Rather than run Greg's Gold for a fourth time at Hollywood Park's spring-summer meet after the gelding's win June 11, trainer Dave Hofmans and owner-breeder Bill Boswell decided to wait for Del Mar.
Wise choice. Making his graded stakes debut in the $300,000 Bing Crosby Handicap on Sunday, Greg's Gold, an 8-1 shot, sat just behind a contested pace, got through along the rail in the stretch and went on to win the Grade 1.
Ridden by David Flores, Greg's Gold won for the fourth time in 13 starts and ran the six furlongs in 1:08.04.
Kentucky shipper Battle Won got the best of his other rivals for the lead, but had to settle for second at 4-1, beaten a little more than a length. Taste Of Paradise was third and Pt's Grey Eagle, who was far back early, rallied widest of all to get fourth.
"I thought this horse was very sharp off his last win and I thought he would have a chance if he handled this track," said Hofmans. "He worked really well here the other day. He's peaking right now."
The same is far from true for Pico Central. One of the top two sprinters in the country in 2004 and the 5-2 favorite Sunday, the 6-year-old Brazilian-bred finished last in the field of nine. He showed only brief speed under jockey Mike Smith in his first start since he was fourth in the $2-million Golden Shaheen in Dubai on March 26.
Storm Wolf, the 3-1 second choice, also disappointed. Making his first start against older horses after winning three in a row at Santa Anita and Hollywood Park, the son of Stormin Fever wound up eighth.
Ashado completed a banner weekend for jockey John Velazquez when she romped to a 9 1/2 -length victory in the $250,000 Go For Wand Handicap at Saratoga in New York. The 11-10 favorite against four opponents, the champion 3-year-old filly of 2004 won her second Grade 1 in a row after beginning her year with consecutive losses.
Owned by Starlight Stables LLC, Johns Martin and Paul Saylor and trained by Todd Pletcher, Ashado, a daughter of Saint Ballado, completed the 1 1/8 miles in 1.50.30. In winning for the third time in four starts at Saratoga, she increased her earnings to $3,245,440.
The Go For Wand was the fourth stakes victory in three days for Velazquez, who won the Lake George with Ready's Gal on Friday, then took the Diana and Jim Dandy with Sand Springs and Flower Alley, respectively, on Saturday.
Bending Strings, the longest shot in the field of five at 22-1, was second, one length ahead of California shipper and pacesetter Andujar. Society Selection, the 2-1 second choice, was a distant fourth as she lost for the first time in four appearances at Saratoga.
Saratoga County, who had won three important sprint stakes earlier this year, including the Golden Shaheen, had to be euthanized recently because of complications from laminitis.
Owned by Evelyn Pollard and trained by George Weaver, the 4-year-old Valid Expectations colt finished with six wins in 17 starts and earnings of $1,646,590.
Favorites won all three of the Grade 1's offered as part of California Champions Night on Saturday at Los Alamitos.
Apollitical Time, the 4-5 favorite, won her seventh in a row in the $130,500 Governor's Cup Derby; Be A Bono, the 3-5 choice, defended his title in the $160,750 Spencer L. Childers Handicap, and 1-2 favorite Finding Nemo won the $411,000 Governor's Cup Futurity.
Apollitical Time was the most impressive. Owned by Juan Alberto Tirado Lizarraga and trained by Juan Aleman, the 3-year-old Apollo filly completed the 400 yards in 19.46 seconds, better than Be A Bono's 19.48 in the Childers one race later.
The defending world champion quarter horse owned and bred by Childers, 93, Be A Bono has 10 wins in 13 starts for trainer Dan Francisco.
The fastest qualifier for the Governor's Cup Futurity, Finding Nemo, who is owned by James Azevedo and Charles Boyles and trained by Denny Ekins, won in a stakes record 17.35 seconds for the 350 yards. It was the fifth win in seven starts for the son of Fishers Dash, who was ridden by Hector Cuevas.