Contact: Graham Ross
(847) 255-4300
Thursday, July 13, 2000
45th Day


Black Tie Affair, owned by Chicagoan Jeffrey Sullivan, won the 1991 Washington Park Handicap on his way to Horse of the Year honors. Spectacular Bid, owned by Hawksworth Farm, captured the 1980 renewal of the local stakes named after the old race course in Homewood. He, too, won an Eclipse Award as Horse of the Year later in that same season.

But for every Washington Park winner who went on to Horse of the Year honors the same year, like Dr. Fager did in 1968, there is a "people's horse" who won the local headliner, such as Lawrence Karp's Beboppin Baby in 1997 or Harham Farm's Harham's Sizzler in 1983.

A blue-collar campaigner able to compete against blue bloods always captures the public's imagination. This year's renewal of the Grade 2 Washington Park Handicap July 22 is likely to have one - if Steven J. Gula's Mula Gula goes to the post.

Bought for $6,000, Mula Gula is the first horse ever owned by Steve Gula. Last October, after Mula Gula won the Grade 2 Oak Tree Derby, the owner turned down an offer of $1.6 million for him.

"Several people told me that they could tell I knew nothing about the business," said Gula, "because they said anybody else would have sold the horse."

Gula, who claims never to have had a strong desire to own a horse, backed into the business. Ben Gula, his father, owned horses, but decided to get out of the game when he retired. Asked about buying another, Ben Gula said: "Speak to my son."

"My father would spend $50,000 for a horse," Steve Gula said. "When the man (bloodstock agent Dana Halvorson) approached me, I wanted to be polite, but I wasn't going to spend that kind of money. I told him before a sale in 1996, he could go to $15,000 for a horse, figuring nothing would go that cheap, and I'd be off the hook.

"The next thing I knew," Gula continued, "Halvorson called me back and said: 'Congratulations, you've got a new son.' He'd gotten a weanling for $6,000."

Mula Gula began his career at Emerald Downs in Auburn, Washington. Gula, an aviation fuel distributor, lives in nearby Mercer Island. The horse's success led to a move to California and transfer of training chores to Jerry Hollendorfer.

"Jerry told me that as soon as Mula Gula got off the truck, he liked him," Gula said of the colt by 1992 Kentucky Derby winner Lil E. Tee. Seven starts later, the Kentucky-bred won the Grade 3 Bay Meadows Breeders' Cup Derby Handicap, and in his next trip to the post, he captured the Grade 2 Oak Tree Derby at Santa Anita.

In his first start this year, Mula Gula finished second, beaten a head, in Churchill's Grade 2 Winnercomm Handicap on Kentucky Derby Day at seven furlongs. Next came a start in the Grade 1 Shoemaker Breeders' Cup Mile, where he finished eighth after throwing a shoe.

Now comes the Washington Park Handicap at a mile and an eighth, and should Mula Gula be successful in his initial Arlington outing, the four-year-old colt will come back at a mile and a quarter in the Grade 1 Arlington Million August 19.

"That would be a really big deal," said Gula. "I'd love to be a part of the Arlington Million. I've heard so much about the Arlington Million and the beauty of the facility, and we'd love to match up with (Grade 1 Manhattan Handicap winner) Manndar again. We've beaten him once already in the Oak Tree Derby."


Four years ago, on July 13, 1996, Arlington International celebrated a defining moment in its history, when Allen Paulson's Cigar won the Arlington Citation Challenge.


Tim Doocy, through Wednesday - 3,994 career wins, Arlington Total: 19

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