McAnally mourns loss, celebrates win

December 20, 1993|By Bill Christine | Bill Christine,Los Angeles Times

INGLEWOOD, Calif. -- On a day when one of his closest clients was being buried with his racing colors in Kansas, trainer Ron McAnally's emotions rose and fell all afternoon at Hollywood Park.

For the family of Frank Whitham, killed in the crash of his private plane Wednesday, McAnally was at least happy that Ibero, one of Whitham's stakes winners, was able to win yesterday's seventh race. That emotion had not yet subsided a race later when McAnally saddled Valiant Nature for the biggest upset in the history of the Hollywood Futurity.

Bred and owned by Verne Winchell, another loyal McAnally client, Valiant Nature beat the Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner, Brocco, by running 1 1/16 miles in 1:40 3/5 -- a full second off of the stakes record and missing the track record by three-fifths of a second.

Brocco's camp was somewhat bitter about an outcome that might cost the previously undefeated colt the Eclipse Award for best 2-year-old male. There were suggestions that Brocco's chances were hurt because of the way Kent Desormeaux rode the $500,000 race on Gracious Ghost, who finished fifth in a six-horse field.

"I'd like to be real classy and say the best horse won, but I can't do it," said Gary Stevens, who rode Brocco to his three consecutive victories. "There was somebody in the race who forced me to do something I didn't want to do down the backside, but when you're riding a 2-5 shot, there isn't a whole lot you can do about it, and in fact I expected it. I knew that Kent's colt had plenty of speed and that he might be in front of me. I figured I was going to have to fight my way around there, and that's basically what happened."

Beaten by three-quarters of a length, Brocco was in fourth place early, and despite shaking loose entering the stretch, he couldn't catch Laffit Pincay astride Valiant Nature, who ran a mile in a fast 1:34 2/5 and never faltered.

Stevens said Brocco was forced about nine horses wide on the far turn. "When we were seven wide, the guy [Desormeaux] kept looking back to see where we were," Stevens said. "He was surprised as hell at that point that we weren't behind him. My horse has instant acceleration, but you can only expect so much. horse got to within the hip of Laffit's horse, but then he hung in the last sixteenth of a mile. Unless you've got a horse with a lot of speed, you can't expect a smooth trip on a 2-5 shot."

Valiant Nature, carrying 121 pounds, ran the same time yesterday as Ibero, a 6-year-old carrying only 117 pounds. Earning $275,000, Valiant Nature paid $34 as the second-longest shot in the race.

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