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Baffert Ducks the Ducks and Wins Prevue

Horse racing: Trainer makes right choice and runs In Excessive Bull on dirt to avoid wayward coots on the turf course at Hollywood Park.

November 11, 1996|BILL CHRISTINE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The choices for In Excessive Bull were Sunday's $101,700 Hollywood Prevue or today's $60,000 Precisionist Stakes.

The Precisionist is a grass race, and although In Excessive Bull had worked favorably on that surface, trainer Bob Baffert was gun-shy about running another horse on the turf at Hollywood Park.

On opening day last Wednesday, a flock of coots strayed from an infield lake and got in the way of Baffert's Clever Princess and other horses in a grass race.

So Baffert ducked the ducks and ran In Excessive Bull Sunday.

The 2-year-old colt, making his third start, turned the tables on Thisnearlywasmine, winning by 3 1/2 lengths and running the seven-furlong Prevue in 1:21 2/5.

"I followed my gut and stayed on dirt," said Baffert, and then, looking downward he added: "And I've got plenty of gut to follow."

Thisnearlywasmine beat In Excessive Bull by three-quarters of a length in the Sunny Slope at Santa Anita on Oct. 23, but on Sunday Baffert's horse was favored for the third time and paid $3.40 for $2, earning $61,020 for owner-breeder Hal Earnhardt of Tempe, Ariz.

Corey Nakatani has ridden In Excessive Bull in all three of his races, starting with a10-length win against maidens on Oct. 5.

"The race he lost was my fault," Baffert said. "I told Corey to take our horse back, and that wasn't the thing to do."

Constant Demand finished third in Sunday's five-horse field, beaten by 4 3/4 lengths.

"I think he wants to [run longer] after what he did today," Nakatani said of In Excessive Bull. "I've been impressed from the first time I sat on him."

A son of In Excess, a major stakes winner in 1991, In Excessive Bull is out of a hard-luckmare. Baffert bought She Aint No Bull for $47,000, and her winless career was ended by injury.

Her first foal was killed after running into a fence, and in September, She Aint No Bull died of colic. In Excessive Bull is her only other foal.

Chris McCarron, who had won the three previous races, was astride Thisnearlywasmine.

Contrary to McCarron's plan, Thisnearlywasmine was on the lead after a half-mile, before In Excessive Bull took over.

"I was going to let those other two horses go and surprise them," McCarron said. "But my horse was too quick and he dragged me up there very, very early. So I inherited the lead by default, and the best horse won."

A supplemental fee of $25,000 must be paid before In Excessive Bull can run in the $250,000 Hollywood Futurity on Dec. 15.

"I'm not sure if we'll run," Baffert said. "Something I don't want to do is burn this horse up."

*

Cliff Goodrich, the president of Santa Anita, takes exception to remarks made by Ed Friendly last week about Hollywood Park's inability to sign a simulcasting contract with the race books in Nevada.

Friendly, chairman of the Thoroughbred Owners of California, said that Santa Anita's multiyear contract with the race books has compromised Hollywood Park's efforts to sign a one-year deal.

"Saying that about Santa Anita is grossly unfair," Goodrich said. "We've been cast in a bad light, and that's not right. Hollywood Park wants a higher commission than what we agreed to, and that's their prerogative.

"If they want to adopt a hard-line approach, that's up to them. But we haven't created a bad situation for anybody. All we've done is conduct our business according to what we feel is best for Santa Anita."

Since Hollywood Park's fall meet opened last Wednesday, the track has been losing estimated handle of as much as $500,000 a day because it doesn't have a contract with more than 40 Nevada race books.

"There might be something good to all this," Friendly said. "Maybe some of the big bettors will come back to California and start betting here again."

R.D. Hubbard, chairman of Hollywood Park, has been concerned about big bettors playing his races in Las Vegas, where the track's commissions are less.

"Las Vegas needs California racing," Hubbard said. "They offer a lot of tracks, but in the afternoons they'd have nothing if Hollywood Park, Golden Gate and Bay Meadows weren't part of their deal."

*

Alphabet Soup, winner of the Breeders' Cup Classic, won't run at Hollywood Park.

Trainer David Hofmans said his 5-year-old is being pointed for the San Antonio Handicap early in the Santa Anita meet.

Alphabet Soup won this year's San Antonio.

Dramatic Gold, ninth in the Classic, is scheduled to run in the Native Diver Handicapat Hollywood Park on Dec. 22.

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