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Racing at Santa Anita : Goodbye Halo, Day on Time in La Canada

February 05, 1989|BILL CHRISTINE | Times Staff Writer

The well-traveled Pat Day has never missed a major race because of an airline problem, but Saturday he came as close as a jockey could come, finally getting to Santa Anita in time to ride the mud-loving Goodbye Halo to a 2 3/4-length victory in the $215,300 La Canada Stakes before 23,212.

Day began the day in Arkansas, where he rode on opening day Friday at Oaklawn Park, and was to take a flight early Saturday morning to Dallas and then to Los Angeles. But the temperature in Little Rock dropped from 80 to 12 degrees in 72 hours and both Day's departure flight and his Texas connection were late.

Day arrived at Los Angeles International Airport shortly before 2 p.m., and about 2 1/2 hours before the La Canada was scheduled to be run. As it turned out, he reached Santa Anita with more than an hour to spare.

Goodbye Halo's trip was more punctual, but then the 4-year-old filly only had to travel 1 1/4 miles. A muddy course is something Goodbye Halo usually handles--she lost by only a half-length as the forgotten horse in that dramatic finish between Personal Ensign and Winning Colors in the Breeders' Cup Distaff at muddy Churchill Downs last November. In the La Canada, she didn't let the surface bother her.

Day had Goodbye Halo just off of Seattle Smooth's flank most of the way, and the favorite pulled away from the 12-1 shot at the top of the stretch. Seattle Smooth was inside Goodbye Halo through the lane, and Day repeatedly looked over his right shoulder to see if any challengers were coming. There was nothing back there that prompted the rider to uncock his whip.

Seattle Smooth finished a length ahead of Savannah's Honor and No Review, the 5-2 second choice in a field of 7, ran fourth, but was beaten by more than 12 lengths.

Goodbye Halo paid $5.40, $3.40 and $2.40. The smallish chestnut daughter of Halo and Pound Foolish was timed in 1:54 2/5 and earned $125,300 for her owners, Arthur B. Hancock III and Alex Campbell Jr. Goodbye Halo, who has earned $1.4 million in a 17-race career, has won 10 races--all stakes--and the La Canada was her eighth major victory.

Seattle Smooth, ridden by Laffit Pincay, paid $6.60 and $3.40 and Savannah's Honor, with Gary Stevens aboard, paid $2.80.

Sand has sometimes bothered Goodbye Halo when it hits her in the face, and Day didn't know what to expect with Saturday, never having ridden the filly on an off track.

"The slop didn't even faze her," Day said. "We were biding our time behind Laffit's filly. Going into the stretch, I felt that we had her measured. My filly has just enough spunk to make her a nice filly. It's too early to go comparing her with Lady's Secret (the Day-ridden filly who was horse of the year in 1986), because she was one of a kind."

The track was more of a problem for Day than Goodbye Halo. The jockey was wearing 4 pairs of goggles, ready to flip down a fresh pair when the others got muddy, and there was so much splattering early that Day was working on his third pair before the horses made their move down the backstretch.

Pincay was satisfied with Seattle Smooth's race, her first beyond a mile.

"She never went this far before, and lasted real good," Pincay said. "I tried to make a slow pace and she responded well. But Pat was breathing down my neck and had me most of the way."

Rafael Meza, with his mount, No Review, in fifth place early, went through 5 pair of goggles.

"She didn't like the track," said Chris Speckert, No Review's trainer. "It was like soup out there."

Speckert said he will discuss with Thomas Mellon Evans, the owner of No Review, whether they would run favored Cherokee Colony in today's $500,000 Charles H. Strub for 4-year-old colts and geldings. Cherokee Colony has never won on an off track.

The 15th running of the La Canada gave Charlie Whittingham his first victory in the stake. If Nasr el Arab wins today, Whittingham will become the first trainer to double in the La Canada and the Strub in the same year.

Nasr el Arab not only isn't accustomed to mud, he has never run on dirt. Whittingham acted as though he wouldn't scratch.

Of Goodbye Halo, Whittingham said: "She can handle any track. It's only on the turf (three non-winning starts) where she has trouble. She can't seem to handle the turns on grass.

"Today, when the slop hit her in the face, she just pinned her ears back and kept on going. She's one of the best fillies I've ever had. She's not big but she's mighty."

Horse Racing Notes

Four of the starters in the La Canada--Variety Baby, No Review, Forewarning and Savannah's Honor--wore mud calks, shoes that may help horses on an off track, but Charlie Whittingham didn't consider them for Goodbye Halo. "Calks ruin more horses than they help," Whittingham said. "Especially if you have a hard bottom, which is the the way it was today. If a horse keeps stopping on a hard bottom like that, he's going to jar himself."

Trainer Ron McAnally won 2 races Saturday with 3-year-olds. Stripped Pine, an English-bred who was seventh in his only other race, won after being treated with an anti-bleeding medication for the first time, and M Single M, who made 2 unsuccessful starts last month after being unraced as a 2-year-old, was the other winner. . . . Reconnoitering, who had trouble winning locally, won the Albany Handicap at Golden Gate Fields, with Aaron Gryder riding. . . . Josette was vanned from California to Oklahoma City, Okla., and won the Heartland Stakes at Remington Park.

Pat Day had a flight Saturday night to Miami, where he'll ride Evening Kris today in the Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park. . . . The horses that have victories over Goodbye Halo on dirt are Classic Crown (as a 2-year-old), Winning Colors, Maplejinsky (when Goodbye Halo bled in the Alabama) and Personal Ensign. . . . Whittingham gave Day these instructions: "Get away good and get in position where you won't get drowned."

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