Since then Pincay has been riding like a young man, getting live mounts and using his celebrated strength to muscle horses to the wire. On Dec. 10, 1999, he won the 8,834th race of his then 35-year career, finally eclipsing the career record for victories, set between 1949 and '90 by Bill Shoemaker.
Two months ago, Hofmans says, he had a startling dream "that Laffit rode [Millennium Wind] and won the Triple Crown." At the time, the coifs regular rider was Chris McCarron. So, when McCarron begged off the Blue Grass to ride another horse in California, Hofmans grabbed Pincay. The jock last won the Blue Grass in 1974, and he had figured he would never duplicate his only Kentucky Derby victory, aboard Swale in 1984.
"I thought for a long while that I'd never get a chance to ride a horse like Swale again," says Pincay. "It's a dream come true."
Gelding Wins Arkansas Derby
No Sex, Thanks; Gotta Run
One of Saturday's most impressive efforts was turned in by Balto Star, the gelding who annihilated the field in the 1?-mile Arkansas Derby, at sloppy Oak-lawn Park. Breaking from the number 10 post, the 8-5 favorite led all the way. Jockey Mark Guidry never raised his whip.
The victory was the third in a row for Balto Star, who turned in a similarly devastating performance when he wired the field in the 1?-mile Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park in Florence, Ky., on March 24, winning by nearly 13 lengths. The speedy bay has to be considered a legitimate Derby contender. He has won his last three races by a combined 29� lengths.
Such dominance didn't seem likely last September, when Balto Star finished last in his first start, at Belmont Park. He misbehaved so much in the post parade—he tried to mount his lead pony-that trainer Todd Pletcher and owners Stuart and Anita Subotnick had him gelded. Three starts later, on Jan. 1, a more focused Balto Star broke his maiden at Aqueduct. "It made a big difference in his attitude," Pletcher said after the Spiral. "That was the first step in turning him around."
Balto Star's loss of virility does not bode well for him on Derby day. The last sexless wonder to win the Run for the Roses was Clyde Van Dusen, in 1929.