Da Hoss set to run again in '99 Cup Mile Nov. race will be only one of the year for gelding

November 10, 1998|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

Michael Dickinson plans a repeat performance.

The unorthodox Maryland trainer plans to run Da Hoss once in the next year -- in the 1999 Breeders' Cup on Nov. 6 at Gulfstream Park.

In preparing Da Hoss for his victory Saturday in the Breeders' Cup Mile at Churchill Downs, Dickinson raced the 6-year-old gelding just once in the two years since Da Hoss won the Mile in 1996. "He's a bit delicate," Dickinson said. "He can't stand too many races."

Da Hoss has a history of physical problems, beginning with an infected foot as a foal and progressing through bone spurs, arthritis, tendon injuries and lameness in a rear leg.

"We kept going with him because we always knew he was quite a good horse," Dickinson said.

Dickinson prefers training Da Hoss at his Tapeta Farm near North East. He works the horse with two stablemates on sloping ground, the condition of which he constantly monitors. In a race, the horse might get bumped, checked, jostled or run on uneven turf.

"It's always safer at home," Dickinson said.

Da Hoss almost didn't make it into this year's Breeders' Cup, not because of injuries but because of his record. The committee that selects horses for the prestigious races ranked Da Hoss No. 15 for 14 spots in the Mile. He got in only after one horse was withdrawn.

At first, Dickinson was piqued. But after speaking with members of the committee, he said, he realized they were correct.

"They said, 'Michael, you're asking him to do something no horse has done -- come back better two years later as a 6-year-old,' " Dickinson said. "They were absolutely right."

But before Dickinson begins preparing Da Hoss for his defense of the crown, Dickinson has some personal business to conduct. He must collect on a wager he made with the agent of jockey Gary Stevens.

Stevens rode Da Hoss in his Breeders' Cup victory two years ago, and Dickinson expected him to ride again this year. When Ron Anderson, the agent who books Stevens' mounts, told Dickinson the jockey was going to ride the England-based Among Men, Dickinson proposed a wager: Da Hoss would finish in front of Among Men. The amount? $1,000.

As the world now knows, Da Hoss won. Among Men finished 11th.

Pub Date: 11/10/98

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