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Purse Increase Being Considered for Swaps Stakes

HORSE RACING

June 13, 1997|BOB MIESZERSKI | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Talks are continuing between Hollywood Park and the Thoroughbred Owners of California on a possible increase of the purse for the Swaps Stakes, scheduled for July 13.

An increase, from $500,000, is being considered in the hope of luring Touch Gold, Silver Charm and Free House, the first three finishers in last Saturday's Belmont Stakes, to run in the 1 1/8-mile race.

John Van de Kamp, president of the TOC, said he, Don Robbins, Hollywood Park president, and Eual Wyatt, the track's general manager for racing, met Wednesday and plan to meet again. The TOC has to approve a purse increase.

"We've had some good discussions," Van de Kamp said. "We like the general idea and we hope to have it resolved by the end of the week."

There have been reports that the Swaps increase would guarantee $700,000 to a Grade I winner. There is also a possibility the Grade II event could be postponed a week, to July 20, the second-last day of the Hollywood Park meeting, so that Touch Gold, Silver Charm and Free House would have an extra week to bounce back from their Triple Crown campaigns.

Monmouth Park, which increased the purse of the Haskell Invitational to $1 million this year, has already made overtures to the big three about running there on Aug. 3. In fact, executives from the New Jersey track are expected here this weekend to continue their pitch.

Although Free House beat Silver Charm twice earlier this year and was third, second and third in the three Triple Crown races, a rubber match between Touch Gold and Silver Charm in the Swaps would make for the most attractive contest and would attract the most interest.

"It's a possibility to run here," said Dave Hofmans, Touch Gold's trainer, at Hollywood Park. "The money doesn't matter. What's important is timing. [July 13] may be a little too soon here. I could use an extra week or two with him.

"I'd like to stay here because the Breeders' Cup is going to be here [Nov. 8]."

Hofmans said a decision on Touch Gold's next start will be made later this month.

Silver Charm, who won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness before coming up less than a length short of the Triple Crown in the Belmont, is at Churchill Downs now in trainer April Mayberry's barn.

"I'll go see him in a couple of weeks to see how he looks," said trainer Bob Baffert. "After that, we'll be able to pinpoint his next start. "I'd love to be able to run in the Swaps, but only time will tell."

If Silver Charm skips the local race, he will probably surface next in the Haskell. His owners, Bob and Beverly Lewis, won that race two years ago with Serena's Song.

*

Jockey Matt Garcia will be sidelined indefinitely after breaking his left shoulder in a training accident Wednesday morning at Hollywood Park.

Working Fair And Fast, a 2-year-old filly trained by Don Collins, Garcia, 27, was thrown when the horse stopped suddenly. He hit the rail, was knocked unconscious and remained that way for 15 minutes, according to agent Vince DeGregory.

"He actually split his helmet in two and was complaining of shoulder pain afterward," DeGregory said.

Garcia, who had ridden 10 winners in 92 mounts through the first 35 days of the meeting, was released from Centinela Hospital Medical Center Wednesday evening after undergoing additional X-rays and a CT scan. He also bruised his right knee and needed some stitches on the back of his head.

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Elmhurst set a track record in Wednesday's feature at Hollywood Park, a $55,000 allowance race.

In beating favored Crafty Friend by half a length, the 7-year-old Wild Again gelding ran the 7 1/2 furlongs in 1:26 3/5, one-fifth of a second faster than the mark set by Finder's Fortune on April 29, 1993.

This was the sixth victory in 38 starts for Elmhurst, who is owned by C.N. and Carol Ray's Evergreen Farm and trained by Jenine Sahadi.

Hollywood Park's leading trainer with 14 victories, Sahadi now has trained horses who either hold or have equaled five track records at four different tracks.

Lit De Justice shares the 5 1/2-furlong record at Santa Anita and the six-furlong record at Woodbine, near Toronto, and also ran the fastest seven furlongs at Del Mar. Fastness and Megan's Interco share the record for a mile on the turf at Hollywood Park.

Horse Racing Notes

Skip Away, who picked up his first victory of the year in the Massachusetts Handicap on May 31 at Suffolk Downs, is considered as possible for the $1-million Hollywood Gold Cup on June 29. Owned by Carolyn Hine, the wife of trainer Sonny Hine, Skip Away would have to be supplemented for $25,000--plus $15,000 to enter and start." . . . Jockey Corey Black won four consecutive races on Thursday.

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