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DEL MAR : Toffels: Ecstasy Turns to Agony Under the Wire


DEL MAR — The joy of owning a stakes winner for Mr. and Mrs. Alvin Toffel was extremely short-lived.

Immediately after crossing the finish line after a 3 1/2-length upset of 2-5 favorite Bridge Of Royalty in the $104,750 Graduation Stakes, Riva Ranger, a 2-year-old son of Video Ranger and the 8-1 third choice in the field, broke down Wednesday.

The initial report from veterinarian Ray Baran was that Riva Ranger broke the sesamoid bone in his left front leg and there was also possible cannon bone damage. It wasn't known whether the horse could be saved.

Riva Ranger, trained by Brian Lynch and ridden by Kent Desormeaux, tracked the pace set by Don't Tell Wayne, the 7-1 second choice, and Don't Tell Wayne, cruised up to the favorite early in the stretch and completed the six furlongs in 1:09 3/5.

Then he went down. Desormeaux, obviously upset, slammed his whip into the rail.

"What a shame," he said. "I feel so sorry for those people [the Toffels]. They've paid their dues. They've been in this game 10 years, and this was the first time they've even had a horse in a stakes race. They were so excited.

"Then, to win it and be on Cloud 9 and have this happen right after. What a game of profound extremes this is. The highs and lows are unbelievable.

"This colt has so much talent too. You can't believe how good he felt out there. At the three-eighths pole, he was just in a high lope and he was only a length off the leaders."

Since being purchased by Sid and Jenny Craig for a reported $300,000 after a six-length maiden victory in his first start on May 4, Bridge Of Royalty has been beaten twice at odds-on.

He was second, a length behind the filly Distinguish Forum, in the Westchester Stakes at Hollywood Park nearly two months ago, then was no match for Riva Ranger on Wednesday.

Bridge Of Royalty finished four lengths clear of Jake's Surprize. Then came Torremolinos, Ready To Order, Don't Tell Wayne and Hachero.

Horse Racing Notes

Third as the 1-2 favorite in the $76,100 Wickerr Handicap Wednesday, Slew Of Damascus is still a possibility for the $1-million Pacific Classic on Aug. 13, according to trainer Craig Roberts. Royal Chariot, the 9-2 second choice, rallied in the final furlong to beat 9-1 shot Bon Point by 1 1/4 lengths in 1:34 4/5 in the Wickerr. . . . Royal Chariot will probably make his next start in the $250,000 Del Mar Handicap on Sept. 2. . . . Jockey Pat Valenzuela didn't show up Wednesday morning to continue a hearing regarding his recent indefinite suspension that began Monday before the Del Mar stewards. Valenzuela sent his agent, Harry Hacek, and he presented the stewards with an envelope that supposedly contained documentation from Valenzuela's doctor that the oft-troubled jockey was indeed sick when he took off his mounts on July 26, Del Mar's opening day. . . . Jockey Jerry Lambert, 54, earned his first victory at Del Mar since 1977 when he rode Who You Do to an $82.80 upset in Wednesday's sixth race. Lambert, who rides mostly at Los Alamitos now, was Del Mar's leading rider in 1967. . . . There is a Pick Six carryover of more than $95,000 for today. . . . Although the Graduation escaped him with Bridge Of Royalty, Laffit Pincay did win three times Wednesday.

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