Saturday, November 1, 2008

Fascinating Facts on Saturday's Sharp Cat Stakes at Hollywood Park

Saturday Morning at the Track of the Lakes and Flowers.

The feature race on Saturday's card of Hollywood Park's 2008 Fall Meet Opening Weekend is named for the brilliant filly Sharp Cat, who won seven Grade 1 races between 1996 and 1998, and who died in April of this year after complications from foaling an A.P. Indy colt. Sharp Cat's victories included the Matron, Hollywood Starlet, Las Virgenes, Santa Anita Oaks, Acorn, Ruffian, and Beldame Stakes.

Sharp Cat also holds the dubious honor of completing the 1997 Bayakoa Handicap at Hollywood Park in a walkover, which means she was uncontested in the race. Actually, that day in history, Sunday, December 7, 1997, remains unmatched in racing lore. Sharp Cat's walkover in the Bayakoa was the first in Hollywood Park history. And, just 90 minutes later, Tina Celesta, Chans Pearl and Cool Miss Ann finished in a triple dead heat for first -- the second triple dead heat in track history!

I got to wondering why no other horses were entered to face Sharp Cat in the Bayakoa in 1997, so I asked Hollywood Park's racing secretary, Martin Panza. According to Panza, there were three horses entered in the race, two of which were trained by Ron McAnally, and McAnally scratched his two horses before the race. Panza said it had been raining the night before and the track was sealed, which probably entered into McAnally's decision.

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