Arklow has Donegal beaming following Hollywood Turf Cup win

Arklow has Donegal beaming following Hollywood Turf Cup win
Photo: Coady Photography
Jerry Crawford, head of the Donegal Racing partnership group, and his wife Linda debated “long and hard” about making the trip from Scottsdale, AZ, to Del Mar for Friday’s $200,000 Hollywood Turf Cup (G2).

Donegal Racing had Arklow carrying its emerald green and yellow colors in a 1 1/2-mile event that, coincidentally, the group’s Finnegans Wake had won six years to the day earlier when the event relocated to Del Mar after 48 runnings at Hollywood Park.

Considering the COVID-19 situation and health authorities’ cautions against travelling, the Crawfords decided to stay put, and left the on-site support for the 6-year-old son of Arch to a contingent of partners from the Los Angeles or Del Mar areas that numbered in single digits.

From far and near, they were rewarded with a half-length victory under jockey Joel Rosario as Arklow covered the distance in 2:26.31, eclipsing the record for the event, when held at Del Mar, of 2:27.35 by Finnegans Wake.

“Going in, I thought our horse was up against it because of the travel problems he’d had,” Crawford said.

A scheduled early evening flight from Louisville, where Arklow had been training at Churchill Downs, was delayed by mechanical problems. Arklow, and some fellow equine travelers, stood on the plane for three hours then were taken off and returned to their Churchill Downs stables. The trip was very much in jeopardy. In the early morning hours notification came of another plane and Arklow and Co. essentially caught a red-eye to California.

“It was a concern, but he’s such a calm horse who has travelled well everywhere he’s gone, so it obviously didn’t affect him,” Crawford said.

The race itself unfolded with Rosario having Arklow in a good stalking position throughout, moving to the lead with a quarter-mile to run and holding off the close of Laccario.

“Joel gave him a great ride,” Crawford said. “He tipped him out and got him in the clear rounding the turn like we hoped he would. In the Breeders’ Cup Turf (6th of 10), he got pinned against the rail and couldn’t get out until too late.”

It was the eighth win from 30 starts for Arklow with an additional seven runner-up efforts and two thirds for earnings of $2,666,116. He has one Grade 1, the 2019 Belmont Turf Classic Invitational, two Grade 2 and two Grade 3 wins on his record.

Watching from home, one of Crawford’s first actions was to call announcer Larry Collmus in the Del Mar booth.

“There are some great race callers and he’s there with the best,” Crawford said. “We love it when Larry calls big races we have horses in. He called the (2015) Travers when (Donegal’s) Keen Ice beat American Pharoah.”

The two Hollywood Turf Cups go nicely with Donegal’s other major Del Mar triumph. In 2012, Dullhan, ridden by Rosario and trained by Dale Romans, won the Pacific Classic, going the 1 ¼ miles on Polytrack in 1:59.54. Barring a future change back to an artificial surface, that record may stand forever.

“We love coming over to Del Mar,” Crawford said. “I told some of our partners if we keep this up, maybe they’ll change the name to Donegal Downs.”   

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