Friday, October 31, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Queen of the Catsle continued her winning streak with an impressive victory in today's feature race on Hollywood Park's Opening Day card, the $65,000 Dance In The Mood Stakes at 6 furlongs on the Lakeside Turf Course.
Owned by C.T. Grether Inc. and trained by Howard Zucker, Queen of the Catsle now has five wins and a second in 7 starts this year, including victories in the Sen. Ken Maddy Handicap at Oak Tree and a division of the Daisycutter Handicap on closing day of the 2008 Del Mar meet (her stablemate, Synnin and Grinnin, won the other division of that stakes). She has finished first or second in 10 of 13 lifetime starts.
This video clip includes Queen of the Catsle being saddled before the race, the winning stretch drive, winner's circle moments, and an interview with trainer Howard Zucker about Queen of the Catsle's race and future plans. Enjoy!
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Horses training at Hollywood Park enter the gap onto the Cushion Track, a view of the Grandstand across the track.
Hollywood Park opens its 8-week Autumn Meet Wednesday amidst lots of speculation. How will last weekend's Breeders Cup affect attendance and handle? How much longer will Hollywood Park operate after this fall?
Hollywood Park has never faced opening so close on the heels of Breeders Cup, so it remains to be seen how that will affect things.
The Bay Meadows Land Co., owner of Hollywood Park, has also not committed to racing beyond the 2009 Spring Meet, which ends in July. The plan is to eventually develop the land; but, given the state of the economy, plans for development may have to be put on hold for a while.
Nevertheless, there is excitement in the air about the upcoming racing. Wednesday's feature, the $65,000 Dance in the Mood Stakes, brings together a nice field of 8 fillies and mares sprinting 6 furlongs on the Lakeside Turf Course. The meet will also include the popular 3-day $1.7 million Turf Festival on Thanksgiving weekend (Nov. 28-30), and the $750,000 CashCall Futurity on Dec. 20.
First post is 12:30 p.m. daily, with the exception of three Friday nights (Nov. 7, 14, and 21) with a post time of 7:05 p.m., and an early post of 11:00 a.m. on Thanksgiving day.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Check out Larry Zap's Raven's Pass and Friends footage. In the 3 minute mark, Dettori is on Raven's Pass and basically states that Curlin is taking on Raven's Pass. "How true," said Zap.
It's hard to describe the amazing feeling of looking out over a crowd of more than 51,000 people at Santa Anita Racetrack. It reminded me of the scenes in the Seabiscuit movie, minus all the hats!
From a fan's perspective, the 2008 Breeders Cup at Santa Anita was a great success. Some of the highlights for me were:
- No lines more than 5 or 6 people deep at the mutuel windows!
- It was easy to move around from the paddock to the trackside rail, due to Santa Anita's excellent crowd control and security.
- Lots of customer service people, with "Ask Me" buttons -- truly ready to help.
- Great food!
- Zenyatta, Ventura, and Goldikova! You go girls!!
- I got to see Frankie Dettori's flying dismount TWICE!
- Watching Governor Schwartzenegger present the trophy for the Classic.
- The synthetic track got rave reviews.
- The on-track crowd LOVED the super star horses, giving standing ovations to both Zenyatta and Curlin.
- The excitement was incredible both days!
I love Santa Anita, and am already looking forward to 2009 Breeders Cup there.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Renowned handicapper and general character, John "Mutton Chops" McCririck, that's who! I was fortunate (and really excited!) to meet him at Clockers Corner Thursday morning, as he was having breakfast in the warm California sunshine. When asked who he liked in the Classic, he made some sort of British remark about "laying odds on Curlin!" I also promised not to show this photo of him to any children, so if your kids are around, please move on to another page. :) Mutton Chops is a very pleasant and well-spoken fellow, I must say.
The sun comes up, casting a mauve light on the San Gabriel Mountains, the beautiful backdrop for Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California. The dawn of the second day holds the promise of more thrills, and more than likely new records to be set. Yesterday, the first of the two-day event, was hugely successful day of racing, with a new North American record being set for all sources common pool handle on the 10-race card, of $47,863,774 (of which $6,852,096 was wagered on track). Everything at the track was picture perfect, from the gorgeous weather, to the performance of the new synthetic (Pro-Ride) racing surface, to all of the amenities and the smooth way Santa Anita staff handled the on-track crowd. Good luck to all today!
Friday, October 24, 2008
This is a very cool video created and narrated by Larry Zap. Includes clips of Bushranger, Lewis Michael, Sixties Icon, Albertus Maximus, Only Answer, and lots more!
Zap is known as "the eye" for being able to measure quality in thoroughbred racehorses, and is practically a fixture at Southern California tracks. He has a deep appreciation for quality horses, music, movies, live performance, and comedy. Zap co-hosts Race and Sports Radio every Saturday and Sunday at 9:00 AM (pst) on San Diego's XX Sports Radio (1090 AM) and online at XXSportsRadio.com .
We hope to have some more of Zap's videos for you in the future. Enjoy!
I visited the barn of trainer Gary Sherlock Thursday morning to take a look at his filly, INTANGAROO, who will run in the kick-off race for the 2008 Breeders Cup World Thoroughbred Championships today, the $1 Million Filly & Mare Sprint. Sherlock brought her out for a photo, and she looked absolutely gorgeous - really filled out and healthy, with a beautiful, shiny coat.
Sherlock is really high on INTANGAROO, who had just galloped out a mile and a half at 6:00 a.m. (in the dark!). He said she's as good as she's ever been. In her most recent start, she won the Grade 1 Ballerina at Saratoga on Aug. 24.
When asked what "Intangaroo" means, he said, "Nothing, really." It's just a loose combination of her sire's and dam's names that owner Carl Grether came up with (she's by Orientate out of Tasso's Magic Roo). Best of luck to the Grethers and Gary Sherlock!
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Ventura schooled in the Santa Anita paddock between races this afternoon, and looked quite on the muscle! She is entered in the first 2008 Breeders Cup race to be run tomorrow, the $1 Million Filly and Mare Sprint.
The field sprints away from the starting gate at the top of Santa Anita's famous El Camino Real turf course.
Santa Anita first opened in 1934, yet its beautiful turf course was not installed until more than 20 years later.
The first grass racing in the West took place on Santa Anita's magnificent new hillside, infield turf course, installed in 1953. Called the El Camino Real, it was something quite new to American racing, being patterned on the English and European style of racing. With sweeping right-hand and left-hand turns over rolling terrain, it was a true test for horses, covering approximately 1-3/4 miles. The sprint distance, beginning at the top of the hill, has always been listed as "about" 6-1/2 furlongs because of its inexact length.
The first race ever run on Santa Anita's new grass course was the 4th race on December 26 (opening day), 1953, at 1-1/2 miles. It was won by Empilchada, ridden by Bill Shoemaker and trained by William Molter.
The first stakes race conducted on the new grass course was the San Marcos Handicap on February 3, 1954. The 1-1/4 event was won by Mark-Ye-Well, ridden by Eddie Arcaro and trained by H.A. (Jimmy) Jones.
Lewis Michael, who drew Post Position 1 for the $1 million 2008 Breeders Cup Dirt Mile on Saturday, Oct. 25, relaxes in his stall at Santa Anita Wednesday morning (Oct. 22).
Lewis Michael won the Pat O'Brien over 7 furlongs at Del Mar last month, earning him a berth in the 2008 Breeders Cup Sprint; but trainer, Wayne Catalano, has opted for the BC Dirt Mile instead. Seemingly quite relaxed, Lewis Michael was happy to let me pat his nose, and even snap a couple of flash photos!
Henrythenavigator and Duke of Marmalade are entered in the $5 million Breeders Cup Classic, and Red Rock Canyon and Soldier of Fortune will run in the $3 million Breeders Cup Turf -- both races to be run this Saturday as part of the 2008 Breeders Cup World Thoroughbred Championships at Oak Tree Santa Anita.
The international shippers seem to be acclimating well to the seasonally warm Southern California weather. Temperatures during early morning training hours have been in the 60's, and days warming up to the mid-90's with clear, very dry conditions.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
One of the most beautiful places on the grounds of the historic Santa Anita Racetrack is the Chandelier Room in the Turf Club. Shown in the photo above, the sumptuously appointed room features parquet floors, groupings of overstuffed chairs and sofas with antique coffee and end tables, an elegant bar, a collection of sporting art, antique chandeliers, and stunning decorative gilt palm trees.
Many of the unique fixtures at Santa Anita were personally chosen by Santa Anita Racetrack founder, Dr. Charles H. "Doc" Strub, who built Santa Anita Racetrack, which first opened in December 1934. On annual visits to Europe, Doc Strub brought back art, statuary, and other items to adorn the grounds of his racetrack. The chandeliers in the Turf Club were brought from England. The golden palm trees came from Versailles in France.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Trainer Freddie Head (left) watches his standout filly, Goldikova, work on Santa Anita's Pro-Ride track Tuesday morning. Goldikova arrived at Santa Anita Sunday afternoon after a flight from France, and will face males in the $2 million Breeders Cup Mile on Saturday.
Regular jockey Olivier Peslier will ride the three-year-old daughter of Anabaa, who enters the race with a 3-race winning streak, including the Prix de Moulin at Longchamp on Sept. 7.
Freddie Head, son of legendary French trainer Alec Head, was a champion jockey in France - where he rode almost 3,000 winners, including back-to-back Breeders Cup Miles with Miesque in 1987 and 1988 - before retiring at the age of 50 to pursue a career in training at Chantilly.
Goldikova will try to become the first female Breeders Cup Mile winner since Six Perfections in 2003. Goldikova drew post 4 in the Mile, which doesn't seem to bother Head, who said, "She's fast. She can get her place."
1 - Go Between (Gomez)
2 - Casino Drive (Espinoza)
3 - Tiago (Smith)
4 - Duke of Marmalade (Murtagh)
5 - Henry the Navigator (J. Velasquez)
6 - Smoooth Air (Cruz)
7 - Student Council (Bridgmohan)
8 - Ravens Pass (Dettori)
9 - Curlin (Albarado)
10 - Fairbanks (Migliore)
11 - Colonel John (Prado)
12 - Champs Elysees (A. Garcia)
For full coverage, visit the official Breeders Cup Site
At this location thay will draw 10 races, all but the "big 4" (including the Classic) races, which will be drawn at a special luncheon in Santa Anita's Frontrunner Restaurant.
First drawn was post 6 in the fillies and mares juvenile - VAN LEAR ROSE, Chantal Sutherland's mount! Is that an omen or what, considering the latest buzz on this blog about Chantal?! (See post "Chantal Sutherland Off to a Good Start at Santa Anita").
Speaking of Chantal, her other mount, Mine That Bird, trained by Richard Mandella, just drew post 9 in the Juvenile. More to come.
Related Post: 2009 Breeders' Cup post position draw (complete list)
Training greats Shug McGaughey (left) and D. Wayne Lucas (right) chatting, as their Breeders Cup horses train on Santa Anita's Pro-Ride track this morning. Clockers Corner is humming with activity these mornings -- more famous trainers, riders, and owners than you can shake a stick at (if that's your idea of fun!).
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Brad, who always gets super nervous before one of his horses runs, was actually pretty calm in the paddock. The last time Synnin and Grinnin ran - in the Daisycutter Handicap at Del Mar on Sept. 3, which she won - he was so nervous before the race he kept saying, "Feel my heart!" It was going 90 miles an hour!
Brad said he was looking forward to heading to Colorado Saturday morning with his brother and friends on an elk hunting trip. Hopefully, he'll get some much-needed R & R.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Also out on the Pro-Ride track Friday morning, Champs Elysees (outside) is pre-entered in the Breeders Cup Classic for trainer Bobby Frankel and owner/breeder Juddmonte Farm.
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Friday, October 17, 2008
Clockers Corner was abuzz this morning, with the appearance of several legendary jockeys -- Hall of Famers scheduled to ride in tomorrow's Living Legends race. I caught a nice photo (above) of Jacinto Vasquez (right) and Angel Cordero (left) having a cup of coffee before the press conference that included Sandy Hawley, Pat Day, Chris McCarron, Julie Krone, and Gary Stevens, in addition to Vasquez and Cordero.
All of these legendary jockeys are retired and in the Hall of Fame. Collectively, they are responsible for nearly 50,000 victories and $1.5 billion in purses! Tomorrow's Living Legends race is the 4th at Oak Tree/Santa Anita. It will be a unique opportunity for the public to, once again, wager on their favorite jockeys of all time. And once more, a victory will be added to one of the jockeys' record books!
Also on hand for today's press conference were Laffit Pincay Jr., Eddie Delahoussaye, and Jorge Velasquez.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Quite a crowd was on hand to watch Curlin school during the fifth race yesterday at Santa Anita. Cool as a cucumber, he looked every bit the highest-money-earner-of-all-time. What a magnificent horse.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
A little-known aspect of the frieze is that, in one of the panels, a jockey is depicted falling off a horse (see photo below). It is said that the falllen jockey was meant to depict the great George Woolf, who died at the age of 35 following a spill at Santa Anita.
During the running of the fourth race on January 3, 1946, Woolf fell from his horse as they rounded the clubhouse turn, suffering a concussion. He was taken to St. Luke's Hospital in Pasadena, where he died the next day. George Woolf was a diabetic, and it was generally believed that he suffered a diabetic fainting spell before falling from his mount.
Known as "The Iceman" becuase of his renowned cool and patience while waiting for his horse to make the right move in a race, George Woolf was one of the premier jockeys of his era. In 1935, he made history when he rode Azucar to victory in the Santa Anita Handicap - the first horse race worth $100,000.
When asked what was the best racehorse he ever rode, George Woolf answered immediately, "Seabiscuit." In the 2003 film, Seabiscuit, jockey Gary Stevens played the famed Woolf. Stevens was the 1996 recipient of the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award, an award that has been given annually since 1950 to a North American jockey who demonstrates high standards of personal and professional conduct both on and off the racetrack.
A bronze statue of George Woolf was erected in his honor, and stands in the paddock at Santa Anita Park. A photo of the statue is shown below.
The Iceman's Derby
George Woolf bought a restaurant on Huntington Drive in Arcadia, in 1938, and renamed it in honor of the Kentucky Derby. He promptly decorated the walls of "The Derby" with racing memorabilia, most of which remains to be enjoyed by patrons at The Derby today. Woolf lived on the second floor above the restaurant, and many believe that his ghost haunts the restaurant.
Monday, October 13, 2008
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Sunday, October 12, 2008
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Friday, October 10, 2008
Thursday, October 9, 2008
A beautiful and little known artifact is hidden on the grounds at Santa Anita Racetrack, just east of the paddock gardens and Seabiscuit Court. There, in a grassy enclosure surrounded by manicured hedges, you will find the Maltese Cross, a huge cement replica of the racing symbol used by E.J. “Lucky” Baldwin, on whose former estate sits the present day Santa Anita. In front of the cross there is a bronze plaque with the words: "Here Rest American Derby Winners Volante 1885, Silver Cloud 1886, Emperor of Norfolk 1888, and Rey El Santa Anita 1894. E.J. (Lucky) Baldwin, Rancho Santa Anita."
After her father's death in 1909, Anita Baldwin had the concrete Maltese Cross erected and placed over the burial site of his four American Derby winners. The Maltese Cross and the remains of the horses were moved to their present location at Santa Anita from their original resting spot, about a mile or so to the west where the Baldwin stables once thrived.
Lucky Baldwin's legacy is deeply ingrained in the history of Santa Anita and the city of Arcadia. Baldwin was notorious as a real estate tycoon, womanizer, and gambler. His vast Rancho Santa Anita at one time consisted of more than 60,000 acres.
Baldwin bred and raced some of the best horses in the country, winning nearly every major stakes race of his time. Probably his best horse was Emperor of Norfolk, for whom Oak Tree's Grade 2 Norfolk Stakes was named. Emperor of Norfolk carried Baldwin's black and red maltese cross silks to victory in 21 of 29 races. Sadly, Emperor of Norfolk died in his stall on the evening of opening day of Baldwin's original Santa Anita Racetrack in December 1907.
Lucky Baldwin's Santa Anita Racetrack only operated for two seasons. The new Santa Anita Park opened on Christmas Day, 1934.
Mel Stute has been training horses at Santa Anita longer than just about anyone else here. He started working here as a groom in 1945. At that time, his brother, Warren, was an exercise rider at Santa Anita. The two brothers would become two of the most highly respected trainers in California.
When his brother, Warren Stute, passed away last summer, we lost a great trainer and wonderful man, but Mel continues to train at age 81 - heading up the Stute training "dynasty" that includes his son, Gary, and Warren's son, Glen.
To many racetrackers, myself included, mornings at Clockers Corner wouldn't be the same without Mel Stute. Every morning for as long as most of us can remember, Mel has been out there having his coffee, watching his horses work, and chatting with his buddies, including another legendary California trainer, Henry Moreno.
And the stories Mel can tell... I could sit for hours listening to him talk about his experiences and the marvelous characters in horseracing that he's known over the years. If you've ever know someone who "loves the game," you'll know what I mean when I say Mel truly loves horseracing, including the betting part! I hope to begin a series of posts with some of the stories I've heard at Clockers Corner.
In the meantime, a quick nugget from Mel this morning: When I asked him about the name of his horse in the 3rd race today, Illegal Danish (why would you name a horse that?), he said, "I don't like the name, but Mr. Schiffer (one of his longtime owners) told me you should never change a horse's name; it's bad luck." And if anyone believes in luck, it's Mel Stute.
Wow! Great ride by Chantal Sutherland in today's fifth race at Oak Tree Santa Anita (see photo in the saddling paddock before the race), finishing 2nd by a neck on Weevescent to heavy favorite Cajun Corredor (Bejarano up). Weevescent broke in front, and Sutherland quickly settled him into mid-pack in the 9-horse field. Going 5 wide in the far turn, Weevescent came flying down the stretch in the middle of the track and looked like he would have caught the winner in one more jump. Very exciting race to watch and a super ride - congratulations to Chantal and trainer, Marcelo Polanco!
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Wednesday, October 8, 2008
A view of the starting gate in the quarter chute at Santa Anita Racetrack, as day dawns and we count down to the Breeders Cup World Thoroughbred Championships - 16 days!
Monday, October 6, 2008
I met jockey Chantal Sutherland at Clockers Corner, Santa Anita, this morning, and caught a photo of her with jockey Alex Solis. Chantal is every bit as sweet and friendly as I've heard, and I look forward to watching her ride at the Oak Tree meet.
Chantal has a mount in tomorrow's fifth race at Oak Tree, on Weevescent, for trainer Marcelo Polanco.
Sunday, October 5, 2008
"Queen" is owned by C.T. Grether, Inc., the family of a much-loved and admired friend of mine, Tom Grether, who passed away last year. Tom loved horse racing, loved life, never had a mean word to say about anyone, and got so much joy from his horses. He would have been so proud of Queen. So I just want to say, congratuations, Tom!
What's next for Queen of the Catsle? According to trainer, Howard Zucker, maybe the Monrovia Hcp. at the beginning of Santa Anita's Winer-Spring meet. He'd like to keep her sprinting down the hill. She will certainly be one to watch.
Saturday, October 4, 2008
Tomorrow (Sunday, Oct. 5) he has five live mounts at Golden Gate: Toy Toy Toy in the 1st, Dixie Banker in the 2nd, Mix in the 3rd, Be So Special in the 5th, and Empress Court in the 6th. Unfortunately, I'll be back at Santa Anita for Cal Cup; but best of luck, Alex!
Friday, October 3, 2008
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Mr. Chairman will be ridden by Michael Baze, for trainer Doug O'Neill. Although Mr. Chairman has been running mainly on the turf, O'Neill said, "I think he will run equally well on the synthetic track."
Best of luck, Great Friends!
For an up-close profile of Scott and BR, check out my article that ran in Owners' Circle magazine, all about Great Friends Stable .
Curlin coming off the track in the quarter pole chute, after his gallop this morning. Looking spectacular!
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
As promised, here is a photo of the inside of Santa Anita's beautiful receiving barn. Imagine all the great horses who have gone through this round barn!
An interesting bit of information about this structure... it was used as a shower room during World War II, when Japanese Americans were temporarily detained at Santa Anita before being shipped to more-permanent detention camps in the U.S. Apparently a wooden partition separated the males and females.
Horses on the Pro-Ride track at 8:30 a.m. They're predicting 105 degree heat today in Arcadia, California. Oak Tree at Santa Anita has an 8-race card -- six of which will be contested on the synthetic track. Should be a good test of its ability to keep its structure in extreme heat!