but five have come on grass.
Despite losing Saturday, Snow Chief still earned $60,000 for third and passed Spectacular Bid on the career money list. Snow Chief has total purses of $2,790,940 and ranks in sixth place.
Melair's $220,000 purse in the Silver Screen almost doubled what she previously earned for her owners and breeders, Marianne Millard and Bea Rous of Hemet.
Melair walked for about 30 minutes under the shed row at Sadler's barn Sunday morning, not acting like the race had taken much out of her.
"After the race she ate up everything, which is unique for a horse who had just run the fastest mile ever by a filly," Sadler said.
Actually, Melair had started eating much earlier. For the 92-plus seconds of the Silver Screen, she was gobbling up the opposition.
Hidden Light, unable to beat Melair in her last start, didn't have to worry about the undefeated 3-year-old filly Sunday and coasted to a five-length victory in the $198,350 Hollywood Oaks before 33,215 fans at Hollywood Park.
Melair, who finished 3 1/2 lengths ahead of Hidden Light in the Princess Stakes at Hollywood on June 21, skipped the Oaks to run against colts Saturday, when she captured the $400,000 Silver Screen Handicap by 6 1/2 lengths.
Hidden Light, who started her career with four straight wins, ran seventh in the Kentucky Oaks before running into Melair.