Wally Dollase is confident that Ten Most Wanted is a horse that can go the distance. Whether he can go all the way to the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Oct. 25 and earn the 3-year-old championship, or even possibly Horse of the Year honors, time will tell.
With Candy Ride tossing his undefeated hat into the ring with an authoritative win over Medaglia d’Oro in the Pacific Classic, the race for Horse of the Year is at Square One.
Ten Most Wanted was more steam than substance until he won the prestigious Travers Stakes. Before that, he was big on excuses and small on achievements, although his eight-length victory in the Illinois Derby inspired wise guys to bet him down to 6-1 in the Kentucky Derby, where he finished ninth of 15 with only a modicum of an excuse. He was second to the touted Empire Maker in the Belmont, but had no excuse when beaten a head as the 3-5 favorite by the undistinguished During in the Swaps Stakes.
But that’s all behind him. Winning the Travers thrust Ten Most Wanted among the 3-year-old leaders, right up there with Empire Maker and Derby and Preakness champ Funny Cide.
Dollase says the Kentucky-bred son of 1997 Travers winner Deputy Commander, who also was trained by the 66-year-old native of Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, is as good a horse as he’s ever had, and he’s trained some aces, including champions Itsallgreektome, Jewel Princess and multiple stakes winners Good Journey, Sharp Cat, Helmsman and Windsharp.
"He has enough pedigree to be a good one," Dollase said of Ten Most Wanted, whose next race is likely to be the $500,000 Super Derby at Louisiana Downs on Sept. 20. "The second dam (Landera) produced Cutlass Reality, who won the (1988) Hollywood Gold Cup.
"What separates him from a lot of horses is his effortless stride. He’s a long horse and has good scope and a great shoulder. He just throws those front legs out perfect, no wasted action at all. He doesn’t have a quick action. Those are the things that get you tired, quick action or wasted action. His is fluid and sustained, and when I bought him (for $145,000) at the (Fasig-Tipton) 2-year-old-in training sale, I saw that. That’s the one advantage of a 2-year-old in-training sale; you can see a horse’s action, and that’s one reason I bought him."
Dollase is particularly partial to horses that are bred for routing. He looks forward to developing horses that can go the distance.
"I never buy Carson Citys or Gilded Times, I never bother with those sprinters," Dollase said. "That’s somebody else’s game. But I love the route horses, because you’ve got to teach them to relax and finish. That’s the name of the game, whereas sprinters, you just throw them out of the gate and kick ”˜em in the ass. I don’t see that as a challenge. When you go to Europe, you see those wonderful route races where there’s a lot of strategy involved and it’s great. I love that.
"That’s why I buy horses with route pedigrees. But you have to take them slow. They’re not precocious like those fast horses. We like route races and classics. Every year I get lucky. Last year we had Good Journey, and he was good for me. This year it’s Ten Most Wanted."
Still, until he won the Travers, Ten Most Wanted was considered an under-achiever in some quarters.
"Winning the Travers gave me a great deal of satisfaction and a real thrill," Dollase said. "Ten Most Wanted is a little backward like his sire was, but once he (Deputy Commander) got to about this time of the year, he really got good when he won the same races (Travers and the Super Derby) in succession, then was second in the Breeders’ Cup. In other words, Ten Most Wanted is doing about the same thing as his dad, and he looks just like him. It’s remarkable."
Dollase has Ten Most Wanted in California with the Super Derby for 3-year-olds at 11/8 miles as his next major objective. Dollase also mentioned the $750,000 Hawthorne Gold Cup against older horses at 11/4 miles on Sept. 28 as a possibility, especially since Ten Most Wanted won the Illinois Derby on that track. Either race would provide good spacing to the BC Classic.
As to the 3-year-old championship, Dollase agrees that Ten Most Wanted’s victory in the Travers muddles the picture somewhat.
"It does to a degree," Dollase allowed, "but Empire Maker still would be on top of the list in my opinion. Whatever his problem is (that prevented him from running in the Travers), hopefully he’ll run another race or two before the year is over. That will decide what happens."
Horse of the Year honors seem even more problematical, what with the undefeated Candy Ride joining the fray with his facile victory in the Pacific Classic.
"I didn’t see the race," Dollase said, "but I understand he was awesome."
News You Can Bet On: Barring the unforeseen, Sid Craig, who owns Pacific Classic winner Candy Ride along with his wife, Jenny, will put up the $800,000 to supplement the undefeated Argentine-bred to the $4 million Breeders’ Cup Classic. "He’s a player," trainer Ron McAnally said of Craig. As for Candy Ride, McAnally says he’s "something else." The Craigs paid $900,000 for the 4-year-old son of Ride the Rails and McAnally plans to train him up to the Breeders’ Cup, without benefit of a prep race.
. . . Bob Baffert has every right to diminish his stable by as much as half at Santa Anita this winter, as reported in GamingToday last week. According to one insider, Baffert’s workers’ comp premiums in California is an outlandish $42,000 a month, a decent annual salary for most folks. According to the Los Angeles Times, "Lawmakers say they hope to draft a comprehensive package of reforms within the next two weeks. ”˜The system is totally out of control,’ state Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi was quoted as saying. ”˜It ranges from an outright disaster to a serious job-creation issue.’" The article in the Times went on to state that "Injured workers in California have 49 percent more visits with doctors and 105 percent more chiropractor visits than hurt workers in other states, according to a study by the Workers’ Compensation Research Institute."