Of the two California-based horses running in the Matchmaker last week at Atlantic City, N.J., Lizzy Hare was thought to be the filly with the better chance.
Trevor Denman, for one, liked Lizzy Hare's chances. Denman, the Santa Anita and Del Mar race announcer who does a two-week guest appearance at Atlantic City in the summer, remembered calling Lizzy Hare's win in last year's Del Mar Oaks.
But the winner of the Matchmaker was Magdelaine, who was not only considered an outsider against Lizzy Hare, but was the longest price on the board, paying $63.40 for her one-length win.
Magdelaine, a New Zealand-bred mare who was purchased last year for $110,000 by Carmen Koosa, a Southland automobile dealer, was able to take an unchallenged early lead under Eddie Maple through slow fractions, and the other six starters couldn't pass her in the stretch. Lizzy Hare finished last.
Magdelaine, a Terry Knight-trained horse that raced in Australia until early this year, had put together a four-race winning streak, including a stakes victory over Top Corsage at Golden Gate Fields. Two weeks before the Matchmaker, she beat only one horse in the Beverly Hills Handicap at Hollywood Park. Some trainers said that the Atlantic City grass course was hard, but Koosa didn't feel that it was as unyielding as the surface that Magdelaine ran on at Hollywood.
Besides a $60,000 purse, Koosa also won a breeding to one of three stallions--Bet Twice, Proud Truth or Track Barron. Knight recommended Track Barron, but Koosa decided to take Bet Twice, the 1987 Belmont Stakes winner who will start stud duty next year.
"I like to bet a little and I've cashed a few good bets on Bet Twice," Koosa said. "Maybe he'll be lucky for me at stud, too."
But Koosa may not send Magdelaine to Bet Twice for stud purposes. Koosa plans to keep her in training and would like to substitute, with the approval of Atlantic City officials, a 5-year-old mare named Distant Runner.
"I claimed her for $12,500, and she's won about $130,000 for me," Koosa said.
Just like selecting Bet Twice, Koosa will be playing a hunch.
Joe Morgan, the new manager of the Boston Red Sox, is an avid horseplayer. Several years ago, a New England horse--a son of Secretariat--was named after him but did little running. Interestingly, the horse was called Manager Joe Morgan.
Because the Arlington Million is being run at Woodbine this year, on Aug. 20, horses will not be able to use Lasix, the anti-bleeding medication that is banned in Canada but legal in Illinois. Arlington Park, the suburban Chicago track, was destroyed in a fire in 1985 and is being rebuilt this year.
Mike Harmatuck, the trainer of Skip Out Front, said that he considered nominating the 6-year-old earlier in the year, but when he learned that the horse couldn't run on Lasix, he didn't put up the money. Skip Out Front won the American Handicap at Hollywood Park on July 4.
"It wouldn't surprise me if a lot of the trainers of nominated horses don't know about not being able to use Lasix," Harmatuck said.
Of the 180 horses nominated, known prominent bleeders include Lost Code, Carotene, Alysheba, Ferdinand and Demons Begone.
"It's a good year to have a good grass horse because there are no big horses out there," Harmatuck said. "There's no Theatrical, no Manila."
Even Charlie Whittingham, who has trained two of the first seven winners of the Million--Perrault in 1982 and Estrapade in 1986--doesn't have a powerhouse among his group of grass runners.
One of the horses Whittingham is considering for the Eddie Read Handicap at Del Mar on July 31 is Fitzwilliam Place, the 4-year-old filly who won the Beverly Hills Handicap at Hollywood Park last month. The Read is a regular prep for California horses running in the Million; Perrault used the stake as his springboard in 1982.
Fitzwilliam Place was not nominated for the Million, and would have to be supplemented at a cost of $75,000 before she could run.
The Thoroughbred Record surveyed the yearlings who had annually brought the highest price over the 25-year period that ended in 1985. The prices ranged from $83,000 for a filly in 1962 to the world-record $13.1 million for the Nijinsky II colt in 1985.
Of the 25 yearlings, 11 either never ran a race or failed to win a race. The most any of them earned was the $537,837 by Wajima, who cost $600,000 and was voted champion 3-year-old colt in 1975. Majestic Prince, the sales topper at $250,000 in 1967, earned $414,200 and won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness.
Seattle Dancer, who brought the record $13.1 million, won two races and earned $189,068 in the only year he raced and began a stud career this year. The best horse Allen Paulson never bought was the Northern Dancer colt who became Snaafi Dancer in 1983. Paulson was the underbidder when Snaafi Dancer was sold for $10.2 million; the colt never made it to the race track.
Horse Racing Notes