THE Hamilton Spectator
Saturday, July 31, 1999
It was an auspicious beginning for the Hong Kong Jockey Club Trophy Stakes at Woodbine last year.
The inaugural running of the $200,000 grass event drew but six competitors but it turned out to be a very high-quality field. The winner, Buck's Boy, went on to capture the $2 million Breeder's Cup Turf and was honoured with an Eclipse Award as North America's most outstanding turf performer.
Terremoto, who finished third, was named Canada's best older horse or gelding at year's end. Race runner-up, Crown Attorney, was edged at the polls as this country's turf champion. He and seven others will contest the second edition of the Hong Kong affair tomorrow (CTV Sportsnet 3-4 p.m.).
The young stakes has attracted "The Old Man." That's the monicker used by the Sam-Son Farm camp for the nine-year-old gelding, Desert Waves. A crowd pleaser, the earner of $1,217,029 received generous applause after his score, last month, in the $276,250 King Edward Gold Cup. He was winless in 1998.
Blame the 0-for-7 record on the role of a rabbit he played for his more illustrious stablemates. By shooting out in the lead early, he softened up the opposition and set up the race for a come-from-behind runner. Chief Bearhart, twice Horse of the Year, this side of the border, was one of his beneficiaries. According to assistant trainer, Hugh Chatman, Desert Waves doesn't show quite the same gusto he displayed earlier.
"The Old Man's wise to the game now," he said. "If he gets the lead with soft fractions (not overly quick times for the first two quarter of a mile segments), he's tough. But if he's pushed early, he kind of packs it in. He's a lot happier if he gets everything his own way.
"He looks great. Like a million dollars, all dappled out. He's a happy camper. And he hasn't lost the desire to run."
The son of Alysheba thrives in the mornings. He doesn't like anyone passing him in the workouts. "He used to work out with Chief Bearhart. I can only remember, once or twice, that Chief could go by him," said the 13-year Sam-Son Farm employee. Desert Waves was gelded when he was two, after he was disqualified from a stakes win for "body-slamming" another runner.
"He was rambunctious and a bit of a bully. Even though he became a lot more focused in his racing, he still would try and kick another horse.
"Now he's a quiet ride -- just like a pony. Everyone gets on him now. He's a class act."
The 9-5 favourite for the 1 3/8 miles is U.S. shipper, Crowd Pleaser. The four-year-old son of A.P. Indy has won four of his last five starts -- all on turf.
Hong Kong's champion jockey (seven times since 1990), Basil Marcus, will ride at Woodbine this weekend. He has three mounts this afternoon and seven tomorrow.
Two streaks were broken on Sunday when Lenny The Lender finished sixth in the Prince of Wales Stakes at Fort Erie.
Victor Deschenes sold three-quarter interest in the runner to Earle Mack of New York prior to the race for $200,000. He had claimed the gelding earlier in the year for $40,000.
Mack had won the Prince of Wales Stakes each of the three previous times he had contested the classic.
"It was the first time this year that one of my runners didn't return with a cheque (finished fifth or better) this year," said Deschenes who owns Expedite Plus Inc., an emergency transportation business. He's been in racing for three years.
Known in the Toronto area for his donations to the needy, he's at it again. "I have just donated $10,000 to the Avelino Gomez Fund (for needy ex-jocks), and I'm setting aside $50,000 for a new fund that will be announced in a week or two. It may be called the Sandy Hawley Fund, or something like that.
"I'm having fun. I'm enjoying my involvement very much. Last year I had $40,000 worth of horses. This year, I have $400,000 worth.
Holiday Monday is the annual family fun day at Woodbine. It kicks off at 9:30 a.m. with a pancake breakfast for those interested -- $3 for kids and $5 for adults. All proceeds go to the Community Association for Riding for the disabled.
The stables will be opened for pony rides and there will be a petting zoo. Clowns will be present and one of the numerous activities will be face-painting. Post time for the races is 12:55 p.m.
Copyright 1999, The Hamilton Spectator Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.