Until recently, criminal type would have settled for the thrill of the race and second-place money. He would have swung into the stretch in a nose-to-nose run to the wire, enjoying the companionship and the gala, and finished seemingly without purpose. "He would have let the other horse have it," says D. Wayne Lukas, Criminal Type's trainer. "He'd go to the wire, but he wouldn't give a damn whether he won it or not."
But in the last two months, the 5-year-old son of Alydar has been living up to his sire's reputation for all-out determination to win. Now Criminal Type pushes on at the finish to steal the victory.
Criminal Type surprised noted front-runner Ruhlmann, who had beaten him twice in the spring, and won the Pimlico Special by a neck on May 12. Sixteen days later, Criminal Type dusted Easy Goer and Housebuster for another neck victory in the Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park. And on Sunday, in the $1 million Hollywood Gold Cup, he pulled off the biggest heist of his career, luring Sunday Silence, the 1989 Horse of the Year, into a furious battle down the Hollywood Park stretch and winning by a head to snatch the $550,000 first-place check for owners Jurgen Arnemann and Calumet Farm.
"Hey, it's the year of Dick Tracy," Lukas said after the race. "Why not Criminal Type?" Indeed, why not? His coast-to-coast run of three upsets over the top older horses gives him six wins in nine starts this year and earnings of $2,129,650, to put him atop the 1990 money list. For that, he is the most-wanted horse in America.
The much-anticipated $1 million Arlington Challenge Cup, which will bring together rival 4-year-olds Sunday Silence and Easy Goer for the first time in 1990, takes on greater significance now that an invitation to the Aug. 4 race at Arlington Park will certainly be addressed to Criminal Type. "This is like the heavyweight fight division now," Lukas says. "All the challengers are in place. I have to think that we've got a leg up on everyone else."
And who would have believed it two years ago, when Criminal Type was accomplishing little as a lightly raced colt in Europe? When he was shipped home to Calumet in Lexington, Ky., in November 1988, he was underweight and disoriented. Lukas took charge of Criminal Type in February 1989, running him in eight allowance races as a 4-year-old. He won two and $66,800, but established a reputation for finishing in the top four.
In the 1¼-mile Gold Cup, Criminal Type raced just off the pace set by Ruhlmann and waited for Sunday Silence's rush from the outside. It came on the far turn, but Criminal Type was ready. Ruhlmann gave way entering the stretch, leaving Criminal Type and Sunday Silence to make a mad dash to the wire. Jockey Jose Santos put Criminal Type on the rail and whipped him lefthanded, as Pat Valenzuela urged Sunday Silence with a righthanded whip.
For one, Charlie Whittingham, the 77-year-old trainer of Sunday Silence, wants to see Criminal Type repeat his Gold Cup performance under more equal weight conditions. "We gave him five pounds today [Sunday Silence carried 126 to Criminal Type's 121]," Whittingham said. "Who knows what might have happened? We'll see soon enough."
Santos (red silks) kept Criminal Type in front through the stretch duel with Sunday Silence.