Long shots on target in Del. Handicap Bigger names come up small as Amarillo wins

July 27, 1998|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

STANTON, Del. -- As the slot machines jingled -- and, boy, do they jingle at Delaware Park -- the tote system whirred as it calculated the astronomical payoffs of yesterday's Delaware Handicap.

They read like this: $85.80 to win, $26.40 to show, $1,012.60 exacta, $29,088 trifecta.

That's what happens when the 4-5 and 9-5 choices run like long shots and the 41-1, 25-1 and 108-1 long shots run one-two-three.

Amarillo, a 4-year-old filly trained by Maryland native John Forbes and ridden by Julie Krone, blew by the previously undefeated Relaxing Rhythm and the Eclipse Award-winning Ajina on her way to a stunning victory in the richest race ever run at Delaware Park. It attracted 16,023 fans.

The $500,000 purse eclipsed the previous high -- last year's Delaware Handicap -- by $150,000. The continuing success of the 1,000 slot machines in glitzy casinos beneath the grandstand accounts for the increase. Presumably, track management did not pay the $300,000 winner's share in quarters.

Amarillo, whose greatest previous conquest was a $50,000 stakes at Monmouth Park, went off at 41-1 and returned $85.80 to win, $26 to place and $13.40 to show. She won the 1 1/4 -mile race for fillies and mares by three-quarters of a length after racing seventh in the field of nine. Her time was 2 minutes, 4.37 seconds.

Tuxedo Junction, a 5-year-old mare trained at Delaware Park by Jerry Hollendorfer, rallied from sixth for second. She went off at 25-1 and paid $18.60 to place and $9.80 to show. She once won a $75,000 stakes at Turfway Park.

And Timely Broad, a 4-year-old filly trained here by Michael Petro, charged from last for third. Her odds were 108-1, and she returned $26.40 to show. She had won a mere three of her 18 starts.

The marquee horses flopped. Relaxing Rhythm, the 4-5 favorite previously undefeated in eight starts, stumbled at the break, hustled into contention and then faltered down the stretch. She finished seventh.

The 9-5 Ajina, usually quick out of the gate, broke seventh, rushed into the lead by the first turn, led to the head of the stretch and then faded to sixth.

"It's hard to imagine," said her trainer, Bill Mott. "I don't have an explanation."

Neither did anyone else -- although the Delaware Handicap lately has produced shocking upsets: a $57.60 winner last year (Power Play, trained by Maryland's H. Graham Motion) and a $55.20 winner three years ago (Night Fax, trained by former Marylander Billy Turner).

The Maryland connection this year was Forbes, who was born in Baltimore and worked five years in Maryland for trainer John Tammaro and then trained on his own from 1977 into the 1980s. He gradually migrated to New Jersey.

In 1995, he headed a 13-person syndicate that bought six yearlings at Keeneland for $1,077,000. The most expensive was Tale of the Cat at $385,000. The group has since sold half of Tale of the Cat to Coolmore stud farm for $7.1 million.

The cheapest was Amarillo at $67,000. She has won $412,404.

The terms of the syndicate stated that it would race the horses through their 4-year-old seasons, then sell them at auction. That may not apply anymore to Tale of the Cat, Forbes said, but it still applies to the others, all of whom are 4.

"We'll do the best we can with her until November," Forbes said of Amarillo. "Then I guess we have to kiss her goodbye."

In other stakes at Delaware Park, 5-2 Keene Dancer won the $200,000 Kent Breeders' Cup Stakes. Red Reef, trained by Lawrence E. Murray at Laurel Park and ridden by Larry Reynolds, finished second.

Maryland horses finished one-two in the $40,000 Nastique Stakes -- the winner Tuzia, trained by Katy Voss and ridden by Mario Pino, and the runner-up Hot Salsa, trained by A. Ferris Allen III and ridden by Pat Day.

In the $75,000 Endine Stakes, Soverign Lady remained undefeated for the trainer Shug McGaughey, while Weather Vane, trained by Richard W. Delp and ridden by Pino, finished second.

Pub Date: 7/27/98

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