Half of the six-horse field for today's $150,000 Silver Screen Handicap at Hollywood Park was at Churchill Downs two months ago preparing for the Kentucky Derby.
One of the three horses, Temperate Sil, might have won the Derby, but he started coughing several days before the race and didn't run. The Silver Screen will be Temperate Sil's first start since he won the Santa Anita Derby April 4.
Two other Silver Screen starters, Candi's Gold and On the Line, probably had no business running in the Kentucky Derby. Candi's Gold, with only six career starts, finished eighth, and On the Line, winner of the Derby Trial a week before, ran 10th.
"It was a little ambitious to run this colt in the Derby," said Eddie Gregson, trainer of Candi's Gold and winner of the 1982 Derby with Gato Del Sol.
It may also be too ambitious for Candi's Gold to be on the same track today with trainer Charlie Whittingham's Temperate Sil--Gregson is sending out a non-stakes winner against a colt who has won three stakes and earned $853,000. But there is such depth to the 3-year-old division this year, especially in the East, that a trainer can hardly pick a spot for a horse without running into someone formidable.
"Charlie always runs his horses dead fit, and Temperate Sil will be double tough the way he's training," Gregson said. "But the one thing about this race is that we're getting eight pounds from Charlie's horse, even though he's had that long layoff."
Temperate Sil will be carrying 124 pounds, including Bill Shoemaker, compared to 116 each for Candi's Gold, On the Line and The Medic. Jamoke will carry 115, Crystal Run 113. The Silver Screen and its predecessor, the Argonaut Stakes, have not been won by a horse with more than 123 pounds since Tell, another colt trained by Whittingham, carried 126 pounds to victory in 1969.
Candi's Gold, whose 2-year-old season was limited to one race last July because of sore shins and stomach problems, has won three of seven starts. His only out since the Derby was a 2-length win at Hollywood May 31 as he ran a mile in an impressive 1:34 3/5. The Silver Screen is 1 1/8 miles.
"Candi's Gold got between horses and was bounced around a little bit in that last race," Gregson said. "But he still came on, and I was glad to see that, because it shows that he's learning.
"In the Derby, he was laying perfect, but then Bet Twice (who would finish second) came up on his outside, and Sandy (Hawley, the jockey) told me that he just dropped the bit. This was a horse who had never been in a big field before. I guess he did all right, considering that he only ran in spots."
Candi's Gold will be ridden for the second straight time and the fifth time in his career by Gary Stevens. The mount on On the Line in the Derby went to Stevens, the colt being an afterthought starter after his win in the Trial. On the Line and his stablemate, Capote, fought for the lead for three-quarters of a mile in the Derby, both horses being the worse for it at the end.
Whittingham said he was just as confident going into this year's Derby as he was before Ferdinand won the race last year.
"I think Temperate Sil would have won the Derby," Whittingham said. "He was coming up to the race right, and he has speed. There was a legitimate pace in the Derby, and then the winner (Alysheba) didn't run that fast of an overall time."
Temperate Sil may get a chance to face Alysheba in the $1-million Travers Stakes at Saratoga in August. Temperate Sil beat Alysheba by a neck in the Hollywood Futurity last year, then finished just behind him when Alysheba ran second in the San Felipe Handicap at Santa Anita in March.
Meantime, Temperate Sil meets two other colts that would have been opponents at Churchill Downs. "He should beat this kind," Whittingham said.
Horse Racing Notes Seven horses are entered in Saturday's $200,000 American Handicap at Hollywood, with Clever Song carrying top weight of 118 pounds. Starting at the rail for the 1 1/8-mile grass race, the lineup consists of Clever Song, Double Feint, Le Belvedere, Swink, Skip Out Front, Barbery and Aventino. . . . Sunday's headliner is the $100,000 Beverly Hills Handicap, for fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles on grass, and the holiday weekend ends Monday with the $100,000 Valkyr Handicap at a mile for California-bred distaffers. . . . Blue Jean Baby, the 2-year-old Mr. Prospector-Jones Time Machine filly who won her debut impressively Wednesday, was a $750,000 yearling at Keeneland. Only seven other fillies were sold for a higher price there last year. Blue Jean Baby will be favored in the Landaluce Stakes July 11. . . . Dontstop Themusic, who earned almost $1 million while running mostly in California, is in foal to Lyphard. . . . On the Line has been fourth, first and fifth in three starts since the Kentucky Derby.