Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sunny Santa Anita - 24 Days to Breeders Cup!

Another warm and sunny day dawned at Santa Anita. Curlin is here in Barn 27, and I hope to get a glimpse (and some photos) of him soon. Tomorrow morning will be his first time out on the track.

In the meantime, I've been talking to some long-time trainers about the historic Receiving Barn. Mel Stute, who's been at Santa Anita since 1945, had an interesting recollection... Many years ago, the grooms went on strike, and one of the trainers led his horse over from the stables to the receiving barn before a race -- with two guns strapped on! They called him "two guns" after that.

With no racing yesterday or today, I haven't been able to get an inside photo, but hope to post one very soon.

Good Day Sunshine

Pink clouds as the sun was coming up over the barns at Santa Anita, Arcadia, California.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Receiving Barn is Rich in History and Tradition

Santa Anita's receiving barn, also known as the "Round Barn," truly is rich in history and tradition, having been around since the track opened in 1934. It's where all of the racehorses, from maidens to champions, pass through on their way to the races, to receive pre-race testing.

I found an old article from TIME magazine, from December 24, 1934, about the opening day at Santa Anita, which read in part: "At Arcadia, Calif., the newest and most elaborate racetrack in the U.S., Santa Anita Park, will open for a 53-day meet on Christmas Day. In the feature race of the meet, the Santa Anita Handicap, a dozen of the most famed horses in the world, including Equipoise, Twenty Grand, Mate, Cavalcade, Statesman and Head Play, will run for the biggest purse ($100,000 added) offered this year."

The article also mentioned the Receiving Barn: "Before each race, all the horses entered will visit a special circular 'receiving barn,' from which owners and handlers are excluded and in which officials will make sure the animals are not doped." ("Doped?!" Well, remember it was an era just following Prohibition and the crime sprees of gangsters like Al Capone!)

More history, and an inside photo of the Receiving Barn, to come!

Santa Anita Receiving Barn

Rainbow's End Curlin's Santa Anita Barn

Sun and Rain at Santa Anita

Sunday, September 28, 2008

26 Days to Breeders Cup at Santa Anita!

Sunday morning... It's killing me to miss a morning at C2 (Clockers Corner, Santa Anita Racetrack), but I guess one day off a week will help keep my posts fresh.

With 26 days to go, wouldn't you like to know more about the facility that will host this international event? Watch for my upcoming blogs with the inside scoop and pix of the Receiving Barn (where all the runners will stop on their way to the races), Santa Anita's famous "European style" saddling paddock and walking ring, the beautiful Turf Club, and much more!

Thanks for reading, and keep your comments coming!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Zenyatta is 8 for 8!

Zenyatta in paddockZenyatta in the paddock before the Lady's Secret

Zenyatta romped in the Grade 1 Lady's Secret at Oak Tree at Santa Anita, cinching an entry in the Breeders Cup Ladies Classic on Oct. 24!

Racing Smack with Jim Rome was All That!

Yesterday I had the honor of interviewing sports radio talk show host, JIM ROME, at Santa Anita Racetrack, where his horse HOT 'N DUSTY (owned in partnership with M. Auerbach and Little Red Feather Racing) won the 6th race. And -- OMG! -- seriously, he is one of the most gracious people I have ever interviewed! The interview will be a feature in the upcoming Fall issue of Owners' Circle magazine.

Rome is totally hooked on racehorse ownership ("hook, line, and sinker," as he put it). Listen for his take on yesterday's race, which I bet you will hear on Monday morning's radio show, "The Jungle" -- check out Jim Rome's Website . Watch for the full profile in mid-October in the Fall Owners' Circle, in print or online at TOC Online .

Grade 1 Day Dawns at Santa Anita!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Breeders Cup Offices 2008

Breeders Cup offices 2008
With Breeders Cup World Thoroughbred Championships less than a month away, the BC staff is set to move into their new mobile offices at Santa Anita. Can you imagine a nicer place to work all day -- adjacent to the track and right next to the far turn?! Throw in the majestic San Gabriel Mountains and palm trees for a backdrop, and you couldn't find a prettier location even on a Hollywood set.

The last minute scramble for tickets is on... I'm told there are still tickets available, and I would suggest contacting Santa Anita directly (www.oaktreeracing.com/bc) if you're still looking for something. If you just want to be here, Grandstand admission will be $20, and Club House admission $50. That doesn't include a seat. There are still seats available, ranging from $300 in the Grandstand (for both days) to $1200 in the turf club (including luncheon).

Watch my blog for daily updates and a countdown to the Breeders Cup World Thoroughbred Championship at Oak Tree, Santa Anita -- Friday and Saturday, October 24 and 25, 2008.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Morning in Paradise

Ah, yes... another morning at Clockers Corner, Santa Anita, Arcadia, California. Yesterday was a successful opening day at Oak Tree, where we saw increases over last year's opening day in on-track attendance, as well as overall handle (only on-track handle did not reflect an increase).

So what's the buzz at C2 (Clockers Corner) this morning?

Yesterday, Oak Tree fans received a stein that featured a picture of trainer Richard Mandella, commemorating his unprecedented four victories in the 2003 Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships at Oak Tree. I loved Mandella's quote that appeared in the L.A. Times this morning: "I hope they don't use it as a urinal." When I asked him about it this morning, he said, "Did they really run that?!"

Our weather is so fabulous during this race meet, that it's a bit like the Rose Parade in Pasadena -- people all over the world watch it (in the midst of their bad weather) and want to come to California. Owners and trainers actually have a pretty cool option if they want to bring new horses to race in California. The California Marketing Committee (CMC) has a plan in place to subsidize shipping costs for pre-approved horses shipping in from out of state. The program will pay $3,000 in shipping cost for new owners, and $2,000 for existing owners. The contact person at CMC is Gayle Van Leer at gayle@gaylevanleer.com.

Just Another Day in Paradise

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What's the Buzz

Biggest crowd I've seen out here in months! There is a definite feeling of excitement and optimism in the air. One of the themes I'm hearing is how the new track will be playing. A friend and handicapper from Canada said, judging by how fast the works have been, the new track looks like it will be pretty speedy. Others are saying that the increase in temperature in the afternoon will slow it down -- much like what happened at Del Mar in 2007 when the Polytrack was new. And we are definitely looking at a warm up today. It is 70 degrees now, but going up to 94. it promises to be an interesting, and exciting, day at Oak Tree at Santa Anita!

Buzz at Clockers Corner

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Pro-Ride like a sponge

The newly installed synthetic track at Santa Anita is pretty cool to look at up close. I stood at the rail this morning (see pic) and watched the impressions the horses' hooves made as they walked back to the barns. They go down about an inch then immediately spring back up. Honestly it looks like they're walking on a sponge.

Pro-Ride Up Close

Monday, September 22, 2008

BC Update

Watch for a post tomorrow morning with a photo of Santa Anita's new Pro-Ride track up close!

Synthetic Track for Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita

What: Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championship - October 24 and 25 (Friday and Saturday), 2008 - Oak Tree Racing Association at Santa Anita.
It will be here before we know it! This is the 4th Breeders' Cup to be held at Santa Anita Racetrack, and the first time Breeders' Cup has chosen a location to host TWO consecutive Breeders' Cups (yes, it will be held at Oak Tree @ Santa Anita in 2009 also!).
It is also the first one on a SYNTHETIC TRACK. Over the summer, when we were all at Del Mar for the 7-week meet, a brand new surface was installed, including a new drainage system. The new surface, called "Pro-Ride," was installed by Ian Pearse of Pro-Ride Racing International of Australia. The main thing that makes it different from the other synthetic tracks installed in recent months (Cushion Track at Hollywood Park, Polytrack at Del Mar, and Tapeta at Golden Gate Fields), is that they use a special polymer rather than a wax to bind the sand and fibers together.
I spoke to Pearse several months ago, and he explained that they had originally tried wax tracks in Australia but the extremes of cold and heat caused the wax to degrade. It literally melted off the sand. So Pearse developed a polymer specifically for use on synthetic tracks. This is how he described it: "It's all about the molecular structure of the binder. It's multi chained, so you can make it like putty, whereas with waxes you can't do that."
Horses have been training on the surface for about 2 weeks, and the buzz I've heard so far is mostly good. Last week at Clockers' Corner, rider Danny Sorenson told me it feels great to him. He said that he's ridden all different caliber of horses -- from claimers to stakes horses -- on the track in the morning, and every one of them feels comfortable.
I'd love to hear from any other riders, trainers, or fans... your thoughts?