Pyramid Peak captures Breeders' Cup Coup D' Argent finishes 2nd in four-horse field

July 07, 1996|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

Pat Day flew in from Kentucky to ride the lightly raced Coup D' Argent in yesterday's Baltimore Breeders' Cup at Laurel Park. But even Day, the veteran jockey aboard the youthful colt, could not overcome a record-tying performance by the overwhelming favorite, Pyramid Peak.

Pyramid Peak, a 4-year-old Mt. Livermore colt who ran in last year's Kentucky Derby, led at every call to win the scratch-marred 1 1/8 -mile Grade III handicap. His winning time of 1 minute, 47 3/5 seconds matched the track record of Excellent Tipper set in 1992.

Only four horses competed in the $201,032 race, worth $124,350 to the winner. The original field of seven dwindled when Da Hoss ran instead in Friday's Poker Stakes at Belmont Park, and Canaveral and Clash by Night scratched yesterday.

The defection of the speedster Canaveral because of a minor foot injury cleared the way for Pyramid Peak to gain an uncontested lead, which his jockey Herb McCauley nursed expertly down the backstretch. When Day's Coup D' Argent, a 4-year-old colt making only his eighth start, charged within a half-length down the homestretch, McCauley urged his mount with a stinging whip for a three-quarter length victory.

Pyramid Peak paid $3 to win and $2.20 to place. Coup D' Argent paid $2.40 to place. Because of the small field there was no show betting. The exacta paid $8.40.

"The horse did everything that was expected of him today," said McCauley, currently based in New Jersey. "He's really a pleasure to ride, and he gives his all and has tons of heart."

McCauley rode the colt in his finest races last year: victory in the Flamingo Stakes and seconds in the Alabama Derby (to Dazzling Falls), Haskell Invitational Handicap (to Serena's Song) and Travers Stakes (to Thunder Gulch).

McCauley also rode Pyramid Peak in last year's Kentucky Derby, when the colt finished 17th in a field of 19.

That was by far his worst effort. He has won half of his 12 starts and finished second three times for earnings of $624,962.

His trainer, John T. Ward Jr., turned down a request by Maryland racing officials that his colt run in the Preakness.

"I felt the horse needed a softer spot," Ward said. "He's still hTC young and improving, and his last four races [including the Haskell and Travers] showed us that he has real ability."

Ward said he's aiming Pyramid Peak for the $350,000 Whitney Handicap at Saratoga Aug. 3.

While Ward accepted congratulations in the winner's circle, Day stood outside the Laurel jockeys' room and offered no excuses.

"We were just second best," he said. "We anticipated that Canaveral would be in there, and that would have helped us. He'd have been out there entertaining Pyramid Peak."

Day said he flew in from Kentucky to ride Coup D' Argent because "he's a promising colt. This was a testing ground."

He'll ride at Philadelphia Park today. "I'm just bouncing around until Saratoga," he said.

Personal Merit closed from a distant last for third place. The 5-year-old gelding's claim to fame -- during a career with six wins in 25 starts -- is that he finished second to Cigar in the June 1 Massachusetts Handicap at Suffolk Downs.

The local entrant, Rugged Bugger, ridden by Mario Pino and trained by Katy Voss, finished fourth. Even for last he earned $12,435.

Pub Date: 7/07/96

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