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Win Means More Work for This Mare


With a breeding to Storm Cat, the most expensive stallion in the country, in the offing, Tout Charmant probably ran herself into another year of racing Sunday by winning the $150,000 San Gorgonio Handicap.

That's all right with trainer Ron McAnally, who said that if Tout Charmant rebounds effectively from the 11/8-mile grass race, she will probably remain in training.

Her owners, Bob and Janice McNair, would breed another of their mares to Storm Cat, who stands at Overbrook Farm in Lexington, Ky., for a listed stud fee of $500,000.

A year ago at this time, Tout Charmant had a serious case of colic, but recovered after an operation in which her small colon was put back in place. She didn't return to the races until September, and finished no better than fourth in three starts. The San Gorgonio was the 6-year-old mare's first victory since she won the Palomar Handicap at Hollywood Park in November 2000.

Tout Charmant, bred by Bob and Barbara Walter, was bought privately from them by the McNairs two years ago. Overall, she has eight wins and nine seconds in 26 starts, with earnings of $1.7 million.

McAnally said that the Walters, who had had a falling out with Tout Charmant's original trainer, Bob Baffert, insisted on a trainer switch before they would sell the mare.

"I knew the Walters, but I had never trained one horse for them," McAnally said.

"For some reason they wanted the horse sent to me after she was sold. It was like the John Henry story--one morning the phone rang and suddenly I had a new horse."

McAnally's fifth win in the San Gorgonio--the first came with Miss Magnetic in 1980--was also his 100th stakes win at Santa Anita winter meets. Chris McCarron, who rode Tout Charmant, has been aboard for three of McAnally's San Gorgonio wins. Tout Charmant was in second place, behind favored Dancingonice, when she made her move at the head of the stretch.

"When I had the opportunity to put her in the clear, she took off like a European horse and just sailed ahead," McCarron said. "I'm glad the move wasn't premature."

The second choice in the betting and carrying high weight of 120 pounds, Tout Charmant paid $7 for $2, winning in a time of 1:47 1/5.

Janet was second, beaten by two lengths and one length better than Vencera, the third-place finisher.

Earlier on the card, the Baffert-trained Popular, who was beaten by 15 lengths on opening day, nipped favored Roman Dancer by a nose in the $107,900 San Miguel Stakes for 3-year-olds.

Baffert has won the Kentucky Derby twice, but one of his top candidates this year, China Grind, apparently will not be considered for Churchill Downs on May 4.

"Bob said that he just wants to take his time with this colt," said Jim Barnes, Baffert's assistant. China Grind, a son of Grindstone, the 1996 Derby winner, beat maidens in his debut at Hollywood Park on Dec. 15.

He reportedly has not been nominated for the Triple Crown races.

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