Royal Mountain Inn proves himself in stakes HORSE RACING

July 19, 1993|By New York Daily News

NEW YORK -- Having won three straight allowances with increasing ease, Royal Mountain Inn was a prospect, but only a prospect. The roan gelding had it all going for him, except for that one all-important test for class. They've got to beat good horses. Then you know.

Yesterday at Belmont, Royal Mountain Inn burst through the last barrier. In his stakes debut, he again won impressively, cruising to a three-length victory under Julie Krone in the $119,600 Red Smith Handicap. It appears that this horse is going to be a major factor in the turf division.

"I know there wasn't a champion in here," winning trainer Barclay Tagg said. "But it was a nice next step for him if he was that quality. It looks like he is now. You never know until you go against horses like this."

The Red Smith began with 8-1 shot Carterista making a frantic run to the front. He opened up by seven lengths after six furlongs. Royal Mountain Inn was getting a good trip, sitting third down the back stretch, right behind Ghazi.

Carterista started to give way in the upper stretch and Royal Mountain Inn shot right past him, opening up a two-length lead at the eighth pole. From there to the wire, there were no challengers.

"He has the whole presence of a good horse," said Krone, who is 3-for-3 on the gelding. "He's calm and he's intelligent. Even though he finishes with his ears up, I think he's just bored. But when he's near horses, he explodes so fast, no one can stay with him."

Royal Mountain Inn, pounded down to a surprisingly low 8-5, paid $5.20 as the favorite. He completed the 1 1/4 miles in 1 minute, 59 4/5 seconds. Spectacular Tide closed to finish second, two lengths in front of third-place finisher Share the Glory.

The next test for Royal Mountain Inn will come when he faces some of the divisional stars, such as Star of Cozzene. Tagg said that he may ship the gelding to Arlington Park for the Aug. 8 Arlington Handicap. A successful start there would lead to the Arlington Million, and a successful start there could lead anywhere.

The other highlight of yesterday's card was a runaway victory by first-time starter Cat Attack in the fifth race. The 2-year-old filly by Storm Cat won by eight lengths, completing the 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:03 4/5. It was the fastest time at the distance during the meet. Trainer Dave Monaci said that he will point for the Aug. 1 Sorority at Monmouth.

"He [Jerry Bailey] never even let her run until the final eighth," Monaci said. "That's scary."

* Gary Stevens knew all last week that he was closing in on $100 million in career purses, a level reached by only seven other jockeys.

"Then when my wife [Toni] showed up with our [four] kids in ties, I knew I must have been getting pretty close," Stevens said yesterday, minutes after his 3 1/2 -length victory aboard Don't Presume at Hollywood Park.

Stevens, who turned 30 March 6, is the youngest jockey to reach $100 million. The previous youngest was Chris McCarron, who was 33 when he did it in 1988. McCarron was on hand to congratulate Stevens in the winner's circle, along with Laffit Pincay and Eddie Delahoussaye, other active jockeys above $100 million.

"When you see yourself with jockeys like this, you know you're in an elite group," said Stevens, who won two other races to push his win total to 3,311.

Bill Shoemaker was the first jockey to reach $100 million, with his victory aboard Lord At War in the Santa Anita Handicap in 1985.

"I've been lucky because of all the big purses we have to shoot at now," Stevens said.

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