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Grass Is Greener for Two Trainers

Horse racing: Magnier and Rice saddle winners in $200,000 stakes at Hollywood Park.


A couple of trainers not that accustomed to the winner's circle at Hollywood Park landed there Friday under optimum conditions--after their horses had won $200,000 grass stakes.

Simon Magnier, a former Irish steeplechase jockey who worked for more than 10 years in California under trainers John Gosden and Neil Drysdale, saddled Here's To You, who won the Miesque Stakes for 2-year-old fillies by 3 1/2 lengths.

A short time later, Linda Rice, who seldom visits California, sent out Soldier Field, a colt who's built to travel, and he won the Hollywood Turf Express Handicap by a length and a half.

Magnier, 34, left Drysdale about a year ago to start his stable, and his modest five-horse string is now headed by Here's To You, a $25,000 California-bred yearling who got a heady, energy-conserving, pace-setting ride from Eddie Delahoussaye. Here's To You got away with an opening half-mile in an easy 48 1/5 seconds and had enough left to outrun Sweet Ludy, the 8-5 Italian import making her first U.S. start.

Magnier had won three races this year, but the one-mile Miesque was his first stakes victory. Here's To You, owned by Sally and Richard Stacey of Murietta, Calif., was clocked in 1:36 2/5, earning $120,000 and paying $7.20 as the second choice in a field that lost its morning-line favorite, Perfect Sting, because of a fever.

Going into the Miesque, Here's To You had won one of four starts, all on dirt, for jockey Danny Sorenson, one a second-place finish in the California Cup Juvenile Fillies even though she blew a shoe leaving the gate.

"Danny worked her on the grass and told me she loved it," Delahoussaye said. "He was right. It's sad to see them take Danny off, but you know how this business is. Danny could have won with her too, but I'm not going to turn down a good mount, because if I don't ride, they're going to give the mount to somebody else."

Delahoussaye rode many stakes winners for Drysdale when Magnier was an assistant in the barn.

"Whenever Eddie's on the lead, I'm happy," Magnier said.

He got more good news Friday with the arrival of Kitza, a well-regarded, stakes-placed European 3-year-old owned by his cousin, John Magnier of Coolmore Stud.

Linda Rice, 34, grew up with horses in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania and has trained them in New York since 1991. Soldier Field's win Friday completed a national tour for the 3-year-old colt, who has won eight of 15 starts at nine tracks this year.

He was ridden in the Express by veteran Rick Wilson and together they held off the 5-2 favorite, Surachai, winning in 1:02 for 5 1/2 furlongs. Soldier Field, who paid $7.80 as the second choice, earned $120,000 for his owner, David Sepler, of Great Neck, N.Y. Soldier Field is undefeated in four grass starts at the Express distance.

"He ships very well, and I flew him [to California] the day after his last race [Nov. 3]) so he could get acclimated and get a breeze over the course," Rice said.

Horse Racing Notes

Trainer Neil Drysdale, unable to run Fiji in Sunday's $700,000 Matriarch because of a cough, will run longshot Society Dream instead. The favorite, New York invader Auntie Mame, drew the outside in the nine-horse field. Here is the lineup, in post-position order: Squeak, Society Dream, See You Soon, Witchful Thinking, Real Connection, Sonja's Faith, Sophie My Love, Green Jewel and Auntie Mame.

Ladies Din, who has won six stakes this year in Southern California and leads the circuit, drew the outside in Sunday's $500,000 Early Times Hollywood Derby. Here's that field: Lido, Dr Fong, Dixie Dot Com, Mail Coach, Prevalence, Lone Bid, Takarian, Crowd Pleaser, Vergennes and Ladies Din.

Milton Bronson, who campaigned Megan's Interco, three-time winner of the California Cup Mile, died last Saturday. He was 82. . . . Garrett Gomez won with all four of his mounts Friday.

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