Owners' losses supplement the frustration for McAnally Trainer's trio buys Cup of poor luck

October 29, 1992|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Staff Writer

HALLANDALE, Fla. -- Ron McAnally leans on the shed-row rail, looking more like a gentlemanly old grandfather or retired schoolteacher than a riverboat gambler.

He gives new meaning to the term "laid back."

In a few hours yesterday morning, his owners lost nearly $250,000, and the Breeders' Cup was still days away.

McAnally took it all in stride.

None of the three horses that the 60-year-old Hall of Fame trainer planned to run on the Breeders' Cup card -- Sea Cadet, Bistro Garden or Paseana -- was nominated to the series as foals.

So last week the owners had to post substantial late fees, called supplementary nominations, just to get the animals in the races.

Yesterday, in at least two of the three cases, the money appears wasted.

First, Sea Cadet came up lame after a morning gallop.

Owner Verne Winchell forfeits the $120,000 he had deposited at pre-entry time last week to run Sea Cadet in the Breeders' Cup Classic. It would have cost him another $240,000 to get the horse to the starting gate had he been entered.

Then at the post position draw a couple of hours later yesterday, McAnally watched as two of his other owners, Beverly Hills millionaires Sidney Craig and Ross Gilbert, probably kissed another $120,000 goodbye.

Bistro Garden drew the 14-post in the Breeders' Cup Mile, a turf race contested over what rival trainer D. Wayne Lukas calls Gulfstream Park's "pancake turf course." It is flat with no banked turns and requires quickness and agility just to negotiate the tight corners.

"If I knew we would get the 14-hole, I would have told the owners never to put up the $120,000 to supplement the horse," McAnally said. "We could have gone in a stakes on the Breeders' Cup undercard where he has a better chance than going a flat mile against this field."

A quick look at the previous eight runnings of the Breeders' Cup Mile, run at a variety of courses including Gulfstream Park in 1989, reveals why. Only one horse, Thrill Show at Santa Anita in 1986, that broke from the extreme outside post ever picked up a check in the Mile, and that was sixth place. The rest have been distant also-rans.

Of course, the race has yet to be run, and Bistro Garden, a 12-1 long shot on the morning line, is eligible to pull off a miracle.

Paseana, supplemented by Craig for $200,000 in the Breeders' Cup Distaff, also drew the 14 post in what turned out to be a luckless McAnally morning.

"But I'm not too concerned about her," McAnally said about the mare who could be year-end champion. "I'd rather be out there than on the rail. She has the speed to get away from the gate. She avoids getting dirt thrown in her face and Chris [McCarron, her jockey] can see how the race develops."

Later in the day, X-rays showed that Sea Cadet had no broken bones. He had developed a swelling in his left hind leg in the hock area after returning from a strong morning gallop. "He either popped a curb [swelling on the hock] or he could have gotten down and rolled in his stall and bruised it. Or it could be an infection," McAnally said.

McAnally added that Winchell took the news in stride. "He's been in the game 30 years and he knows these things happen. Other owners might have hit the roof."

Then in obvious understatement, he calmly said, "I can take it, because it's just part of the game."

McAnally had previously rolled the dice twice in the Breeders' Cup and came away with Distaff wins for Bayakoa, who was supplemented in 1989 and 1990 for a total of $400,000 and came away with $900,000 in Breeders' Cup paychecks for owner Frank Whitham.

Still, McAnally says that once a horse has been supplemented to the Breeders' Cup, it should be eligible to run in the series for life. And he thinks that the $120,000 Winchell put up should be returned since the horse has a valid veterinary excuse.

"We pay 20 times to get the horses in the races than the breeders who nominate them as foals, and I think that's sufficient enough payment to get them qualified for life, instead of having to supplement them every year," McAnally said. "Also, the first payment is made so far in advance [about 10 days before the race] that a veterinary excuse should be legitimate reason for a refund. What happened to Sea Cadet this morning shows training horses is a day-to-day proposition."

NOTE: Breeders' Cup rules state there can be 14 horses in the field for each race. But pari-mutuel rules in several states only allow 12 betting interests. Maryland allows 14.

But in order to keep the Breeders' Cup betting uniform nationwide, there are only 12 betting interests. That is why the excess horses in four of the seven races are listed as "field" horses. One bet on No. 12 in some of the races gives the bettor two, or sometimes three, chances with that many different animals.

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