HOLLYPARK OPENS; SOLIS PRIMED : HOLLYWOOD PARK AT A GLANCE.
Jockey Alex Solis will try to continue his domination of the Southern California circuit today as Hollywood Park opens its 36-day autumn meet at 12:30 p.m.
Solis has won four of the past five major Southern California meetings, including a runaway title in the Oak Tree meeting that ended Monday. The 32-year-old rider finished a whopping 17 victories ahead of second-place Gary Stevens (35 to 18). Solis saved his biggest day for the California Cup, when he tied a Santa Anita record with four stakes wins in one day.
He was also the busiest of the top 10 riders, by far, with 162 mounts. Martin Pedroza was second in that category with 115 mounts.
Solis' amazing run began with this Hollywood meet a year ago. He won that title, then finished second at Santa Anita before winning at the Hollywood spring/summer meeting, Del Mar and Oak Tree.
Solis is named on seven horses for today's opening card.
Among the highlights of the Hollywood meeting will be the three-day Turf Festival running from Nov. 29 through Dec. 1 - the day when both the $700,000 Matriarch and the $500,000 Hollywood Derby will be run. The $200,000 Hollywood Turf Express and the $200,000 Miesque Stakes will be run on Nov. 29, followed by the $300,000 Citation Handicap and the $250,000 Generous Stakes on Nov. 30.
The other big day of the meeting is planned for Dec. 15, when the $500,000 Hollywood Turf Cup, the $250,000-added Hollywood Futurity and the $100,000-added Dahlia Handicap are scheduled.
Bonus increase: The MGM Grand Classic Crown will offer a $3 million bonus in 1997 - a $1 million increase from 1996 - making a sweep of the three-race series worth a total payoff of $4.8 million.
The MGM Grand Classic Crown, inaugurated in 1996 by the MGM Grand Hotel/Casino, consists of the West Coast's three richest races - the Santa Anita Handicap, Hollywood Gold Cup and Del Mar's Pacific Classic. Each has a $1 million purse and is contested at 1-1/4 miles. The $4.8-million payoff would be comprised of $1.8 million in total purses and the MGM Grand bonus of $3 million.
The $500,000 participation bonus format, which required horses to run in all three events to qualify for prize money in 1996, has also been refined to allow horses accumulating points in at least two of the three races to share in prize money.
Horses earn points by finishing first (10 points), second (7), third (5), fourth (3), fifth (2) or sixth (1). In addition, the distribution of the bonus has been altered to a 50 percent payout to the highest point-earner, 25 percent to second, 15 percent to third and 10 percent to fourth, regardless of the number of horses remaining eligible following the final leg.
The Santa Anita Handicap, scheduled for March 2, is for 4-year-olds and up. The Hollywood Gold Cup (presented last year on June 30) and the Pacific Classic (contested last year on Aug. 10) are for 3-year-olds and up.
$25 million deal for Cigar: Cigar will still be a neighbor.
On Tuesday, it was announced that Allen Paulson has sold 75 percent of his superstar racehorse to Coolmore Farms of Ireland in a deal valued at about $25 million.
Cigar, who retired after he finished third in the Breeders' Cup Classic last month, will stand at Ashford Stud, Coolmore's American division and adjacent to Paulson's Brookside Farm in Versailles, Ky.
``I have a lot of good mares to put him to, and he'll be right next door,'' said Paulson, who earlier turned down a $30 million offer to sell Cigar to Japanese interests.
The deal, contingent on Cigar passing a veterinary examination, is yet to be signed.
Cigar retired with career earnings of $9,999,815, just $185 shy of $10 million, after an unmatched career. He won 17 of his last 20 races, including a two-year string of 16 consecutive victories that tied the modern record of Citation. Voted Horse of the Year in 1995, Cigar won 19 of 33 career starts.
He will stand in 1997 for a fee of $75,000 per live foal and is expected to cover about 100 mares his first season. Paulson said he sold Cigar to Coolmore only because of the outstanding reputation of the farm's manager, Robert Sangster.
``They have a record second to none in marketing stallions and a worldwide network of very successful clients,'' Paulson said.
Cigar will make his final public appearance at Churchill Downs on Saturday.
Schedule: Racing for 36 days on Wednesday through Sunday, with Monday racing Nov. 11.
Post time: 12:30 p.m. most days; 7 p.m. every Friday except Nov. 29 (12:30 p.m.); 11 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 28).
Admission (parking, program included): $6 general; $9.50 clubhouse; $25 turf club.
How to get there: From the San Fernando Valley, take the San Diego Freeway (405) south to Manchester Boulevard, turn left to Prairie Avenue, turn right.
Off-track wagering: Santa Anita in Arcadia, Fairplex Park in Pomona, Los Alamitos in Cypress and Del Mar are among the sites taking bets on Hollywood Park races. Among other Southern California satellites, Seaside Park in Ventura and the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds in Lancaster are closest to the San Fernando Valley.
Simulcasts: Hollywood Park will take bets on races from Golden Gate (Wednesday through Sunday), Los Alamitos (Thursday through Sunday), Cal Expo harness (Thursday through Saturday), Woodbine (Wednesday through Sunday, plus Monday, Nov. 11), Hong Kong (one night per week, either Friday or Saturday); Australia (every Friday).
On TV: Replays on Channel 56 at 8 p.m. each racing day and at various late-night times on Fox Sports West.
Telephone: Scratches and results available at (310) 419-1470.
Box: HOLLYWOOD PARK AT A GLANCE (see text)