Saturday, January 31, 2009

"The Footman" Eddie Logan Passes


Eddie Logan, Santa Anita's beloved shoeshine man since opening day, Dec. 25, 1934, passed away at his home in Monrovia, CA early this morning. He was 98. Funeral arrangements are pending.

Today flowers adorned his closed and covered shoeshine stand in the breezeway outside Santa Anita's racing office, where a steady line of Saturday racegoers have been pausing to read the notice of his passing, look at the small gallery of photos and news clippings Eddie assembled over the years, and reflect on personal memories of a man who was a link to a bygone era.

Logan appeared in the winner's circle at Santa Anita on December 27 to present the trophy for the stakes that Santa Anita named in his honor. On January 3, he suffered a seizure and stroke, from which he never recovered.

Just a few weeks ago, he spotted me down the breezeway from his stand wiping racetrack dirt off my leather boots with a paper towel. "Come down here," he commanded. He insisted that I use one of his shoe brushes instead, and that I promise never to use anything but a soft brush to clean my boots. Many are familiar with his admonition about the elements at the racetrack that are destructive to leather: salt, brace, alkali and urine.

Most of all, I will miss his traditional greeting, "Have a lucky day!"

Here at Santa Anita, we will truly miss Eddie Logan.

She's Cheeky Faces Ventura in Today's Grade 1 Santa Monica

Trainer Peter Eurton leads She's Cheeky (A.C. Valenzuela up) back to the barn at Santa Anita.

Regular readers of my blog know I've been following She’s Cheeky, who was purchased as a two-year-old at the 2006 Ocala April sale by bloodstock agent Larry Zap and trainer Peter Eurton for $67,000. A winner of her last three races, She's Cheeky is making her stakes debut in the Santa Monica.

"She’s Cheeky will take on the mighty Breeders’ Cup winner Ventura," Zap said recently. "She’s Cheeky has really come into her own and deserves this shot in the Grade 1 Santa Monica."

Good luck Cheeky and connections... you go girl!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Society Hostess in Wishing Well Tomorrow at Santa Anita

Society Hostess schooling at Santa Anita 1/28/09.

I've been watching Society Hostess school this week for trainer Christophe Clement (assistant trainer Nicholas Bachalard) at Santa Anita. The winner of the Grade 3 Monrovia Handicap at Santa Anita in 2007, Society Hostess ran second in last year's Monrovia and 7th to Jibboom in this year's running.

Society Hostess has been facing some top class runners in her last few starts, including Dearest Trickski, Intangaroo, and Lethal Heat. She faces a field of 9 other very nice fillies and mares in Saturday's $70,000 Wishing Well Handicap at Santa Anita, at about 6-1/2 furlongs on the downhill turf course. Here's how the field lines up:

The 5th Running of the Wishing Well Handicap
Purse $70,000 Added - Fillies and Mares, 4 and Up

1 BAHAMA MAMA (IRE) 04 M 117 Flores, D Cassidy, James
2 SHARP SUSAN 04 M 118 Gomez, G Drysdale, Neil
3 HIGHLAND TORREE 05 F 113 Delgadillo, A DeLeon, Rafael
4 EVERLASTING BEAUTY 05 F 113 Nakatani, C Mitchell, Mike
5 SHERMEEN (IRE) 03 M 114 Rosario, J Walsh, Kathy
6 DAWN AFTER DAWN 04 M 117 Bejarano, R Sadler, John
7 PORTO MARMAY 05 F 115 Baze, T Canani, Julio
8 CHRISTIANA'S HEAT 04 M 115 Baze, M Knapp, Steve
9 MOONSHINE ALICE 05 F 114 Sutherland, C Frankel, Robert
10 SOCIETY HOSTESS 02 M 117 Valdivia, Jr., J Clement, Christophe

Zap! Following Kentucky Derby Prospect I Want Revenge



A super video with an up-close look at I Want Revenge working at Santa Anita. Another great insider's view from Zap. Also, take some time to read the latest press release on Larry Zap, below.

Larry Zap Bringing a Unique Perspective to Thoroughbred Racing

As Thoroughbred racing looks for its place in the world of advancing technology, it is increasingly apparent that the key to reaching a new generation of fans lies in the latest technology – Internet videos, forums, and blogs. Larry Zap, known as “the eye” on the Southern California Thoroughbred scene, has tapped into that technology in a big way, managing to bring a fresh perspective, and the thrill of an insider’s view of the racetrack, to thousands of viewers through YouTube. A recent Zap video post on Zenyatta, for instance, has been viewed nearly 2,000 times.

Zap has used a video recorder since 1998 to study the physical makeup of horses and can be regularly seen with camcorder in tow. “I believe in what I see,” he said. “But when I can slow it down and measure the geometry and physics and answer the questions why this one is better than that one, and so on, it completes the deal.” Much of the footage has been made available on his personal YouTube channel, “Larryzapeye.”

“My goal is to excite people all over the world about the wonderful world of Thoroughbred racing,” said Zap. “My videos are my own slant on what makes this such a great game, and if people can learn and be entertained by my videos, it is all worth it for me.”

Far from a newcomer to the sport, Zap has been a fan of racing since attending the races the day Secretariat won the Belmont. He has been on the Southern California scene full time since 1997, spending his first five years at the track up in the stands as a private clocker, working closely with well-known private clocker Toby Turrell on his Winners Card.

Since 2003, he has co-hosted the San Diego based and Internet driven horse racing show, Race and Sports Radio, with Felix Taverna. Airing weekends at 9:00 a.m. on XXSportsRadio.com, the show covers timely horse racing news and provides insight to picking winners by handicapping many of the day’s races.

Since 1997, Zap has attended Thoroughbred auctions locally and in Florida, Kentucky, Washington and Maryland as a bloodstock advisor and agent. Zap measures and evaluates horses using a mathematical, Da Vinci type approach. He says, “Most great horses are born; and through countless hours of studying the best that the breed has to offer, I have been able to look for common physical traits necessary to be the best. Balance, symmetry, mental framework and how a horse is geared, plus conformation, are key components to being able to be one of the ones,” he continued. “When you can see a horse has it even before a rider gets on its back, it is the greatest feeling possible. And then when they go and do it in a race years later, it leaves you speechless.”

Zap’s bloodstock business will be in the limelight this weekend, with two of the horses he picked out for purchase running in important Grade 1 stakes: Bullsbay in the Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park and She’s Cheeky in the Santa Monica Handicap at Santa Anita. Zap found Bullsbay, a son of the great Tiznow, for Eric Kruljac and his clients at the 2005 Keeneland September Sale, for $130,000. Now trained by eastern-based Graham Motion, Bullsbay, who has thrived on the conventional eastern dirt tracks, takes on some very legitimate Grade 1 types in Einstein, Albertus Maximus, and Arson Squad.

“Bullsbay has never run a bad race, and has never been better,” Zap said. “A tibia injury prevented this big boy from making the Triple Crown, but he has just thrived at four, and now five years old. He came out of the same sale as Curlin, and I hope he picks up where Curlin left off.”

She’s Cheeky was a two-year-old purchase at the 2006 Ocala April sale, purchased with trainer Peter Eurton for $67,000. “I get there early and scout them out, and then Pete and I go over my short list and try to pick out the cream. We have a limited budget and have been outbid on some real nice runners, but the ones we bought together are no slouches.” She’s Cheeky will take on the mighty Breeders’ Cup winner Ventura. “She’s Cheeky has really come into her own and deserves this shot in the Grade 1 Santa Monica,” said Zap.

“I bought a filly for $26,000 a few years ago with my partner at the time, Toby Turrell, named Secret of Mecca, and ran a huge third in the Santa Monica to superstars Affluent and Sightseek,” Zap said.

“Pete and I have had a nice run in the last few months, also winning two in a row with Euroglide, who we purchased for $30,000 and who is pointing for the Daytona down the hill next month against Breeders’ Cup winner Desert Code,” said Zap. “And we just had a nice maiden winner in Dish the Dirt, who we bought for the same price, at the same sale as Cheeky.”

To view Zap’s videos, go here.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Brian Beach Now Jock's Agent for Alex Solis

Brian Beach at Santa Anita 1/29/09.

Jockey Alex Solis has named Brian Beach as his new agent, replacing his longtime agent Scotty McClellan. Beach is returning to the track after nearly three years, during which time he worked for a San Diego area computer firm.

"I'm happy to be back on the track," said Beach, "and excited to be with a jockey like Alex. I'm looking forward to great things to come."

Before trying his hand in the computer business, Beach represented jockeys Jose Valdivia Jr. and Rene Douglas. He has also represented Julie Krone, Mike Smith, Kent Desormeaux, and Gary Stevens.

Welcome back, Brian, and best of luck to you and Alex!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Pamplemousse Works at Santa Anita



Jockey Alex Solis was on The Pamplemousse, winner of the Grade 3 San Rafael Stakes at Santa Anita on Jan. 17, this morning as he worked for trainer Julio Canani. The Pamplemousse was clocked going 3 furlongs in :36.20, breezing.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Horse of the Year Poll Results

Curlin was awarded Horse of the Year honors for the second year in a row, at last night's Eclipse Awards ceremony in Miami, Florida. Those who voted in my unofficial online poll over the last several weeks chose Zenyatta over Curlin almost two to one. Here are the results:

  • Zenyatta: 199
  • Curlin: 108
  • Big Brown: 32
  • Other: 2
Total votes: 341

The Pamplemousse: Looking Good !


The Pamplemousse looked good coming off the track following a gallop this morning for trainer Julio Canani. This colt just seems to be getting bigger and better looking all the time!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Winter Wonderland at Santa Anita Park

Trainer Henry Moreno on an icy all-weather track at Santa Anita.

It was business as usual this morning at the track after an overnight thunder and lightning storm. The morning dawned calm and clear, with a sparkling cover of icy hail on the ground -- a rare sight for Southern California, even in the dead of winter. Clear, sunny weather is predicted for the next several days in Arcadia.

Meanwhile, excitement is building for the Derby trail. Still topping my list are Pioneer of the Nile, aiming for the Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita on Feb. 7, and The Pamplemousse, San Rafael Stakes winner reportedly scheduled to make his next start in Santa Anita's Sham Stakes on Feb. 28. Santa Anita television commentator, handicapper and HRTV host, Jon White, has also released his latest Top 10 list:
  • Pioneer of the Nile
  • Old Fashioned
  • I Want Revenge
  • Chocolate Candy
  • Stardom Bound
  • Square Eddie
  • The Pamplemousse
  • Hello Broadway
  • Notonthesamepage
  • Friesan Fire
We've got lots of good racing to look forward to in the weeks ahead!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Memories of Tuzla

Bob Baffert at Clockers' Corner, Santa Anita.

Today's Tuzla Handicap at Santa Anita, for fillies and mares 4 and up at a mile on the turf, must bring back sweet memories for trainer Bob Baffert, who completed a sweep of all five of Del Mar's grade 1 stakes in 1999 when Tuzla took the Ramona Handicap.

The memories are perhaps bittersweet for trainer Julio Canani, who sold Tuzla for owner David Milch just weeks before the Ramona Handicap to Robert and Janice McNair for a reported $1.3 million. Canani developed the French-bred Tuzla into a multiple stakes winner, including victories in the 1998 Palomar at Del Mar, the 1998 Dahlia at Hollywood Park, the 1999 Buena Vista at Santa Anita, and the 1999 San Francisco Mile at Golden Gate Fields.

Tuzla was retired in 2000 to the McNair's Stonerside Stable in Kentucky, which was sold last September to Darley Stud.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Fun in the Sunshine Millions

As Sunshine Millions Day at Santa Anita drew to a close, the rain finally gave way to some spectacular sunlight.

Even though there was no sunshine to speak of most of the day at Santa Anita, I have to admit that Sunshine Millions Day was as fun as always. What is it about "big days" at the track? It's just hard not to get excited about them!

In spite of a steady light rain, which began early in the morning and continued most of the day, I was right there with the crowd, lined up to get the "beach radio" giveaway. Once inside the track, there was a flurry of activity, not to mention a pretty decent 11-race card that included four of the Sunshine Millions races. The other four Sunshine Millions races were run at Gulfstream Park -- where it apparently WAS sunny.

In the competition between Florida- and California-breds, the Florida-breds won six of eight races. California owners and trainers, however, fared well; and special kudos go to Northern California trainer Greg Gilchrist and the estate of Harry Aleo, who won the Filly & Mare Turf with Wild Promises and the Filly & Mare Sprint with High Resolve -- both at Gulfstream Park.

In the Grandstand, I ran into none other than the Marx Brother and Mae West! Actually, they were a troupe of very talented celebrity look-alikes hired by Santa Anita to add a little fun to the day.

Groucho, Mae West, Harpo and Chico

And of course, I didn't want to miss the Miss Sunshine Millions contest. So there I was, front row center for the bikini contest, in the middle of a crowd of guys, to take photos for my blog readers who couldn't be there. Now that's dedication!

Miss Sunshine Millions Contestants at Santa Anita

Bittel Road Schools at Santa Anita



Bittel Road, fourth in the CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park on Dec. 20, schooled in the paddock at Santa Anita Thursday morning for trainer Todd Pletcher. Bittel Road is a probable starter for the $200,000 Robert Lewis Stakes on Feb. 7 at Santa Anita. For 3-year-olds at 1-1/16 miles, the stakes race is expected to attract a strong field, including CashCall Futurity winner, Pioneer of the Nile.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Tiz a Blend Schools at Santa Anita


Tiz a Blend schooled during the fifth race at Santa Anita this afternoon in preparation for tomorrow's $500,000 Sunshine Millions Distaff at 1-1/16 miles on the Pro-Ride track. Tiz a Blend is trained by Carla Gaines for Warren B. Williamson. Williamson was voted TOC Owner of the Year, and his horse Nashoba's Key Horse of the Year, for 2007.

COMMERCIAL BLOODSTOCK MARKETS: The Supply's the Key


by Jerry McMahon

From Hokkaido, Japan to Newmarket, England and points in between, vibrant Thoroughbred auctions hum along in support of regional, national, and international racing circuits. It’s been my longtime observation, particularly as industry costs and risks have increased, that very few individuals have the wherewithal to breed horses as a primary means to achieve success on the racetrack. Nature being what she is, the odds against success are simply too high to be borne by one individual, except in very unique circumstances (aka lots of luck or VERY deep pockets!). It’s no coincidence, then, that in this country the old-money families that dominated racing through the 1940s were gradually replaced by owners who utilized the auction ring or the claim box to fill their racing stables.

Other than the happy outcomes brought by the occasional Stymie or Lava Man, claiming is usually for those who love the day-to-day action and arbitrage that goes with it. Owners shooting for the home run most often find their way to auctions composed of unraced Thoroughbreds: weanlings, yearlings, or 2-year-olds. Perhaps the best West Coast example of this type of owner would be the late, great Bob Lewis, who rode the auction ring to success in the Triple Crown races and beyond.

So what makes a successful commercial market? The simplest answer would be a credible market that has a large, dependable supply of horses with enough depth in quality to attract large numbers of buyers. The only way to achieve this is for the auction company to have access to plenty of professional breeders and consignors whose over-riding goal is to produce the best runners possible. For the whole process to work, the auction prices have to be high enough to support the investment by the breeders; and… oh yeah, the resulting runners have to be successful enough to keep the whole cycle in motion year after year, even through difficult economic times like these. Ultimately, buyers have to believe they’ll get runners from that particular auction.

Next up: Sires and the Ring

McMahon is an auction industry consultant and former founding president of Barretts Equine Limited, California's premier regional sales company. He has more than 35 years experience in the racing industry, having previously served as auction sales manager for CTBA Sales and vice president of Fasig-Tipton California, Inc. Watch for his upcoming guest posts.

Photo by Benoit & Associates

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Screen to Screen Schools at Santa Anita Wednesday Morning



I've been very impressed with the looks of this flashy 4-year-old colt by Deputy Wild Cat. I watched him school again this week for trainer Bob Baffert, in preparation for Saturday's Sunshine Millions Turf at Santa Anita. Screen to Screen drew the outside post in a field of 14.

Where Have All the Racetracks Gone?

Washington Park, Chicago, c. 1900

When Bay Meadows closed for good last summer, leaving Northern California with only one major Thoroughbred racing venue -- Golden Gate Fields -- many wondered how such a thing could happen. Bay Meadows, after all, had been a fixture in California horse racing for more than 70 years and was the longest continually operating Thoroughbred track in California.

In Southern California, there is a real possibility that Hollywood Park will shutter its doors for good in the near future, and once again California race fans are wondering what this all means for the future of Thoroughbred racing.

A broad historical perspective reveals that these are certainly not the first great Thoroughbred racetracks to disappear and suggests that they are not likely to be the last.

Some of the first Thoroughbred racetracks in the country flourished in New York before the turn of the 20th century; yet few people even remember their names today: Jerome Park, Morris Park, Gravesend, Sheepshead Bay. Even earlier in the 19th century, breeding and racing were showcased in the Bluegrass region of Kentucky at tracks such as the Kentucky Association.

Many other racing centers in the United States, including Maryland, New Jersey, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Rhode Island, Nebraska and California, saw the rise and decline of important racetracks during the last two centuries. Here is a list of a few of them that are gone but hopefully not completely forgotten:

Aksarben (1920 - 1995), Omaha, NE
Aksarben (Nebraska spelled backwards) was an indoor arena and horse racing complex. In the mid-1980's, Aksarben was 10th in the nation in racetrack attendance. Triple Crown winner Omaha was buried at the track's Circle of Champions following his death in 1959. After the closure of the racetrack, Horsemen's Park, a simulcast facility, was opened in Omaha in 1998.

Bowie Race Track (1914 - 1985), Bowie, MD
At one time the flourishing track was served by the now defunct WB & A Railroad, which brought race fans from New York and Philadelphia. The track still exists as a Thoroughbred training center.

Cumberland Race Track (1924 - 1961), Cumberland, MD
Also known as the Fairgo Racetrack, it was located at what is now the Allegany County Fairgrounds. Cumberland was the first half-mile track in the state of Maryland and was regarded as one of the most beautiful racetracks in the state. It formed part of the Maryland horse racing circuit that included Timonium and Marlboro racetracks. Today the track is used for automobile racing.

Garden State Park (1942 - 2001), Delaware Township, NJ
Known as "the Garden," in its heyday, Garden State hosted some of the finest Thoroughbred racing in the nation, and legendary horses who competed there included Whirlaway, Citation and Secretariat. With Atlantic City Race Course and Monmouth Park, it was an integral part of what was called the "Golden Triangle" of New Jersey racing. The original grandstand, destroyed by fire in 1977, was rebuilt and the track reopened in 1985, just in time for Spend A Buck to win the Jersey Derby. The grandstand was demolished in 2003 to make room for a mixed-use town center development.

1904 Brooklyn Handicap, Gravesend Race Track

Gravesend Race Track (1887 - 1910), Coney Island, NY
Gravesend was built by the Brooklyn Jockey Club with the backing of wealthy horse owners the Dwyer brothers. Among the major stakes launched at the track were the Astoria Stakes, Brooklyn Handicap, and Gazelle Handicap. From 1894 through 1908, the track hosted the Preakness Stakes. When New York outlawed racetrack betting in 1910, the facility was closed, and the land was sold to real estate developers in 1920.

Havre de Grace Racetrack (1912 - 1950), Havre de Grace, MD
Nicknamed "The Graw," it was host to one of the most important races in the Northeast, the Havre de Grace Handicap. In 1920, Man o' War won the Potomac Handicap at Havre de Grace. In 1936, his son War Admiral won his first race there. Faced with competition from nearby Garden State Park and Delaware Park, Havre de Grace was sold in 1951 to Alfred G. Vanderbilt II, owner of Pimlico Race Course, and Morris Schapiro of Laurel Park, who closed the facility and transferred its racing dates to their own tracks.

Hialeah Park (1921 - 2001), Hialeah, FL
Hileah Park in Hialeah, Florida, is currently at the center of a battle for historical preservation, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Its original grandstand was severely damaged by a hurricane in 1926 and subsequently rebuilt in 1930, at which time the famous infield lake was installed and stocked with flamingos. Among its famous races were the Flamingo Stakes and Widener Handicap. In 1987, the horseracing movie Let It Ride with Richard Dreyfuss was filmed at Hialeah Park.

Postcard of Jamaica Racetrack, 1907.

Jamaica Racetrack (1903 - 1959), Jamaica, Queens, NY
Built by the Metropolitan Jockey Club, one of the track's founders was Eugene D. Wood, for whom the Wood Memorial Stakes is named. Some of the other important stakes races hosted there were the Frizette Stakes, Remsen Handicap and Jamaica Handicap. Hall of Fame trainer Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons once trained at Jamaica, and the great Native Dancer made his winning debut there in 1952. Today, it is the site of the Rochdale Village housing development.

Jerome Park (1866 - 1894), Fordham (now The Bronx), NY
Operated by the American Jockey Club, its founders included Leonard W. Jerome and August Belmont. The first Belmont Stakes was held at Jerome Park and continued to be run there until 1890. It was also home to the Champagne Stakes and the Ladies Handicap. The track was closed to make way for the Jerome Park Reservoir.

The Kentucky Association (1826 - 1933), Lexington, KY
The Kentucky Association was formed to promote the breeding and racing of Thoroughbreds in the Bluegrass region of Kentucky. The Phoenix Stakes, the oldest stakes race in the United States, was first run there in 1831 as the Phoenix Hotel Handicap. Other important stakes races inaugurated there include the Ashland Stakes, Blue Grass Stakes and Ben Ali Stakes. The facility was torn down in 1935, the same year the new Keeneland Association racecourse opened.

Latonia Race Track (1883 - 1939), Latonia (Covington), KY
Once considered one of the top racetracks in the United States, Latonia was where jockey Eddie Arcaro got his start. It was the home of the 1-1/2 mile Latonia Derby, inaugurated in 1883. Financial difficulties during the Great Depression forced the closure of Latonia. The facility was dismantled during World War II, and today is the site of a shopping center.

Longacres (1933 - 1992), Renton, WA
Founded by Seattle real estate magnates Joseph Gottstein and William Edris and later overseen by Gottstein's son-in-law, Morris Alhadefff, Longacres was the longest continually operated track on the west coast by the time it closed. It was noted for its beauty, fast track surface, and the signature Longacres Mile. The property was sold to the Boeing Company, who demolished the track in 1994.

Morris Park Racecourse (1889 - 1902), The Bronx, NY
Morris Park, built as a result of the closure of the Jerome Park Racetrack, was described by the New York Times as "the most beautiful racetrack in the world." For several years, it was host to the Belmont Stakes, Champagne Stakes and Ladies Handicap. The Metropolitan Handicap was inaugurated there in 1891. Declines in attendance resulted in the closure of Morris Park Racecourse in 1902; however, it was subsequently used for automobile racing and public air shows.

Narragansett Park (1934 - 1978), Pawtucket, RI
Known for its mention in the movie The Sting, Narragansett Park once hosted races in which some of Thoroughbred racing's greats competed. Its important races included the Rhode Island Handicap, Governors Handicap and the Narragansett Special. War Admiral, Seabiscuit, and Gun Bow were among the horses that ran at Narragansett. After the track's closure, the city of Pawtucket bought the facility for commercial and residential development. The old grandstand still remains and is in use as discount retail outlet.

Raceland (1924-1928), Chinnville, KY
Known as the "million dollar oval" because of its ornate appearance, Raceland featured a 1-1/2 mile track circled by a white fence of wood and iron adorned with rambling roses, and an infield lake with several sunken gardens. Not surprisingly, financial difficulties forced its closure after only four years. The track was sold and torn down in 1937.

Sheepshead Bay Race Track (1884 - 1910), Sheepshead Bay, NY
The racetrack was built by a group of wealthy businessmen from New York City, including August Belmont Jr., Leonard Jerome and William K. Vanderbilt, who formed the Coney Island Jockey Club. The track's premier events were the Suburban Handicap and the Futurity Stakes, both run at Belmont Park today. Like the other racetracks in New York, Sheepshead Bay closed its doors when racetrack betting was banned in 1910. For several years the track was used for automobile racing, but eventually the property was sold for residential real estate development.

Tanforan Racetrack (1899 - 1964), San Bruno, CA
Tanforan was named for Torribio Tanforan, the grandson-in-law of Jose Antonio Sanchez, owner of El Rancho Buri Buri, a large Mexican land grant in the area. The track closed in 1911, when California passed legislation banning gambling. It reopened, without betting, for the 1923 and 1924 seasons, subsidized by Northern California sugar magnate Adolph Spreckels. It opened again in 1934, when pari-mutuel wagering was legalized in California. Like Santa Anita in the south, Tanforan was used as an assembly center for the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. Among the notable trainers stabled at Tanforan was Noble Threewitt, who set a record with 9 consecutive wins in April 1954. Tanforan burned down in 1964, and today in its place is a shopping mall.

Washington Park Race Track (1884 - 1977), Chicago, IL
Washington Park had two locations during its existence -- first in the Woodlawn community area of Chicago, and later in Homewood, IL. Numerous notable horses and jockeys competed at Washington Park, including Thoroughbreds Emperor of Norfolk, Domino, Citation, Whirlaway, Native Dancer, and Swaps, and jockey Eddie Arcaro. It was home to the American Derby, one of the richest races in America at the time. It was closed in 1905 when the state of Illinois banned gambling, then reopened in Homewood in 1926. On August 31, 1955, Washington Park hosted a match race between Nashua and Swaps at a mile and a quarter. Nashua won by several lengths, and went on to be named Horse of the Year. The grandstand burned down in 1977, putting the track out of business.

Washington Park photo source - University of Chicago Library




Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Screen to Screen Prepares for Sunshine Millions Turf


Screen to Screen was exceptionally well behaved in the paddock during a very busy schooling morning last week. Screen to Screen drew the outside post in a field of 14 for Saturday's $500,000 Sunshine Millions Turf at Santa Anita.

A 4-year-old Florida-bred colt by Deputy Wild Cat, Screen to Screen worked 5 furlongs in 1:01.4 on the all weather track Monday morning for trainer Bob Baffert.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

In Summation, Georgie Boy Headline Sunshine Millions Sprint

In Summation, winner of Santa Anita's El Conejo Handicap on January 1 and one of the nation's top sprinters, will face 10 rivals including Georgie Boy and Machismo in Saturday's $300,000 Sunshine Millions Sprint at Santa Anita.

In Summation, a winner of 10 stakes races including Del Mar's Grade 1 Bing Crosby Handicap in 2007, has five wins on synthetic tracks. Trained by Christophe Clement for Waterford Farm, the 6-year-old Florida-bred has earned more than $1 million.

Georgie Boy, trained by Kathy Walsh for George Schwary, has 4 wins from 9 starts, including the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity and Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes.

Machismo, a 5-year-old son of Trippi trained by John Sadler for owners Barber and Barber, was runner-up to In Summation in the El Conejo.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Good Morning from Santa Anita

Santa Anita sunrise
It was a spectacular sunrise due to the return of some morning clouds after several very dry days. Santa Anita has special holiday racing today for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Good luck to all.

Zap! of the Week: The Pamplemousse in the San Rafael

Zap of the Week

Follow The Pamplemousse from the saddling paddock to the winner's circle in Saturday's San Rafael Stakes. Zap provides a great insider's look, and some super race footage. That's how I like to see a race -- the excitement of the crowd is palpable!

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 .

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Pioneer of the Nile Works at Santa Anita

West coast Triple Crown hopeful Pioneer of the Nile worked 5 furlongs on the main track at Santa Anita this morning with Joe Steiner up, and was clocked in 1:00.2. Trainer Bob Baffert has indicated he is preparing Pioneer of the Nile, a May foal, for his 3-year-old debut in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes at 1-1/16 miles, on Feb. 7.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Pamplemousse Captures San Rafael Stakes, Defeats Square Eddie

The Pamplemousse
The Pamplemousse in the saddling barn before the San Rafael Stakes, Santa Anita.

Edited Santa Anita Park report.

The Pamplemousse, with only a maiden victory to his credit, not only resisted a challenge by Breeders’ Cup Juvenile runner-up Square Eddie, but drew away again Saturday to capture Santa Anita’s Grade III, $100,000 San Rafael Stakes, the track’s first major preparatory event for 3-year-olds on the Triple Crown trail.

Under a confident ride by Alex Solis, the gray son of Kafwain defeated the odds-on favorite by two lengths while covering one mile in 1:35.31 after setting a solid, but comfortable early pace. Runner-up Square Eddie, ridden by Rafael Bejarano, ended up 2-3/4 lengths ahead of third-place Ryehill Dreamer with Mike Smith aboard.

“I’m speechless, I really am,” Solis said afterward. “This horse has such a high cruising speed. I thought I was going (quarter mile splits of) 24 and 48 (instead of 23.04 and 45.07). It feels like he’s walking, he does everything so effortlessly. He was so impressive, when the other horses came to him, he didn’t see them. He heard them, and he just took off.”

The Pamplemousse put himself squarely into the Triple Crown picture. “I better start going to church and hope he stays sound,” commented Solis. He might want to be accompanied to church by his son, Alex II, a part owner who picked out the colt at the Ocala Breeders’ Sale in March of 2006. The sales price was $150,000. “This makes it even more special,” noted the 44-year-old rider. “My son liked the way he moved.”

At odds of 5-2, The Pamplemousse was the second choice after three late scratches reduced the starting field to five. He paid $7.20, $3 and $2.20. Square Eddie paid $2.20 and $2.10 with the show price on Ryehill Dreamer being $2.60.

“I was concerned when I saw the early fractions, but he was training unbelievable,” said Julio Canani, who trains The Pamplemousse for a partnership that includes Ann Winner, Carol Bienstock, William Strauss and the younger Solis. The Pamplemousse earned $60,000 to bring his total to $89,280 from a 2-0-1 record in four starts.

“He’s developing mentally and physically,” Canani added. “He’s awkward because he’s growing and growing. He’s huge, but he’s got a great mind, and I’ve got no problems with him. He re-broke in the stretch when Square Eddie came to him, but he’s much better when he follows another horse. I’ll take my time with him. If I run him in the (April 4) Santa Anita Derby, he may run one more time before that.”

Doug O’Neill, who trains Square Eddie, said that the 3-5 favorite “got tired.” Added O’Neill, “He should definitely move forward off this. It was his first race in almost three months. Obviously, we wanted to win, but the main thing is for him to come out of this good and go in the right direction.”

Today's San Rafael Stakes Will Touch Off Derby Fever

Preps for this year's Triple Crown races get under way on the West Coast today with the Grade 3 San Rafael Stakes, which has produced six Santa Anita Derby winners in its 28-year history. As with several of Santa Anita's premier stakes races, the San Rafael is named for an early California rancho. The cities of Burbank, Glendale and Montrose now occupy the site of San Rafael Rancho, one of the earliest Spanish land grants, about 1785.

Garrett Gomez at Clockers CornerGarrett Gomez at Clockers' Corner, Santa Anita

Garrett Gomez has the mount for trainer Bobby Frankel on Brother Keith, who is making his stakes debut.

The likely favorite will be Square Eddie, impressive winner of the Grade 1 Breeders Futurity at Keeneland and runner-up to Midshipman in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

Another to watch is The Pamplemousse, the roan son of Kafwain, who won at 1-1/16 miles Dec. 14 at Hollywood Park.

Best of luck and safe trip to all... and let's get this party started!

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Pamplemousse in Saturday's San Rafael Stakes

The Pamplemousse
The Pamplemousse
, entered in Saturday's San Rafael Stakes at Santa Anita, worked 3 furlongs in :35.20 handily for trainer Julio Canani Wednesday morning. Shown here returning from the work, jockey Alex Solis up, The Pamplemousse's work was the second fastest of 27 at that distance on the day's work tab.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

We Will Rock You Schools at Santa Anita


We Will Rock You schools in Santa Anita's paddock 1/8/2009.

We Will Rock You will make her west coast debut tomorrow on the El Camino Real Turf Course, Santa Anita's unique downhill grass course, at about 6-1/2 furlongs. She faces eight fillies and mares in the Thursday feature, an allowance optional claimer.

Shown here schooling in the Santa Anita paddock, We Will Rock You will be making her first start since last June, when she won a 5-furlong allowance race on the turf at Delaware Park.

Trained by Christophe Clement (assistant trainer Nicholas Bachalard), the Irish-bred 5-year-old daughter of Rock of Gibralter was a winner in France at 3 (Prix des Gres).

Lost in the Fog: Recollections on Making the Movie


Lost in the Fog: the movie trailer

by John Corey

I was disheartened to hear today that Indyanne had to be euthanized. The references to Greg Gilchrist and John Sikura in the press naturally made me think back to my experience with Greg, Harry Aleo, and Lost in the Fog.

Back in 2005, I was working for CBS in San Francisco. It was a nightly program that concentrated on the lighter side of news in the Bay Area. I was running the show and producing pieces of my own at the same time and was always on the lookout for colorful characters that I could profile on my program. There was a guy in my neighborhood in San Francisco that fit the bill perfectly. He ran a dusty old real estate office on 24th St., the commercial heart of Noe Valley. In what was once a blue collar area, 24th St. was indicative of the changes that had occurred in the neighborhood over the last thirty years or so. What was once Herb's diner, is now a hip restaurant called Toast. What was once Surf Super, an old style supermarket that delivered, is now a Wells Fargo. In the middle of chain stores and expensive boutiques, Twin Peaks Realty held on for dear life. Aside from being a holdout from a previous era, Twin Peaks really stood out as the most shocking and unpopular political forum in the neighborhood. The owner, a cranky old guy that nobody ever seemed to see, populated the windows of his real estate with pictures of Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon and placards saying things like, "Welcome to an island of traditional values in a sea of liberal loonies!" Suffice it to say that in a liberal neighborhood in a liberal city, this storefront was none too popular.

I walked by this office every day for years, first grimacing and then eventually chuckling at the provocative signs in the window. I knew I wanted to do something on this guy for my show but I was waiting for another angle, something in addition to the windows would really fill out the story. Well, in February of 2005, I found it. I was reading the San Francisco Chronicle one leisurely Saturday morning and there was an article about a brilliant young racehorse over at Golden Gate Fields. This precocious colt by the name of Lost in the Fog was seemingly destined to run in the Bay Area and his handful of triple digit Beyer figures seemingly destined him to run in the Derby. In addition to detailing the three year old's blazing speed, the article went on to describe the hard-working, straight-shooting trainer Greg Gilchrist and the horse's owner, Harry Aleo, a cantankerous old-time San Franciscan who delighted in antagonizing the local liberals with conservative paraphernalia in the windows of real estate office in Noe Valley. It was my guy.

I immediately called Harry's office. Keep in mind that it was a working business and I figured that, at worst, I'd get the answering machine. I didn't. The phone just rang and rang and rang. Harry, ever nostalgic, still employed an answering service - the kind that would actually pick up the phone and relay messages. As I would find out later, Harry was feuding with his answering service and they had stopped picking up his calls. Vintage Harry. So I was forced to do it the old-fashioned way, in person. I walked the two blocks from my house down to Harry's office and introduced myself. Much to my surprise, Harry was anything but the grumpy guy that I expected. With a warm smile, he welcomed me into his office and, ultimately, his life. I explained to him that I wanted to do something on him and his horse for television and he enthusiastically called Greg Gilchrist, his longtime trainer and friend. As I left the office that day, I somehow sensed that my life was about to change. By the time I walked the two blocks home, I had made up my mind. I was going to quit my perfectly good television job and jump into this story with both feet.

As a kid born and raised in the city, I am not what you'd call a horse person. I didn't know a thing about them and, if anything, I'm intimidated by them. But when I went over to the backside at Golden Gate Fields to meet Greg and saw the bustling community in the middle of about five major freeways, I was hooked. It was colorful, exciting, and the people who populated this anachronistic setting - like Greg - were the salt of the earth. A week later I was there with a crew shooting a Lost in the Fog workout. A couple of weeks after that, we were shooting the Bay Shore at Aqueduct. By that point, Harry and Greg had ruled out the Derby, choosing to protect their prize horse rather than throw him into the grueling Derby preparations. As a filmmaker, the Derby certainly held interest. It's the top, after all, but little did I know that their choice to skip the Derby would propel the story to even greater heights than I could have anticipated.

I didn't really know what I was getting into when I took on this project. I guess I figured I would just stick with it until the horse lost. That would seem like a fitting end. If he lost lost in the spring, I've got a 30-minute piece. If he kept going, I would keep going. Sure enough, while all the other Derby horses faded away after the Triple Crown, there was Lost in the Fog. The Riva Ridge, The Carryback, and what Greg would call his Kentucky Derby - The King's Bishop at Saratoga on Travers Day. For a couple of guys who had achieved modest success in their racing careers, they had reached the top of the game. The oldest track in the country, the most prestigious day of the summer, a Grade I race, and they were heavy favorites. Although I didn't have a stake in the horse, I certainly had a stake in the story and getting to Saratoga was an incredible thrill but not nearly as thrilling as listening to Greg and Harry through their wireless microphones as Lost in the Fog rumbled for another win. It was the sound of sheer, unadulterated joy. Not only had the horse become a multi-million dollar stud prospect, he was now the prohibitive favorite for the Breeder's Cup Sprint.

If Saratoga was pure joy, the Breeder's Cup was serious work. Greg and Harry both knew they were close, very close to closing out a legendary season. Undefeated, Breeder's Cup Champion, the Eclipse Award, it was all within reach. I showed up at Belmont on Friday morning with my crew and Greg was all business. The horse had worked brilliantly and effortlessly all week. Greg schooled him in the paddock that afternoon, and I'll never forget the horse's extreme confidence. He wasn't running that day but he let every horse in that paddock know that he was the top dog. It's the Breeders Cup so the paddock was populated by racing's elite. They know what a good one looks like and I smiled as I overheard one of the other trainers say breathlessly, "Look at the size of him. I can't believe that horse is still three years old."

Despite Greg's best efforts, much had changed by the following day. Lost in the Fog, always preternaturally calm before a race, was extremely agitated. His time in the detention barn was contentious and draining. He didn't run well that day and it could have been for any number of reasons: perhaps he wore himself out before the race, perhaps multiple cross-country trips had finally taken their toll, or perhaps the cancer that would ravage his body in the ensuing months had begun to sap him of his amazing strength and speed. It was a cold, disappointing day for everybody but for a couple of hardened combat vets like Harry and Greg, it wasn't the worst day of their lives by a long shot. Their inspiring sense of perspective was demonstrated to me in earnest a couple of weeks later at the Eclipse Awards. Greg, a fish out of water in his tuxedo, leaned over to Harry, another fish out of water, and says, "It sure beats fighting at the Battle of the Bulge." Harry turned back to him and said, "It sure beats being point man in Vietnam." Harry slapped his good buddy on the back and, ten minutes later, walked up to collect Lost in the Fog's Eclipse award. Another moment of unadulterated joy.

I couldn't have been happier for Harry and Greg that night but I was happy for myself, too. I had the story of a lifetime, complete with a nice little bow on it at the end. Little did I know that the story was about to change in the most unpredictable of ways. Harry, of course, was reluctant to retire the horse. Despite the fact that Lost in the Fog was worth in excess of ten million dollars, Harry wanted the thrill of seeing his long-awaited big horse run again. Greg turned him out and brought him back as a four year old and knew right away that he wasn't the same horse. Greg, being the consummate horseman, was most worried about his temperament. Sure he could still run but his big rowdy three year old had turned into an ornery four year old, a potential sign that he had a sick horse on his hands. But not even Greg could have guessed what Lost in the Fog was fighting.

He ran reasonably well as a four year old, even winning the Aristides at Churchill. But after a troubled start at Calder in the Smile Sprint Handicap, Greg knew it was going to be very difficult to get the horse back to his previous level. On a Sunday morning in August 2006, Harry reluctantly agreed to retire the horse. Coincidentally, he intended to sell him to John Sikura at Hill 'n' Dale partly because it was a fair offer, but more importantly because Harry personally trusted and respected John. More vintage Harry. Unfortunately, that same afternoon, the horse came down with what seemed like a bout of colic. Greg sent him up to UC Davis and a day later they broke the terrible news - it wasn't colic, it was cancer. Harry and Greg had missed their huge payday by one day but that was the last thing on their minds. If Saratoga and the Eclipse Awards were sheer joy, the day that Harry got the call from Greg that the cancer had metastasized was sheer despair. I was there in Harry's office that day, just doing a final de-brief on the season. I knew what it was when the phone rang and naturally told Harry we would stop shooting. I didn't want to intrude on a moment like that. Naturally, Harry said to keep shooting. He had let me hang a mic on him and shoot him during some of the best moments of his life and now he was going to let me shoot him during one of the worst moments of his life. That's a level of generosity to a filmmaker that I will never forget. It's but one of many instances of Harry's generosity, however.

After Lost in the Fog was euthanized, I cracked the movie open and started fresh, now tasked with a much more complicated story. Greg always used to joke with me that I was the only one to benefit from Lost in the Fog's tragic ending and I agree. It was the last thing I wanted but, as a filmmaker, you couldn't ask for a more improbable and dramatic ending. Professionally it was gold, but on a personal level there was one more dramatic ending left for me. A couple of months after Lost in the Fog was diagnosed with cancer, Harry was diagnosed with cancer, too. In the meantime, I had started submitting the movie to various film festivals. I was fortunate enough to get accepted at CineVegas, an up-and-coming festival put on by a couple of programmers from Sundance.

I finally had an excuse to throw Harry a big party and show the movie to all his friends. Unfortunately, Harry was back in the hospital. He convinced the doctor to let him out to come to the screening but he was just too weak to make it out that night. As the screening ended, the packed house of friends and family jumped to their feet in a standing ovation, less for the movie I think than for Harry. I took the movie to Las Vegas where it was enthusiastically received. Knowing that Harry was at home, literally on his death bed, I made plans to skip out early from Vegas and say my final farewell to my good friend. But as I was thanking the lead programmer for the festival, he told me I should stick around until the end of the week. It looked like the movie was going to win an award. I thought long and hard about it and decided to stick around. I figured that if it won an award, it would a wonderful final gift for Harry. As it turns out, the movie won the audience award for best documentary - largely due to Harry's charisma. I scooped up the award and went straight to the airport. As I got off the plane in San Francisco I had a message on my phone from Greg. Harry had died that morning.

From my perspective, there's a silver lining to all this, though. Harry did get to see the movie. In fact, he would often invite his friends over for dinner and then recommend that they watch a DVD afterwards - LOST IN THE FOG. I'm glad I could give him that. I'm glad, too, for the incredible opportunity that Harry and Greg both gave me to tell the story of their lives through the telling of LOST IN THE FOG. If I hadn't read the paper that day, if I hadn't walked into Harry's office, I never would have met these guys and my life would be a lot less rich. They gave me the story of a lifetime but, more importantly, they granted me friendships that would last a lifetime. So I'm thinking about Greg today and Harry, too, and if I know Greg he's feeling bad but he's at the barn still working. Racing is a tough game but if Harry and Greg taught me anything, it's that when times go good, stay humble and when they go bad, you have to dust yourself off and get back in it. And Greg is in it in a big way. He has a barn full of good horses and he's looking forward to the Sunshine Millions at the end of the month where he might saddle as many as three horses. It couldn't happen to a better, more hard-working guy. -- J.C.

My thanks to John Corey for sharing his experiences with Lost in the Fog. It is a beautiful documentary and one I highly recommend. For information, or to order your own copy, go here.
-- Mary Forney

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Final Farewell to Indyanne



Graded stakes winner and beautiful filly Indyanne, who fractured a sesamoid in the La Brea Stakes at Santa Anita on Dec. 27, was euthanized today, as reported in both Bloodhorse and Thoroughbred Times online.

I took this short video of Indyanne before she was shipped to her owner's farm in Kentucky. Although I thought she appeared comfortable and happy, it was hard not to feel a certain uneasiness, knowing how many things can go wrong following the type of injury she sustained. It was with great sadness that I learned of her death.

My sincere condolences go to her owner, John Sikura, trainer Greg Gilchrist, and all who knew and loved her.

Race Caller Luke Schooling at Santa Anita



I watched Race Caller Luke, a marvelous looking colt by Point Given, go through his schooling paces this morning at Santa Anita. Trained by Bob Baffert, for owners Pegram and Watson and Weitman Performances, LLC, Race Caller Luke is entered in tomorrow's 2nd race at Santa Anita, a $32,000 claimer for 3-year-olds at one mile on the main track. Aaron Gryder has the mount.

Indian Blessing Returns from a Morning Gallop

Indian Blessing
The sun comes up over Santa Anita's Grandstand as Indian Blessing returns from her morning gallop. Southern California is experiencing unseasonable warm, spring weather, with the temperature during morning workouts already 55 degrees, going up to a predicted 85 degrees this afternoon.

Perhaps that's a good thing for Indian Blessing, who will be headed for Dubai. Trainer Bob Baffert quipped that he's training her later in the morning to get her used to the heat!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Zap! of the Week: Indian Blessing Gives an Interview

Zap of the Week

A look at Santa Anita, from morning workouts and schooling, to afternoon racing.

Some great footage from Larry Zap, including a very special interview with Indian Blessing and her rider. Includes a nice look at Pioneer of the Nile and a few others. Zap, as always, is an entertaining narrator. You're gonna love it!

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 .

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Pioneer of the Nile and Other Derby Future Picks

Pioneer of the Nile
Pioneer of the Nile returning from a morning work at Santa Anita.

Pioneer of the Nile, winner of the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park on Dec. 20, 2008, is one of my top early Derby picks.

In its 26-year history, the CashCall Futurity, known as the Hollywood Futurity from 1981 to 2006, has been an important steppingstone to the Santa Anita Derby.

CashCall Futurity winners who also won the Santa Anita Derby include:
  • Brother Derek, 2005 Futurity, 2006 Santa Anita Derby
  • Point Given, 2000, 2001
  • A.P. Indy, 1991, 1992
  • Temperate Sil, 1986, 1987
  • Snow Chief, 1985, 1986
Point Given went on to win the Preakness and Belmont Stakes en route to Horse of the Year and Top 3-Year-Old honors.

A.P. Indy subsequently won the Belmont and Breeders' Cup Classic and was also named Horse of the Year and Top 3-Year-Old.

Snow Chief went on to win the Preakness and Top 3-Year-Old honors.

Over the next 12 weeks leading up to the Santa Anita Derby, I will be watching several promising 3-year-olds in California, including my other current faves: Square Eddie, The Pamplemousse, and Majormotionpicture. Stay tuned.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Clockers Corner Buzzing Over Ginormous 3-Day Carryover at Santa Anita!

Clockers Corner Santa Anita Park
That's right, this is bigger than massive -- more than $1.2 million. There was a lot of handicapping going on out at Clockers' Corner this morning. And what a beautiful day to be sitting out there having coffee, perhaps a delicious breakfast, just anticipating the excitement of the afternoon of racing. Southern California weather has taken a spring-like turn, with temperatures this afternoon expected to be in the high 70's with mild Santa Ana winds. So, get out your pencils and start 'capping! Best of luck to all.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Massive 2-Day Carryover Today at Santa Anita


I.B. Stormin schools in the paddock at Santa Anita Thursday, Jan. 8, 2009.

Here's a pretty filly I watched schooling Thursday morning for trainer Anthony Saavedra. I.B. Stormin is entered in the 4th race at Santa Anita today, a maiden claimer for 3-year-old fillies at 6 furlongs -- the second leg of today's Pick Six.

Santa Anita has a two-day carryover of $423,985, and the pick six pool is expected to well exceed $2 million today. The pick six begins with race 3 on the 8-race card. Garrett Gomez, the nation's leading jockey in purse earnings for the past three years, rides three in the pick six races.

A better-than-average crowd is expected on track today, as Santa Anita presents the second of its "Free Fridays." General admission is free, and there will be $1 hot dogs, beers, soft drinks and popcorn.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

History Behind the Name: Saturday's San Pasqual Handicap at Santa Anita

Santa Anita's San Pasqual Handicap - like many of its historic stakes races - is named for a Mexican land grant. The 14,000-acre El Rancho San Pasqual embraced almost all of what is now Pasadena, South Pasadena, Altadena and San Marino.

The rancho was originally granted to Eulalia Perez de Guillen on Easter, 1826, for her many years of service as keeper of the keys at Mission San Gabriel. She traded the land for her freedom from an arranged marriage and a small cottage near the mission. After passing through several hands, the deed ended up with Jose Perez, a distant relative of Eulalia, who abandoned the property. In 1843, the rancho was given by the governor of Mexico to Manual Garfias, a lieutenant colonel in the Mexican army.

Some time between 1838 and 1845, an adobe was built on Rancho San Pasqual. Near the end of the Mexican-American War in 1848, the adobe served as headquarters for General Jose Maria Flores, the interim governor of California. The defeated Californios met in the adobe to discuss a tentative treaty, which would become the Articles of Capitulation. Now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the adobe is hidden from view by apartment houses and 1920's bungalows on a knoll in South Pasadena.

The San Pasqual Handicap has been run since 1935, and has been won by such outstanding runners as Congaree, Silver Charm, Alphabet Soup, Precisionist, Ancient Title, Ack Ack, and Native Diver.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Congratulations to Euroglide's Connections!

Peter Eurton and Michael MellenCo-owner Michael Mellen with trainer Peter Eurton, Santa Anita Walking Ring

Euroglide's connections just before his scintillating win in today's 3rd race. Euroglide, and jockey Michael Baze, battled gamely down the stretch to prevail by a neck over Kruger Park and Alex Solis.

Congratulations to trainer Peter Eurton, and all of Euroglide's connections! See Euroglide's pre-race interview here.

A Lovely Unusual Heat Colt in Friday at Santa Anita

Charlie and ChrisCharlie and Chris, Santa Anita paddock

Charlie and Chris is the name of this very nice looking 3-year-old colt by Unusual Heat. I watched him schooling Tuesday morning in the Santa Anita paddock, and was impressed by how healthy and muscular he looked. He was apparently a very busy boy, having breezed 4 furlongs earlier that morning in :47.60.

Owned by Huston Racing Stable, Johnson and Stol and trained by Howard Zucker, Charlie and Chris is entered to run in Santa Anita's 5th race on Friday -- a maiden special weight for Cal-bred 3-year-olds, at 5-1/2 f. on the main track. Good luck Charlie and company!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Zap! of the Week: An Interview with Euroglide

Zap of the Week


Okay... this is just too fun! Euroglide is quite a character, or is it the interviewer? Zap may have created a whole new genre in horse racing videos.

Euroglide is looking very self-confident, almost cocky, for a horse entered to run in a couple of days. Anyway, makes for a great interview. And my money's on him.

Euroglide is in the 3rd race at Santa Anita on Wednesday, an allowance optional claimer down the hillside turf course (about 6-1/2 furlongs).

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 .

Derby Fever!

The PamplemousseThe Pamplemousse coming off the track at Santa Anita, Friday morning, 1/2/09.

The new year has just started, and I'm already getting Derby fever -- well, least Santa Anita Derby fever! There are some really promising and spectacular looking 3-year-olds on the grounds at Santa Anita, and in training at Hollywood Park, right now. Here are some of the ones I will be watching:

  • Point Encounter - impressive debut winner at Santa Anita opening day.
  • Pioneer of the Nile - winner of the CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park.
  • Square Eddie - BC Juvenile runner-up, reportedly awaiting the San Rafael.
  • The Pamplemousse - winner of a 1-1/16 mile maiden race at Hollywood Park Dec. 14.
  • Majormotionpicture - debut winner at Del Mar, possible for the San Rafael.
  • Believe in Hope - 3rd in the Norfolk S., scheduled to return in the San Vicente, Feb. 16.
I'd love to hear anyone else's picks....

Monday, January 5, 2009

Tizzy's Tune Works at Santa Anita

It was another spectacular morning at Clockers' Corner, where I photographed Tizzy's Tune heading out with the pony, in preparation for a five-furlong work. Jockey Corey Nakatani was aboard for the workout, which was clocked at 100.20 (handily).

Tizzy's Tune
Tizzy's Tune, trained by Bob Baffert, was fifth in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint at Santa Anita in October, following an upset win in the Pine Tree Lane Stakes at Santa Anita on September 28. In her last start, she finished 7th in the Playa del Rey S. at Hollywood Park November 27.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Horse Racing Jargon Through the Years

Santa Anita 1908
Grandstand, Santa Anita, c. 1908

On December 25, 1934, the Los Angeles Times ran a piece by Paul Lowry entitled "Horse Racing Has Its Own Peculiar Jargon."1 It was the final piece in a series leading up to the revival of racing at Santa Anita, which would open its gates that Christmas day after a hiatus of nearly a quarter of a century.

The point of the article was to help first-time racegoers to understand the sport by providing a glossary of terms they might encounter at the track. Many of those terms are still in use today. A few of them have fallen out of usage over time, and some were completely new to me; but some more seasoned racetrackers may recognize them -- and even wish to add a few of their own:
  • Box car and telephone numbers: A winning bet at big odds.

  • Goat: A poor racing horse.

  • Impost: The total weight carried by a horse.

  • Morning Glory: A horse which looks like a champion in the
    morning and can't click in the afternoon.

  • Nom de Course: Name other than his own under which an owner
    races his horses, such as the Northway Stables (Norman Church).

  • Plater: A horse which runs largely in claiming races.

  • Rail Lugger: A horse such as Equipoise which bears to the
    left for the inner rail.
I had no idea Equipoise was a rail lugger, but he certainly wasn't a morning glory! Let's hear some more old-time jargon if you've got it!

1 Los Angeles Times, December 25, 1934, A14.

Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Garrett Gomez and So. California Jockeys Donate $16,500 to Winners Foundation

Edited Santa Anita press release.
Jockey Garrett Gomez and a group of Southern California based riders contributed $16,500 to the Winners Foundation today in a winners' circle ceremony following the sixth race at Santa Anita Park. The Winners Foundation helps individuals and families in the racing industry with alcohol and substance abuse problems.

"Without the Winners Foundation, I wouldn't be riding today," said Gomez, who led all North American jockeys in purse money won for a third consecutive year in 2008. "I owe a deep debt of gratitude to Bob Fletcher and everyone involved with the Winners Foundation. They have provided me strength and have helped me maintain my focus during my period of recovery. My family and I could never thank them enough, and I'm honored to be able to give back to the Winners Foundation in this way.

"They help people throughout racing, on the backside, frontside, everywhere. I can't think of a more deserving organization, and I know I speak for hundreds of other people. They do great work, and I wish them all the best in the New Year," he added.

The check was presented on behalf of the jockeys by Darrell Haire, Western Regional Jockey Guild Manager and Winners Foundation board member. Accepting the check on behalf of Winners Foundation were executive director Bob Fletcher, board president Gino Roncelli, and directors Mary Forney and George Haines. Haines is also general manager of Santa Anita.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Interesting Facts about Saturday's Monrovia Handicap at Santa Anita

Saturday marks the 42nd running of the Monrovia Handicap, a Grade 3 event for fillies and mares 4 years old and up. The Monrovia is run on Santa Anita's unique downhill turf course, the El Camino Real Turf Course, at about six and a half furlongs.

The race is named in honor of Santa Anita's neighboring city of Monrovia. Railroad pioneer W.N. Monroe (1841-1935) came to California from the Midwest in 1875 and purchased part of Lucky Baldwin's Rancho Santa Anita for his home. Baldwin had subdivided the eastern portion of his vast rancho into 30-acre parcels. In 1886, Monroe and four of his friends, who had also bought parcels of Baldwin's rancho, established the town of Monrovia on their combined property, laying out a 60-acre town with streets named for trees, flowers and ladies.

Society Hostess will make her third Monrovia Handicap start Saturday. She won the race in 2007 and finished second in last year's running. Trained by Cristophe Clemente (assistant trainer Nicholas Bachalard) for Moyglare Stud, Society Hostess finished sixth in the Grade 3 Rancho Bernardo Handicap at Del Mar in her last race. Jose Valdivia Jr. has the mount.

Update on Indyanne

I paid Indyanne a visit this morning at her stall at Santa Anita. It was great to see her looking so good and comfortable, and chomping away on her hay. A decision has not been released yet about when she will be moved to owner Sikura's farm in Kentucky, but she's likely to be here at least another five or six days.

Indyanne
Indyanne was pulled up in the stretch by jockey Russell Baze after she took a bad step during the running of the La Brea Stakes at Santa Anita on Saturday. She suffered a fractured sesamoid in her left foreleg. The injury will not require surgery, and she will be sent to Kentucky for her new life as a broodmare.

We're pulling for you, Indyanne!

Victorina in Friday's Paseana Handicap at Santa Anita

Trainer Greg Gilchrist runs the hard-hitting Victorina, a Northern California-based mare who has been off the board only three times in 23 starts while posting a 12-6-2 record, in today's $70,000 Paseana Handicap. Owned by the estate of Harry Aleo, the 5-year-old Florida-bred will be ridden by Rafael Bejarano.

The complete field for the Paseana Handicap, with jockeys and weights in post position order: Double Trouble, Garrett Gomez, 118; You Lift Me Up, Mike Smith, 117; Victorina, Rafael Bejarano, 117; Island Hop, Martin Garcia, 113; Chocolate Lava, Joel Rosario, 115, and Forest Melody, Joseph Talamo, 115.

The race is named for Paseana, an Argentine-bred mare brought to the United States by Sid and Jenny Craig, and for whom the Craigs would eventually name their Rancho Paseana in Del Mar, California. (See magazine profile on Ted Aroney and the Craigs here.)

Trained by Ron McAnally, Pasaena won 19 races from 36 starts, ten of which were Grade 1, including the Spinster Stakes, and the Santa Margarita, Apple Blossom, Milady, and Santa Maria handicaps. Her career earnings totaled more than $3 million. She earned consecutive Eclipse Awards as Champion Older Mare in 1992 and 1993.

In 2001, Paseana was inducted in the United States Racing Hall of Fame. She died in 2006 at Haras San Ignacio de Loyola in Argentina.