Every trainer wants a Juddmonte horse. Juddmonte horses have names like Arrogate, Enable, and Frankel. Most trainers would settle for a second-, third-, or fourth-string Juddmonte horse, just to see what it feels like to wade around for a while in the world's most successful stable.
Out West, Jack Carava's got himself a Juddmonte horse sort of.
"Call it six degrees of separation," Carava said with a laugh.
Inordinate, who runs Friday in the Grade 2 Hollywood Turf Cup at Del Mar, began life as a Juddmonte horse raised in Kentucky. He was precocious enough to win his first two races in France at age 2 with Pascal Bary, who trains most of the French Juddmonte horses not trained by Andre Fabre.
In seven starts for Bary, the son of Harlan's Holiday managed to hit the board in a Group 3 race, after which he was sent to New York as a 4-year-old to take up residence with Chad Brown.
While in New York, Inordinate won an allowance race by a nose but was disqualified for trying too hard. Two races later, in the 2016 running of the Sword Dancer at Saratoga, the colt was used as a pacemaker to insure that his stablemate Flintshire would not get bogged down behind a crawl. With Aaron Gryder aboard, Inordinate broke slowly, scrambled wildly to get the lead, carved out a ferocious pace, and then retired at the top of the stretch, but not before opening a path on the inside wide enough for both Flintshire and a Greyhound bus.
In so doing, Inordinate bumped the only horse he ended up beating in the six-horse field. There was uproar, but the stewards saw neither harm nor foul, and their ruling could not be appealed. End of story, and end of Inordinate's New York adventure.
Clearly, though, the horse could run, so it was no surprise that Scott and Julie Dowell's Paymaster Racing bought Inordinate for racing this year in California with Richard Baltas. In his third start for the new connections, he won the San Juan Capistrano at a mile and three-quarters, then ran well without winning the shorter Del Mar Handicap and John Henry Turf Championship.
Paymaster and Baltas parted ways earlier this month, which brought Carava into the picture.
"I had a horse or two for them in the past in partnerships," Carava said of the Dowells. "They have seven or eight with me now at the track."
Inordinate is among nine in the 1 1/2-mile Turf Cup and will be ridden by Corey Nakatani, who has been aboard for five of Inordinate's six California starts.
"Everything's been very straightforward with him," Carava said of his new shooter. "He breezed five-eighths with Corey and went very well. He seems like a real solid citizen."
That's good to know, but what does a trainer mean by "straightforward" in the unpredictable world of handling Thoroughbreds?
"It's a horse that goes out in the mornings that does his job and seems happy to do it," Carava said. "He doesn't have any quirky habits, like not wanting to train, or runs off. He's kind of like a car -- however you press on the gas pedal, that's how fast he goes."
With local grass leaders Ashleyluvssugar, Hunt, and Itsinthepost sitting this one out, Inordinate's main opposition should come from Prime Attraction, a close second to Itsinthepost last time out in the 10-furlong John Henry.
The real John Henry won the third running of the Turf Cup in 1983, and winners like Great Communicator, Miss Alleged, Fraise, Bien Bien, and Champs Elysees kept its reputation alive.
The Cup fell from Grade 1 grace in 2012, though, when it was in its waning days at Hollywood Park. Now, the race is one of only three graded grass stakes for all comers on the Southern California schedule run at 12 furlongs or more, a sorry state of affairs that hardly encourages the investment of ownership in horses of a certain inclination. Horses like Inordinate.
"Once Charlie Whittingham and Bobby Frankel were gone it seemed like those races left with them," Carava said. "When they were bringing horses from Europe, and even horses born in the States, it was a snowball effect. A good horse that won one of those races here who went on to do well the rest of the year would help the races keep their grades. Now the winners don't go on to do much, and the races fall out of favor."
Neither does it help that Bob Baffert, an owner magnet who handles the most powerful stable in the West, seems disinterested in grass racing, or that the ascension of stables trained by Chad Brown, Graham Motion, and Mark Casse concentrate the campaigns of their best turf horses in the East and Midwest.
"I think the key with this horse is the distance," Carava said of Inordinate. "He's a genuine mile-and-a-half horse. True mile-and-a-half horses are a different breed. They have different engines, different styles of running.
"He came to us off a three-quarter work, and obviously this race was on his schedule for a while. Our job has been to pretty much just stay out of his way and hope he runs the race I think he can on Friday."