HALLANDALE, Fla. -- Six months after surviving a bizarre incident at Pimlico, Artax reached the pinnacle of his career yesterday at Gulfstream Park.
He won the $1 million Breeders' Cup Sprint, matching the track's 26-year-old six-furlong record of 1 minute 7 4/5 seconds by Mr. Prospector. It was the third track record Artax had matched or broken this year.
"Artax is a spectacular horse," said his New York-based trainer Louis Albertrani.
On Preakness day at Pimlico, Artax and his jockey Jorge Chavez rounded the final turn of an early race and there, standing in the middle of track, was a man from the infield. Chavez jerked Artax to the inside and barely missed the man, who turned out to be Lee Chang Ferrell, a Bel Air resident.
Ferrell goes on trial Nov. 17 for numerous charges from that incident, including assault and intoxication. Artax wrenched an ankle and missed one week of training, which forced him to miss his next start, the Met Mile.
"It could have been for the best," said Albertrani.
The trainer said the revised schedule might have left Artax with more gas in the tank this fall.
"All I know is, I have an amazing horse," Albertrani said.
Artax's owner, Long Island resident Ernie Paragallo, said the Pimlico incident was a "scary event. Jorge had instructions before this race that if anybody ran on the track to run them over."
The victory with Artax was Chavez's second of the afternoon. He won the Distaff with Beautiful Pleasure. "I'm living the American dream right now," said Chavez, a native of Peru and New York's leading jockey.
'Pleasure' tarnishes 'Silver'
Beautiful Pleasure dispatched two champions in the Distaff and probably earned a championship of her own.
After winning two straight Grade I stakes in the slop at Saratoga and Belmont Park, Beautiful Pleasure defeated Banshee Breeze, last year's 3-year-old filly champion, and Silverbulletday, last year's 2-year-old filly champ.
Beautiful Pleasure, 4, led nearly every step of the $2 million 1 1/8-mile race. She dispatched Silverbulletday early and held off a charging Banshee Breeze late. Silverbulletday, the 8-5 favorite, faded to sixth.
Her trainer Bob Baffert said later she might have bled from the lungs. Her jockey Jerry Bailey said her long campaign might have finally taken its toll.
After the race jockey Pat Day jumped off Banshee Breeze, who staggered, but didn't fall, because of heat stroke, said her trainer Carl Nafzger. After a dousing with water, she walked back to the barn.
Of the winner, her trainer John Ward said: "Beautiful Pleasure is an exceptional athlete. Everybody's just now beginning to realize it."
Beautiful Pleasure is the leading candidate for the Eclipse Award as the country's best older filly or mare.
'Soaring' amid darkness
In the inaugural running of the $1 million Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf, the tepid favorite Soaring Softly exploded from ninth place and prevailed by three-quarters of a length over the long shot Coretta.
Soaring Softly's victory, her seventh in eight races this year, delighted her trainer, Jim Toner, who endured a disastrous summer. A fire at Belmont Park killed three of his horses, and he was diagnosed with skin cancer. "You have to go forward," Toner said. "Our goal this year was the Breeders' Cup. Fortunately it's all worked out."
Anees charges into focus
A pair of long shots swept the Breeders' Cup races for 2-year-olds. Anees at 30-1 charged from last to win the $1 million Juvenile, and Cash Run at 32-1 led all the way to capture the $1 million Juvenile Fillies.
Competing for only the fourth time, the California-based Anees sped down the middle of the track and overtook Chief Seattle, ridden by Edgar Prado, to become a leading contender for next year's Kentucky Derby.
Until Anees appeared, Chief Seattle, who had overpowered High Yield in the stretch, looked as if he would prevail. "He put that other horse away, and then I don't think he saw the winner coming," Prado said. "If he had, he would have fought back again."
In the Juvenile Fillies, Cash Run provided trainer D. Wayne Lukas his first victory of the afternoon. A Kentucky-bred daughter of Seeking the Gold, Cash Run was bred by Robert S. Evans, who owns Courtland Farm on the Eastern Shore.
The undefeated Chilukki, the 3-2 favorite, finished second. And the highly regarded Surfside, also trained by Lukas, ran perhaps the best race despite finishing third. Carried five-wide around the first turn and then wide down the backstretch, she surged from eighth in the nine-filly field.
Cash Run and Anees both wore nasal strips, as did Cat Thief, winner of the Classic.
New joy for the old country
The Europeans broke their string of winless races at Breeders' Cup races in South Florida when Daylami won the $2 million Turf as the 8-5 favorite.
Owned by the Dubai-based Godolphin Racing Inc., Daylami carried Frankie Dettori to victory. Dettori's ride aboard Swain in last year's Breeders' Cup Classic was widely criticized. "What about Swain?" Dettori yelled as he rode Daylami into the winner's circle.
'Sound' is eased up
The Michael Dickinson-trained Supreme Sound was eased late in the Breeders' Cup Classic. He finished last in the 14-horse field, 27 1/2 lengths behind the 13th finisher, the Prado-ridden Catienus.
"The race was too bad to be true," said Dickinson, owner of Tapeta Farm in Cecil County. "We'll take him home and look for a problem."
Sure, I'd buy Pimlico
In a wide-ranging and sometimes rambling interview before the Breeders' Cup races, Frank Stronach, owner of Gulfstream Park, Santa Anita Park and other racetracks, said he would be interested in adding Pimlico to his empire. (However, he also said he'd be interested in adding just about any racetrack any reporter asked him about.)
That prompted a call to Joe De Francis, president and CEO of the Maryland Jockey Club, who said neither Stronach nor his representatives had approached him on the subject. De Francis has said repeatedly that Pimlico and Laurel Park are not for sale.