Days like this have become almost routine for Wayne Lukas.
About four hours after the trainer watched Steinlen go wire-to-wire in the $500,000 Caesars International Handicap on the East Coast, another member of Team Lukas, Deposit Ticket, was the game winner of the $101,500 Hollywood Juvenile Championship at Hollywood Park.
The 5-2 third choice while coupled with Iroquois Park, the 2-year-old Northern Baby colt--he's not a gelding, as was announced to the crowd during the afternoon--battled back after being headed by favored Avenue Of Flags and won by a length. Over a track that played extremely fast, Deposit Ticket was timed in 1:09 for the six furlongs.
This was the second victory in four starts for Deposit Ticket, who was a distant fourth in a Churchill Downs stakes July 1 two weeks after an easy maiden victory at Hollywood Park.
Mark Henning, a Lukas assistant, said that defeat shouldn't have been held against the colt, who is owned by Lukas and Overbrook Farm, the same connections which lost Grand Canyon to laminitis a week ago.
"I saddled him when he ran back there and he wasn't himself that day," Hennig said. "He was preoccupied with everything that was going on around him. We knew he didn't run his race there. We felt confident he would run better today.
"From the time he stepped on the track at Churchill, he was looking around and never got his mind on business. I think that race had to help him a lot, though. He had a six-furlong race under his belt, and I think that showed at the sixteenth pole when he dug in again."
Gary Stevens had ridden both Deposit Ticket and Iroquois Park in victory, and he made the right choice Saturday. The other half of the entry finished seventh.
"Two months from now, Iroquois Park might be a better colt, but this colt's more seasoned," he said of Deposit Ticket. "This is a good colt, plus he doesn't make any mistakes. He's got good speed and he'll do whatever you want him to do at any point in the race.
"Wayne thought enough of him to ship out of town, and did so knowing that he would need a prep race for the Juvenile. The horse had all the fitness he needed from that race, and he gave me everything he had."
Still, at the top of the stretch, the Juvenile looked like it belonged to Avenue Of Flags, the 8-5 favorite. The son of Seattle Slew was very impressive breaking his maiden in late May, and he got the lead Saturday with about an eighth of a mile to run. But he was no match in the final yards. "My horse really dug in the last quarter of a mile," Stevens said.
Kent Desormeaux, the runner-up's companion, said Avenue Of Flags simply came up empty late.
"He was gasping at the end," he said. "He was as tired as they get. I had to run at Deposit Ticket and by the end his legs were like rubber bands."
Broadway's Top Gun, who entered the Juvenile unbeaten in three starts, finished fifth, and there's a possibility he won't be seen for awhile.
"I think the horse shin-bucked in the race," said Corey Nakatani. "His shins were a little sore in the post parade, and he never really did warm out of it before the race. He's a nice horse and I think they'll give him some time now."
Stone God, an 11-1 shot, was third, a little more than a length behind Avenue Of Flags. Then came Sunshine Machine, Broadway's Top Gun, Arkridge, Iroquois Park and Caught De Star.
Seeking his fifth victory in six starts, Stalwart Charger is the 4-5 morning line favorite for today's $212,000 Swaps Stakes at Hollywood Park.
An easy, 4 1/2-length winner of the Silver Screen on July 1, the 3-year-old gelded son of Stalwart has returned to work well twice for trainer Pico Perdomo. He went five furlongs in 1:01 4/5 last Wednesday, six days after working seven furlongs in 1:25 4/5.
Already tabbed the best 3-year-old in America by Perdomo, Stalwart Charger's next scheduled stop is the Super Derby at Louisiana Downs in September, then the Breeders' Cup Classic.
Only four were entered Friday morning to oppose him, headed by Silver Ending. The beaten favorite in the St. Paul Derby at Canterbury Downs last month, the Silver Hawk colt has trained well since coming home, including a 1:39 1/5 mile a week ago. With Gary Stevens aboard Jovial, Eddie Delahoussaye will ride Silver Ending for trainer Ron McAnally.
Impressive in two grass victories, Jovial will be making his first start on the main track for Bruce Jackson. The other entrants are Toby Jug, second in the Silver Screen, and Bel Air Paster, who has only a maiden win in eight outings.
Steinlen, the beaten favorite in the American Handicap July 4, made amends in the Caesars International at Atlantic City, which was simulcast locally before Hollywood Park's first race.
The 1989 Eclipse Award winner easily made the lead under Jose Santos, was allowed to set slow fractions, then drew away late from the filly Capades and Alwuhush to win by nearly four lengths.