The trainer of Groovy, the shortest-priced of five favorites that were upset on Breeders' Cup day, suggested Sunday that jockey Jose Santos' tactics coming out of the gate may have been responsible for the loss.
Groovy, the 2-5 favorite Saturday at Santa Anita in the $1 million Breeders' Cup Sprint, didn't break on top as he usually does and finished fourth. Smile, Pine Tree Lane and Bedside Promise ran 1-2-3 in the six-furlong race.
"I haven't seen a tape of the race yet but from what I've been told, the rider (Santos) wrapped up (tightened the reins) shortly after we left the gate," Groovy's trainer, Jose Martin, said Sunday.
"(Angel) Cordero (riding Pine Tree Lane) broke his horse on top, and Smile went with him. Then it seemed like my rider was content to let them go, and that was a mistake. There's no way you can try to rate my horse. He knows only that he wants to run fast and you've got to let him do it."
Santos, a 25-year-old Chilean who has taken over as the leading rider on the national purse list since the injury to Chris McCarron last month, had a day of highs and lows in the Breeders' Cup. The performance of Groovy was a disappointment, but two races later, Santos expertly rode Manila, an 8-1 shot, to victory in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Turf.
After the Sprint, Santos said he tried to urge Groovy on after Smile and Pine Tree Lane broke quickly, but didn't get any response. Santos also suggested that Groovy's three-furlong workout of :32 4/5 on Tuesday was too fast--even for this speedball--and may have contributed to his dull effort Saturday.
In other post-Breeders' Cup developments:
--Dancing Brave, the English horse who was the 1-2 favorite in the Turf, suffered a black eye in the race, an injury that may have been partly responsible for his poor showing. Dancing Brave ran fourth, about 6 1/2 lengths behind Manila. Trainer Guy Harwood said that Dancing Brave was probably hit in the face with a patch of turf at the top of the stretch.
--Trainer Michael Whittingham said that Skywalker, the 10-1 upset winner of the $3 million Classic, would probably be rested and then return to action in 1987 as a 5 year old, with the Santa Anita Handicap as the major objective. Whittingham said that if Manila, the favorite for this year's male turf championship, would run in the $500,000 Hollywood Turf Cup on Dec. 7, he might possibly try to beat him with Skywalker.
--Trainer LeRoy Jolley said, however, that there was practically no chance that Manila would run again this year. "Most of my horses need a rest," Jolley said. "And so does their trainer."
--Groovy, still a candidate for the national sprint championship, will head back to New York, where two Aqueduct races--the Sport Page Handicap on Nov. 15 and the Vosburgh on Nov. 29--are possibilities. "This horse is much better than he showed Saturday," Martin said. "We would like to give him a chance to prove it."
--Brave Raj, the 5 1/2-length winner of the Juvenile Fillies, may run against colts in the $1 million Hollywood Futurity on Dec. 14. Mel Stute, Brave Raj's trainer, pointed out that his filly ran faster than Capote, who won the Juvenile Saturday. And the Futurity would give Brave Raj an extra two weeks between races, as opposed to running within her own division in the $500,000 Hollywood Starlet on Nov. 30.
--It is likely that most of the New York horses that ran dull races in the Juvenile will skip the Hollywood Futurity. Hollywood Park probably won't get Bet Twice (fourth), Gulch (fifth), Demon's Begone (sixth) and Polish Navy (seventh).
--Sonic Lady, seventh as the favorite in the Mile, lost a shoe in the race, but trainer Michael Stoute didn't feel that that was a reason for the defeat.
--Turkoman, whose Horse of the Year chances vanished with a second-place finish in the Classic, has run his last race and will go to stud at Darby Dan Farm in Lexington, Ky.
--Fred Hooper, the owner and breeder of Precisionist, who also had Horse of the Year aspirations before running third in the Classic, hasn't decided whether to run him as a 6 year old in 1987. There is a chance that Precisionist could run in the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap on March 8 and then go to stud.
--Lady's Secret, who won the Distaff by 2 1/2 lengths, looked like she probably could have run the race again on Sunday. Lady's Secret is the favorite in the year-end voting for Horse of the Year, although some sentiment is building for the turf specialist Manila.