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DEL MAR : Owner Doubles His Chances but Not His Fun in Chula Vista


DEL MAR — Sid Craig has these two mares. He loves them both, though the younger of the two, as is often the case, is a bit more rambunctious.

These two give him a problem, albeit a pleasant problem. They are competitive sorts, so much so that he prefers to keep them apart.

Craig has a real dilemma this week because the vagaries of horse racing have caused his Paseana and Exchange to be entered in the same race here Sunday afternoon.

With Craig's mares going head to head in the $200,000 Chula Vista Handicap over 1 1/16th miles, only three others have had the audacity to challenge them: Magical Maiden, the defending champion, Golden Klair and Glass Ceiling.

Surprisingly, the owner does not relish the thought of watching his mares race against each other. In fact, he is totally against it.

"They have two different trainers going two different directions," Craig said. "I made suggestions and tried a bunch of excuses, but it came down to this race being the best for both of them when it comes to the future."

Ron McAnally trains Paseana, a 7-year-old, and Bill Spawr trains Exchange, a 6-year-old. Both have the Breeders' Cup on their minds.

Craig's sentiments are strictly personal.

"I work daily with both trainers," he said, "and I like them both. I like and know both horses. It's like you have two kids vying for the same thing. Which one of them do you want to win?"

The trainers have feelings too.

"We win the race and I've got my arms around one guy's shoulders and I'm consoling the other," Craig said. "It's not a good position to be in."

That was a position Craig experienced after the 1992 Breeders' Cup Distaff at Gulfstream, when Paseana won by four lengths under Chris McCarron and Exchange finished eighth of 14 under Laffit Pincay Jr.

"Everyone was screaming for Paseana," Craig said, "and Pincay was covered with mud and Spawr was just quietly slinking away. I swore I'd never do it again, run these horses against one another."

Craig Says Paseana vs. Exchange is a much more compelling match than Soviet Problem vs. Mamselle Bebette in last Sunday's match race.

"They called that The Showdown at the Seashore," Craig said, "but this is really the showdown at the seashore."

Craig's mares present interesting contrasts.

"Paseana's beautiful," Craig said. "She's very feminine. Exchange is obstinate and won't train. She's bigger, maybe 200 pounds more than Paseana. She drives her jockey nuts, getting ahead and slowing down to wait for everyone else. Paseana isn't a problem like that. She just runs by other horses."

Does he have a favorite?

"The trainers will read it," Craig laughed. "They'll tell the horses."

Horse Racing Notes

Gold Splash, coming back from a back injury, is the 9-5 morning-line favorite in today's $75,000 Osunitas Stakes for fillies and mares over 1 1/16th miles on the turf course. Corey Nakatani gets the ride. Second choice at 5-2 is Re Toss with Eddie Delahoussaye and third at 3-1 is Queens Court Queen with Pat Valenzuela.

Eclipse Award-winner Phone Chatter might not have had her favorite distance, a mere 6 1/2 furlongs, for her comeback Thursday, but she won impressively regardless. "We're not trying to make a sprinter out of her," trainer Dick Mandella said. "She's naturally that good."

Chris Antley and Nate Hubbard received five-day suspensions effective Monday for violations of riding rules. . . . Concept Win, the 4-5 favorite with Gary Stevens aboard, ran a 1:08 1/5 over six furlongs to win the $60,000 Crazy Kid on Friday. That was the fastest six furlongs at Del Mar since 1992. He paid $3.60 to win. Ojai was second and Recommendation, rallying from far back, was third.

Dinner In Rio beat Irish Approach by a neck to win the $111,800 Seneca Handicap over 1 5/8 miles on turf at Saratoga. It was the second consecutive Seneca victory for jockey Mike Smith, who rode Fairy Garden to victory last year. He also rode Diwer to victory in 1990. Asserche was another 5 1/4 lengths behind in third in the field of nine. Dinner In Rio was timed in 2:44 4/5 on a course still soft from Thursday's rain.

Thunder Rumble, ridden by Richard Migliore, will try to go four for four in Saratoga stakes in the 1 1/8-mile Whitney Handicap today. Thunder Rumble, unraced last year because of physical problems, won the 1 1/8-mile Jim Dandy and 1 1/4-mile Travers for 3-year-olds at Saratoga in 1992. He returned this year to win the 1 1/8-mile Saratoga Cup Aug. 6. Thunder Rumble will be one of five Grade I stakes winners in the Whitney field; the others are Devil His Due, Mike Smith; Colonial Affair, Jose Santos; Pistols And Roses, John Velasquez, and West By West, Pat Day.

Montreal Red will try to become the third horse in 78 years to sweep Saratoga's three stakes for 2-year-olds. The winner of the six-furlong Sanford on June 24 and the 6 1/2-furlong Saratoga Special on Aug. 11 will run in the seven-furlong Hopeful on Sunday.

Romy caught 6-5 favorite Roman Heiress in the late stretch for a half-length victory in the $30,000 Double Delta Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Arlington International Racecourse. Romy, ridden by Juvenal Diaz, covered a mile on the turf course in 1:37 4/5 seconds and paid $6.40, $3.40 and $3. Roman Heiress returned $2.80 and $2.40 and Laura's Pistolette paid $3.30.

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