Greentree Stable has another outstanding race horse.
"Hatchet Man was the last major stakes winner, before this one," trainer John Gaver Jr. recalled yesterday in the Pimlico winner's circle. "He beat Forego in the Haskell at Monmouth a few summers ago."
John Hay Whitney's famous stable also is remembered for Stage Door Johnny. Further back there was Tom Fool, the Horse of the Year in 1953 and, before that the legendary Devil Diver.
Now it's Bowl Game, a lightly raced 4-year-old gelding by Tom Rolfe out of a Round Table mare.Yesterday he destroyed eight rivals in the $58,450 second half of the Dixie. Bowl Game's winning margin was six lengths over Oilfield, and it would have been much more if jockey Jorge Velasquez had so desired.
Velasquez was so elated with the performance he could hardly stop talking to Gaver after the trophy ceremonies.
"Jorge was excited by the way the horse did it," the trainer acknowledged. "I wouldn't say this was necessarily Bowl Game's best race, because the competition was tougher in Florida when he beat Silver Series (on the dirt, in the Gulfstream Park Handicap). But this is the most he's ever won by. He's a runner, all right, and he can handle any kind of racing surface."
The Dixie was Bowl Game's sixth straight success. The racy-looking bay was fresh from victory in the Pan American Handicap on the turf at Gulfstream.
"Next for him will be the Hollywood Invitational (May 29, at a mile and a half on the grass)," Gaver said, if he's invited."
Bowl Game will be invited.
After that we'll probably bring him back East for the longer races in the Handicap triple Crown in New York, the Suburban and the Brooklyn. He's not a miler, so he'll not be going against Seattle Slew and the others in the Metropolitan Mile on Memorial Day."
Bowl Game did not race until last August as a 3-year-old at Saratoga. He needed five attempts before recording his first victory. Since then he hasn't lost.
"A little ankle problem bothered him at 2, and he got sick, bucked his shins, all the little things that can go wrong, he had them," Gaver explained. "His serious training started this winter.Everything he's done has been delightful surprise."
Bowl Game, favored at 2 to 5, completed the 12 furlongs of soft turf in 2:33 1-5. A light rain fell during the second section.
The $57,450 first half of the Dixie was a much more competitive event. Fluorescent Light, a 7 to 1 shot, held on gamely through the stretch to down the favored That's A Nice by a neck with Improviser third, a length challenged strongly in the early stretch.
Fluorescent Light, a stakes winner in California this winner, led all the way (in 2:33 1-5) under Vince Bracciale Jr. The 4-year-old Herbager colt owned by Ogden Phipps and trained by John Russell carried 114 pounds, compared to 120 on Bowl Game. He paid $17.60 straight.
That's A Nice-probably would have gained first money had he found more racing room around the turn into the stretch. "I had a little trouble moving," Jacinto Vasquez admitted, making a decided understatement.