At first Jack Goodwin couldn't buy the dam, and years later he couldn't sell her colt. Because one sale belatedly went through and the other never materialized, Goodwin is the owner of Matty G, the biggest longshot winner in the history of the Hollywood Futurity.
The longest price in the seven-horse field, Matty G paid $73.40 Sunday in a front-running performance that permanently dashed the flickering Eclipse Award hopes of 3-10 favorite Hennessy, who couldn't recover from a troublesome trip and finished fourth, beaten by 10 lengths. Matty G won by seven lengths, a record for the race, and justified the confidence that trainer Ron McAnally had in his horse. McAnally had recommended to Jack Goodwin and his wife, Joan, that they pay the $25,000 supplementary penalty to make Matty G eligible for the $500,000 race.
Named after one of the Goodwins' grandsons, Matty G won his first stakes race and earned $275,000. Odyle, another supplementary entry, finished second, one length ahead of Ayrton S.
Before Sunday, Matty G's only win in five starts was against maidens at Del Mar in September. The horse's development had been slowed by an allergy that led to a throat infection. A month ago, Matty G was 55-1 in his prep for the Futurity and was a well-beaten fourth in the Hollywood Prevue Breeders' Cup Stakes.
"Alex [Solis] had to rush him out of there in that last race," McAnally said. "This time he didn't have to rush it. He just cooled it. I think this horse just bloomed."
There was a crowded run into the first turn of the 1 1/16-mile race, and the three Hollywood Park stewards conducted a brief inquiry before they allowed the finish to stand. Matty G's time was 1:41 3/5, a second slower than the stakes record.
Solis said that he heard Gary Stevens, Hennessy's jockey, yell, "Hey, Alex, I'm here," on the clubhouse turn.
"When I heard that, I stayed out of his way," Solis said.
Solis gave McAnally all the Futurity encouragement he needed after working Matty G seven furlongs in 1:25 3/5 as the fog lifted in mid-morning on Dec. 9. Sunday's race was Matty G's first beyond seven furlongs.
The winner of stakes in California, New Jersey and New York this summer, Hennessy was beaten for the fourth consecutive time.
"Secretariat couldn't have overcome what happened," said Hennessy's trainer, Wayne Lukas. "Solis got in our way on the turn, and then it got worse the rest of the way around. You'd think with world-class riders that you could hope for a good trip, but that didn't happen."
In fourth place, Stevens was trapped behind horses at the three-eighths pole and had to wait for room. The rail opened up at the quarter pole, but by then Hennessy's tank was empty.
"It was a little rough for him on the first turn," Stevens said, "and he never settled into stride at all."
A son of Capote, Lukas' champion 2-year-old in 1986, Matty G is out of the mare Star Gem, who also produced Star of Cozzene, a superior grass horse who earned $2.1 million and won several stakes, including the Arlington Million, in 1993.
With each telling, Jack Goodwin relishes the account of how he bought Star Gem. "She was in a $25,000 claiming race at one of the Northern California tracks," he said. "I put in a claim for her, but I wasn't the only one. We had the shake [of numbered pills] and somebody else [Bart Heller] got her. Even though she was lame when they got her back to the barn, I still wanted her. They let me buy her for the same price that I tried to claim her for."
Matty G was Star Gem's sixth foal. When Matty G was a yearling, Goodwin sent him to auction, expecting to get at least $195,000. When the bidding stalled, he bought him back for $190,000. Matty G is a ridgeling, with only one descended testicle. Ridgelings can still breed, but Goodwin thought that this condition discouraged bidders at the sale.
Horse Racing Notes
Laffit Pincay broke three ribs Sunday after being unseated by his mount, Kris's Intention, in a crowded run to the first turn in the fourth race. Pincay was released from the hospital Sunday night and will be sidelined indefinitely. . . . Corey Nakatani, who started the Hollywood Park meet with a suspension, will end it that way too. Nakatani withdrew his appeal of a three-day suspension from the Fairplex Park meet in September and has received an additional five days from the Hollywood stewards after a disqualification of one of his horses on Saturday's card. The days begin Wednesday and run through closing day at Hollywood next Sunday. Nakatani won't be eligible to ride until Dec. 30, the fourth day of the Santa Anita meet. . . . Kent Desormeaux, dropping an appeal of an October suspension at the Oak Tree meet, will sit out three days at Hollywood this week, starting Wednesday.