Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Pamplemousse Schools for the Sham Stakes at Santa Anita

The Pamplemousse schooled during Friday's first race at Santa Anita for trainer Julio Canani, in preparation for today's Grade 3, $200,000 Sham Stakes at a mile and an eighth on the synthetic track. Best of luck to his connections: Canani, Alex Solis II (and jockey Alex Solis), Bienstock & Winner, and Jeff Strauss!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Turk in Saturday at Santa Anita for Bob Baffert

Turk will likely be heavily favored in tomorrow's second race at Santa Anita, a maiden special weight for 3-year-olds. He is the only one in the field with racing experience, with three career starts, two on the synthetic track at Santa Anita.

Trained by Bob Baffert for Natalie Baffert, Turk will face a group of well-bred first-time starters, including Great Legacy and Caspian.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Pamplemousse: Ready for Saturday!

The Pamplemousse just keeps getting better looking! I caught a glimpse of him out for a jog this morning at Santa Anita, and was impressed by the fact that he looks bigger and more muscular each time I see him.

The Pamplemousse is aiming for Saturday's Sham Stakes, and Trainer Julio Canani is looking like a proud papa these days!

Well Monied Tries the Turf at Santa Anita

In a previous post, I noted that Well Monied, a beautiful moving 3-year-old daughter of Maria's Mon, would be one to watch going long on the turf. She will be back in tomorrow's 8th race at Santa Anita -- a maiden special weight for 3-year-old fillies at one mile on the turf. It will be her third career start.

Well Monied ran 4th in her last start on Feb. 6, at six furlongs on the synthetic track at Santa Anita. Chantal Sutherland, who has ridden her in both of her career starts, has the mount again tomorrow. Here's a quick clip of her out on the track this morning for trainer Howard Zucker. She looked fabulous!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Lucky Baldwin's Winery at Santa Anita

On a hill overlooking Santa Anita’s famous El Camino Real turf course sits an old brick building, partially obscured from view by bushes and ancient palm trees. Built in 1876, it was once part of Lucky Baldwin’s winery.

At the turn of the 20th Century, the vast Baldwin Rancho encompassed nearly 60,000 acres. More than 700 acres were planted with grape vines in numerous varieties, covering what is now the Santa Anita Racetrack property and the Westfield shopping mall to the south.

Although the valleys of Northern California are best known today for production of world-class wines, it was Southern California that was the birthplace of the state’s now extensive wine industry. It all began when the Franciscan fathers established missions in Alta California in the 1700s, planting vines brought from Spain. San Gabriel Mission, near Santa Anita, was the location of the largest of the mission wineries.

At Rancho Santa Anita, Lucky Baldwin annually produced 100,000 gallons of wine including angelica, port, zinfandel, claret, white wines, and sherry. He also produced 30,000 gallons of brandy a year.

The winery complex consisted of the large brick building that housed the sherry and three wooden buildings for storage of other wines and brandies. A distillery was located just to the rear of the winery, as well as facilities for coopering and bottling.

Also within the complex was a house for the winemaker and his family. Blas Cuellar came to Arcadia in 1899, going to work for Baldwin as a winemaker. He and his wife, Josefa, raised six sons and six daughters on the property. Among their many descendants who settled in Arcadia is Santa Anita’s Director of Racing, Mike Harlow, Blas Cueller’s great grandson.

The old brick building has been mentioned time and again in newspaper accounts of race days at Santa Anita. Even before the track’s 1934 opening, Harry Carr wrote eloquently in the Los Angeles Times, “Nature created the setting in the limpid valley of the Santa Anita – the Sierra Madres in the background, snow-capped peaks in the distance, orange groves with golden fruit a stone’s throw distant, one of Lucky Baldwin’s old wineries in the foreground, green grass on the slopes, and gnarled California oaks on the hills. All this you see as you sit in the grand stand and gaze on the show.” 1

In 1936, a Los Angeles Times report on the opening day scene included, “Lucky Baldwin’s winery, the herd of spotted cattle and the gnarled oaks offered a peaceful pastoral beyond the backstretch and behind it all, seeming to drape from the balloon-like clouds overhead, hung the great backdrop of the Sierra Madres.” 2

In the 1950s, L.A. Times columnist Ned Cronin also waxed poetic about the winery. In a 1956 report on the San Juan Capistrano Handicap, Cronin said, “The first part of Arcadia’s answer to the Overland Express is a downhill haul that gets every horse in the race to rolling whether he wants to or not. They whiz past an old winery so fast they can’t even stop for a snifter of muscatel from Lucky Baldwin’s old brick-enclosed vat where he used to invite the folks to come over, take off their shoes and start pressing grapes.” 3

The mystique continued into the 1960s, when the historical details of California’s first Thoroughbred race – a match race held in the summer of 1852 between Don Andreas Sepulveda’s Thoroughbred mare Black Swan and former Governor Pio Pico’s Spanish horse, Sarco – were reportedly found in a bottle in Lucky Baldwin’s winery. As reported in the L. A. Times, “Historically authentic, it was, however probably planted there by Santa Anita’s Fred Purner and B.K. Beckwith to provoke mention of today’s San Juan Capistrano.” 4

The building, now used as a carpenter shop and storage facility, has weathered the years beautifully and remains as a reminder of a bygone era.

1 Los Angeles Times, Nov. 20, 1934, A1
2 Los Angeles Times, Dec. 26, 1936, pg. 1
3 Los Angeles Times, Mar. 1, 1956, B3
4 Los Angeles Times, Mar. 10, 1960, C5

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Stud Fees, Auction Prices: Good Handicapping Tools When Assessing Maidens

by Jerry McMahon

A few years back, Daily Racing Form incorporated a couple of important items into its racing Past Performances relating to breeding and auction markets. These are the current stud fee for a runner’s sire, and the auction sale price (if any) for the runner itself. Each can be helpful in assessing potential, particularly when it comes to handicapping maidens in their first few starts. When both items are included for the same horse, they can be used together to present a better picture of how the horse in question might be expected to perform.

For example, newly retired Storm Cat, sire of the recent La Canada winner, Life Is Sweet, has been one of America’s most successful stallions on the track and in the auction ring. Over the years, his stud fee has been as high as $750,000, and his auction yearlings routinely commanded seven figures. On that information alone, his progeny have always garnered respect in their first few races.

Be that as it may, there have been plenty of occasions when his sons or daughters have brought less than $100,000 at auction. Generally speaking, that occurs when a sale prospect has serious conformation defects or significant medical issues that have been uncovered prior to the auction. Astute handicappers therefore give a lot less credence to his first-time starters that have been bought at auction for a relatively small percentage of his stud fee.

We’ll use the recently completed Ocala Breeders’ Sale of Two-year-olds in Training for an example at the other end of the spectrum. Hip Number 197 in that sale was grey or roan filly by the previously unheralded sire, Concorde’s Tune.

Florida-based Concorde’s Tune currently stands for an advertised fee of $2,500. The filly in question was knocked down to the highly-experienced Irish buyer, Dr. Demi O’Byrne, for the tidy sum of $225,000, nearly one hundred times the stud fee! Of course the Paul Harvey (...the rest of the story) on this was that the filly worked an eighth in less than 10 seconds and galloped out like she could run all day. The sale price coupled with the stud fee should catch the eye of discriminating handicappers when the filly makes her first start, probably later this year.

Keep in mind that Daily Racing Form attempts to provide current stud fee information. Therefore, the fee listed on the past performance line might be substantially different than what the breeder paid at the time of conception. The trend behind the change can be just as important as the fee itself. Similarly, the auction data presented for each runner is only the most recent information available. Quite often horses have been through more than one sale prior to making their first start.

Interested fans can easily bolster their knowledge on these issues by visiting,, and Just click the free links related to stallions, sales, or auctions.

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. In his previous guest post, McMahon discussed commercial bloodstock markets and supply. Watch for his upcoming guest posts.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Academy Awards and Horse Racing Movies

Last night's Academy Awards telecast will no doubt create a surge in movie going, as well as boost in video rentals. Although it's been a few years since a horse racing movie has been part of the Oscar buzz, there are many excellent ones available for rental.

Some of those with Oscar credentials are:
  • A Day at the Races (1937)
    Nomination: Best Dance Direction

  • Kentucky (1938)
    WON: Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Walter Brennan)

  • National Velvet (1944)
    WON: Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Anne Revere)
    WON: Best Film Editing
    Nominations: Best Art Direction - Interior Decoration, Best Cinematography, Best Director.

  • Salty O'Rourke (1945)
    Nomination: Best Original Screenplay

  • The Black Stallion (1979)
    WON: Special Achievement Award for Sound Editing
    Nominations: Best Supporting Actor (Mickey Rooney) and Best Film Editing.

  • Seabiscuit (2003)
    Nominations: Best Picture, Best Art Direction, Best Cinemetography, Best Costume Design, Best Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Adapted Screenplay.
For a list of the favorites of Santa Anita horse trainers and blog readers, click here.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Pamplemousse Schooling in the Gate

Trainer Julio Canani looks on as The Pamplemousse gets some schooling in the starting gate at Santa Anita this morning.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Yummy Donuts at Santa Anita

There are certain scents that instantly transport you to another place in time. The best ones are those that awaken vivid memories of happy experiences, like the smell of something deliciously sweet baking. If you walk down the breezeway in front of the racing office at Santa Anita late in the afternoon, you will be overwhelmed by just such a delicious aroma wafting down from above.

That breezeway runs underneath Santa Anita's main kitchen, where donuts and other pastries are being made. They have been making donuts in that kitchen, in the same wonderful old donut machine, for as long as anyone at the track can remember.

On a special tour of the pastry kitchen, I was able to videotape the donut-making process and talk to pastry chef Colt Cheyne and cook Steve Chitchurwong. Chitchurwong, who has worked there 34 years, said the donut machine has been there at least as long as he has. It can produce nearly 80 dozen cake donuts per hour. The donuts are then iced or sugared by hand. There are four types -- chocolate, coconut, cinnamon sugar and plain.

According to Randy Fowler, Santa Anita's Director of Hospitality, it is fairly unusual these days for a company that is not an actual donut shop to make its own donuts. But donuts are a Santa Anita tradition, enjoyed by racetrack regulars every day from before sunrise at Clockers' Corner until late afternoon in the stands.

My tour ended with a taste of a fresh, warm coconut donut that was like a piece of heaven! Enjoy the video, but I don't recommend watching it when you're hungry.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Rail Trip Heads Allowance Field at Santa Anita Today

Jay Em Ess Stable's Rail Trip schooled at Santa Anita during Thursday's 2nd race for trainer Ron Ellis, in preparation for today's 2nd race, an allowance event at 1-1/16 miles. This lovely 4-year-old son of Jump Start is undefeated in three career starts, and looks every bit the part.

Rail Trip posted a bullet work on Sunday, going five furlongs in :59 -- the fastest of 85 works at the distance. In his last start on Jan. 30 at Santa Anita, Rail Trip was an impressive 5-1/2 length winner in an actual "rail trip" from the 1 post position at 1-1/16 miles with jockey Jose Valdivia, Jr. aboard. Valdivia has the mount again today, from post position 3.

Santa Anita Sunrise

Another gorgeous day dawns at Santa Anita Park, where we're expecting temperatures in the 70's this afternoon. For anyone within driving distance, it's another FREE Friday -- free admission, as well as dollar hotdogs, popcorn, beers, and sodas. Not to mention great racing!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

And the Winner Is... John Velazquez!

John Velazquez was named 2009 winner of the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award on a live HRTV broadcast today. Making the announcement was retired Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens, himself a Woolf Award recipient in 1996.

Velazquez, 37, currently rides at Gulfstream Park in Florida. In 1990, the native of Puerto Rico began riding in New York, where he now lives with his wife, Leona. Velazquez is a two-time Eclipse Award winner and has won six Breeders' Cup races.

The date of the Woolf Award ceremony has yet to be announced, but it is traditionally presented at Santa Anita in late March or early April.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Pamplemousse Works at Santa Anita

The Pamplemousse looked spectacular returning from his work this morning at Santa Anita. He worked six furlongs in 1:12.40 with jockey Alex Solis up, for trainer Julio Canani.

The 3-year-old Kafwain colt, winner of the Grade 3 San Rafael Stakes at Santa Anita, is still my top pick for the Derby!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Gary Stevens to Announce George Woolf Award Winner

"The Iceman"

Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens will announce the winner of the 2009 Santa Anita George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award live on HRTV, this Thursday at approximately 2:05 PM (pst). The award has been given annually since 1950 to a North American jockey, chosen by his or her peers, who demonstrates high standards of personal and professional conduct both on and off the racetrack.

This year's finalists are Gary Baze, Calvin Borel, Javier Castellano, David Flores and John Velazquez.

It is fitting that Stevens will make the announcement. Not only is he a former recipient of the Woolf Award (1996), but he also played the famed Woolf in the 2003 film Seabiscuit. Stevens, now retired, works as a full-time analyst on HRTV.

The trophy is a replica of a full-size bronze statue of George Woolf that stands in the paddock at Santa Anita Park. Woolf, who was revered by his fellow jockeys for his riding ability, competitiveness, and professionalism, died at the age of 35 following a spill at Santa Anita.

During the running of the fourth race on January 3, 1946, Woolf fell from his horse as they rounded the clubhouse turn, suffering a concussion. He was taken to St. Luke's Hospital in Pasadena, where he died the next day. George Woolf was a diabetic, and it was generally believed that he suffered a diabetic fainting spell before falling from his mount.

Known as "The Iceman" because of his renowned cool and patience while waiting for his horse to make the right move in a race, George Woolf was one of the premier jockeys of his era. In 1935, he made history when he rode Azucar to victory in the Santa Anita Handicap - the first horse race worth $100,000.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Zap! of the Week: Santa Teresita Romps in Santa Maria Handicap

Jockey Joe Talamo and Santa Teresita scored a dramatic 13-1 upset in the Grade 1 Santa Maria Handicap at Santa Anita Saturday. The 5-year-old daughter of Lemon Drop Kid registered her first graded stakes win and provided trainer Eric Guillot with his first Grade 1 victory. Marzelline and Model dead-heated for second in the 1-1/16 mile race for fillies and mares.

Enjoy some great footage from paddock to winners circle by Larry Zap!

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 .

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Ex-Jockey Tom Chapman in "Ten Wild Rides" on Dateline NBC

Tom Chapman

The dangerous world of jockeys will be spotlighted in "Ten Wild Rides" airing on Dateline NBC Sunday, Feb. 15, at 7:00 PM (pt). The segment includes a clip of a spill involving ex-jockey and now equine artist Tom Chapman. It also includes a skier encountering an avalanche and a camping trip in the woods of Southwestern Virginia that turns into a nightmare.

The footage on Chapman was produced by his son, Matt. It involves an accident at Golden Gate Fields on Feb. 3, 1989, in which Chapman rode Current Lady for Fordell Fierce.

Kayla Stra at Work, Santa Anita

Last night's episode of JOCKEYS on Animal Planet was fast paced and engrossing. Much of the story focused on female jockey Kayla Stra who faced a tough decision: should she continue to fight against the odds or pack it up and head home to Australia?

Stra is doing a superb job in JOCKEYS, and brings genuine emotion to the reality show. I'm sure I wasn't the only one cheering when she got her first win at Santa Anita.

Early today she was hard at work exercising horses at Santa Anita, where I caught a photo of her heading back to the barns, her steed blowing steam in the frosty morning air. The day dawned clear and crisp after yesterday's deluge that dusted the San Gabriels with a light snow.

Stra has the mount on Jet Set Lass in tomorrow's 5th race at Santa Anita, for trainer Tom Blincoe. I'll be rooting for her!

Friday, February 13, 2009

A Sneak Peak at Life is Sweet - Favored in Sunday's La Canada Stakes

Trainer John Shirreffs videotapes "As the Shedrow Turns."

This is too cool -- a trainer who creates and posts videos of his horses on Youtube! John Shirreffs has his own Youtube channel, and posts regular updates on his horses in training.

In this video clip, you get a nice look at Life Is Sweet, as well as Zenyatta and others, filmed Tuesday morning at Hollywood Park.

Life Is Sweet was a dominant winner of the El Encino Stakes at 1-1/16 miles on Jan. 18. A victory on Sunday would give her wins in two of the three legs of Santa Anita's La Canada Series -- the female counterpart to the traditional Strub Series. The first leg, the La Brea Handicap at 7 furlongs on Dec. 27, was captured by Indian Blessing.

Owned by Martin and Pam Wygod, Life Is Sweet will carry high weight of 123 pounds in the La Canada.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Euroglide to Face Desert Code in Sunday's Daytona Handicap at Santa Anita

Zap! of the Week: Euroglide at Santa Anita

Euroglide put in a key work Monday morning on the Pro-Ride track at Santa Anita for trainer Peter Eurton. It was his final prep for Sunday's Grade 3 Daytona Handicap at about 6-1/2 furlongs on the downhill turf course.

Euroglide was clocked going 5 furlongs in 1:00.60. He will be seeking his third straight win Sunday.

Daytona H. - Grade: 3
Four Year Old and Upward - Purse: $100,000
About Six And One Half Furlongs (Downhill turf)

Post Horse Name Age Sex Weight Jockey
1 Desert Code 5 Horse 122 Aaron T. Gryder
2 Z Humor 4 Colt 115 Garrett K. Gomez
3 Euroglide 5 Gelding 114 Michael C. Baze
4 Sky Cape 4 Colt 118 Mike E. Smith
5 Guns On the Table 4 Colt 113 Tyler Baze
6 Dark Islander (IRE) 6 Horse 115 Rafael Bejarano
7 Majestic Diamond (NZ) 6 Gelding 116 Julien Couton
8 Big Bad Leroybrown 5 Horse 113 Joel Rosario

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

JOCKEYS Continues on Animal Planet

Jockey Mike Smith at Santa Anita.

Those of you who enjoyed the premier of JOCKEYS as much as I did are no doubt looking forward to this week's installment on Friday, Feb. 13, at 9:00 PM (ET/PT) on Animal Planet. Two more half-hour episodes are scheduled.

In Episode 3, "At What Cost?" another young jockey arrives on the scene. Fresh from a string of victories in the Midwest, Brandon Meier hopes to build a racing career to rival that of his jockey father. But, like many of his fellow riders, Brandon must decide how far he will go to maintain his weight at a competitive level. Will he risk his health for success on the racetrack? And, after failing to find her way to the winners‘ circle, Kayla Stra faces a tough decision: should she continue to fight against the odds or pack it up and head home to Australia?

And in Episode 4, "Losing Grace," Mike Smith and Chantal Sutherland seek a balance between their competitive working lives and their attempt to create a home together. Things heat up between Joe Talamo and Aaron Gryder after Joe gets a win aboard a horse named for Aaron‘s daughter.

Here's a sneak preview of this week's show. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Wednesday's Santa Anita Feature Named for Great Filly La Zanzara

Santa Anita's feature race tomorrow, the La Zanzara Handicap, is named for the outstanding Irish filly who in 1975 became only the second female to defeat males in 38 runnings of the San Juan Capistrano Handicap. The San Juan Capistrano, an invitational handicap for 4-year-olds and up at about one mile and three-quarters on the turf, was also won by Miss Grillo in 1949.

Trained by the great Charlie Whittingham for Aaron and Marie Jones, La Zanzara also won back-to-back runnings of the Beverly Hills Handicap at Hollywood Park in 1974-75.

Here's the field for the La Zanzara:

La Zanzara Handicap
Four Year Olds and Upward - Fillies and Mares
Purse: $70,000 - Distance: One And One Half Miles (Turf)

Post Horse Name Age Sex Weight Jockey
1 Caprice (GER) 6 Mare 117 Rafael Bejarano
2 Powerofvoodoo 5 Mare 110 Joseph Talamo
3 Forest Melody 5 Mare 115 Victor Espinoza
4 Exquisite (NZ) 5 Mare 115 Alex O. Solis
5 Lickety Lemon 4 Filly 117 Chantal Sutherland
6 Restless Soul (GB) 5 Mare 113 Joel Rosario
7 Brushed Gold 5 Mare 115 Garrett K. Gomez

Monday, February 9, 2009

Services Tuesday for Eddie Logan

"The Footman" Eddie Logan at his stand, Santa Anita Racetrack.

Services for Eddie Logan, Santa Anita's inconic shoeshine man who passed away Jan. 31, will be held Tuesday, Feb. 10 at 11:00 a.m. at Douglass & Zook Mortuary, 600 E. Foothill Boulevard, Monrovia, CA 91016.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Pioneer of the Nile Impressive in Robert Lewis Stakes Win

Pioneer of the Nile in the winners circle at Santa Anita following his win in the Robert B. Lewis S.

Pioneer of the Nile more than lived up to expectations, as he came from off the pace for a solid win over Papa Clem and I Want Revenge in today's $200,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes. He covered the 1-1/16 miles in 1:41.90 and established himself as a leading Kentucky Derby candidate. Trained by Bob Baffert for Zayat Stable, Pioneer of the Nile was ridden by Garrett Gomez.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Pioneer of the Nile on the Derby Trail

I watched Pioneer of the Nile schooling during the 1st race at Santa Anita Thursday for trainer Bob Baffert. This big, handsome Empire Maker colt looks more like a "jock" than any horse I've ever seen! If he were human, he'd be the most popular basketball player strutting onto the court before the big game.

Pioneer of the Nile takes the next step on the Derby trail tomorrow in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita, at a mile and a sixteenth. He faces eight other contenders, including Bittel Road, I Want Revenge, Brother Keith and Shafted.

Well Monied Schools at Santa Anita

Well Monied schooling at Santa Anita Wednesday morning.

Well Monied, a lovely 3-year-old daughter of Maria's Mon makes her 2009 debut in today's 5th race at Santa Anita, a maiden special weight at 6 furlongs on the synthetic track. Chantal Sutherland has the mount for trainer Howard Zucker.

Chantal can also be seen on Friday evening at 9:00, when the new series Jockeys premiers on The Animal Planet.

The Pamplemousse Turns in a Bullet Work

The Pamplemousse was clocked going 4 furlongs in :46.60, Alex Solis up, for trainer Julio Canani on Wednesday morning. It was the fastest of 39 works at the distance.

This colt is looking more AWESOME every day to me! Notice Solis' comment directed at Canani, "He wants me to slow down a train."

Thursday, February 5, 2009

"Jockeys" Premieres Tomorrow Night on Animal Planet

The much anticipated docu-drama JOCKEYS premieres Friday, Feb. 6 at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT on Animal Planet. The series will chronicle the lives and careers of seven jockeys -- "The Icon" Mike Smith, "The Elder Statesman" Jon Court, "The Comeback Kid" Alex Solis, "The Working Man" Aaron Gryder, "The Breakout Female Star Chantal Sutherland, "The Hotshot" Joe Talamo, and "The New Girl" Kayla Stra (not pictured).

"The world of the racetrack is complex and controversial. Horse racing is one of the most popular sports in the country, and this series is charged with the high stakes, big risks, strong personalities and drama of the sport on and off the track," says Marjorie Kaplan, president and general manager of Animal Planet. "The lives of these jockeys and their mounts are on the line in every race. It's an intense existence that makes for exciting television."

Cameras will take viewers on and off the track -- from the jockeys' homes to the jock's room for a close-up look at how these athletes physically and emotionally prepare for each race. Audiences will get to know the lives of these seven jockeys, their personalities, strengths and flaws.

"So little is known about what goes into becoming a jockey, but these athletes couldn't triumph without the strength, speed and spirit of their equine partners," says Kaplan. "I think audiences will be surprised by what unfolds throughout the series."

One thing that unfolds is a love story, the relationship between Chantal Sutherland and Mike Smith. Here's a little preview:

Chantal Sutherland also spoke briefly about the show recently, after working the filly Well Monied for trainer Howard Zucker at Santa Anita.

I for one am excited and anxiously awaiting tomorrow night's show!

Derby Fever Heats Up at Santa Anita Saturday

Bittel Road Schooling at Santa Anita Jan. 30.

I've been watching Bittel Road, 4th in the CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park on Dec. 20, school this week at Santa Anita for trainer Tod Pletcher. A gorgeous Stormy Atlantic colt, Bittel Road has been handling his schooling paces with lots of class. He drew the inside post in a field of nine for Saturday's Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis Stakes for 3-year-olds at 1-1/16 miles.

He will face CashCall Futurity winner Pioneer of the Nile and runner up I Want Revenge in a stellar field of Derby hopefuls.

Here’s how the field shapes up, including jockeys and weights, in post position order:
  • Bittel Road, Velazquez, 122
  • Pioneer of the Nile, Gomez, 122
  • Papa Clem, Bejarano, 115
  • I Want Revenge, Talamo, 115
  • Mark S the Cooler, Nakatani, 115
  • Oil Man, Smith, 115
  • Brother Keith, Tyler Baze, 115
  • Shafted, Rosario, 117
  • Charlie’s Moment, Jose Valdivia Jr., 117

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Pamplemousse Cools Out After an Impressive Work

I watched The Pamplemousse cooling out at Julio Canani's barn following a very quick work this morning on Santa Anita's Pro-Ride track. Look for the video to go up this evening.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

After the Finish Line: Providing Funding for Thoroughbred Horse Rescue

Dawn Mellen

I met an extraordinary young woman at the racetrack recently. Dawn Mellen was at Santa Anita with her father to watch their horse, She's Cheeky, who ran third in the Santa Monica. As we chatted, I discovered that Mellen is not only passionate about horse racing; she is also very passionate about horse rescue and rehabilitation. So much so, in fact, that she is the President and founder of an organization dedicated to raising funds to support Thoroughbred equine rescue, After the Finish Line.

"People sometimes confuse us with an actual horse rescue," said Mellen. "We're the funding non-profit. The donations we receive are awarded to the Thoroughbred rescues throughout the U.S." After the Finish Line is a 501(C)(3) non-profit, based in San Diego, California, which supports Thoroughbred ex-racehorses and broodmares at rescue organizations while they await adoption.

"I had been involved in racehorse rescue for a decade, and over time I saw the rescues lacked funds to save and support their Thoroughbreds. Rather than opening another rescue, I wanted to be the organization that writes checks to help support them."

After the Finish Line donates to any qualified 501(C)(3) organization that has Thoroughbreds in need. Horses in need can come from the racetrack, the auctions, the breeding shed or just from someone who no longer wants them. Last year they provided support to 24 horse rescue and rehabilitation operations; this year they expect to provide funding to more than 45.

They will accomplish this by conducting fund raising events - such as the major fundraiser dinner and silent auction they will hold in Del Mar this summer - as well as through direct donations and grants.

"Last year when Eight Belles was injured and euthanized, I had a several people that donated in her honor," said Mellen. "Also, some people choose to donate a portion of their racetrack winnings."

Because she is also a racehorse owner and racing fan, Mellen has a unique perspective when it comes to Thoroughbred rescue. "We don't finger-point at the industry," she said. "We are not negative; we are racehorse owners who are compassionate about our horses. Taking care of those horses when their racing careers are over is the right thing to do."

For information about After the Finish Line, or to make a donation, visit their website.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Chantal Sutherland Works Well Monied

Jockey Chantal Sutherland worked Well Monied for trainer Howard Zucker Friday morning at Santa Anita. She was clocked going 6 furlongs in 1:12.80.

Well MoniedWell Monied at Santa Anita Park

Chantal has the mount on Well Monied, who is set to make her 2009 debut in Friday's 5th race at Santa Anita, a maiden special weight at 6 furlongs on the synthetic track. This beautiful moving daughter of Maria's Mon is one to watch, particularly going long on the turf.

Chantal can also be seen on Friday evening at 9:00, when the new series "Jockeys" premiers on The Animal Planet. See a sneak preview here.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Synnin and Grinnin Returns for Pitcher Brad Penny

Synnin and Grinnin schools in the paddock at Santa Anita, Oct. 2008.

Synnin and Grinnin, trained by Howard Zucker and owned by Brad Penny, returns in today's third at Santa Anita, an allowance race at 6 furlongs on the main track. Penny is a starting pitcher with the Boston Red Sox formerly with the L.A. Dodgers. Penny is also co-owner of Moonshine Alice in the same race.

Synnin and Grinnin won the Daisycutter Handicap at Del Mar on Sept. 3, capping a 5-race win streak, and is returning from a 3-month rest. In her last start, Oct. 17 at Santa Anita, she finished third in an allowance race at 6 furlongs on the synthetic track.

Charlie and Chris is Back in at Santa Anita

The lovely Unusual Heat colt that I watched schooling in the paddock last month at Santa Anita is entered back in today's second race, a California-bred maiden special weight at 6-1/2 furlongs on the main track. Charlie and Chris was scratched from a maiden special weight race on Jan. 9 after he was spooked and got loose during the post parade. With an early first post time for Superbowl Sunday, the second race is scheduled for approximately 11:30 a.m.

Miss Silver Brook in Today's La Habra Stakes at Santa Anita

Miss Silver Brook Returning from a morning work at Santa Anita.

Trainer Julio Canani starts the gorgeous gray filly Miss Silver Brook in today's Grade 3 La Habra Stakes for 3-year-old fillies going about 6-1/2 furlongs down the hillside turf course at Santa Anita. Alex Solis has the return call. The La Habra is the 8th race on a special Superbowl Sunday 9-race card that begins at 11:00.

Miss Silver Brook won her debut at six furlongs over Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride surface on Jan. 11. The daughter of Cozzene is owned by Anthony Fanticola and Joseph Scardino.