Hal's Hope was an appropriate Easter weekend winner in the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap -- the product of endless hope and shared joy and carrying silks the color of a rose-tinted Easter egg.
The 5-year-old son of Jolie's Halo pushed his career earnings over the $1 million mark with Saturday's victory and also became the first horse ever to win both the Florida Derby and the Gulfstream Park Handicap.
"I've always thought of Hal's Hope as everybody's horse," Elsie Rose, wife of owner/trainer Hal Rose, said Sunday. She said the prologue to her forthcoming book, "The Road to Hal's Hope," will "recognize all the people that have come up to us and said they can't afford a horse and always thought of Hal's Hope as their horse."
Hal's Hope led all the way in the Gulfstream Park Handicap, rating nicely on the lead for regular rider Roger Velez and holding off Mongoose by ½ length at the wire. Sir Bear was third, with American Halo fourth and Red Bullet a disappointing fifth and last as the odds-on favorite.
"It's a big lift," said Hal Rose after the race. "I knew he was a good horse but there were times he just didn't show it."
Mongoose's trainer, James Bond, echoed the sentiment that most people on the race track feel for the Rose family.
"Our horse ran a good race and he got beat," Bond said. "But it's a great thing for the Roses. The sun shone on them today."
Jerry Bailey said Red Bullet "never extended himself" and didn't seem to be hitting the ground well at any time in the race.
In other weekend racing:
Kentucky Derby preps
Magic Weisner moved to the lead on the far turn in Saturday's $50,000 Private Terms Stakes at Laurel Park, then drew off easily in the stretch to win by 4 ¼ lengths. The Sewickley Kid was second and Root With Style was third. The Ameri Valay colt now has won five straight, dating back to last December, including four straight Maryland-bred stakes events, all at Laurel. Nancy Alberts, who bred, owns and trains the colt, said he will move on to the Federico Tesio Stakes April 20 at Pimlico. "I really feel I'm going into the spring with a very maturing, fit and sound horse," Alberts said.
Next weekend: The Santa Anita Derby features Came Home and the Illinois Derby at Sportsman's Park features Repent. Either could move to the head of the list of Kentucky Derby favorites with a victory but neither is a shoo-in. Came Home will have to beat the likes of Gotham Stakes winner Mayakovsky, as well as proven stakes winners Danthebluegrassman and U S S Tinosa. Repent is expected to face California invader Fonz's as well as the winner of the March 17 Illinois Derby Prep, War Emblem.
Kalookan Queen proved a deserving favorite in Saturday's $200,000 Potrero Grande Breeders' Cup Handicap, rating behind the early speed and then edging clear on the lead in the stretch. At the line, the 6-year-old Lost Code mare won by ½ length over Ceeband, with Elaborate third. The 6 ½ furlongs took 1:15.31. "They gave her a real test today and she answered back," said winning rider Alex Solis. Kalookan Queen became the first distaffer ever to win the Potrero Grande.
Alexine needed most of the stretch to catch front-running Cashmina in Sunday's $75,000 Santa Lucia Handicap, getting the job done by ½ length under the wire. De Goddaughter was third. Alexine, a 6-year-old Runaway Groom mare, finished the 1 1/16 mile in 1:43.52 under Gary Stevens. "I was blowing pretty hard when I came back," Stevens quipped about the stretch-long battle.
Raging Fever showed the way in Saturday's $150,000 Distaff Breeders' Cup Handicap, then shook loose turning for home and won by 3 ¾ lengths over Prized Stamp. La Galerie was third. Raging Fever, a 4-year-old daughter of Storm Cat, ran 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:21.78, ridden out. "We didn't have the kind of pace pressure that she's used to and she was so relaxed today," said winning jockey John Velazquez. "I knew I was on a ton of horse turning for home." Trainer Mark Hennig said the Bed O' Roses Breeders' Cup Handicap on April 20 is next up.
Friday, With Ability pulled a minor upset in the $100,000 Next Move Handicap, leading all the way to win by 5 ¼ lengths over Irving's Baby. Diversa was third and the favorite, Transcendental, was fourth. With Ability, a 4-year-old A.P. Indy filly, ran 9 furlongs in 1:49.88 under Javier Castellano.
Baker Road upset Saturday's Milwaukee Avenue Handicap, a fixture of Illinois Champions Day. The festival of Illinois-breds included six events, each worth $100,000. Sent off at odds of 11-1, the 5-year-old son of Rubiano got home 2 ½ lengths ahead of R. Little Redhead, with Paddy's Spy third. The favorite, Chicago Six, was fifth. Baker Road won for just the fifth time in 30 lifetime starts.
The Chicagoland Handicap went to the 7-year-old veteran Magic Doe, who led from gate to wire and won by a neck over Classic Appeal and another neck over Freeway Ticket. The 6 furlongs took 1:09.73. Darling Lil captured the Governor's Lady Handicap, rallying from well back to score by 3 ½ lengths over Island Riffle Cat, with Little Mo third. And Out of Options romped to a 4 ¾-length victory over Tap Your Feet in the Peach Of It Handicap.
In the 3-year-old events, Colorful Tour, last year's champion Illinois 2-year-old, scored his first win of the year in the Land Of Lincoln Stakes. The Tour d'Or colt was second to Illinois Derby-bound War Emblem in his only previous start of 2002. And Gracility caught Scarlet O'Hara in the final yards to win the Violet Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. The Known Fact filly ran 6 furlongs in 1:11.36.
Lord Juban took charge in the stretch drive to win Sunday's $75,000 Caltech Handicap for 3-year-olds on the lawn. The Lord Avie colt, with Cornelio Velasquez up, finished the about 9 furlongs in 1:51.43. Mystic Salse was second and Fuzzy Star held third after leading much of the way. "He's a nice colt," said winning trainer Tim Ritvo. "We were trying to find a spot to get a little more experience into him." He said Lord Juban may surface next in New York or across town at Calder.
Perfect Fantasy got a good start in Saturday's $50,000 Rainbow Stakes for 3-year-old Arkansas-breds and turned back every challenge before reporting home a 5-lengths winner. Snowball King was second. The 6 furlongs on a sloppy track took 1:12.06. "He really impressed me last time with how quick he was away from the gate," said winning rider James Lopez, "and today he did the same thing."
Supreme Discovery led from gate to wire in winning Saturday's $50,000 Rainbow Miss Stakes for Arkansas-bred, 3-year-old fillies. The daughter of Supremo, with Rodney Trader up, finished the sloppy 6 furlongs in 1:12.26.
On Friday, Beau's Town and King's Command dead-heated for the win in the $50,000 Hot Springs Handicap, rinning the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.14. Beau's Town is a 4-year-old son of Beau Genius; King's Command, a 5-year-old by Montbrook. Both came from off the pace.
Golden Gate Fields
Irisheyesareflying held off a late challenge from Boss Ego to win Saturday's $100,000 Berkeley Handicap by ½ length. Palmeiro was third. Irisheyesareflying, a 6-year-old son of Flying Continental, got the 1 mile in 1:35.41. "I might look at the Texas Mile (April 27 at Lone Star) for his next race and then the Lone Star Handicap," said winning trainer John K. Dolan. "He's probably just a step behind the top Southern California horses."
Sunday, Halo Tyra gave the field the slip in the stretch run of the $55,000 Emeryville Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, winning off by 4 lenghts. Respectful was second and Rich Musique was third. The 6 furlongs took 1:09.48. "I really had a perfect trip," said winning jockey Russell Baze. "A perfect trip, lots of horse, what could be better?" Happy Easter!
Madame Roar did, indeed, roar in Friday's $100,000 La Voyageuse Stakes. The 4-year-old daughter of Roar blasted out of the gate, ran the first quarter in 21.71 seconds and a half mile in 44.26, then finished the 5 ½ furlongs in 57.00 seconds. The closest competition was Mysterious Affair, who was 6 lengths back at the wire. "I'd have to say she's the quickest horse I've been on," said winning rider Jono Jones.
Sunday, 2001 juvenile champion Rare Friends returned from a five-month layoff to win the $160,000 Achievement Stakes by 2 ½ lengths. The race is an early preliminary for the Queen's Plate. I'm awful proud of him," said Robert Tiller, trainer and part owner. "That was his fifth win in six starts. The game plan worked and we're thrilled. He's a friend of mine!" Rare Friends tracked Wild Whiskey until the late going, then went past for the victory. Shaws Creek was third.
Becky Virtue led all the way to a 1 ¾-length victory in Saturday's $50,000 Fairway Fun Stakes for fillies and mares. Starting from the rail, the 4-year-old Strodes Creek filly finished the 1 1/16 mile in 1:43.36. Gal On the Go was second and Seven Four Seven was third. The favorite, Miss Pickums, contested the lead in the early going, then faded to finish fifth of 10.
News and notes
Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew, recovering from a second round of surgery, will be moved from Three Chimneys Farm in Midway, Ky., to Hill 'n' Dale Farm in nearby Lexington. Seattle Slew has been at Three Chimneys since 1985. Tom Wade, his long time groom, will accompany the venerable sire to Hill 'n' Dale. Three Chimneys owner Robert Clay, said, "We have been honored to have had the opportunity to care for and manage Seattle Slew since 1985....We wish him all the best as he recovers from his most recent surgery. Seattle Slew is a remarkable horse, a legend in his time, and a great tribute to the Thoroughbred breed."