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Dramatic Gold, Bertrando Head Goodwood Field

October 15, 1994|BILL CHRISTINE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The road to the Breeders' Cup Classic seldom includes a stop at Santa Anita for the Goodwood Handicap, but at least two of the six horses in today's $200,000 race might wind up at Churchill Downs in three weeks if they run well enough.

Dramatic Gold, who won a $1-million race, the Molson Export Stakes, at Woodbine in Toronto in his last start, will try to become the first 3-year-old to win the Goodwood. Bertrando will try to regain the success of his earlier years.

"If he runs well and the race isn't too tough on him, we'll sit down and talk about the Classic," said David Hofmans, who trains Dramatic Gold for John and Betty Mabee, the owners and breeders of the gelding.

Since having surgery to relieve an entrapped epiglottis in April, Dramatic Gold has not run a dull race. He won an allowance race at Hollywood Park in June and followed that with a second in the Swaps Stakes, a third in the Pacific Classic at Del Mar and a 1 1/2-length victory in Canada a month ago. The son of Slew O' Gold from the Danzig mare American Dream has increased his earnings to more than $900,000.

And for a horse who appears to do better in cool weather, the timing is right. The sweltering 90-degree heat that hit Santa Anita last weekend has subsided.

Before his throat problems, Dramatic Gold was debilitated in March by a trip to steamy Gulfstream Park for the Florida Derby. But it had seemed like a good idea at the time; Holy Bull had finished last in his prep race and wasn't going to be favored over his home track. Dramatic Gold was already a winner in California at 1 1/8 miles.

"The trip was long and hot," Hofmans said. "He had to change planes along the way. Then the humid weather in Florida was awful."

There was something the Florida bettors saw in Dramatic Gold, however, and he was sent off at 7-1, with several top professional handicappers picking him to win the race. Holy Bull was an easy winner, with Dramatic Gold more than 20 lengths behind.

What followed was a fourth-place finish, as the 3-2 favorite, in the California Derby at Golden Gate Fields and the throat surgery that kept Dramatic Gold away from the races for more than two months.

After the Pacific Classic, the options for Dramatic Gold were the $750,000 Super Derby at Louisiana Downs or Canada, and the Molson victory gave the 51-year-old Hofmans his richest training victory. His biggest before that was in the $200,000 range, and he can recall starting only one other horse in a $1-million race, when General Meeting ran second to the Mabees' entrymate, Best Pal, in the 1990 Hollywood Futurity.

Bertrando's biggest accomplishment this year has been to service 70 mares. Back at the track, he has been a disappointment, winning once but then running last in the Pacific Classic and finishing fifth in the Woodward. Still, he has earned $3 million.

"He's got to run a big race (today) in order to go (to the Classic)," said Eddie Nahem, who bred Bertrando and races him with Marshall Naify.

Nahem and Naify seem to be serious about paying another $360,000 supplement, as they did last year for the Breeders' Cup.

In that race, at Santa Anita, Arcangues--the biggest longshot in Cup history at 133-1--was the only horse to run Bertrando down at 1 1/4 miles.

"If the French horse doesn't get us, we win horse of the year," Nahem said. "We still won (the award for) best older horse, and if we would win the Classic this year, the way the other older horses have been beating each other, they should give us that award again."

Ferdinand won the Goodwood and the Classic two weeks apart in 1987. More recently, Breeders' Cup pickings from the Goodwood have been considerably leaner, although Reign Road, winning the Oak Tree race in 1992, did finish fourth in the Classic.

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