The 1982 Hollywood Lassie
The date was July 10, 1982. Only seven days earlier at Hollywood Park, Landaluce experienced the moment of breaking her maiden. She did so on her first try, and she did so with panache. Taking the lead early, she opened up on her rivals in the stretch, coming to the wire six lengths clear. Her time of 1:08 1/5 was regarded as the quickest time in a six furlong race for a juvenile filly.
Needless to say, it was a memorable debut.
Now, Landaluce was making her stakes debut, also at Hollywood Park. It was quite a leap from the maiden special weight ranks, for she was entered in the Grade II Hollywood Lassie, another six furlong contest.
A staple of Hollywood Park's spring/summer meeting since 1945, the 1982 renewal consisted of five fillies, including Landaluce. Her opponents were Barzell, winner of the Cinderella Stakes earlier in the Hollywood Park meet; Bold Out Line, runner up in the Time To Leave Stakes at Golden Gate Fields; Carambola, who was making her racing debut; and Princess Lurullah, who finished second to Barzell in the Cinderella.
Sent off as the odds-on favorite (a distinction she would have in every one of her starts), Landaluce went to the starting gate with Laffit Pincay, Jr. (the only jockey to team with her on race days). She was bred for stakes success, but the question was whether it would come in her follow up performance.
The quintet left the yellow Hollywood Park starting gate in a line, but Barzell assumed the lead quickly. Landaluce settled in second, with Carambola right on her outside. Princess Lurullah was just off Landaluce's inside in fourth, and trailing early was Bold Out Line.
Barzell stayed in front as she continued down the backstretch, but Landaluce was right there, not letting the leader get too far ahead. She seemed to have a look of determination on her face, her gaze seemingly fixed towards the front. Little by little, she moved closer to Barzell, drawing level with her for just a brief moment. Then, the daughter of Seattle Slew took charge.
She moved well clear of Barzell with ease, and there was already daylight between them at the quarter pole. By the time Landaluce completed the second turn, only the stretch run separated her from the win. She left her opposition well behind, letting them decide the minor awards.
Her lead had grown when she began the final eighth of a mile, and it only got larger as she headed for the wire. The 45,000 fans at Hollywood Park saw her move with grace, elegance, moving effortlessly. Landaluce did not seem to even be running. It was more like a stroll around the track. But, she was deceptively fast in the Hollywood Lassie.
She reached the wire a good few seconds ahead of Bold Out Line, the runner up. The final time was even faster than what she posted in her debut: 1:08 flat. No winner of the race had ever run a faster time. Terlingua set the standard four years earlier, the first to even run the Hollywood Lassie quicker than 1:09. Now, Landaluce was the recordholder.
The margin of victory was a whopping twenty-one lengths, and it signaled that a new star was making herself known in Thoroughbred racing. Though it was early in her career, what Landaluce did in the Hollywood Lassie was not unlike seeing Ruffian open up on her rivals several years earlier and winning by multiple lengths.
With her first graded stakes win, Landaluce let the racing world know she was an exciting filly on the rise.
She continued her promise for the rest of her juvenile season, winning the Grade II Del Mar Debutante, the Grade III Anoakia Stakes, and the Grade I Oak Leaf Stakes, taking the former two by daylight, much like her sire was known to do on occasion when he was racing. Landaluce had that instinct to move to the front and stay there, and she inherited that from Seattle Slew. It was early in her career, but the thought of what she could do at three was no doubt exciting to many.
Sadly, the Oak Leaf would turn out to be Landaluce's final start. About a month after the Oak Leaf, she was found to have a virus known as Colitis-X. Doctors tried to save her, but the virus could not be overcome. On the morning of November 28, 1982, the same day the Hollywood Starlet (which had been a planned start for her) was to be run, Landaluce passed away due to the virus.
She was buried at Hollywood Park, the site of her first two wins. She was posthmously awarded the Eclipse for Top Two Year Old Filly for her work in 1982, and she was given one more fitting tribute.
Beginning in 1983, the Hollywood Lassie was given a new name, and it honored the dark bay/brown filly who put her stamp on the race with her record time and awe-inspiring margin of victory.
From that point on, the Hollywood Lassie became known as the Landaluce Stakes, going all the way to the race's most recent edition in 2017.
In each of those subsequent runnings at Hollywood Park, the race was contested at six furlongs (it was changed to 5 1/2 when it was moved to Santa Anita in 2014). None of those winners even came close to approaching Landaluce's time for the distance, and that is only fitting.
Landaluce owned the Hollywood Lassie that summer day in 1982, and although it has not been run recently, she still does to this day.
Sources: Author Unknown. "Landaluce amazed thoroughbred racing followers Saturday with a 21-length..." UPI Archives. July 10, 1982. Accessed November 16, 2019. https://www.upi.com/Archives/1982/07/10/Landaluce-amazed-thoroughbred-racing-followers-Saturday-with-a-21-length/1557395121600/
Author Unknown. "Landaluce and Carambola hiad a field of six 2-year-old..." UPI Archives. July 9, 1982. Accessed November 16, 2019. https://www.upi.com/Archives/1982/07/09/Landaluce-and-Carambola-hiad-a-field-of-six-2-year-old/1573395035200/
Ehalt, Bob. "Landaluce: Unforgettable Brilliance, Unimaginable Heartbreak." August 31, 2016. Accessed November 16, 2019. https://www.americasbestracing.net/the-sport/2016-landaluce-unforgettable-brilliance-unimaginable-heartbreak
2013 Betfair Hollywood Park Spring/Summer Media Guide