Sunday, May 31, 2009

Well Monied Romps in Honeymoon Handicap



Well Monied
liked both the turf and the extra distance, cruising home to win the Grade 2 Honeymoon Handicap at Hollywood Park for trainer Howard Zucker and owner C. T. Grether Inc. In her come-from-behind style, Well Monied came around the far turn three wide, then held off a surging Acting Lady in the stretch to prevail by a length and a quarter.

The victory establishes her as a leading candidate for the $700,000 American Oaks, an invitational event on July 5 at Hollywood Park.

A very patient ride by jockey Joel Rosario gave him his third win on the Sunday card, placing him atop the jockey standings for the meet with 39 wins in 27 race days. Congratulations to the connections of Well Monied!

The video is courtesy of Hollywood Park, which does an excellent job of posting videos of the feature race on their newly revamped website. Enjoy!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Well Monied Seeks First Stakes Victory in Grade 2 Honeymoon Handicap

Well Monied
I’ve been following this lovely-moving daughter of Maria’s Mon since January, when she worked at Santa Anita with Chantal Sutherland up, noting that she would be one to watch, particularly going long on turf.

In tomorrow’s Honeymoon Handicap at Hollywood Park, Well Monied will be looking for her third consecutive turf victory and first stakes win, while stretching out to a mile and an eighth. In her most recent race May 2, at a mile on the Hollywood Park turf course, she won by almost two lengths and received a 108 Beyer.

Trainer Howard Zucker, who is not concerned with her outside post position at the distance, said he loves her chances. “Her last was so impressive,” he added. “Everyone seems to like her.” Joel Rosario, who guided her to her last two victories, has the mount again.

The Honeymoon Handicap is a steppingstone to the July 5th American Oaks, a $700,000, Grade I invitational event at 1 ¼ miles.

The field includes Century Park (Victor Espinoza up), Daylumney (Tyler Baze), Candilejas (Martin Garcia), Lexlenos (Alex Solis), Dash Dot Dash (Brice Blanc), Maid For Music (David Flores), Pride Dancer (Joe Talamo), and Acting Lady (Rafael Bejarano).

The Honeymoon will run as the seventh race on a nine-race program. First post time is at 1 p.m.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Magical Fantasy, Black Mamba Renew Rivalry in Gamely Stakes

Black Mamba

Magical Fantasy and Black Mamba, who ran first and second in last month's Santa Barbara Handicap at Santa Anita, will square off again this Saturday at Hollywood Park in the $250,000 Gamely Stakes.

Trained by John Sadler for Doubledown Stables Inc., Black Mamba, a New Zealand bred daughter of Black Minnaloushe, won the Grade 1 John C. Mabee and Grade 2 Beverly Hills handicaps last year before finishing 4th to males in the Grade 1 Hollywood Turf Cup in December.

Magical Fantasy, the 2008 Del Mar Oaks winner, has won three of 13 races and $452,431 for trainer Paddy Gallagher and owners Bienstock, Mandabach and Winner.

The field also includes Toque de Queda, third-place finisher in the Santa Barbara, and Diamond Diva, winner of the 2008 CashCall Mile.

The Grade I Gamely is named for the nation's champion mare of 1968, winner of that year's Vanity Handicap as well as the 1968 and 1969 runnings of the Wilshire Handicap, the 1968 Inglewood Handicap, and the 1967 Princess Stakes. It will be run at nine furlongs on the Lakeside Turf Course — the ninth of ten races on Saturday’s card at Holylwood Park. First post time is 1 p.m.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

BREAKAGE - OUTS - PAPER OR PLASTIC?

Fixing a Broken Pari-Mutuel Model
Second in a series of guest posts on the business of horse racing.

By Vic Harrison

Last week we discussed video displays. This week’s issue we consider:

Breakage (the rounding-down of payouts to the nearest nickel or dime) Рnever has a concept been more pass̩.

Outs (uncashed winning tickets) – never has there been a more striking difference between betting at a racetrack and betting on a slot machine. Let’s start bridging the gap.

Plastic Bet Cards or Paper Tickets – Let’s count the advantages of plastic over paper.

As a discussion starting point: One fundamental industry problem is retainage, commission, take-out… call it what you will, but it’s a pari-mutuel model that’s broken and in need of deconstruction and reconstruction. Industry leaders need to tackle this major issue head on. I will address some of its component parts, or lack thereof, here with my pea shooter.

In racing jurisdictions around North America both breakage and outs become the property of the track, the horsemen, the breeders, the ADW companies, the regulators or some other related organization. The money is, I’m sure, put to good use: Here in Virginia, 30% of the breakage goes into a backstretch benevolence fund. We all have our hands out, and we won’t easily relinquish our claim to that money. But, breakage and outs are without a doubt the property of the bettors.

Breakage and outs are the hidden take-outs: In Virginia in 2007 wagering handle in-state was $167,684,685 and breakage was $643,967 -- or .38%. Outs totaled $883,330, or .53%. The blended take-out on all pari-mutuel wagers was 21.27%. You’d think that 78.73% would be returned to the winning bettors. Not so fast…when we add back the breakage and the outs, the effective take-out is 22.18% - only 77.82% is being returned to the bettors.

Breakage – rounding-down a payout from, for example, $7.49 to $7.40 -- made sense in the old days because it sped up the throughput at the mutuel windows by eliminating the handling of pennies if not nickels. Today, the true growth segment of our industry is account wagering – no tellers, no windows. Perhaps we could break to the smallest amount possible, return the additional money to the rightful owners – the winning bettors. I guarantee you they will bet that additional money back into the wagering pools. We’re talking increased handle here. Even breaking to a penny will result in some breakage amount - any breakage money remaining can be redistributed in a creative way to the bettors towards the end of a specific period such as a race meet.

Outs – Here’s a radical idea: Do away with paper tickets. Scenario: You walk in to your race track/OTB. You get a card (anonymous or player-tracking). You put your betting dollars on the card. You bet; you hit a winner. You get credited the winnings automatically, even, say, a convoluted Pick-5 bet with late scratches and post-time-favorite substitutions. How simple: You automatically are credited the winnings. You think you’ve a losing wager but the convoluted consolation payout is nonetheless awarded to your account. You are happily surprised the next time you check your balance and you didn’t have the opportunity to have ripped up a valuable paper ticket in disgust and in error. (For those of us that must absolutely have the security of holding a paper ticket in our hands, paper receipts can be issued with our bets – receipts that have the look and feel of a live ticket but without the bar code/ID number.)

This is an area where slots have an obvious advantage over pari-mutuels: On a slot machine we hit PLAY and the winning result is a bunch of squiggly lines onscreen. The average slot player has no idea how he has won or the meaning of the lines but is totally confident that he is being credited his winnings. He had no opportunity to unwittingly toss his winnings in the trash. As with the breakage, the additional outs money is being returned its rightful owners, the winning bettors, and they will bet that money back into the wagering pools, resulting in increased handle; and some of those subsequent bets will be winners, and those winnings too will be bet back.

Ancillary issue: Tellers – I’m all for job creation and retention, but not when its part of a paradigm that has brought an industry to its knees. (Ask your teller about the concept of “dropping” – not unique to pari-mutuels but certainly prevalent here.) Nonetheless, if you have tellers, there’s no reason why bettors can’t bet at a window with a teller and present the teller with the card instead of cash. In a perfect (and not totally unattainable) world there would be enough card readers at your betting facility that quickly show the balance on the card and most recent wagers.

Circling back now to the much larger issue of pari-mutuel take-out: If outs and breakage are reduced to insignificant levels, we must address the loss of these sources of income to their current recipients: the tracks, horsemen, breeders, ADW’s or regulators. It’s part and parcel of the aforementioned deconstruction and reconstruction. Eventually, it will become a problem the answer to which will be critical to the survival of our industry.

Until next time...

-- Vic

For information about Vic Harrison, see Contributors on the About tab.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Zap! of the Week: Zenyatta Triumphs!

Zap of the Week

Larry Zap brings you some marvelous footage of Zenyatta in Saturday's Milady Handicap at Hollywood Park. Get a real fans' eye view from paddock to winner's circle! Notice Zenyatta's famous high-stepping moves in the paddock and post parade -- it almost looks like she's doing some dressage moves. She knows she's the best! Enjoy.

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

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Historic Shoemaker Mile Highlights Memorial Day Card at Hollywood Park

video
Thorn Song returning from a gallop Saturday morning, 5/23/09, at Hollywood Park.

The Shoemaker Mile is Hollywood Park's oldest stakes race. The inaugural running was a $2,500 feature on opening day, June 10, 1938, when more than 40,000 fans watched Air Chute rally from last to defeat Faithful Maud. Actress Barbara Stanwyck presented the winning trophy.

The race was known as the Premiere from 1938 to 1989 (except in 1950 when it was called the Preview). It was renamed to honor jockey Bill Shoemaker, whose win in the 1989 running of the Premiere aboard Peace made him the first jockey to amass 1,000 career stakes victories. Shoemaker had 8,833 winners in his riding career, including 2,416 at Hollywood Park, and was the world's leading jockey until being surpassed by Laffit Pincay, Jr. in 1999.

Ventura will take on the boys today, hoping to be the third female winner of the Shoemaker Mile. It was won by Happy Issue in 1946 and Special Touch in 1951. Ventura has won five of ten career starts, including the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint and the Grade 1 Santa Monica Handicap at Santa Anita.

The Shoemaker field includes Kentucky shipper Thorn Song, winner of the Grade I Shadwell Turf Mile in October at Keeneland, who subsequently finished ninth in the Breeders’ Cup Mile. Trained by Dale Romans, the 6-year-old gray/roan son of Unbridled's Song has seven wins in 26 starts and earnings of $932,183. Here's the field:

The 66th Running of The Shoemaker Mile (Grade I)
$250,000 Added - One Mile (Turf) – 3-Year-Olds and Up
1 HYPERBARIC          '03 G 124 Espinoza, V   Canani, Julio
2 WHATSTHESCRIPT (IRE '04 H 124 Rosario, J Sadler, John
3 STORM MILITARY (ARG)'02 H 124 Blanc, B Frankel, Robert
4 VENTURA '04 M 119 Gomez, G Frankel, Robert
5 DIXIE CHATTER '05 C 124 Baze, T Mandella, Richard
6 THORN SONG '03 H 124 Smith, M Romans, Dale
7 U S RANGER '04 H 124 Bejarano, R Drysdale, Neil
8 TIZ WEST '05 C 124 Talamo, J Mandella, Richard

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Triumphant Flight in Sunday's Lazaro S. Barrera Stakes


Triumphant Flight selling as a yearling... video by Larry Zap.

Sunday's feature race at Hollywood Park, the Grade 3, $100,000 Lazaro S. Barrera Memorial Stakes, has drawn a strong field of ten 3-year-olds going 7 furlongs on the Cushion Track, including Triumphant Flight.

Trained by Eric Kruljac, Triumphant Flight is a three-time winner who hasn't been worse than second in six starts. He won the San Miguel Stakes at Santa Anita on March 9 and finished second in the Snow Chief at Hollywood Park on April 25.

The field also includes Backbackbackgone, a winner of five of seven races and $203,270, who is seeking his second straight victory. He is switching back to the Cushion Track from turf, where he won impressively at six furlongs in the Harry Henson Stakes on opening day of this meet.

The race is named for the late Hall of Fame trainer who saddled Affirmed to win the 1978 Triple Crown. Barrera saddled 68 stakes winners at Hollywood Park, including Gold Cup winners Affirmed (1979) and Island Whirl (1983). The Barrera will run as the eighth of nine races on Sunday’s program at Hollywood Park. First post is at 1 p.m.

Contributor Larry Zap provides a video of Triumphant Flight selling as a yearling at Barretts' October 2007 sale. Zap isolated the colt, Hip #220, as the best horse in the sale, recommending his purchase by Tyler Seltzer for $36,000. Triumphant Flight was subsequently broken and trained by Kruljac. Enjoy the video!

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

Friday, May 22, 2009

Zenyatta Headlines Milady Handicap at Hollywood Park

Zenyatta
Zenyatta in her stall at John Shirreff's barn, Hollywood Park.

Trainer John Shirreffs was kind enough to allow me to visit and take a photo of Zenyatta in her stall at Hollywood Park on Saturday morning. This is one mare who really knows she's something special, looking (and acting) the part of a queen. And she obviously adores Shirreffs, nuzzling up to him when he came near!

The Eclipse Award winning mare will be the star attraction Saturday at Hollywood Park, when she makes her 2009 debut in the $150,000 Milady Handicap. She is also the defending champion in the Milady, facing a field of 8 other fillies and mares going a mile and a sixteenth.

Zenyatta is undefeated in 9 career starts including four Grade I and three Grade II races for earnings of $2,144,580. Her regular rider, Mike Smith, has the mount for Shirreffs and owners Jerry and Ann Moss.

The field for the Milady includes: Gambler’s Justice, Martin Garcia up; Taste’s Sis, Danny Sorenson; Allicansayis Wow, Joe Talamo; Dawn After Dawn, Joel Rosario; Champagne Eyes, Michael Baze; Bel Air Sizzle, Rafael Bejarano; Life Is Sweet, Garrett Gomez; Hot n’ Dusty, Alex Solis; and Zenyatta, Smith.

The Milady will run as the 8th race on Saturday’s 9-race card at Hollywood Park.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Well Monied Works a Half Mile at Santa Anita



Well Monied, a lovely grey filly by Maria's Mon, put in a nice, easy 4-furlong work on the main track at Santa Anita Tuesday morning for trainer Howard Zucker, who indicated she is pointing for the Honeymoon Handicap at a mile and an eighth on the turf at Hollywood Park, Sunday, May 31.

In her most recent race, Well Monied posted a nice win in an allowance/optional claimer at one mile on the turf May 2nd at Hollywood Park.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Visit with The Pamplemousse



I visited The Pamplemousse Saturday at Julio Canani's barn at Hollywood Park. "The Mousse" looked wonderful and was extremely sociable!

Co-owner Alex Solis II said the colt is happy and doing well and "doesn't know anything is wrong!"

The Pamplemousse has been out of training since April due to a lesion on the tendon of his left foreleg. The winner of the Grade 3 San Rafael and Grade 3 Sham Stakes at Santa Anita this year was scratched from the Santa Anita Derby and has been on a program of walking and stall rest at Canani's barn. According to Solis, The Pamplemousse will be transferring to a farm within the next two weeks. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Zap! of the Week: Barretts May Sale Action

Zap of the Week

Yesterday I posted a video of Gayle Van Lear selecting two-year-olds at Barretts' May Sale, and one of the featured colts was Hip #24, a gorgeous Southern Image colt out of Hasty Appeal. Larry Zap was also "eyeing" the colt, and brings you some more close-up action from Andy Havens' consignment barn. Hip #24 went through the ring as a buy-back for $470,000.

Zap also shows you his favorite, Hip #77, a Sky Mesa colt out of the mare Mettle, who sold for $225,000. Enjoy!

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

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Selecting Two-Year-Olds at Auction: Bloodstock Agent Gayle Van Lear at Barretts



Bloodstock agent Gayle Van Lear offers some pointers on selecting thoroughbreds at auction during a TOC seminar at Barretts Equine Limited in Pomona just prior to their May Sale of Two-Year-Olds in Training.

Filmed at the barn of consignor Andy Havens Bloodstock, the video features a gorgeous Southern Image colt -- Hip Number 24, which subsequently went through the sales ring unsold at $470,000. Also shown is a nice colt by Our New Recruit, Hip Number 85 in the sale.

Friday, May 15, 2009

We Need More Focus on the Betting Product and Presentation

This Week’s Issue: Video Displays
First in a series of guest posts on the business of Horse Racing.

By Vic Harrison

Greetings from Virginia. There are two things about Virginia that Californians are likely unaware of and may be surprised by: Like you, we make very good wine and, unlike you, our thoroughbred meet is 90% turf racing.

But, no matter how much wine we’ve imbibed, where the grapes were grown or where we race in North America and upon what surface, we might share some similar observations about horse racing and pari-mutuel wagering. How about stepping back from our daily grind for a more objective view of our industry? I don’t claim to have the answers – I’m taking the easy road by asking questions – but, I do believe these to be valid discussion items. During the course of my blogging, and if Mary allows it, I will try to address a few of these issues one or two at a time.

My one disclaimer is: I know a lot of people in this industry, many of whom work in the segments listed below, and I like them all. No personal inferences should be taken.

My overarching observation about the business of horse racing is: There is not enough focus on the betting product and the presentation of that product – we could have 100% compliance on all medication and wagering integrity and monitoring issues (and I hope we will) and still interest would wane and the industry would decline until, perhaps, only a few racetracks remain standing…unless we effect change.

This week’s issue: Video Displays

Am I the only one who thinks it’s laughably bad and almost sad that many race tracks, at the top of the backstretch, completely obscure the viewing of the race by showing a few seconds of blurry Infield Tote Board? The announcer is trying to build drama and you think you can spot that your horse is making a move, and suddenly the horses (and your interest) are interrupted by the scanning camera whizzing across the tote board. Now the horses show up again and you’ve got to try to relocate your betting choice.

Perhaps it would make sense, if you’ve a large infield tote board or other infield obstruction, and if the cost isn’t too dear, to put a camera on the backstretch – one that your video guy could pan to when the horses reach the obstruction point. If not, at least use the pill system on your video display (that a bettor can pan to on his own). Every race has a start, middle and a finish and it all should be shown without exception and without interruption.

I also read recently that technology may exist to highlight each horse in the race with a specific onscreen color a la the yellow yardage stripe on a televised football game. This would be a boon to every racetrack’s video presentation regardless if there’s an infield obstruction – the saddle pad colors and numbers and jockey’s silks are often, currently, indistinguishable on a TV screen.

Until next time… and I hope you bet the Preakness winner (don’t overlook Terrain).

--Vic

For information about Vic Harrison, see Contributors on the About tab.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Queen of the Catsle Back at Hollywood Park in Friday's Lawndale Handicap

Queen of the Catsle hamming it up.

Queen of the Catsle, a brilliant turf sprinting mare and one of my favorites, makes her 2009 debut in the 5-furlong Lawndale Handicap, the 7th race on Hollywood Park's Friday night card.

Her last start, she was an impressive winner in the Dance in the Mood Stakes -- the opening day feature of the Hollywood Park Fall Meet on Oct. 29. It was her fourth victory in a winning streak that included the Sen. Ken Maddy Handicap at Santa Anita and the Daisycutter Handicap at Del Mar.

Trained by Howard Zucker, Queen of the Catsle will be ridden by Victor Espinoza. Here's hoping for five in a row!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Auctioneer Ryan Mahan Discusses Horse Sales at Barretts



We caught auctioneer Ryan Mahan at the consignment barn of Andy Havens Bloodstock at Barretts Equine in Pomona just prior to the May Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale, where he graciously spoke to a group of potential buyers at a TOC seminar about some of the finer points of horse auctions.

Mahan discusses his own experience and how he got into the business of auctioneering, explains the basic auction process, and gives some advice to new buyers. Enjoy!

He's Baaaaack... Charlie and Chris in 6th Race at Hollywood Park

Charlie and Chris with Steve.

Charlie and Chris, the nice Unusual Heat colt I've been following since the beginning of the year, will be the likely favorite in the 6th race at Hollywood Park today. Tyler Baze has the mount for trainer Howard Zucker in the maiden claiming race for California-breds three and up.

In his last race, a 6-1/2 furlong overnight stakes at Hollywood Park on Apr. 25, Charlie and Chris pressed the pace before tiring to finish 7th. Previously, he ran two seconds and a third at Santa Anita, and in his last race Charlie and Chris appeared to rate well for Baze. If he reproduces that style, he may just take this one!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Hip 40, Tiznow Colt Tops Barretts May Sale at $300,000

Hip 40 in the ring at Barretts Equine May Sale 5/11/09.

A dark bay or brown colt by Tiznow out of Jera was the top seller at the Barretts May Sale of Two-year-olds in Training on Monday. Consigned by Stephens Thoroughbreds, LLC Agent for Vision Racing (2009), LLC, the colt was purchased by Gary and Wendy Broad for $300,000. It was one of 11 two-year-olds selling for $100,000 or more.

A total of 123 two-year-olds went through the ring, for a total of $4,511,000. The average price was $36,675, down 31% from last year's average of $53,173.

There were 50 horses not sold. In 2008, a total of 147 two-year-olds sold, with 74 not sold.

Monday, May 11, 2009

$200 000 Forestry colt

Barretts Sale Hip #180

Hip #159 @ Barretts

$220,000 - colt by Eurosilver

Hip Number 1

The May 2-Year-Old Sale at Barretts in Pomona, CA just got under way!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Mythical Power Wins LONE STAR Derby Convincingly

Congratulations to trainer Bob Baffert for his third Lone Star Derby win with Mythical Power!

Mythical Power and jockey Victor Espinoza crushed the field, winning by 7 1/2-lengths over Red Lead. It was the fifth career start for the 3-year-old bay son of Congaree, seen here schooling for the Sunland Derby on March 29 -- a race won by Kelly Leak and in which Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird ran 4th.

Baffert's other Lone Star Derby winners have been Anet in 1997 and Wanna Runner in 2006.

Friday, May 8, 2009

She's Cheeky Looked Smashing in her Return at Hollywood Park!



She's Cheeky ran a very creditable second to Coco Belle in Thursday's 7th race at Hollywood Park, an allowance feature race at 6-1/2 furlongs, for her return to the races following three months off.

Larry Zap offers up a fun video following her from the saddling paddock to the finish line, with some very nice footage of trainer Peter Eurton getting her ready to run. The video also includes an "intro" by yours truly (and lots of silly chatter)! Enjoy.

Read more about contributor Larry Zap here.

Rail Trip Likely Favorite for Mervyn Leroy Handicap



I caught a quick video of Rail Trip galloping at Hollywood Park on Thursday morning for trainer Ron Ellis.

The unbeaten Jump Start gelding will be looking for his 6th straight win and first graded stakes win in tomorrow's Grade 2, $150,000 Mervyn Leroy Handicap at Hollywood Park. He will once again face Dakota Phone, runner up to Rail Trip in last month's Santana Mile at Santa Anita.

D C Tapit Schools for West Coast Debut at Hollywood Park


D C Tapit schooling in the Hollywood Park paddock, 5/7/2009.

D C Tapit, a 3-year-old son of Tapit, looked very nice schooling in the bright May sunshine at Hollywood Park on Thursday morning for trainer Mike Mitchell. The big grey, previously trained by Steve Asmussen, will make his third career start and west coast debut in Saturday's second race at Hollywood Park, a maiden special weight at 7 furlongs on the Cushion Track. Rafael Bejarano has the mount.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Mr. Big Schools for Friday Night Feature at Hollywood Park


Mr. Big certainly is aptly named! I caught this photo of the eye-catching bay schooling in Hollywood Park's paddock in the lovely spring weather Thursday afternoon.

Mike Smith has the mount on Mr. Big for trainer Bob Baffert in tomorrow's 7th race at Hollywood Park -- an allowance race at one mile on the turf.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

She's Cheeky in Allowance Feature at Hollywood Park Thursday

Trainer Peter Eurton leads She's Cheeky off the track at morning workouts.

She's Cheeky returns to the races following a 3-month layoff in tomorrow's 7th at Hollywood Park. In her most recent race, she was a good third to Ventura and Jiboom in the Grade 1 Santa Monica Handicap at 7 furlongs on Jan. 31.

Trained by Peter Eurton, the 4-year-old Kentucky-bred daughter of Black Minnaloushe has three wins, three seconds and three thirds in her last nine starts. This looks like a good spot for her return!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Undefeated Rail Trip Seeks First Graded Stakes Win in Mervyn Leroy Hcp.

Rail Trip, trained by Ron Ellis, on the main track at Santa Anita.

Rail Trip, a 4-year-old gelding, seeks his first graded stakes win Saturday in the $150,000 Mervyn LeRoy Handicap at 1 1/16 miles on Hollywood Park’s Cushion Track. Trained by Ron Ellis for Jay Em Ess Stable, Rail Trip is undefeated in five career starts, including the Santana Mile at Santa Anita on April 4.

The Grade 2 Mervyn LeRoy is the first major race for older horses leading up to the $700,000Hollywood Gold Cup on July 11. Second in the series is the $250,000 Californian on June 13.

The race is named for one of the track’s organizers and its president for 34 years, until 1985. Mervyn Leroy epitomized the track’s connection to the Hollywood movie industry, having produced and/or directed more than 75 movies including The Wizard of Oz. He was nominated for four Academy Awards and won the 1945 award as Best Director for the movie The House I Live In.

Rail Trip’s competition in the Mervyn LeRoy includes Dakota Phone, a close second in the Daytona Mile under Rafael Bejarano; and Dixie Meister, who finished third.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Zap! of the Week: Future Derby Contenders, Perhaps?

Zap of the Week

While working the sale in Ocala, Florida, Larry Zap spends some time at Solera Farm watching a couple of two-year-old colts going through the motions in becoming racehorses. In this video, watch a Yankee Gentleman colt working with a Lemon Drop Kid out of the gate. As Zap points out, they are noticably very green, but pick it up and gallop out well. A rare look at early training on the farm. Nice footage and narration by Larry Zap. Enjoy!

Read more about contributor Larry Zap in About.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Wowie! Maui Mark Wins Friday Feature at Hollywood Park



Watch an absolutely scintillating win by Maui Mark for trainer Howard Zucker in Friday's feature race at Hollywood Park, an allowance race for 3 year olds and up at 6 furlongs on the turf. After catching pacesetter Slam Slew a furlong from the wire, Maui Mark draws away to win by 3 1/4 lengths.

The victory was the fourth of five wins on the card for jockey Joel Rosario.
Rosario and Zucker teamed up again today to win the 9th at Hollywood Park, an allowance/optional claimer, with a nice filly I've been following, Well Monied.

For a closer look at Maui Mark, take a look at a video post of him getting an adjustment from horse chiropractor Dr. Nick Sopha at Santa Anita a few weeks ago.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Who Do You Like for The Kentucky Derby?


I couldn't resist taking a random poll at Santa Anita this morning. Now, if I follow the Richard Dreyfuss method (from the movie Let it Ride), and eliminate all the picks I gathered, it still leaves me with West Side Bernie, Musket Man, Advice, Mine that Bird, Join the Dance, Regal Ransom, Chocolate Candy, General Quarters, Atomic Rain, Dunkirk, Summer Bird, Nowhere to Hide, Desert Party and Flying Pirate!

Hopefully you have a saner method for picking your Derby winner... Happy handicapping and good luck to everyone betting the Derby!

A Derby Win by Chocolate Candy Would be Sweet for Jenny Craig


Chocolate Candy Schooling for the Santa Anita Derby.

Chocolate Candy represents the fourth Kentucky Derby entrant for California thoroughbred owner Jenny Craig. But this year's Derby will be bittersweet for Jenny, win or lose. She will be there for the first time without her husband, Sid, who died in July. And she will be hoping to fulfill the dream they shared for many years.

Sid and Jenny Craig, founders of the weight loss company named for her, shared a passion for Thoroughbred racing and a dream of winning the Kentucky Derby. Jenny even presented Sid with a Derby-ready colt for his 60th birthday in 1992. A $2.5 million purchase, Dr Devious finished 7th in that year's Run for the Roses. Dr Devious went one better, however, going on to win the original derby -- the Epsom Derby in England.

Chocolate Candy was bred by Sid and Jenny Craig and is a son of their 2003 Pacific Classic winner Candy Ride, whose progeny are already making a splash. In addition to Chocolate Candy, he is the sire of stakes winners Capt. Candyman Can and Evita Argentina.

Chocolate Candy, trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, drew post position #11 and was assigned official morning line odds of 20-1.