Honesty keeps Pincay firmly in Spawr’s corner

August 06, 2002 5:03 AM
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Bill Spawr has been with Laffit Pincay Jr. through thick and thin.

When Pincay gave serious thought about dropping to racing’s "Triple A" level in the Bay Area a few years ago because business was so sparse, Spawr was the only trainer to use him consistently.

Pincay suddenly and miraculously resurrected his career and remained in the Big Time. He continued to ride at the highest plateau, with his fellow Hall of Famers and other top-flight competitors who comprise the Southern California jockey colony.

Pincay, now 55, still does the bulk of Spawr’s riding, but at Del Mar this meet, the 62-year-old trainer has been giving a leg up to some of Laffit’s peers.

Spawr says all is well between the two, who share the same no-nonsense, blue-collar work ethic. But when Spawr sends out two horses in the same race, as good as Pincay is, obviously he can’t ride both. And at least one owner prefers not to use the world’s winningest jockey, whose wins reached 9,400.

And, stunner of stunners, there are times when Pincay has asked Spawr to take him off a losing mount in the hope that another rider can improve the horse.

Imagine Barry Bonds going hitless for a week and asking manager Dusty Baker to take him out of the lineup and put in someone else.

Imagine Kobe Bryant missing 10 straight shots and asking coach Phil Jackson to take him out of the game because he wasn’t helping the team.

That’s what Pincay has done on occasion with Spawr, when he can’t get a horse to run.

"Everything’s fine (between us)," said Spawr, who won four races the first two days of the Del Mar meet in a bid to capture his third training title at the seaside course. Spawr won the Del Mar training title in 1994 with 19 wins and shared the crown in 1990 with D. Wayne Lukas and Richard Mandella at 14 each.

"Laffit rides 90 percent of my horses anyway, but some he doesn’t care to ride," Spawr continued. "Maybe they don’t feel right for him and he’s good enough to say, ”˜You know, Bill, this horse is all right (but) I’m not getting any run from him. Why don’t you try somebody else on him? Maybe they can get him to run.

"That’s exceptional, for a jockey to do that, but that’s what Laffit’s about. He wants us to do as well as we want him to do, so we’re trying to help each other."

One Spawr client that does not use Pincay is Golden Eagle Farm, a dominant California breeding and racing operation established by the late founding member of Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, John Mabee, who died at age 80 on April 24.

"Golden Eagle respects him, but they don’t use him," Spawr said, "and I have two horses in a race frequently, so I have to use somebody else on the other horse, obviously." Spawr currently has five horses for Golden Eagle.

Spawr has never been enamored running at Hollywood Park, and during that spring/summer meet, counts the days until Del Mar opens. He says the change in venues is a major reason his horses are winning now, but is remindful that it’s still early.

"I think we’re doing well now because we left Hollywood Park," Spawr said. "Del Mar is a different surface and I think my horses are happier over it.

"We got off to a good start at Del Mar last year, too, but then we fell apart. I hope we can sustain it this year. I thought we could do that last year, but it didn’t happen."

Even though Mabee had been in failing health in recent years, Spawr expressed surprise at his death.

"I was with him a week before he passed away, at the (Golden Eagle) farm," Spawr recalled. "At that point, he was fine. I looked at some of the horses that were going to come to me later on. Mr. Mabee must have spent about two hours with me, and we laughed about a couple things and he was completely normal. I actually thought he was getting better. I was really surprised when we lost him."

THE HOMESTRETCH: Spawr plans to run former Bill Morey Jr. trainee Mellow Fellow in the $150,000 Pat O’Brien (Gr. II) at seven furlongs on Aug. 18 . . . Poor judgement by Alex Solis had odds-on favorite Beat Hollow trapped in a six-horse field so long it cost him victory in the Eddie Read Handicap, so to no one’s surprise, trainer Bobby Frankel will replace Solis with Jerry Bailey aboard Beat Hollow in the Arlington Million on Aug. 17 . . . Word from the Frankel barn is that the promising turf filly Surya may have been brought back too soon for the Grade I Ramona Handicap on July 27, three weeks after routing Grade III rivals in a win at Hollywood Park’s Royal Heroine Stakes. Look for Surya to return in Del Mar’s Palomar Handicap on Sept. 8.

GOLDEN PICKS

DRIPPINGINDIAMONDS ”” Frankel trainee ran well in turf debut despite breaking out at the start from extreme outside post in Grade II San Clemente Handicap, beaten just over three lengths. Follow this filly, who should benefit from that experience.

FRIENDLY MIKE ”” Another monster Baffert 2-year-old, this $250,000 son of Honour and Glory aired by 7½ in his debut, can win at stakes Âí­plateau.

OUR BOBBY V. ”” Spawr says this son of Magesterial, a $65,000 Barretts 2-year-old "acts like a real nice colt." Look for him to make his Âí­debut soon.