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Military Pulls Rank for Close Victory in Turf Championship


Eight minutes should be 480 seconds, but the sands in the hourglass can drop like bricks when you're a trainer standing on the racetrack, waiting to learn whether you've won a $300,000 race.

After Military and Bonapartiste hit the finish line in lock-step Sunday in the Oak Tree Turf Championship, trainer Wally Dollase thought he had won from his perch in a second-floor box seat close to the wire. But then when the placing judges took an exceptionally long time to decide, Dollase took pause.

"I began telling myself that I'd be happy with a dead heat," Dollase said. "I also got to thinking about [Ron McAnally, Bonapartiste's trainer]. He's such a lucky guy."

This time, Dollase was luckier than McAnally as Military prevailed by a nose--maybe an inch according to the official photo--and McAnally was deprived of a sixth win in the stake.

Military, ridden by Corey Nakatani for Prince Ahmed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, earned $180,000, with Bonapartiste and jockey Chris McCarron settling for the $60,000 second-place payout.

The disappointment was River Bay, favored at 4-5 after he had given Bonapartiste eight pounds and lost by only a head last month in the Del Mar Handicap. With a new rider, Pat Day, because owner Henri Chalhoub was dissatisfied with Alex Solis' last ride, River Bay ran at equal weights Sunday and finished third, beaten by 3 1/2 lengths, after trailing by more than nine lengths after six furlongs.

Military, running 1 1/2 miles in 2:02, paid $8 as the third choice in a five-horse field. The 4-year-old old son of Danzig and Wavering Girl came from England this year to win his first two starts for Dollase, then ran third, beaten by only a length, in the Del Mar Handicap.

Nakatani has ridden Military in all four of his U.S. races. "It made the wait worthwhile, didn't it?" Nakatani said. "It didn't look like there was a lot of speed in the race, and I'm sure that's why [McAnally] put Amerique in there, to try and pressure my horse. [At the end] I knew I still had some horse left. When [Bonapartiste] got to him, he started digging in again."

In third place early, Bonapartiste moved up to second, only 1 1/2 lengths behind, with a half-mile to go.

"He ran his race, but lost a tough decision," McCarron said. "He picked up a lot of weight [nine pounds], but was able to go out and fight a good battle."

McAnally thought that McCarron was at a disadvantage in the final strides.

"(Military) came out a little bit," he said. "It took away Chris' left hand. He hits left-handed, and he could only use his left hand a little bit because (Military) was so close to him."

Overall, Military has won four of nine starts, but his earnings before Sunday--$102,698--were less than the winning purse.

Dollase said that Richard Mulhall, Salman's racing manager, didn't care for Military as a yearling, because he was too big, but the the enthusiastic prince went on with the bidding and got him for $250,000.

Military is headed for Churchill Downs, where he'll run in the $2-million Breeders' Cup Turf at 1 1/2 miles on Nov. 7.

"He's awfully well-bred," Dollase said. "Even if he just finishes third, he'll be worth a fortune. He's a big horse, a late developer, and I think next year will be his best year."


French horsemen accustomed to winning the Arc de Triomphe scored again at Longchamp Sunday when Olivier Peslier rode Sagamix to victory for trainer Andre Fabre.

Sagamix's win, by a neck over the Irish filly Leggera, was the fifth for Fabre in the Arc and the third in a row for Peslier.

It was unclear after Sunday's race whether Sagamix would go on to the Breeders' Cup Turf. He's undefeated, but a lightly raced 3-year-old who has run only four times. Of Fabre's other Arc winners, three ran in the Breeders' Cup, with the best finishes a second by Trempolino in 1987 and a third by Carnegie in 1995. Fabre's Breeders' Cup wins have come with older horses--In The Wings in the 1990 Mile and Arcangues in the 1993 Classic.

Sagamix made the lead with about 200 yards to go and won the 1 1/2-mile race in 2:34. Fabre's other two starters, Limpid and Fragrant Mix, were off the board and High-Rise, who went into the race with four wins and a second, had to settle for seventh after lacking running room in the 14-horse field.

Horse Racing Notes

Worldly Manner, winner of the Del Mar Futurity, left Santa Anita Sunday for the Churchill Downs barn of Niall O'Callaghan, according to his former trainer, Bob Baffert. John and Betty Mabee have sold the colt to an unnamed buyer. Baffert questions whether the price is as high as the reported $5 million. . . . In other races at Santa Anita, Wally Dollase and Ahmed bin Salman also won with Sapphire Ring in the $73,230 Possibly Perfect, and favored Proud Louie was a nine-length winner in the male division of the $100,000 California Sires Stakes.

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