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Horse Racing

Bonus in Swaps Hinges on Entry by Touch Gold

Hollywood Park: With Free House committed, Belmont winner holds key to $200,000 incentive.

June 28, 1997|BOB MIESZERSKI | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The $500,000 Swaps Stakes, which was moved earlier this week from July 13 to July 20 by Hollywood Park, will award a $200,000 bonus to the winner of the race if two of the first three finishers in the June 7 Belmont Stakes participate.

While Silver Charm already has committed to the $1-million Haskell Invitational on Aug. 3 at Monmouth Park, Free House, who finished third in the Belmont after finishing third in the Kentucky Derby and second in the Preakness, will run in the Swaps.

This would leave Belmont winner Touch Gold as the only one of the trio whose next race is still in question, but trainer Dave Hofmans said earlier this week he will discuss the matter with Frank Stronach, the colt's majority owner, this weekend.

If the bonus is in place for the Swaps, which is run at 1 1/8 miles, the winner would collect $500,000. If all three showed up, the bonus would be $500,000 with $800,000 going to the winner.

Had the Swaps remained on its original date, Free House, owned by Trudy McCaffery and John Toffan and trained by Paco Gonzalez, may have run in the Grade II as well as the Haskell. Now, it appears the California-bred son of Smokester will run here, then later ship to New York for the $750,000 Travers on Aug. 23 at Saratoga.

The Haskell, a Grade I that has been won the last two years by Serena's Song and Skip Away, has added some perks of its own.

Besides the bulk of the $1-million purse, the winner of the 1 1/8-mile race will collect a $250,000 bonus if he already has won a Grade I race this year and if the Haskell attracts two or more Grade I winners. A smaller bonus of $150,000 will be presented even if he's the only winner of a Grade I in 1997 in the field. This means an extra payday for Kentucky Derby and Preakness hero Silver Charm if he wins the Haskell, even if Free House and Touch Gold don't run at the Oceanport, N.J., track.

*

Three of trainer Richard Mandella's five starters in Sunday's $1-million Hollywood Gold Cup worked three-eighths of a mile Friday morning over Hollywood Park's main track.

Coming off a last-place finish in the Hollywood Turf Handicap on May 26, Sandpit had the fastest drill of the trio, working in 34 3/5 seconds. Gentlemen went in 36 2/5, a fifth of a second faster than defending champion Siphon.

Talloires, another of Mandella's horses, and Gentlemen will be coupled in the betting because both are owned in part by Hollywood Park chairman R.D. Hubbard. Technically, if Mandella owned a piece of any of the five starters he trains--he also will send out longshot Region on Sunday--all five would be required to run as one wagering interest.

Wayne Lukas, who will send out Marlin, the only other Gold Cup participant, is no stranger to running five horses in a single race. In the 1988 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Churchill Downs, he ran five who were coupled and finished 1-2-3 with Open Mind, Darby Shuffle and Lea Lucinda. The other two fillies, Some Romance and One Of A Klein, ran sixth and 11th, respectively.

At one point, the Gold Cup looked as though it was going to attract a larger field. However, Will's Way decided not to ship west after running third in the Massachusetts Handicap last month; trainer Sonny Hine decided not to supplement Skip Away, opting instead for the Suburban Handicap at Belmont Park on July 4; and Californian winner River Keen was declared out earlier this week because of illness.

Still, the six-horse lineup isn't the smallest Gold Cup field in recent memory. Slew Of Damascus had to beat only four others to win at 8-1 in 1994.

Horse Racing Notes

Twice The Vice will try to beat 1996 Breeders' Cup Distaff winner and Eclipse champion Jewel Princess for the third time in four meetings when they get together in the $250,000 Hempstead Handicap today at Belmont Park. Chris McCarron will ride Twice The Vice, who drew the rail in the Grade I, 1 1/16-mile Hempstead. Corey Nakatani will be aboard Jewel Princess. . . . The Thoroughbred Owners of California have approved a race proposed by Hollywood Park to attract top horses who are not eligible for the Breeders' Cup. The race, which would be run Nov. 30 if it becomes a reality, or three weeks after the Breeders' Cup, could have a purse as high as $1 million and probably would be 1 1/4 miles on the main track. Among the top horses who aren't eligible for the Breeders' Cup are Siphon, Skip Away, Gentlemen, Sandpit, Free House and Silver Charm. . . . The Hempstead is one of nine races countrywide that will be simulcast today at Hollywood Park. . . . Percutant is favored to win today's local feature, the $70,000-added Jim Murray Handicap at 1 1/2 miles on the turf.

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