Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

BELMONT STAKES | NOTES

For McCarron, It's Roller-Coaster Race

June 08, 1997|BILL CHRISTINE and BILL DWYRE and BOB MIESZERSKI | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

ELMONT, N.Y. — It has been a roller-coaster ride for Chris McCarron in the Belmont Stakes.

The 42-year-old jockey, who rode Touch Gold to victory Saturday, also won the 1986 Belmont with Danzig Connection. But McCarron has been unsuccessful in eight other Belmonts, the most disappointing his fourth-place finish with Alysheba in 1987 and the star-crossed run last year with Cavonnier, who broke down in the race and was retired with a tendon injury.

*

Free House was third in the Derby, second in the Preakness and third in the Belmont, giving his owners, Trudy McCaffery and John Toffan, and trainer Paco Gonzalez another whiff of fame in the Triple Crown. In 1991, they finished third in all three races with Mane Minister.

"Turning for home, I thought I couldn't lose," jockey Kent Desormeaux said after Free House's Belmont. "When I asked Free House to go, we accelerated so tremendously and Silver Charm just went with me. He absolutely just took off.

At this point, I'm thinking that it's going to be the Preakness all over again--a head bob again. And then here comes Touch Gold just running right by us pretty quickly."

*

Gary Stevens, who rode Touch Gold before he took over on Silver Charm, feels that this is a solid crop of 3-year-olds.

"I've been riding horses of this caliber for 12 years," Stevens said, "and this is the best crop I've seen in that time."

Desormeaux has also been impressed.

"You can't say enough about [Touch Gold, Silver Charm and Free House]," he said. "They're all champions, and they all gave a gallant effort."

*

The only plan trainer Bob Baffert has for Silver Charm is to ship him to Churchill Downs for a rest.

Trainer David Hofmans said that Touch Gold might run in the Haskell Invitational, a $1-million race, at Monmouth Park in New Jersey Aug. 3. There have been reports that Hollywood Park might try to lure the top 3-year-olds to its Swaps Stakes, on July 13, by doubling the purse to $1 million.

Gonzalez said that he has no plans for Free House other than to ship him back to Hollywood Park.

"He ran a big race," Gonzalez said. "He ran the way we wanted, but he just got beat by some really good horses. The race set up just the way we hoped. The one thing for sure is that he definitely belongs with these horses and he'll be back to run some big races for us."

*

Baffert, even more loosey-goosey than normal on this pressure-packed day, told the story before the race of the close call he and owners Bob and Beverly Lewis had had in nearly selling Silver Charm to Michael Tabor. After last year's Breeders' Cup, Tabor had discussed an offer of $1.6 million for a horse that the Lewises had bought for $85,000.

"I really didn't want to lose the horse, but I had to make it clear to the owners what a great price this looked like," Baffert said. "Finally, I was at a MacDonald's with the kids, and I called Bob Lewis and asked him if the deal was a done thing. And when he said no, and we agreed to keep the horse, I was the happiest man in the world.

"I chilled down with some fries and a medium Coke."

*

Just how different are the Lewises from most other thoroughbred owners?

Their top fillies, Mira Loma and Serena's Song, are on a breeding farm--Denali Stud of Paris, Ky. The owner of the farm, Craig Bandoroff, has been instructed, when there is a thunderstorm, to bring Mira Loma and Serena's Song inside. They are the only two getting that service.

Serena's Song is currently in foal to Mr. Prospector.

*

Perhaps the most interesting and striking statistic to come out of this event was ABC-TV's: "Since Affirmed won the Triple Crown in 1978, more than one million horses have been in foal. And none has been able to win a Triple Crown."

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|