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Affluent Finds Relief on Turf

Horse racing: After three losses in a row on dirt to Azeri, she holds on to win by a neck at Del Mar.

July 28, 2002|BILL CHRISTINE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

DEL MAR — Looking for a way to wash that filly Azeri right out of his hair, trainer Ron McAnally moved his filly Affluent from dirt to grass and she came from slightly off the pace to win the $400,000 John Mabee Ramona Handicap by a neck at Del Mar on Saturday.

Azeri, the best distaffer in the country on dirt, had beaten Affluent three times from April to June, but McAnally's filly got a reprieve with the switch to turf for the Ramona. Azeri's next race will be in the $300,000 Clement Hirsch Handicap on the main track on Aug. 11 here.

Del Mar added Mabee's name to the Ramona this year, in honor of the late track chairman, who died in April. Saturday's card, the fourth of the season, drew a crowd of 23,485, an increase of about 6,000 over the attendance for the first Saturday of last year's meet. Del Mar broke its record for an opening day with an attendance of 37,439 last Wednesday.

For the 70-year-old McAnally, the Ramona was his 391st victory at Del Mar. He heads that list, and Affluent, giving McAnally his 65th stakes win here, moved him to within nine of the late Charlie Whittingham on another list.

Affluent, a 4-year-old daughter of Affirmed, had won six of 16 starts and earned $1 million going into Saturday, but the Ramona was only her fourth grass race and the first since October of last year. Earning $240,000 for her owner and breeder, Janis Whitham, Affluent paid $7.80 as the third choice and she now has three wins and a second on turf.

Janet, who won the race last year, set slow fractions and led in deep stretch until Affluent and Golden Apples unleashed their runs. Golden Apples, making her first start since a throat abscess sent her to the sidelines in April, finished second, a half-length in front of Janet, with the favored Surya running fourth. The time for 1 1/8 miles was 1:48 1/5.

Eddie Delahoussaye, riding Affluent, registered his 90th stakes win at Del Mar.

"Grass or dirt, it doesn't matter to her," Delahoussaye said. "She just turns it on."

Darrell Vienna, who trains Janet, had hoped for his second stakes win on the card. Vienna saddled Disturbingthepeace for a three-quarter-length win over Freespool in the $169,000 Bing Crosby Handicap, a race made easier when Irwin Molasky, co-owner of Kona Gold, scratched the 7-5 morning-line favorite. Kona Gold, winner of the two previous Crosbys, would have carried high weight of 124 pounds. Trainer Bruce Headley said that he would consider the Pat O'Brien Handicap, to be run here Aug. 18, for the 8-year-old gelding.

Trainer Bobby Frankel might have been fourth with Surya in the Ramona, but earlier Saturday he went over the $8-million mark in purses with two wins at Saratoga and a second-place finish at Arlington Park. Inches separated Frankel from first and second in both of the Saratoga races.

Crowded along the fence by Carson Hollow and jockey John Velazquez in the $250,000 Test, Jerry Bailey shoehorned You to the wire as they won by a nose in a victory undetectable by the naked eye. You, handing Carson Hollow her first loss in five starts, paid $3.80 as the favorite, running seven furlongs in 1:22 4/5.

Earlier, Frankel's Tates Creek beat Voodoo Dancer by a nose in the $500,000 Diana Handicap. Bailey also rode Tates Creek, who paid $9.30.

At Arlington, Falcon Flight, at 5-1, overtook Frankel's Kappa King to win by a neck in the $225,000 Arlington Handicap. Rene Douglas rode Falcon Flight. Kappa King, the favorite, was ridden by Pat Valenzuela, who earlier on the card won the $100,000 Round Table with Cowboy Stuff for trainer Donnie Von Hemel.

*

In a change of plans, War Emblem will run in next Sunday's $1-million Haskell Handicap after all.

Monmouth Park announced that War Emblem, winner of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, would be heading for the New Jersey shore after track officials talked Saturday with trainer Bob Baffert.

"I got the final go-ahead from the royal family," Baffert was quoted as saying. War Emblem, scheduled for a workout at Del Mar on Tuesday, will be flown to New Jersey on Thursday.

Prince Ahmed bin Salman, who raced War Emblem in the Thoroughbred Corp. stable name, died last Monday.

Concerned about the high weight of 124 pounds that War Emblem would have to carry in the Haskell, Baffert had said last week that the Haskell was out and the colt would be running in the Pacific Classic at Del Mar. The Classic, also a $1-million race, will be run Aug. 25.

The Thoroughbred Corp. won the Haskell last year with Point Given.

With War Emblem running at Monmouth, a small field is likely. The only definite ones are Magic Weisner, Puck and Like A Hero, another California shipper.

*

Golan, whose owner, Lord Weinstock, died last week, scored an emotional win at Ascot in England when he beat Nayef by a head in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes. Sakhee, winless this year and unraced since his third-place finish in the Dubai World Cup in March, was scratched because of the hard ground at Ascot. Kieran Fallon rode Golan, who hadn't run since a sixth-place finish in the Japan Cup last year.

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