The Triple Crown treasury, which doesn't need the money, picked up an extra $600 Wednesday from trainer George Hartstone, who has cash to spare after his one-time outcast, Please Remit, upset the field at 10-1 in the $83,650 Los Feliz Stakes at Santa Anita.
Please Remit, a horse so unaccomplished last year that Hartstone said he would have sold him for as little as $5,000, completed his rise from the claiming ranks by surviving a three-horse photo finish with Sweet N Go and Glad Music.
Please Remit, who went into the one-mile race with $43,000 in purses, earned $49,900 for Hartstone, who bred him, and his 50-50 partner, Dr. Albert Sheade.
After the Los Feliz, Hartstone said he would pay the $600 that makes Please Remit eligible for the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes.
"I think this horse will keep running (farther), so who knows?" said Hartstone, 71, who had never won a stake at Santa Anita. "We'll just nominate him in a lot of places and see what happens."
Please Remit finished a head in front of Sweet N Go, who coupled with Contempt was the 2-1 favorite. Sweet N Go was a head better than Glad Music, who closed fast on the outside. Contempt, who had the most stakes experience in the 10-horse field, broke awkwardly and finished sixth.
Running the distance in a slow 1:37 1/5 over a dull track, Please Remit paid $23.60, $8, and $5. Sweet N Go paid $4 and $3 and Glad Music was worth $3.60 to show.
Chinese Gold, who probably would have been favored, was scratched from the Los Feliz. He was recently sold and will be sent to trainer Phil Johnson in New York.
Other trainers had four opportunities to buy Please Remit, a 3-year-old gelding who ran for claiming prices ranging from $28,000 to $50,000 since making his debut at Del Mar last August.
"At one time, this was the worst horse I had ever trained," Hartstone said. "He couldn't work in 1:05 (for five furlongs) if you ran him in company and were whipping him and driving him all the way.
"But then at Del Mar, he started growing and he got coordinated. This proves that you really don't have to know what the hell you're doing in this business. All you have to do is have a horse that gets good."
Please Remit, the result of a breeding of an undistinguished stallion, Aggravatin', and an unraced $10,000 mare, Proud Amazon, went into the Los Feliz with three wins in eight starts. He beat maidens in his second start at Del Mar, won at $50,000 at Santa Anita in October and captured an allowance race at Santa Anita on New Year's Eve.
Please Remit still has some bad habits. "He's a little lazy," said Sandy Hawley, who rode him to victory for the third time. "But you get after him and he responds. Today he tried to pull himself up when he got to the lead."
Katoon, an invader from Turf Paradise in Phoneix, held the lead until the far turn, when Sweet N Go took over. Please Remit, who had settled into third place early, passed Sweet N Go in mid-stretch.
Sweet N Go was drifting out all the way through the lane. "I didn't talk to Pat (Valenzuela), so I don't know what caused it," trainer Wayne Lukas said. "But it sure didn't help his chances."
Sweet N Go reared up in the gate prior to the start.
"Maybe he hurt himself," Valenzuela said. "Or maybe he might have just got to looking around after he got the lead. He seemed to come back when Sandy's horse got by."
Bill Shoemaker rode Glad Music, who was last, 13 1/2 lengths back, after a half-mile.
"I had to take back so he wouldn't be four wide in the clubhouse turn," Shoemaker said. "He started moving good at the half-mile pole. He's just coming around, but looks like he might be a nice colt."
Horse Racing Notes
Other scratches from the Los Feliz were Temper T. and Lively One. . . . The attendance was 18,279. . . . Gary Jones, who has Stalwars, winner of a maiden race Sunday, says that he's the best 3-year-old he's ever trained.