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Late Arrival Is No Cause for Concern : Breeders' Cup: Arkansas Derby winner takes the $3-million Classic on a day of surprises.

November 06, 1994|BILL CHRISTINE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Breeders' Cup horse that arrived last at Churchill Downs ran first Saturday as Concern beat Tabasco Cat by a neck in the $3-million Classic, ending on a high note a long year of unfulfilled promise for the 3-year-old colt from Maryland.

Trainer Dick Small's style is to ship a horse to a race at a late hour, and by van instead of plane. He made no exception with Concern, even though the late-running son of Broad Brush was appearing in the most important stake of his 21-race career.

A 10 1/2-hour trip brought Concern and the trainer to Kentucky at 3 a.m. Friday, long after all the other Breeders' Cup horses had settled in and been tested during workouts over the Churchill Downs track.

Concern did all of his Breeders' Cup preparations at Pimlico, where he worked a mile on Monday. "I find that most horses do better in their own surroundings," Small said. "It's better not to disrupt their daily rhythms."

Small played it even closer to the vest when Concern ran in the Travers in August. For that race, the horse was driven to Upstate New York and arrived at 4 a.m. on the day of the race, about 13 hours before post time. He lost by a neck to Holy Bull, the probable horse of the year who didn't run in the Breeders' Cup.

Being beaten by necks and running second and third have been Concern's style, a rut that ended in time for his owner-breeder, Robert Meyerhoff, to collect a purse of $1.56 million, more than half a million dollars more than his colt had earned from all his previous labor. Concern went into the Classic with only three victories--and seven seconds and eight thirds--in 20 races, and this year he had been beaten seven consecutive times since winning the Arkansas Derby by a neck in April.

"He still had an extended string of some pretty good races," Small said, explaining what business Concern had in the Breeders' Cup. "He had run well enough lately, well enough in some races that the horse probably thought that he had won."

Concern's $17 win payoff came on an overcast 70-degree day before 71,671, a record Breeders' Cup crowd. What went before included three other upsets:

--One Dreamer's $96.20 payoff for her neck victory over Heavenly Prize in the $1-million Distaff.

--Tikkanen's $35.20 price for his 1 1/2-length victory over Hatoof in the $2-million Turf.

--Barathea's $22.80 victory in the Mile, a race the colt had mangled the year before with a first-turn right turn into a pack of horses at Santa Anita.

The other $1-million races better resembled form.

Trainer Wayne Lukas, who also trains Tabasco Cat, won the Juvenile with Timber Country and the Juvenile Fillies with Flanders for his 11th and 12th Breeders' Cup victories, and favored Cherokee Run wore down Soviet Problem in the stretch to win the Sprint by a head.

The big disappointments of the afternoon were Lure and Paradise Creek, both odds-on choices in the two grass races.

Lure, trying to become the first horse to win three Breeders' Cup races, couldn't overcome a No. 14 post position in the Mile and finished ninth. Paradise Creek, beaten only once all year, led the Turf with less than an eighth of a mile left, but lacked the stamina for his first 1 1/2-mile start and finished third, beaten by three lengths.

With Timber Country and Flanders, Pat Day was a two-time winner, giving him eight victories in 11 Breeders' Cups and moving him into first place, one ahead of Eddie Delahoussaye and Laffit Pincay. But Jerry Bailey upstaged all of the jockeys, using Concern for his third victory in the Classic. Bailey, 37, clicked with Arcangues, the 133-1 shot last year, and he was also aboard Black Tie Affair at Churchill Downs in 1991.

Bailey is president of the Jockeys' Guild, which was foiled by the Churchill Downs stewards, who wouldn't allow the riders to wear "47" stickers on their boots to honor that number of former riders who are permanently disabled. Bailey and other jockeys, ignoring direct questions about the races at least six times during NBC's telecast, still plugged their intentions. Jockeys were able to wear the stickers in most other racing states Saturday.

By the time Bailey reached the winner's circle with Concern, he was wearing a white baseball cap with a "47" sticker on the front. "Hi to the 47," he said on television. "All the guys out there who are sitting and watching."

Later, Bailey said, "I think it was a stretch of the rules for the stewards not to let us do what we wanted to do."

Many racetrack executives characterized the "47" campaign as an effort by the jockeys to secure public sympathy in their efforts to get the tracks to renew a contract for hospitalization and accident insurance.

Bailey was in the kind of a spot that might cause an accident, when Concern tried to squeeze between Millkom and Devil His Due on the far turn, with three-eighths of a mile to go.

He yelled at Smith, who was on a tiring horse, to make room. "Mike let me slip through," Bailey said. "That was the only queasy part of the whole race."

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