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Horse Racing : A Breeders' Cup Victory Would Enhance Theatrical's Turf Credentials

October 29, 1987|Bill Christine

Pat Day so far has only one horse to ride in the seven Breeders' Cup races at Hollywood Park Nov. 21, but that will probably change. Day has ridden in 14 of the first 21 races in the series, including all 7 last year at Santa Anita.

The one horse that Day definitely has--Theatrical--may be enough to get the 34-year-old jockey into a Breeders' Cup winner's circle for the third time. Wild Again and Lady's Secret were Day's first two winners.

Theatrical, a 5-year-old Irish-bred, lost to Manila by a neck in last year's Breeders' Cup Turf Stakes and was beaten by him again in this year's Budweiser-Arlington Million. But Manila has been retired, and that leaves Theatrical, with five wins in major races and six wins overall in eight starts this year, as the best grass horse in training.

A win by Theatrical in the Breeders' Cup might enable him to outpoll Manila for a divisional Eclipse Award, and it could also thrust him into the running for Horse of the Year.

On the other hand, no matter what Theatrical does at Hollywood Park, the voters may decide that Theatrical has never beaten Manila, who despite his absence next month is still the defending male grass champion.

Manila's credentials this year are far short of Theatrical's credentials, though. Manila won only one race of significance other than the Million; he ran only five times and was beaten by an ordinary field in a major upset at Saratoga.

Day figures that a win by Theatrical at Hollywood Park ought to convince the voters, at least as far as the turf title is concerned.

"This horse is right mentally now," Day said. "Early in the year, in Florida, he was very high-strung."

In the Million, Theatrical finished third, 3 3/4 lengths behind Manila.

"He was on the muscle that day and he broke a lot more alertly than I wanted him to," Day said. "I couldn't get him to relax. As a result, I couldn't get him off the pace, and by the time we got to the quarter pole, I was out of horse."

No one likes to see a horse die, especially a good horse like Bedside Promise, who collapsed with a heart attack minutes after running at Bay Meadows Oct. 17.

But jockey Joe Judice, who was among the outsiders trying to help Bedside Promise in his last minutes, showed later in the day that winning sometimes supersedes emotion in racing.

When Bedside Promise went down as he was being led back to his barn, Judice was there, throwing buckets of water on the distressed horse. Judice is the rider who was visibly shaken at Pimlico in 1985 when his Hajji's Treasure broke down in the Preakness.

The race after Bedside Promise's, Judice was riding a cheap claimer against a horse trained by Bobby Martin, who also trained Bedside Promise.

Martin's horse beat Judice's by a nose, but the winner had clearly bumped his rival in the stretch.

The stewards might have looked the other way, because there was no inquiry. How much grief did Martin need, losing a race on a foul a half-hour after he had lost his best horse?

Judice claimed foul, however, and the stewards quickly disqualified Martin's horse. A race is a race, and a jockey has a responsibility to his owner, even if the purse is only $3,300.

Sam Rubin, owner of John Henry, says that his office has spent $124,000 in sending out photos to fans during and since the gelding's career.

One of the requests for a picture of John Henry and Rubin's autograph came from a state prison in Joliet, Ill.

"I wonder what this guy is in jail for?" Rubin said to his daughter.

The daughter called Joliet and was told that the prisoner was a convicted forger.

Rubin still sent him a picture. "But it just had my name stamped on it instead of the autograph," Rubin said.

People in racing used to chuckle at the money and the travel time that John Schapiro spent in promoting the Washington D.C. International at his Laurel Race Course. Schapiro struggled, trying to get a sponsor for the race and a television contract with a major network.

One year, it was reported that Schapiro spent $90,000 on his journeys to Europe. But since he was spending his own money, no one should have complained, and besides, Schapiro was successful in making his race more international than some of the other grass stakes that have come along recently.

Schapiro sold Laurel a couple of years ago, and the new owners of the Maryland track are keeping up the International's international tradition.

This Saturday, 5 of the 14 starters in the $750,000 International are foreign horses, including Gjatsk, a 3-year-old colt from the Soviet Union. It is the first time in 21 years that the Russians have sent a horse to the race.

Gjatsk, who has never raced outside of Russia, is a 20-1 longshot. An American horse, Anka Germania, is listed as a moderate 3-1 favorite, but his jockey, Jose Santos, is skipping the International to ride Success Express in Saturday's $200,000 Norfolk for 2-year-olds at Santa Anita. Santos thinks that Success Express could be his Kentucky Derby horse for next year.

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