05/12/2002 11:00PM

Mellow Fellow spared indignity of auction block

Email

SAN MATEO, Calif. - Mellow Fellow, winner of Saturday's Grade 3 Bay Meadows Breeders' Cup Sprint, has been pulled from the Bart Heller Estate Dispersal Sale at the Barretts Sale in Pomona on Tuesday.

Mellow Fellow ran the fastest time of the meet for six furlongs, 1:08.35, as he defeated Explicit and Swept Overboard in the Sprint. He earned a 108 Beyer Figure for the victory. It was the sixth straight win for the 7-year-old Mellow Fellow, who was named horse of the meeting at the Golden Gate Fields in March.

Mellow Fellow has won 11 of 24 starts and earned $417,263. Heller and trainer William J. Morey Jr. claimed him for $20,000 out of his winning debut on Oct. 18, 1998.

Morey said after Saturday's race that he did not want his sprint star to go through the auction process.

"That would cheapen him," he said after watching a replay of Mellow Fellow's 1 1/4-length victory over Explicit. "I don't want to see him go through the process being hauled out of his stall every few minutes for potential buyers to look at him. I would rather see him sold privately."

Ronelle Heller, Bart Heller's widow, is being forced to sell off her late husband's horses to settle estate concerns.

"I talked to her [Monday] morning," said Morey from the Barretts Sale. "She wants to sell the horse privately. I'd like to retain my third, but we'll turn him over to bloodstock agents.

"We don't have a number we can put on the horse, but if there's any way we can retain him, I'd like to keep him in our barn. I'm trying to keep the horse first."

Morey pointed out immediately after the race that Mellow Fellow is Breeders' Cup eligible and said that running a horse in the Breeders' Cup was one of Bart Heller's fondest dreams.

As much as Morey wants to keep the horse, he was happy that any sale would now be private.

"It's better for the horse," he said. "He spiked a small temperature after the race. That's not unusual after a big effort, and we took care of him Sunday. He's back to normal, but he was too sick to van down Sunday."

Morey said Mellow Fellow's victory in the $198,750 race was the biggest race he had ever won as an owner, although he had bigger victories with millionaire Dixie Dot Com, whom he trained for the Hellers and Carole and Don Chaiken.

Morey has a sentimental attachment to Mellow Fellow as well as a practical business one.

He nursed him through a bout with EPM (Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis), a potentially fatal neurological disease and also through a fracture of his left front ankle that required two screws to repair.

Mellow Fellow was off from July 16, 2000, until Oct. 3, 2001. He ran third in his comeback in a $40,000 optional claimer and has not lost since while recording 100-plus Beyers in four straight races.

Sassy Conduction gets a new rider

One of the bright spots of the year for trainer Bill Anton has been the strong efforts of Sassy Conduction.

The 5-year-old Sassy Conduction will meet five rivals in Wednesday's feature, a $50,000 optional claimer for older fillies and mares at one mile on the turf.

Sassy Conduction had been pressing the pace and fading when Anton tried a new strategy with her in her first start of 2002. He had jockey Roberto Gonzalez let her settle well off the pace and make one big run.

She lost a photo in that Jan. 16 start after taking the lead in the lane in a $25,000 optional claimer. She won an allowance race in her next start using the same strategy, then was second and third in $50,000 optional claimers behind the streaking Monrow.

She finished last in her last race, losing again to Monrow but also trailing her two main rivals Wednesday, Muschi and Color Me Special.

She made a big middle move in the race then flattened out badly.

"I think Bobby and I had a misunderstanding," Anton said. "I asked him to be a little closer early, maybe just four or five lengths off the pace. Bobby misinterpreted and let her go to the six-furlong [quarter)]pole."

Anton said he would ride Macario Rodriquez on Wednesday.

"He gets on a lot of my horses so it's only fair he should be on my best ones," Anton said.

Although she has only three wins in 41 starts, Sassy Conduction has earned $144,040 and has nine seconds and five thirds.

Anton received a scare Saturday after Strike for Glory finished fourth in the Bay Meadows Breeders' Cup Sprint when his horse began limping badly after the race. He was livid that his horse had to walk back to the barn instead of being placed in an ambulance.

"It looked awfully bad, but he seems to be much better now," Anton said Monday.

Schvaneveldt resumes riding

Jockey Chad Schvaneveldt, who fractured his collarbone in a finish-line spill on the final day of the Golden Gate Fields meeting on March 31, returns to action Wednesday with four mounts.

Schvaneveldt will be on morning-line favorites Win Win in the first and Sea Tac Jet in the fourth. He also rides Full Scream Ahead in the second and Sandpit's Delight in the fifth.

Schvaneveldt finished fourth in the Golden Gate Fields jockey standings with 57 victories from 389 mounts.

Yerba Buena could be a rerun

Janet and Keemoon, the one-two finishers last year, are scheduled to run in Saturday's Grade 3, $150,000 Yerba Buena Handicap at 1 3/8 miles on the Longden Turf Course. Janet won last year's race by three-quarters of a length.

Nepenthe, Polaire, and Racene are also confirmed to run.