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HOLLYWOOD PARK : Best Pal Surges From Last, Wins the Answer Do

July 23, 1994|BILL CHRISTINE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Best Pal, coming back Friday night after more than five months off, rallied from last place to score a 2 3/4-length victory in the $61,200 Answer Do Stakes at Hollywood Park.

The opposition--four other California-breds--was hardly what Best Pal will be facing the rest of the year, but his trainer, Richard Mandella, and his owners, John and Betty Mabee, believe the victory at seven furlongs will set him up for the $1-million Pacific Classic at Del Mar on Aug. 13. This was Best Pal's first victory since Oct. 16.

"I liked it," said Mandella, who saddled Best Pal for the first time. "This is the kind of race that should liven him up. I really had him ready to run a mile, so going to a mile and a quarter (the Del Mar distance) shouldn't be a problem."

Best Pal, who has earned more than any horse in training, ranking fifth on the money list, won $34,200 and has earned $4,773,645. This was the 15th victory in 34 starts for the 6-year-old gelding.

Kent Desormeaux, riding Best Pal for the first time since early last year, swung to the outside leaving the quarter pole and passed leader Marmoe with less than a sixteenth of a mile to go. Best Pal trailed by 10 1/2 lengths after the first quarter-mile and was 9 1/2 back after a half-mile. His winning time was 1:21 1/5.

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A few days after arriving in the United States from France, Grand Flotilla was scheduled to run in an $80,000 claiming race at Santa Anita.

"This is what we thought we had," trainer Jenine Sahadi said. "At the very worst, we thought we had a horse for the high-class claiming ranks."

That $80,000 race in January was canceled because not enough horses were entered, and Grand Flotilla hasn't been seen near the claiming box since. After three respectable outings in stakes at Santa Anita, he earned $275,000 for winning the Hollywood Turf Handicap on May 30, and on Sunday the 7-year-old roan is entered in the $250,000 Sunset Handicap at Hollywood Park.

With top turf horses such as Bien Bien, Fanmore, Star Of Cozzene, Blues Traveller and Alex The Great not entered, Grand Flotilla is the highweight for the 1 1/2-mile Sunset at 119 pounds. This is the seven-horse lineup, in post-position order:

Sir Mark Sykes, Stark South, Emerald Jig, Grand Flotilla, Mashaallah, Semillon and Lilyoun. Grand Flotilla will be coupled in the wagering with Sir Mark Sykes. Both are owned by Mike and Mary Louise Sloan.

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Golden Klair got a break when Hollywood Wildcat was scratched from the Hawthorne Handicap because of a cough on May 29, and the 4-year-old filly also won't have to worry about the Eclipse Award winner in Sunday's $300,000 Vanity Handicap.

Had Hollywood Wildcat run in the 1 1/8-mile Vanity, she would have carried 124 pounds, five more than Golden Klair, who becomes the highweight as she tries for her third stakes victory of the meet.

The opposition--seven horses--still includes some distaffers who can be tough on their best days. Mz. Zill Bear drew the rail, and the rest of the lineup includes Exchange, Golden Klair, Fondly Remembered, Potridee, Wendy's Daughter, Southern Truce and Andestine. Golden Klair lost by a neck to Andestine in the Milady Handicap on June 26.

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As does Hollywood Park, Santa Anita plans to offer full-card betting on races from major Northern California tracks as the result of the North-South bill that was signed by Gov. Pete Wilson this week.

"We'll have the Bay Meadows and Golden Gate races without interfering with our live cards," Santa Anita President Cliff Goodrich said.

"The length of our live cards, which runs between 4 hours and 4 hours and 15 minutes, shouldn't be affected."

Goodrich doesn't anticipate that the extra races will increase attendance dramatically.

"This is a positive thing but should affect business only moderately at the track," he said. "I can see this helping the satellite betting locations more. I would think that their business might go up between 5 and 10%. On-track, the handle might grow by 2-5%.

"But any time you can help business during these tough times, it's meaningful. And we'll be able to bring in the extra races without a lot of extra cost."

The Santa Anita season that opens on Dec. 26 will overlap with the Bay Meadows and Golden Gate Fields meetings, which are run consecutively.

Sherwood Chillingworth, executive vice president of the Oak Tree Racing Assn., said that he doesn't know how many races Oak Tree will import when it runs a meeting at Santa Anita from Oct. 5 to Nov. 7.

"I would say that we'll carry at least four races from the North," Chillingworth said.

"Carrying them all might be an overload. We'll have to give it more thought before we decide what the mix will be."

No major Northern California tracks are open now. Hollywood Park, which closes Monday, will offer four races today from the Solano County Fair in Vallejo.

Joe Harper, president of Del Mar, said that his track, which opens Wednesday, will not import any races from the Northern California fairs for at least the first week of the meet.

"We wouldn't have enough time to put anything together," Harper said. "But we'll take a look at this thing and see if there's any merit to adding some races later in the meet."

Horse Racing Notes

After Lakeway's 46 2/5 half-mile workout Friday, trainer Gary Jones said that he and owner Mike Rutherford were leaning toward running against fillies in the Alabama Stakes at Saratoga, rather than facing colts in the Travers. . . . De Niro, winner of his first two starts by 12 3/4 lengths, ran third Friday in the mud at Saratoga as Montreal Red won the Sanford Stakes. . . . In the Schuylerville for 2-year-old fillies, Unacceptable also lost for the first time, finishing second behind Changing Ways.

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