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LOS ALAMITOS : Avison Helps Thompsons Celebrate

August 24, 1995|STACY PIGOTT | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Last Saturday was Bill and Jean Thompson's 40th wedding anniversary, and their horse, Avison, gave them the perfect present by winning the $80,450 Go Man Go Handicap.

Avison, winner of the Grade III Kaweah Bar Handicap and Grade I Vessels Maturity earlier this year, beat some of the toughest older horses in the country in the 400-yard Go Man Go, among them defending world champion Down With Debt and two-time world champion Refrigerator.

Ridden by Joe Badilla Jr., the gelding took an early lead and crossed the wire half a length ahead of longshot Pritzi Dash. Sound Dash, former champion aged mare, was third.

"It surprised me," Bill Thompson said. "I still don't know what happened to Refrigerator and Down With Debt. They didn't perform well, for some reason."

The two world champions bumped slightly at the break, and neither recovered sufficiently to pose any kind of threat to Avison. Down With Debt was fourth, Refrigerator sixth.

Avison has been the most successful horse the Thompsons have owned in a dozen years of racing.

"[Racing] was [Bill's] midlife crisis project," Jean Thompson said with a laugh. "So I just thought, 'I'll jump in here and help him.' "

Their first horse, Moonlight Lark, won his first race after the Thompsons had bought him for $800.

"Success came so easy back then," Bill Thompson said. "And then reality followed close behind."

Moonlight Lark cracked a vertebra in his back and wasn't able to race again. So when Avison appeared to have a back problem at the end of last year, the Thompsons were understandably nervous.

"It did scare the heck out of me," Bill Thompson said.

However, Avison has returned, better than ever.

"I thought he might be able to, but I was still surprised that he had continued to improve into his 5-year-old year," Thompson said. "I had a feeling we were going to see his best on the track this season."

Avison's best has earned him a berth in the Champion of Champions and marked him as a prime candidate for year-end championship honors.

"We thought he might [earn a champion title] last year, because he ran well against Refrigerator," Thompson said. "But then he got hurt and he couldn't run in the Champion of Champions, so his fame faded quickly."

Avison's schedule for the rest of the year includes the Los Alamitos Invitational Championship on Oct. 20, and the Champion of Champions. For the time being, Avison is enjoying some rest.

"I think the horse must have stayed laying down and resting all day Sunday," Thompson said. "But you know what? So did I. It was such a relief."

Los Alamitos Notes

Jockey Alex Bautista was taken to Los Alamitos Medical Center for knee X-rays after his mount, Frazier Pass, went down in the sixth race Saturday night. Frazier Pass stumbled and fell over Leafy Wind, who broke down and later had to be destroyed. Oscar Monroy, who was aboard Leafy Wind, was not seriously hurt. Bautista is scheduled to ride again tonight.

Chickasis posted the fastest qualifying time for the California Sires Cup Futurity after winning her 350-yard trial by 1 1/2 lengths in 17.66 seconds. . . . The Arabian Magna Terra Smoky earned his 11th stakes victory at Los Alamitos in the California Breeders Alliance Handicap on Friday night. Arabian mare Fryga won Saturday's California Heritage Distaff.

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