INGLEWOOD, Calif. -- Needing all the edge he got with an easy early lead, Marquetry turned back a determined bid by Farma Way to win the $1 million Hollywood Gold Cup yesterday.
Marquetry, a 27-1 outsider, led throughout the 1 1/4 -mile race at Hollywood Park, finishing a head in front of Farma Way. The victory represented the richest in the 26-year career of trainer Bobby Frankel, once known as King of the Claimers.
David Flores, 23, who is virtually unknown outside Southern California, rode Marquetry, a 4-year-old colt owned by the Juddmonte Farms. Flores was riding the colt for the first time.
"This is my greatest win," Flores, a native of Tijuana, Mexico, told a post-race gathering.
If not for a prominent speed bias at Hollywood and Southern California fans' respect for Frankel, Marquetry ($56.80) may have paid a much bigger price. In fact, at the many simulcasting outlets throughout the country, he was a huge long shot. Although he paid $48.60 at Pimlico/Laurel, he paid $177.40 to win at Belmont Park in New York, $176 at Calder Race Course in Florida and $243.80 at Churchill Downs in Kentucky.
Farma Way tracked Marquetry from the start, successfully avoiding the speed duel that had been his undoing in the Nassau County Handicap, the previous race in the 10-event American Championship Racing Series.
But the strategy barely failed, as Farma Way steadily cut into Marquetry's margin in the stretch before falling about 14 inches short of catching him.
"I thought with all the press about Farma Way's last race, he wouldn't press us," said Frankel. "So I told David to go ahead and make the lead. Marquetry is a very relaxed horse. All David had to do was tap him once, and he made the lead easy."
Marquetry, a son of Conquistador Cielo, led through fractions of 23 1/5, 46 4/5 and 1:10 1/5 -- relatively slow for the speedy Hollywood surface. Farma Way was never more than 1 1/2 lengths behind him, and Chris McCarron, who rode him, said, "I thought I had him all the way.
"He broke like a shot and ran just like we hoped he would, except for the finish," said McCarron.
The final time was 1 minute, 59 2/5 seconds, one second off the track and stakes record set by Greinton in 1985.
Itsallgreektome finished third, an additional 2 3/4 lengths back. He was followed by Anshan, Roanoke, and Prized. Finishing seventh was Summer Squall, who beat only Music Prospector (131-1) and Western Playboy (135-1).
Summer Squall was the $2.10-1 second to Farma Way (7-5). He tracked the leaders from a good inside position in fourth place, but at the half-mile pole, jockey Pat Day said he "got no response.
"It was like a carbon copy of his race at the Meadowlands last fall [the Meadowlands Cup, in which Summer Squall finished eighth]," said Day. "I don't know what's wrong."
The Gold Cup was the second career attempt on dirt for Marquetry, who won for the fourth time in 11 career starts. It was also his first attempt in the ACRS and earned him 10 points in the chase for a $1.5 million bonus.
Farma Way, with his runner-up finish, took the lead in the ACRS standings. The race was worth seven points to the 4-year-old colt and gives him a 32-30 lead over Festin, who skipped the race.
The Gold Cup was the sixth leg in the ACRS, which goes next to Rockingham Park in New Hampshire for the New England Classic on July 20. Unless trainer Ron McAnally opts for the Suburban Handicap on Thursday at Belmont Park, Festin will run at Rockingham.
Frankel said Marquetry probably would skip the New England Classic, then run in the Pacific Classic on Aug. 10 at Del Mar Race Course, which is the ACRS eighth leg.
Trainer D. Wayne Lukas said Farma Way gave a "wonderful performance," adding that his colt spotted Marquetry 12 pounds.
"We met a fresh horse who ran well," said Lukas. "Remember, our horse has been to all the dances at every track [he has run in five of the six ACRS races], and he showed again today he's a versatile horse. If weight means anything, he could be the best horse in the country at equal weights."
Juddmonte Farms is owned by Khalid Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. The $550,000 winner's share is exactly five times what Juddmonte paid for Marquetry ($110,000) at the July yearling sales at Keeneland.
Frankel, who won six straight Hollywood training titles beginning in 1972, began the transformation from claiming trainer to a top handler of stakes horses in the mid-1980s. A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., he is the second-leading trainer in Hollywood history.