Trainer Dick Mulhall wasn't sure that Nasib, his 4-year-old Irish-bred colt, belonged in Sunday's $111,900 Vernon O. Underwood Handicap at Hollywood Park. In particular, Mulhall felt that Will Dancer might be too much for his horse to handle.
At the end of the 1 1/16-mile turf race, however, there was Nasib reaching the wire first, with Will Dancer second, 1 1/2 lengths back.
That result put the 47-year-old Mulhall in the winner's circle after a $100,000 race for the first time in his 29-year training career, and necessitated a variety of basic questions, such as:
"Do your friends call you Richard or Dick?"
Cracked Mulhall: "Either way. I don't have any friends."
Mulhall has a friend in Nasib, the good-sized son of Double Form and Good Fortune, who gave the trainer his biggest win since he beat Althea, the 2-5 favorite and eventual 2-year-old filly champion, in the Landaluce Stakes at Hollywood Park in 1983.
Nasib, timed in 1:40 2/5, paid $15.80, $4.40 and $3.40 and gave Eddie Delahoussaye his second stakes win in as many days. Delahoussaye rode Rangoon Ruby to victory Saturday in the Blue Delight Handicap.
Will Dancer, who went off as the 9-10 favorite in the Underwood while running as an entry with Epidaurus, paid $2.40 and $2.20. Will Dancer finished a half-length ahead of the front-running Barbery, who was the longest price in the eight-horse field and paid $5.60 to show before a crowd of 25,444.
With Barbery, a horse who's been running in the Midwest most of the year, taking the early lead, Epidaurus ran close behind. Delahoussaye dropped Nasib into third place, just about where he and Mulhall wanted to be at the beginning.
With an eighth of a mile to go, Epidaurus began to drop back, Nasib overtook Barbery and then it was a question of whether Will Dancer, who was near the back most of the way, had anything left on the rail.
"My horse gets a little timid when he gets down inside like he did," said Gary Stevens, riding Will Dancer. "But I didn't have a chance to get out. We were also in a little tight on the backside--I had to use him sooner than I wanted to then, in order to get through a hole."
Nasib, who went into the race with lifetime earnings of $118,655, earned $66,900 for his owners--Bill Fredericks, the owner of a sporting-goods company; John Fulmer, a clothing manufacturer; and Mary Lynn Mulhall, the trainer's wife. Nasib was bought by the trio for an undisclosed price about a year ago, shortly before he made his first start in the United States.
"The horse has always tried hard," Dick Mulhall said. "He seems to run his best when he runs fresh. I know he won on this course last June when he had just come off a rest."
Pat Valenzuela, riding Barbery, thought his horse was going to hold on through the long Hollywood Park stretch, and so for a time did Delahoussaye.
"But then my horse really kicked in," Delahoussaye said. "You don't know what he was running against today, but Will Dancer is not a bad sort and we beat him. My horse is big and strong. If he stays healthy, he might do all right."
Horse Racing Notes
Ferdinand, winner of the Kentucky Derby in May and unraced since his third-place finish in the Belmont Stakes in June, may run--possibly on grass--before the Hollywood Park season ends on Dec. 24. Ferdinand's 4-year-old season is likely to begin on dirt, with the Strub series at Santa Anita, according to trainer Charlie Whittingham. . . . Temperate Sil, a Kentucky Derby hope for Whittingham next year, will probably run in the $1 million Hollywood Futurity on Dec. 14. . . . Funeral services for Alfred Shelhamer, former jockey and racing official, are scheduled for 11 a.m. Tuesday at the Inglewood Cemetery Mortuary Chapel in Inglewood. Shelhamer, 67, died Friday. . . . With 52 horses nominated, next Sunday's Hollywood Derby is likely to be run in divisions for the sixth straight year. . . . Trainer Mel Stute has two stakes-winning 2-year-old fillies in Brave Raj and Very Subtle and he doesn't plan to run them against each other. Brave Raj, winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita, is scheduled to face colts in the Hollywood Futurity, and Very Subtle's next start is to be in the $500,000 Hollywood Starlet on Nov. 30. Stute could wind up with two Eclipse Awards winners if Brave Raj wins the filly title and Snow Chief is voted best 3-year-old colt. . . . Hollywood Park, usually closed on Tuesdays, will run on that day this week because of the Veterans Day holiday.