12/07/2012 3:48PM

Gulfstream Park notes: Hooh Why makes one of her last stops

Barbara D. Livingston
Hooh Why will make two more starts before retiring, both at Gulfstream, where she won the 2011 Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Mark Hoffman has spent a good deal of his time over the past several years chauffeuring his turf and synthetic-course specialist Hooh Why around the country and up into Canada to race. But all that travelling is about to come to an end.

Hooh Why, who’ll turn 7 on New Year’s Day, is on the verge of retirement. She’ll have just two more starts before becoming a broodmare in the spring, the first of those outings to come here Sunday in the $100,000 South Beach Stakes.

Hooh Why has more than paid her way for Hoffman, who now owns the majority interest in the daughter of Cloud Hopping with his partner Earl Trostrud Jr. Hooh Why was bred by Hoffman’s former girlfriend Gail Gee, who also owned a major share in the mare before passing away suddenly and tragically two years earlier.

“Her career is winding down now,” said Hoffman, who keeps Hooh Why stabled at Tampa Bay Downs when not travelling during the winter “She’s going to the breeding shed after making her final start in the Sunshine Millions. She’s going to be bred to Spring At Last.”

Hooh Why has won 11 of her 46 career starts and banked more than $1.1 million. One of those victories came earlier this season in the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf when she ran down the favored Romacaca to post a 1 1/4-length victory at odds of 17-1. In her previous try, Hooh Why finished second in the 2011 South Beach at even longer odds of 40-1.

“I made a bonehead move entering her in that stakes on the dirt at Calder last month,” Hoffman said. “I should have taken her home after she worked poorly over that sandy beach over there. I brought her back in the My Charmer, and it was probably a little too close. This race is a little close too, only 17 days, but I didn’t want to have to train her hard before the Sunshine Millions, and if I don’t run her Sunday, it would have meant 60 days between starts.”

Hoffman vans Hooh Why from track to track in a custom-made trailer with four box stalls, which has been her home away from home for all of her starts outside of Tampa Bay Downs – all except for her trip to California in 2009, when she flew to Santa Anita to finish a close second in the Sunshine Millions Oaks and third, beaten a head, in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks, later that winter.

“I guess you can say she’s paid for the rig several times over,” Hoffman said. “The only sad part throughout all this was when Gail passed away. She had a big training center in Ocala and was only 45 years old when she died. We both owned 41 percent of the mare at the time, and I had to fight her estate for two years before I was finally able to buy them out.”

Hooh Why will be saddled by trainer Nick Gonzalez in the South Beach. Maria Bowersock was the trainer of record when Hooh Why finished second in the race a year ago, and Shirley Girten-Drake was the listed trainer on the program for the 2012 Sunshine Millions.

“I have friends all around the country and I find it easier just to ship into their barn and put the horse in their name rather than to go through all the paperwork necessary to run her in mine,” Hoffman explained.

Lopez returns with a bang

Jockey Paco Lopez made a triumphant return to the saddle Friday after taking off all his mounts on both Wednesday and Thursday while recuperating from minor injuries suffered in a frightening spill here Sunday. Lopez won with each of his first two rides Friday, including the afternoon’s $57,500 co-feature aboard 4-5 Bull Dozer for trainer Luis Ramirez.

“I’m really happy to win my first race after coming back from my fall on Sunday,” Lopez said after guiding Cary Street to victory in the second race. “I got hurt really bad, I thought it would be two to three weeks. I was really sore in my back and my ribs, but the doctor said I was okay to ride.”

Bull Dozer, haltered for $25,000 at Calder by Frank Calabrese in May, had won three straight starts by an average margin of five lengths before finishing third in Calder’s Jack Dudley Sprint Handicap on Nov. 10. It was expected he would wheel back on last Saturday’s Claiming Crown card, but Ramirez opted instead to wait for Friday’s race.

“The distances of the two Claiming Crown races for him were just a little further than he wants to go, and this was a better spot,” Ramirez said. “Unfortunately, he was claimed out of the race today.”

Bull Dozer, who completed six furlongs in 1:09.00, was haltered for $62,500 in a two-way shake by owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey and trainer Mike Maker.