Cindy's Horse Racing Website Index

The Donn Handicap and Strub Stakes

Domestic Dispute, winner of the Strub Stakes at Santa Anita on Saturday.
Date: 02/07/2004

Although the Triple Crown Trail is in full swing, the older horse division is always important. Even races this early in the season have some bearing on possible year-end honors at the Eclipse Awards. It's also a chance to see last year's Triple Crown horses renew old rivalries as 4-year-olds and begin new ones against older competition.

Medaglia D'Oro, winner of the Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park on Saturday.
At Gulfstream Park, the older handicap division was featured in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap, for a $500,000 purse. Last year's Derby and Preakness winner Funny Cide was the only four-year-old in the field, and he took on Breeders' Cup Classic runner-up Medaglia d'Oro. Not surprisingly, Medaglia d'Oro was sent off as the 3-5 favorite in the field of eight, with Funny Cide the second choice at 3-1.

When the field got underway, 74-1 shot Predawn Raid was sent to the front by jockey Eibar Coa, and they set a decent pace of 23.31, 47.24, and 1:11.15, with Medaglia d'Oro pressing him the whole way down along the rail. Funny Cide tracked just behind those two for the first trip around the track. At the midpoint of the far turn, Medaglia d'Oro seized the lead and then drew away through the stretch to win by 4 3/4 lengths over late closer and 10-1 shot Seattle Fitz, in a time of 1:47.68 for the 1 1/8 miles over a fast main track. It was another 3 3/4 lengths back to Funny Cide in third. Results Chart

Winning trainer Bobby Frankel
Winning trainer Bobby Frankel said, "This is the kind of horse you dream about. He's sound, and he shows up. `I felt really good because no one was coming to him, and he's a really tough horse on the lead." Medaglia d'Oro will return to California to prepare for a possible start in the Dubai World Cup on March 27. Winning jockey Jerry Bailey said, "The way my horse exploded at the three-eighths pole, I don't think there are too many horses that could have had me worried."

Jockey Jose Santos, aboard third place finisher Funny Cide, said, "At the half-mile pole I got very close to [Medaglia d'Oro]. But he was too much. Too much." Jackson Knowlton, managing partner of Funny Cide's ownership group Sackatoga Stable added, "Medagalia d'Oro ran to his reputation. We ran a very credible race. I'm all right with this race. There will be plenty of grade one's. And Medaglia d'Oro won't be in all of them."

After the Donn, the sprinting division was featured in the $100,000 Deputy Minister Handicap, a 6 1/2 furlong event for older horses. The Deputy Minister marked the return of Breeders' Cup Sprint champion Cajun Beat, who was sent off as the 4-5 favorite in a field of seven. However, after setting a brisk pace of 23.04 and 46.05, the 9-2 third choice Alke, who had stalked him the whole way, wrested the lead from him in mid stretch and drew off from the favorite to win by 2 1/2 lengths in 1:15.80. It was another 2 1/4 lengths back to 13-1 shot Coach Jimi Lee in third. Results Chart

Domestic Dispute winning the Strub Stakes.
On the opposite coast, older horses competed in the $300,000 Strub Stakes, a Grade 2 event at Santa Anita over 1 1/8 miles for four year olds and up. Eleven horses faced the starter, with Medaglia d'Oro's stablemate Midas Eyes sent off as the lukewarm 3-1 favorite. Also in the race were such notables as last year's Santa Anita Derby winner Buddy Gil, the 7-2 second choice, and Bob Baffert trainee During, the 6-1 fourth choice.

36-1 longshot Anziyan Royalty and 5-1 third choice Buckland Manor led the way early, getting the half in 45.83 and three-quarters in 1:10.35. Favored Midas Eyes chased the pace wide around both turns back in seventh early. Turning for home, Anziyan Royalty was done and weakened through the stretch finishing last. 14-1 shot Domestic Dispute, stalking in behind the pace early, came out on the turn for home and rallied to get up in the final strides for the win by a neck over another closer, During, in 1:49.08 over the fast track. It was 3/4 length back to Buckland Manor and another 1/2 length to favored Midas Eyes, who finished well but was left with too much to do after a wide trip. Results Chart

Winning trainer Patrick Gallagher.
Winning trainer Patrick Gallagher said, "I was just happy he showed up today. He looked like he was the best horse. He got in some trouble and Kent seemed quite high on him. Kent hadn't ridden him before but he watched all the tapes and did his homework so that was terrific." Winning jockey Kent Desormeaux said, It feels great. It felt like a Grade 1. It worked out really nice because turning for home I felt defeated because I had nowhere to go. I thought I was going to have to eat this one. And then he got out and exploded and it was such a complete change of emotion in 21 seconds."

Strub Stakes photos courtesy of Tina Hines.

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