Monday, August 31, 2009

Zap! of the Week: Rail Trip Looks Awesome in Work for Pacific Classic

Zap of the Week

Rail Trip, winner of the Hollywood Gold Cup in July and the likely favorite for Sunday's Grade 1 Pacific Classic, was clocked going a mile in 1:36 for trainer Ron Ellis yesterday. Larry Zap brings you some great footage of the work and also includes a look at Pacific Classic contender Song of Navarone, a quick glimpse of Well Monied jogging, and She's Cheeky, trained by Peter Eurton, going 5 furlongs in 1:01 in preparation for Friday's Rancho Bernardo Handicap at Del Mar. Enjoy!

For more information about Larry Zap, see Contributors on the About tab.

A Fan's View: Match Race Between Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra?

As the buzz continues, a California racing fan offers his opinion... watch for more as the video poll continues this week!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Zenyatta vs. Rachel Alexandra: Trainer Jim Cassidy Weighs In

The buzz continues in California racing circles... Should there be a match race between Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta? If so, who would win? Trainer Jim Cassidy offers his opinion for the video poll. Watch for more over the next few days!

Ringolevio Preps for Wednesday Start at Del Mar

Ringolevio, a nice three-year-old Florida-bred gelding by Unbridled Time that I've been following, is entered for Wednesday's 4th race at Del Mar. Apprentice jockey Christian Santiago Reyes has the mount in the maiden claiming race at 6 furlongs for 3-year-olds and up. Ringolevio is trained by Howard Zucker for Carol Mishken and Alan Epstein.

I caught a quick video of Ringolevio working at Del Mar last week. He went 5 furlongs in a speedy 1:00 flat.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Match Race Buzz: Zenyatta vs. Rachel Alexandra

It has been a widely debated topic around racing circles for some time now: will the two great fillies meet up in a match race? And if so, who would be the likely victress? Trainer Mel Stute and jockey agent Alex Purcell weighed in via my video poll. Look for more to come over the next few days. And be sure to cast your vote in the poll on this site!

Zenyatta Relaxes at Del Mar

ZenyattaZenyatta relaxing in her stall, John Shirreff's barn, Del Mar Racetrack, 8/29/09.

Zenyatta posted a 4-furlong work in :47.8 at Del Mar yesterday, and today looked very peaceful in her stall at trainer John Shirreffs' barn.

Her next start will most likely be as the defending champion in the Lady's Secret Stakes on Oct. 10 at Oak Tree, which would serve as her final prep for the Breeders' Cup in November.

Here's a video from the Milady Handicap at Hollywood Park that shows Zenyatta strutting her stuff. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Misremembered Going to Pacific Classic for Bob Baffert

How unforgettable is this horse?

is certainly one that Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert will have no trouble remembering, especially since the talented son of Candy Ride gave Baffert his first stakes victory with a horse he bred when he won the Grade 2 Swaps Stakes at Hollywood Park July 18. It was also Baffert's 4th Swaps Stakes win.

Misremembered, who is headed for Del Mar's Grade 1 $1-million Pacific Classic on Sunday, Sept. 6, posted a six-furlong work in 1:13.8 at Del Mar last Thursday, 8/20/09.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Zensational Pointing for Pat O'Brien Stakes at Del Mar

I caught the tail end of Zensational's morning bath at Del Mar Wednesday morning, as well as Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert talking about this very fast 3-year-old son of Unbridled's Song.

Baffert said Zensational is pointing for the Pat O'Brien Stakes at Del Mar on Sunday, Sept. 6.

Zensational was an impressive winner of the Bing Crosby Stakes on Aug. 8, his second consecutive win in a Grade 1 sprint. He won the Triple Bend Handicap at Hollywood Park July 5, his stakes debut. Owned by Zayat Stables, he has won 4 of 6 starts and $429,300.

Good Morning from Del Mar, California

Del Mar beach morning

This morning dawned crisp and clear without a hint of humidity in the air. It promises to be a spectacular day at Del Mar. Hmmmm... beach or racetrack? It will be a fabulous beach day. But then there's the $193,148 Pick Six Carryover and a chance to see Tiago and Becrux in the Harry F. Brubaker Stakes! Guess I'll go to the races.

This message has been sent using the picture and Video service from Verizon Wireless.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Trainer Snapshot: Longtime California Thoroughbred Trainer Mel Stute

The first in a weekly series spotlighting California trainers.

In choosing someone for my new series of posts on California trainers, I didn't have to think twice about who should be the first. Few trainers in California are as well respected and beloved as Mel Stute, who has been training here for more than 60 years.

Stute took a few minutes after training hours at Del Mar to talk about his experience as a trainer, and life in general. He discusses training methods and how they have changed over the years. He also offers a few insights about life, having just celebrated 59 years of marriage to Annabelle.

Born in 1927 in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Mel is the father of trainer Gary Stute and younger brother of trainer Warren Stute, who passed away in 2007.

He has won 12 training titles, including three at Hollywood Park and seven at Fairplex Park, where he is the all-time leader in races won. He was the first inductee into Fairplex Park's Hall of Fame in 2003. In his honor, there is a "Mel Stute Bar" in the Clubhouse at Hollywood Park and a "Stute's Sports Bar" at Fairplex Park. In 2006, he shared the third annual Laffit Pincay Jr. Award with his brother, Warren -- an award that is presented for integrity, extraordinary dedication, determination and distinction in the sport.

Trainer Mel Stute
Stute trained Eclipse Award winners Snow Chief (1986 Three-Year-Old) and Brave Raj (1986 Two-Year-Old Filly). The long list of stakes winners he has trained also includes Very Subtle, Double Discount, Klassy Kim, Telly's Pop, Real Connection, Right Con, and Buffythecenterfold.

Stute underwent heart bypass surgery in 2000 but was back to work within two weeks. At 82, he's still going strong. His years of experience and willingness to share his knowledge make Mel Stute an invaluable resource for California horseracing.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Zap! of the Week: Mi Sueno and Sterling Outlook Work for Del Mar Debutante and Futurity

Zap of the Week
Direct from Del Mar Racetrack, Larry Zap provides a glimpse of some of the quality horses training for upcoming stakes, including Mi Sueno and Sterling Outlook working for the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante and Del Mar Futurity. He also catches some action by Rail Trip, Colonel John, Missremembered and Informed getting ready for the 2009 Pacific Classic. All narrated by Zap. Enjoy!

For more information about Larry Zap, see Contributors on the About tab.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Papa Clem Gallops on the Del Mar Polytrack

Here's Arkansas Derby winner Papa Clem out for a gallop on the main track at Del Mar on Sunday morning for trainer Gary Stute.

The big boy looked great and appears to be flourishing now that he's back home in California from Monmouth Park, where he ran 4th in the Haskell Invitational on August 2 -- a race won in scintillating fashion by superstar filly Rachel Alexandra.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Irish Weis Man Schooling at Del Mar

Irish Weis Man
, a 4-year-old son of Unusual Heat, schooled in the paddock early Saturday morning for trainer Barry Abrams. Irish Weis Man returns to the races in Del Mar's 10th race Sunday for his second career start following a lengthy layoff. He has had a steady series of workouts at Del Mar, including a 5-furlong drill on Aug. 19 in :59.2.

Barry Abrams Schools Hot n' Dusty for Solana Beach Hcp.

Early Saturday morning at Del Mar, I watched trainer Barry Abrams schooling one of his nice fillies, Hot n' Dusty, in the paddock. A 4-year-old daughter of Unusual Heat owned by M. Auerbach LLC and Little Red Feather Racing, Hot n' Dusty runs in the $100,000 Solana Beach Handicap on Sunday at a mile on the turf.

Hot n' Dusty has 2 wins, 5 seconds, 2 thirds and a fourth-place finish in her last 10 starts. She won her last race, a $100,000 optional claimer, at a mile on the turf. Not only is she a very consistent runner, she is also one of the sweetest fillies I have met. She seemed to genuinely enjoy all of the attention -- quietly striking poses for the camera -- and even allowed me to pet her. It's also very easy to see that she loves Abrams -- and vice versa!

Internallyflawless Scores a Mild Upset in Del Mar Oaks

Internallyflawless and jockey Garrett Gomez held off 30-1 longshot Nan to win the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks for 3-year-old fillies at 1-1/8 miles on the turf.

Internallyflawless, a daughter of Giant's Causeway, is trained by Bob Baffert for owner/breeder Charles Fipke. In her previous start she was 4th in a troubled trip in the San Clemente Handicap on Aug. 1.

The heavy favorite, Well Monied, whose chances were compromised by a slow pace and wide trip, finished third.

Friday, August 21, 2009

An Unexpected Journey: Authoring the Life Story of Race Caller Joe Hernandez

Author Rudy Alvarado at Book Signing

A Guest Post by Rudolph Valier Alvarado

Seven years ago while I was reading Laura Hillenbrand’s masterpiece, Seabiscuit: An American Legend, I came across the name Joe Hernandez. Growing up on a West Texas farm where we raised greyhounds I had never heard the name before, and I certainly had no idea about Hernandez’ claim to fame. Nonetheless, I was intrigued by the reference and by Hernandez’ accomplishments. Having taught Latino history, I knew that Hernandez had achieved notoriety at a time when a great number of Latinos were being repatriated to Mexico due to America’s Great Depression. I wondered what it was about Joe that had allowed him to succeed.

Before undertaking my research, I looked up Joe’s obituary. It noted that he had been the voice of Santa Anita for over 34 years and had called 15,587 races in a row. There was nothing about how his indelible streak had ended. When research showed that Joe fainted at the microphone and died a few days later, I knew that I was going to write Joe’s life story.

Going into the project, I imagined that I would meet Joe’s family; they would give me all the details I needed, and in a matter of a year or two I’d have a finished book. It was not to be. Sure, they knew about Joe’s professional life, but they knew very little about his personal life. The family didn’t even know for sure where Joe was born. Throughout his life, Joe told folks that he was born in Missouri and then later claimed to be born in San Francisco. It was not true. The San Francisco Joe knew as a young child was not a city by a bay; it was a river that flowed near a small mining town in southestern Arizona where Joe Hernandez was actually born.

As my research progressed, I learned that Joe had not only frabricated where he was born but that he had preserved his life story in the media of the day the way he wanted it remembered. It was a story that was peppered with fact and fiction. For example, he never shared the fact that he had married as a young man and that his first wife was the mother of his children. Instead, Joe claimed that his second wife was their mother. In yet another instance, Joe claimed to be a member of a large family; it was not true. He was orphaned as a child and was soon separated from his sister, Josefa, never to see her again.

Together with Joe’s son, Father Frank Hernandez, S.J., a Jesuit priest for over 50 years, I was able to separate fact from fiction and discover the truth behind Joe’s life story. When I was finished with three sample chapters, I dutifully sent them off to top equine publishers. They turned me down saying that Joe’s story was outdated; some even doubted that anyone would even remember Joe Hernandez. Time proved these Doubting Thomases wrong. People in and out of the Throroughbred horse racing industry certainly remembered Joe, and horse racing fans were more than willing to read the story of his life, so much so that a Special Edition will be released in early September. What makes me proudest, however, is that because of my book talk has started to simmer in regards to nominating Joe for inclusion into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, New York.

Ironically enough, it wouldn’t be Joe’s ability as a race caller that might get him in but his contributions to the profession as a radio and televsion broadcaster. Somehow, I don’t think that Joe would mind. He was after all a jack-of-all-trades, who aside from being a race caller was also an accomplished sportswriter, a jockey’s agent, a buyer's agent, a bloodstock agent, an importer of thoroughbreds, an owner of thoroughbreds, a film patrol innovator, as well as a teleivision and radio producer and personality. He composed music and was an actor, as well as a philanthropist, who gave freely and often of his time and money to a variety of causes.

Even so, if ever a writer needed validation that his time was well spent and his story was well-written it came for me in Lexington, Kentucky, in April 2009 when “my little book,” as I like to call it, on Joe Hernandez won the Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award, an award that recognizes thoroughbred horse racing’s book of the year. I was surprised and overwhelmed with joy when it was announced that I’d won. At that moment, I thought about the day when I came across Joe’s name for the first time as well as the people I’d met along the route of this incredable journey. Laura Hillenbrand introduced me to Joe Hernandez, but Joe Hernandez introduced me to the world of thoroughbred horse racing, and for this I will always be grateful.

Alvarado is author of The Untold Story of Joe Hernandez: The Voice of Santa Anita. The Special Edition will be released in early September. The book, which includes a CD of Joe’s famous calls, including his last call, can be pre-ordered at:

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Afleet Eagle on the Track at Del Mar

Here's a look at Afleet Eagle, winner of the Oceanside Stakes on opening day, out for a gallop on Del Mar's main track Thursday morning for trainer Vladimir Cerin.

A 3-year-old son of Northern Afleet, Afleet Eagle was bred by his owner, Ronald Waranch. He is likely headed for the Grade 2 Del Mar Derby on Sept. 6.

Abrams Has Three for Solana Beach Handicap at Del Mar Sunday

I caught a quick video of Flashover as she galloped on the all-weather track Thursday morning. She is one of three daughters of Unusual Heat heading for Sunday's Solana Beach Handicap for trainer Barry Abrams. Hot n'Dusty and Flashover finished one-two in an allowance/optional claiming race at Del Mar Aug. 12. Bel Air Sizzle, winner of the Valentine Dancer Handicap, has nearly a half million dollars in earnings.

The Solana Beach Handicap is for 3-year-olds and up at one mile on the turf.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Mike Smith Works Queen of the Catsle at Del Mar

Graded stakes winner Queen of the Catsle worked on the all-weather track at Del Mar on Sunday morning with jockey Mike Smith up. Trained by Howard Zucker, she was clocked in :47.40 for the 4 furlongs.

Queen of the Catsle looks marvelous these days and should be on target to defend her title in the Daisycutter Handicap at 5 furlongs on the turf September 3 at Del Mar.

Zucker Discusses Well Monied as She Prepares for the Del Mar Oaks

I caught up with trainer Howard Zucker as he schooled Well Monied in the Del Mar paddock this morning in preparation for Saturday's Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks. The 3-year-old Maria's Mon filly looks as good as I've ever seen her, and Zucker also seems very pleased with the way she's looking these days. He also indicated he was very happy with her 5/8 work on Sunday.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Maui Mark Works at Del Mar Racetrack

Maui Mark
worked with exercise rider Patrice Roux Sunday morning on the all weather track at Del Mar.

The 4-year-old chestnut gelding by Unusual Heat, trained by Howard Zucker, was clocked going 4 furlongs in :50.0.

Well Monied Preps for Del Mar Oaks

Well Monied put in an early morning work Sunday at Del Mar with exercise rider Patrice Roux up for trainer Howard Zucker.

She was clocked in 100.60 for the 5-furlong work on the all-weather track.
It was her final work in preparation for the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks on Saturday, Aug. 22.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Zap! of the Week: Love that Euroglide!

Zap of the Week

Larry Zap spends some time with one of our favorites, Euroglide, in Peter Eurton's barn at Del Mar. This horse has oodles of personality!

Euroglide is headed for the feature race on Wednesday, 8/19/09 at Del Mar -- the Green Flash Handicap for 3-year-olds and up at 5 furlongs on the turf. He looks fit and ready.

The video contains some fantastic footage of "the Glide" getting an acupuncture treatment, going out for a 5/8 work, and chowing down on his feed. All quite amusingly narrated by Zap. Enjoy!

For more information about Larry Zap, see Contributors on the About tab.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Well Monied Heading for Del Mar Oaks

Groom Steve Kenny gives Well Monied a bath after her morning gallop at Del Mar on 8/13/09 for trainer Howard Zucker.

Well Monied is looking super these days as she heads for the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks on Saturday, Aug. 22. For 3-year-old fillies, it will be contested at 1-1/8 miles on the turf. Well Monied was an impressive winner of the Grade 2 Honeymoon Handicap at Hollywood Park, and she subsequently ran a very decent second to Gozzip Girl in the American Oaks on July 5th at Hollywood Park.

Well Monied now has her own video playlist on my YouTube channel, which has six videos so far going back to January!

One to Follow: Follow Your Dream

Here's a very pretty two-year-old filly by Cat Dreams out of Battle Dress who was out for a gallop on the Del Mar track early Thursday morning. Follow Your Dream arrived at trainer Howard Zucker's barn for owners Joe Sciarra and Bob Zamarippa a few days ago. According to Zucker, she has had a couple of 3/8 works at the farm and has a projected first start at Oak Tree. We'll be following her progress!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Papa Clem Back at Home in California

Papa Clem looked awesome when I visited him in his stall at Gary Stute's Del Mar barn this week. The Arkansas Derby winner looked content to be back in California from Monmouth, where he finished 4th in the Grade I Haskell Invitational, won by Rachel Alexandra, on August 2. He certainly seemed to be enjoying his feed!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Golden Doc A, Very Special Filly for Trainer Abrams

I caught a quick video of graded stakes winner Golden Doc A out on the Del Mar main track yesterday morning. Here's an interesting piece of trivia about the lovely 4-year-old filly...

She is named for trainer Barry Abram's two doctors, James Golden, his oncologist, and Videl Arroya, his dentist. The two doctors helped him through chemotherapy and radiation when he battled throat cancer a couple of years ago.

Laffit Pincay Jr.'s Father Dies

Yesterday evening my cell phone chirped, and the following message was delivered to me via Twitter from Hall of Fame jockey Laffit Pincay, Jr.:

"A sad day today. My father, esteemed jockey
Laffit Pincay Sr. passed away. I planned to
go to Venezuela this month when they honored him."

That's the thing about Twitter -- you can get the latest news bits, or just keep up with your friends... but sometimes the news is sad.

Pincay's father, Laffit Pincay, Sr., died August 11 in Venezuela. The elder Pincay was a famous jockey in Panama who moved to Venezuela to ride after divorcing Laffit's mother. In 1964, he came to the U.S. to ride the Argentine-bred Primordial II to a victory in the 1964 Display Handicap at Aqueduct, and a 6th place finish in the Washington D.C. International at Laurel. He retired as a jockey in 1970.

My condolences go out to Laffit on the loss of his father, and also to HRTV host Laffit Pincay III on the loss of his grandfather.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Horse Racing: The Great Equalizer

Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz at Del Mar Racetrack.

During Sunday's coverage of the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes, the TVG commentators marvelled at the crowd gathered in the paddock to get a close-up look at Zenyatta and her connections. They spoke about the amazing structure of horse racing that allows ordinary folks to rub elbows with famous owners, trainers and athletes. What's marvelous, really, is that horse racing itself is bigger than the people who follow the sport.

In the social sense, horse racing is the great equalizer. When you're at the track, you share a special connection with all the other people there. It's like everyone -- from the two dollar bettor to the celebrity horse owner -- is in the same club. Everyone speaks the same language -- and it's all about a love for the horses.

More than 50 years ago, Hedda Hopper saw the same phenomenon and wrote about it in the Los Angeles Times.

Hedda Hopper was a Hollywood actress and gossip columnist who hob-nobbed with the rich and famous and told all in her famous column, "Hedda Hopper's Hollywood." In September 1953, Hopper visited Del Mar Racetrack and had this to say:

"This I saw with my own eyes. Lucille Ball, the most famous woman in America, stood alone at the Del Mar racetrack bar, ordered a drink, downed it and paid for it. In any other place except here, 1000 men and women would have hedged her in buying her champagne."1

Now that's the type of thing I can easily see happening at any California racetrack. In more recent times, I've seen the likes of Mel Brooks, Joe Pesci, Alyssa Milano, and other stars mingling with the crowds at the races. It strikes me that it must be a rare treat for a celebrity to enjoy a pasttime, surrounded by throngs of other people, and feel just like an ordinary racetrack fan. At the racetrack, the real superstars are obviously the horses!

1 - L.A. Times, Sept. 2, 1953, pg. 32.

Photo courtesy of Del Mar Thoroughbred Club.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Zap! of the Week: Zenyatta Remains Perfect

Zap of the Week

Larry Zap brings you a fans' eye view of the great race mare Zenyatta winning the 2009 Grade 1 Clement L. Hirsch Stakes at beautiful Del Mar Racetrack, her closest decision yet, by a nose over Anabaa's Creation and Lethal Heat. It was Zenyatta's second consecutive Clement L. Hirsch win and brought her record to 12 for 12.

This video really gives you a feel for the excitement of the crowd and the enormous popularity of the great Zenyatta. Enjoy!

For more information about Larry Zap, see Contributors on the About tab.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Colonel John Back in Action at Del Mar

I caught some video of Colonel John as he galloped by me twice on Thursday morning. Colonel John returned to the races in impressive fashion last Friday after a 7-month break, winning the Wickerr Handicap by two lengths for trainer Eoin Harty and jockey Garrett Gomez. The 2008 Santa Anita Derby and Travers Stakes winner looks to be back in fine form!

Life is Sweet Makes an Early Morning Appearance on the Del Mar Track

Life is Sweet looked beautiful as she stretched her legs on the Del Mar Polytrack Thursday morning for trainer John Shirreffs. She will share top weight of 123 lbs. with her superstar stablemate, Zenyatta, in Sunday's Grade 1 Clement L. Hirsch Stakes.

Zap! of the Week: Well Monied Chooses Zenyatta

Zap of the Week

As the controversy rages, Larry Zap gets the scoop straight from the horse's mouth. Who's the best racehorse: Rachel Alexandra or Zenyatta? Well Monied - a graded stakes winner and no slouch herself - is obviously backing Zenyatta, as evidenced by the fact that she points towards a giant "Z" during the interview.

The video also contains lots of great footage of the awesome Zenyatta as well as Colonel John, Rail Trip, Life is Sweet, and many more going through their morning routines at Del Mar. All narrated by Larry Zap. Enjoy!

For more information about Larry Zap, see Contributors on the About tab.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Horsemen Join Jockey Alex Solis to Golf for Retired Racehorses

California jockeys, trainers, owners and other industry participants joined honorary host Alex Solis at the 8th Annual Golf Classic for CERF (California Equine Retirement Foundation) Tuesday, August 4th at Del Mar Country Club.

A total of 89 players participated in the event, which included scramble tournament golf, lunch on the course and on-course contests. The Del Mar weather cooperated to produce a perfectly sparkling day with temperatures in the low 80s, and the course was absolutely spectacular. The day concluded with an awards dinner and silent and live auctions, with Trevor Denman as master of ceremonies.

Founded in 1986 by Grace Belcuore, CERF has been giving ex-racehorses a happy home for over 23 years. CERF is well known throughout the Thoroughbred Industry for its uncompromised commitment to our equine friends. When their racing days are over, CERF gives these horses a home where they can retire in comfort or, if appropriate, be rehabilitated and moved on to their next career. CERF houses 70 plus residents daily, many of whom will be living out their final days at the CERF Ranch in Winchester, California.

All proceeds from this event will be used EXCLUSIVELY for the care of these horses. To make a donation to CERF, click here.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Del Mar Celebrates History with Saturday's Bing Crosby Stakes

Bing Crosby greets the first fan through the gates on July 3, 1937.

Saturday’s feature race celebrates one of Del Mar Racetrack’s founders -- the iconic American singer and actor, Bing Crosby. The photo of Crosby taking the ticket from the first fan at the turnstile on opening day embodies the very feeling of the seaside track – steeped in the history and glamour of Hollywood in its heyday.

The idea for the seaside racetrack was hatched at Warner Brothers Studios in Burbank, Calif., by Crosby and some of his Hollywood pals, including Pat O’Brien, Oliver Hardy and Gary Cooper. The connection between the track and Hollywood continued throughout the following decades, where racetrack appearances were common by show biz personalities like Mikey Rooney, Ava Gardner, Edward G. Robinson, Red Skelton, Jimmy Durante, Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball.

The photo of Crosby on opening day in 1937 is just one of many that Del Mar has made available to racing fans. Visitors to Del Mar can step back in time just by wandering through the stands and viewing the many old black and white photos that have been enlarged and placed on the walls in a sort of informal historical gallery. There are photos of celebrities who frequented the track, but also some of the famous horses who ran there, including Seabiscuit. If you come to Del Mar, the photo collection is definitely something you won’t want to miss!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Cougar II Handicap Wednesday at Del Mar

Wednesday, Aug. 5, marks the 59th running of the Cougar II Handicap for three-year-olds and up at a mile and a half on the Polytrack.

Cougar II (1966-1989) raced in Chile before being brought to the United States in 1970 by longtime Santa Anita track announcer and horse owner, Joe Hernandez. Cougar II, trained by the great Charlie Whittingham, was known as a tremendous closer and was voted Champion Male Turf Horse in 1972.

In 2006, Cougar II was inaugurated into racing's Hall of Fame and, in his honor, Del Mar Racetrack renamed the Escondido Handicap the Cougar II Handicap. The stakes serves as a prep race for the Breeders' Cup Marathon. Here's how the field lines up:

Cougar II Handicap
$150,000 Guaranteed
One And One Half Miles (All Weather) – 3-Year-Olds and Up

1 GHETTO (GB '05 C 114 Talamo, J Dollase, Craig
2 ZAPPA '02 G 116 Baze, Sadler, John
3 BIG BOOSTER '01 G 119 Rosario, J Mitchell, Mike
4 MR. BIG '03 H 113 Smith, M Baffert, Bob
5 QUARTER MOON '05 G 112 Garcia, M Stute, Melvin
6 CHURCH SERVICE '03 G 119 Gomez, G Mitchell, Mike
7 RICHARD'S KID '05 C 115 Espinoza, V Baffert, Bob
8 GANGBUSTER '05 C 116 Nakatani, C Desormeaux, J.
9 UNUSUAL SUSPECT '04 H 116 Quinonez, A Abrams, Barry
10 SIR DAVE '05 G 117 Baze, M Carava, Jack