After fans had bet $31.6 million during the last three days of the Oak Tree meeting, which ended Monday at Santa Anita, maybe it was too much to expect them to have deep pockets for Wednesday's opener at Hollywood Park.
Despite good weather, there was no afterglow at Hollywood Park from the Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita. Only 16,199 fans appeared Wednesday, and they bet $3.6 million, both figures being the lowest for an opening day since Hollywood began conducting fall meetings in 1981.
Wednesday's totals also were considerably lower than the opener a year ago, when 21,000 fans bet $4.1 million.
Wednesday's feature race winner was Cheapskate, who took the $83,100 Affirmed Handicap by 2 3/4 lengths over Prince Bobby B. In the winner's circle, Jim Vandervoort, Cheapskate's owner, epitomized the vagaries of the game.
Vandervoort, of Palm Desert, collected $50,100 for Cheapskate's win, but on his mind was Tripoli Shores, another stakes winner, who suffered a bowed tendon a couple of weeks ago.
Tripoli Shores will be sidelined for at least nine months. A big colt, he will be gelded before trainer Darrell Vienna attempts to bring him back to the races.
Cheapskate, too, is a gelding, the only one in the Affirmed field, and Wednesday he won for the fourth time this year, running the mile in 1:35 2/5 and boosting his career earnings to $475,000.
When Cheapskate stays out of jams in a race, he usually runs well, and Wednesday was one of those trouble-free days, with Gary Stevens riding him for the first time.
Cheapskate, paying $7.60 as the favorite in the nine-horse field, pulled away from Clear Choice early, lost the lead to Prince Bobby B. briefly, then regained the lead and lengthened his advantage through the stretch.
Clear Choice, who hasn't won a stake since his victory in the Swaps at Hollywood last July, arrived from New York at 5 a.m. Wednesday. His flight from New York had been delayed for about 30 hours. He finished seventh.
After Prince Bobby B., it was a half-length farther back to Full Charm in third place. Full Charm, who beat Prince Bobby B. in a Bay Meadows stake last month when favored Cheapskate had trouble in the stretch and ran last, had his chances compromised Wednesday when Salt Dome bumped him while leaving the gate.
Vienna has major plans for Cheapskate, and they do not include a return to the East, where New York-breds--Cheapskate is one--are eligible for a rich, state-run stakes program.
Cheapskate's next race may be the $250,000 Hollywood Derby on the grass Nov. 16. Cheapskate scored his first win, on a foul, on the grass in a stake at Golden Gate Fields May 31.
"I think Stevens really helps this horse, and we're hoping that he might stay with him," Vandervoort said. "Next year, we're looking at the Strub series for 4-year-olds at Santa Anita. Unless Snow Chief comes back from surgery and runs like the old Snow Chief again, there aren't any 3-year-olds that have scared me this year."
In the second race Wednesday, jockey Jack Kaenel was unseated just after his mount, 3-year-old Years of Fun, left the starting gate. Kaenel, in his only race of the day, was shaken up but not seriously hurt.
Years of Fun was also not seriously injured.