Bursting Forth discovers longer distance just right

On Horse Racing

April 25, 1999|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

Bursting Forth wasn't even supposed to run Thursday in the Bewitch Stakes at Keeneland. She was to have raced two weeks earlier in Keeneland's Jenny Wiley Stakes.

But for that race she was designated the highweight against horses who had beaten her. Displeased, her trainer H. Graham Motion and owner Sam Huff scratched her. They opted for Plan B, the Grade III $110,900 Bewitch at 1 1/2 miles, a distance Huff's 5-year-old mare had never attempted.

Well, what do you know? Ridden masterfully by Jorge Chavez, Bursting Forth not only defeated a first-rate field of nine fillies and mares but also broke the track record, which had been set only the day before by African Dancer. With her typical late charge, Bursting Forth completed the 1 1/2 miles in 2 minutes, 27.54 seconds.

"It's a shame it took me two years to find out she wants to go a mile and a half," said Motion, based at Laurel Park.

Bursting Forth had never raced farther than 1 1/8 miles. The victory was her ninth in 24 tries and boosted her earnings over a half-million dollars.

Motion and Huff, the pro football Hall of Famer from West Virginia, had planned on racing Bursting Forth in the MATCH series. Last year she won MATCH's filly-and-mare turf division and finished second in the overall standings, earning bonuses of $35,000 for Motion and $75,000 for Huff.

"We're going to have to rethink our plans a little bit," Motion said.

They may still run her through the series, he said, but they also might contest the longer turf races outside the mid-Atlantic. After all, the Breeders' Cup has added a $1 million race to its Nov. 6 schedule at Gulfstream Park. Just so happens it's for fillies and mares on the turf going 1 3/8 miles.

Country Life, continued

The publishing arm of The Blood-Horse magazine is reprinting Josh Pons' "Country Life Diary," the engaging account of three years in the life of Country Life Farm, the Pons' family breeding farm near Bel Air.

Although the original 1992 edition covered the years 1989-1991, it never mentioned Cigar. When he was born at Country Life on April 18, 1990, Pons could hardly have known the foal would grow into a two-time Horse of the Year, tie Citation's record of 16 straight victories and retire the leading money-earner of all time.

The forthcoming "Country Life Diary" features an epilogue, which modestly refers to Cigar's birth, a new cover and a new family portrait of Pons, his wife, Ellen, and their children, August and Josh.

Available Preakness week, the book can be ordered through The Blood-Horse 1-800-582-5604.

State decisions

A reader with an alert eye (although not alert enough) and inquiring mind wrote: Joe De Francis is running his Maryland-bred horse in the second race on April 18 at Delaware Park. The same type race is being run four days later at Pimlico. Why isn't De Francis running his horse in Maryland?

"Obviously I'd like to see any horse I own run in Maryland," De Francis said. "But I leave that to the trainer."

Bill Boniface trains Good Guy for De Francis and Cynthia McGinnes, owner of Thornmar farm in Chesterstown. They own several horses in partnership. De Francis also owns shares in the Maryland stallions Valley Crossing and Ops Smile, which stand at the Boniface family's Bonita Farm in Darlington.

Good Guy finished seventh at Delaware Park in the 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight for 3-year-olds. The race was similar, but not identical, to the race four days later at Pimlico. The Pimlico race was for 3-year-olds and up -- presumably a tougher spot for De Francis' lightly raced maiden.

Although the reader tried to make a point, the better point would be to compare the purses. Pimlico's was $20,000, Delaware Park's $28,000.

Et cetera

Bolstered by slot machines, Charles Town Races will raise its purses -- again -- by 10 percent Saturday to about $77,000 per day. When the West Virginia track closed in January 1997 for its conversion into a racetrack-slots casino, purses were $22,000 per day. Charles Town will offer doubleheaders of live racing on Kentucky Derby day Saturday, Preakness day May 15, Memorial Day May 31 and Belmont day June 5, post times 1 p.m. and 6: 15 p.m. Recovered from serious injuries suffered in a spill, the jockey Larry Reynolds returned to work April 16 at Charles Town only to break his collarbone in a spill in the seventh race. On May 3, two days after the Kentucky Derby, the Smithsonian Associates and Kentucky Derby Museum will sponsor a Derby seminar at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. Beginning at 6 p.m., the seminar will feature trainers MacKenzie Miller, Carl Nafzger and Nick Zito, owners Penny Chenery, Mike Pegram and Robert and Beverly Lewis, jockeys Pat Day, Chris McCarron and Gary Stevens, ABC's Jim McKay and Lesley Visser, Churchill Downs' John Asher and Tom Meeker, and Kentucky Gov. Paul Patton. For tickets and information, call the Maryland Horse Breeders Association, 410-252-2100.

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