Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Sights and Sounds of Tokyo City Cup Day at Santa Anita

Picture perfect weather and a festival atmosphere prevailed Saturday, as Santa Anita celebrated Tokyo City Cup Day. Racegoers strolled through the paddock gardens amongst the many Japanese cultural exhibits and demonstrations. One could even enjoy tea and sushi.

The Tokyo City Cup is held annually at Santa Anita in honor of the friendship agreement between the track and Tokyo City Keiba. Also known as Ohi Race Track, Tokyo City Keiba (TCK) is the home of racing in the heart of the Tokyo metropolis. TCK pioneered the "Twinkle Race" -- the very popular night time racing in Japan.

Cultural exhibits and performances included flower arranging (Kado), Karate, a traditional Japanese stringed musical instrument (Koto), the art of traditional Japanese paper folding (Origami), Japanese swordsmanship (Shinkendo), Japanese calligraphy (Shodo), Japanese Taiko drum, and tea ceremonies.

An exciting and colorful Soma Nomaoi exhibition was also performed on the racetrack by costumed and armored Samurai horsemen, re-enacting traditional maneuvers boasting a history of more than 1,000 years.

Tokyo City Cup Day is a wonderful celebration of the sharing of culture, and I look forward to it every year!

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Pamplemousse: Good Looking AND Talented!

Last week The Pamplemousse tested his artistic talent by painting a picture with Sharla Sanders of Equine Expressions at trainer Julio Canani's barn at Santa Anita. I was in the Bay Area (at Golden Gate Fields) and couldn't be there in person, but I was able to get a copy of a video from CERF (California Equine Retirement Foundation), sponsors of Equine Expressions.

Equine Expressions' mission is to create artwork by renowned Thoroughbreds to raise funds to care for retired racehorses. The concept was developed by CERF after Re-Run (who create the "Moneighs") and CERF agreed to "split" the U.S. and focus on their respective coasts. According to Sanders, many of California's leading trainers have been very supportive of the project, including Canani, Doug O'Neill, Mike Mitchell, Dan Hendricks, Brian Koriner, and Richard Mandella. 100% of the proceeds go to the care and feeding of retired racehorses at CERF.

Paintings start at $300 and go up, depending on the horse. Top sellers have been paintings by Lava Man ($1,200) and The Tin Man ($1,500).

"I will paint with current and ex-racers, stallions at breeding farms, geldings, and someone's backyard racehorse," Sanders said. "If it's a horse, I will paint with it!" Rest assured that the horses are using non-toxic, water based paints. Sharla Sanders can be contacted at sosillyfilly@gmail.com.

Apparently The Pamplemousse is not only good looking and a talented runner, but artistic as well! Enjoy the video.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Thousands of Jockey Silks at Santa Anita

I visited the Silks Room at Santa Anita this week, and was absolutely enthralled by all the gorgeous colors and the sheer number of jockey silks in one location. There are between 6,000 and 7,000 sets of silks (also called "colors") in the Santa Anita silks room.

Each racehorse owner, stable, or partnership racing at the meet has a set in its own distinctive design and colors. At Santa Anita, all the silks are catalogued and overseen by Jake Mullins, who pulls and organizes the silks to be worn by each jockey, for every race each race day, having them ready for quick changes between races. At the end of the race day, all of that day's silks are laundered and re-hung. Talk about a lot of laundry!

Worldwide, there are more than 30,000 different jockey silks designs registered with The Jockey Club. Owners racing in New York are required to register their colors with The Jockey Club; however, in California owners must simply register their silks design with the racing office at the track.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Pamplemousse Works Wednesday at Santa Anita

The Pamplemousse, Alex Solis up.

The Pamplemousse worked 6 furlongs in 1:13.00 on Wednesday morning at Santa Anita. As usual, jockey Alex Solis was up.

On hand for the early morning workout were owners Alex Solis Jr., Jeff and Bill Strauss, and Tom Murray. Trainer Julio Canani is in Dubau with Grade 1 winner Hyperbaric, a contender for the Dubai Duty Free on Saturday.

First Two-Year-Old Race of the Year at Santa Anita

The first two-year-old race of 2009 was run Thursday at Santa Anita. The two-year-old races are run on the all-weather track at a distance of 2 furlongs, and no whips or blinkers are allowed.

The winner was the #8 horse, Turbo Time, ridden by Danny Sorensen. Miss Dubai ran a close second.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Ron Bob Schooling for Trainer Julio Canani at Santa Anita

Ron Bob, trained by Julio Canani.

Here's a lovely grey I watched schooling in the paddock at Santa Anita on Friday for trainer Julio Canani. Ron Bob is a 5-year-old gelding by Dumaani and runs in the 9th race at Santa Anita Saturday, a starter allowance at about 6-1/2 furlongs on the hillside turf course.

Ron Bob had a bullet work last Wednesday, 3/18/09, going 5 furlongs in :58.00 -- the fastest of 46 works at the distance.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Miss Silver Brook Works at Santa Anita

Miss Silver Brook (grey, outside), Alex Solis up.

Miss Silver Brook looked like "Miss Silver Bullet" tearing down the stretch at Santa Anita Wednesday morning. Trained by Julio Canani and ridden by jockey Alex Solis, Miss Silver Brook was clocked in :59.40 for the 5 furlong work.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Indian Blessing Set for Golden Shaheen in Dubai

Indian Blessing at Santa Anita.

Indian Blessing arrived in Dubai on Tuesday, March 17, and worked Monday morning, March 23, in preparation for the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen at about 6 furlongs on the dirt. Indian Blessing was clocked Monday going a half mile in about :47.80, under the supervision of Jimmy Barnes, assistant trainer to Bob Baffert.

Barnes is overseeing training in Dubai, while Baffert remains closer to home for this weekend's Sunland Derby at Sunland Park in New Mexico, then the Santa Anita Derby on April 4th, in which his Kentucky Derby hopeful Pioneer of the Nile will be one of the favorites.

Mythical Power to Run in Sunland Derby

Mythical Power schooled at Santa Anita on 3/20/09.

Mythical Power looked absolutely stunning as he schooled for trainer Bob Baffert in the Santa Anita paddock before shipping to New Mexico for the 7th running of the $800,000 Sunland Derby on Sunday. Formerly known as the WinStar Derby, the Sunland Derby is a Kentucky Derby prep for 3-year-olds at 1-1/8 miles on a dirt track.

In his last start, Mythical Power won a maiden special weight at one mile on the all weather track at Santa Anita. A field of 12 was entered today for the Sunland Derby, including another Baffert runner, Mayor Marv, and Kelly Leak, trained by Santa Anita-based Mike Machowsky.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Shoeing a Horse for Santa Anita's Synthetic Track

Farrier Mike Lynn at work, Santa Anita Racetrack.

The Queen's Plate XT is one of the most commonly used horseshoes these days at Santa Anita, where horses train and race on the Pro-Ride synthetic track.

Watch farrier Mike Lynn as he shoes a horse in the shedrow at Santa Anita. As Lynn explains, this particular shoe has a very low profile and offers less resistance. This type of shoe, in contrast to one with obvious toe grabs, allows the horse's foot to slide rather than stick on the synthetic surface. Enjoy the video!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Update on The Pamplemousse

The Pamplemousse returns from a gallop on Monday morning at Santa Anita.

The Pamplemousse looked fabulous returning from a two-mile gallop on the main track at Santa Anita this morning. With the Santa Anita Derby less than two weeks away, it's great to see him looking fit and well filled out. He was, of course, as relaxed as ever as he walked leisurely back to trainer Julio Canani's barn.

The 'Mousse is scheduled for a workout Wednesday morning, and I hope to catch a video of that to post on this blog.

The Final Resting Place for Silky Sullivan at Golden Gate Fields

The final resting place of Silky Sullivan at Golden Gate Fields.

Saturday I took a day trip up to Golden Gate Fields in Northern California, where I had the pleasure of visiting with well-known Thoroughbred owner Kjell Qvale in the turf club. The 89-year-old Qvale – still sharp as a tack – is an iconic figure at Golden Gate Fields, where he served as president for 25 years. He has raced horses in Northern California for more than 50 years, and among the many champions he has owned was Silky Sullivan. Qvale purchased Silky Sullivan after his racing days were over and owned him until he passed away in 1977 at the age of 22.

Earlier Saturday morning, just after my arrival at the track, I trudged out to the Infield to take a picture of the memorial that marks the final resting place of Silky Sullivan. The great horse is buried beneath flowering shrubs surrounded by a white picket fence, halfway between the tote board in the center of the Infield and the far turn of the grass course.

Silky Sullivan, a chestnut colt by Sullivan foaled in 1955, was well known for his come-from-behind racing style. Called the “California Comet,” Silky would gallop along in a race until the rest of the field was many lengths in front of him, then switch to rocket gear and blow past them. He once came from 41 lengths back to win a 6 1/2-furlong allowance race.

Purchased as a yearling in Del Mar by Phil Klipstein and Tom Ross, Silky Sullivan made 27 career starts, with 12 wins, 1 second, and 5 thirds. Silky Sullivan won the Golden Gate Futurity in 1957 and the Santa Anita Derby in 1958. His total career earnings were $157,700, a substantial amount for the 1950’s. He was trained by Reggie Cornell, the uncle and mentor of today’s Hall of Fame trainer, Ron McAnally.

After his retirement in 1965, Silky Sullivan was paraded each year at Golden Gate Fields for Saint Patrick's Day and at Santa Anita for the Santa Anita Derby. He was wildly popular with California racing fans, and even had his own secretary to answer his mail.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Racehorse Chiropractor

Chiropractor Nick Sopha with Maui Mark at Santa Anita

I've been a runner for more than 20 years, but only discovered what a huge difference chiropractic adjustments can make about 8 years ago, when I started going to Dr. Nick Sopha. I found him in what many would consider an unlikely place -- the racetrack. You see, Dr. Sopha treats horses as well as humans. Believe it or not, chiropractic adjustment can play an important part in maintaining equine health. One day a week, when he comes to Santa Anita to work on horses, he also sets up his portable chiropractic table right in the shedrow and treats riders, trainers, and other racetrack employees in need of his care.

After a chiropractic adjustment, my gait feels smoother and more comfortable, and my speed even increases because I'm moving more efficiently. Best of all, when I get regular adjustments (at least every 2 or 3 months), I am much less likely to develop problems or suffer injuries. It only makes sense to me that equine runners would experience the same type of benefits.

Dr. Sopha recently agreed to let me videotape one of his sessions with Thoroughbred racehorse Maui Mark at Santa Anita. Maui Mark definitely looked happier after his adjustment -- and I know just how he feels! Enjoy the video!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Historic San Luis Rey Handicap at Santa Anita Saturday

Spring House, trained by Julio Canani

Spring House heads a field of seven for Saturday's $150,000 San Luis Rey Handicap at 1-1/2 miles on the turf at Santa Anita. Trained by Julio Canani for R.D. Hubbard, Spring House was an impressive winner of the Grade 2 San Luis Obispo Handicap at the same distance on the turf on Feb. 22.

This race was named for Mission San Luis Rey de Francia, founded in 1798 and named for St. Louis IX (1215-1270), King of France. Although it was the last of the California missions to be founded in the south, it came to be one of the largest and wealthiest. Located in Oceanside, just a few miles from Del Mar Racetrack, it is still a thriving mission parish, complete with a museum and gift shop.

The 58th Running of the San Luis Rey Handicap (Grade II)
$150,000 Guaranteed

One Mile And One Half (Turf) - Four Year Olds and Up

PP Horse               YOB  Sex Wt  Jockey         Trainer
1 YOU GOT ME ROCKING '04 G 113 Baze, T Mitchell, Mike
2 BONJOUR (NZ) '00 G 114 Talamo, J Knapp, Steve
3 MEDICI CODE (GB) '04 G 115 Rosario, J Vienna, Darrell
4 MIDSHIPS '05 C 113 Espinoza, V Frankel, Robert
5 SPRING HOUSE '02 G 118 Solis, A Canani, Julio
6 ARTISTE ROYAL (IRE) '01 R 118 Bejarano, R Drysdale, Neil
7 ON FIRE '04 G 112 Blanc, B Abrams, Barry

Thursday, March 19, 2009

No Thinkin Allowed Schools for Start on First Day of Spring

No Thinkin Allowed, trained by Rafael Becerra

Spring begins tomorrow, and the horses seemed to sense that as they walked from the barn area, down the horse path lined with pepper trees, past the sparkling fountain and into the walking ring and saddling paddock in their morning schooling exercises.

One that caught my eye was No Thinkin Allowed, a lovely 5-year-old grey gelding by Thinkin Problem trained by Rafael Becerra. No Thinkin Allowed runs in tomorrow's 8th race -- the final leg of the Pick Six, which has a carryover of $97,717.

Two Nice Looking Runners for Today's 6th at Santa Anita

J P Jammer Schooling at Santa Anita for trainer Rafael Becerra

I watched two very nice looking colts schooling in the Santa Anita paddock yesterday morning, both of them preparing for today's sixth race, an allowance event at 1-1/16 miles on the main track.

J P Jammer, a 3-year-old colt by Old Topper, looked fit and healthy schooling for trainer Rafael Becerra.

Unusual Smoke, trained by A.C. Avila

And Unusual Smoke, a 4-year-old Unusual Heat colt, was also on his toes and looking sharp for trainer A.C. Avila. Post time for the 6th is 3:36 PM (pst).

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Alex Solis Works The Pamplemousse at Santa Anita

The Mousse is Loose!

The Pamplemousse worked five furlongs in :59.80 with jockey Alex Solis up this morning for trainer Julio Canani. On hand to watch the workout were three of the colt's owners, Jeff and Bill Strauss and Tom Murray, as well as the crew from Animal Planet taping footage for the upcoming season of "Jockeys."

The video takes you from Canani's barn to the track and back, and includes an interview with Jeff Strauss. Enjoy!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day from Santa Anita!

Everyone's a bit Irish on St. Paddy's Day, especially at the racetrack. It's hard to find a more superstitious crowd than the horsey set, nor one that believes more fervently in luck. With St. Patrick's Day falling on a dark day (no racing) this year, Santa Anita was all decked out on Saturday instead.

As is the annual custom, the fountains were turned bright shamrock green. Hornblower Jay Cohen donned a green jacket for the day and treated the crowd to some Irish tunes. And Santa Anita's Bobby Warren (of the Operations Department) dressed up in his traditional leprechaun outfit to assist with the much-anticipated St. Pat's Pitch -- a horseshoe throwing contest in which several lucky fans get the chance at winning one million dollars. No one threw a ringer this year.

Of course, all this was secondary entertainment to an exciting race card, including the San Felipe Stakes, won by California Derby hopeful Pioneer of the Nile. The "luck of the Irish" smiled on many in the crowd, as the 1 to 9 shot romped home for the win.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Jockey Kayla Stra Featured on BlogTalk Radio

Kayla Stra returns from an early morning workout at Santa Anita.

I recently listened to a super interview with Southern California jockey Kayla Stra on The Body Politic on Blog Talk Radio. The interview, "Portrait of A Contender," is the first in a special series on American thoroughbred racing featuring the biggest players in the sport. The interview, which aired on March 5, will air repeatedly throughout this month and will also be available indefinitely as a podcast.

Providing a great boost for women, and Thoroughbred racing, the world's major news-wires and newspapers picked up the release on the Stra interview -- many giving it page #1 placement, including: United Press International, CBStv.com, The San Francisco Chronicle, Houston Chronicle, The Denver Post, The Chicago Daily Herald, The Salt Lake Tribune, The Hollywood Reporter, Media Industry Today, among 50 others.

To read the full press release, go here. (Copyright Ravenridge Media)

The Pamplemousse Top's Larry Zap's Derby List

Anyone who puts The Pamplemousse in the #1 spot is okay by me...

Larry Zap's Top Ten Kentucky Derby List
1  The Pamplemousse 
Have to believe in this freak of nature.

2 Friesan Fire
Owns the Fairgrounds and will appreciate Derby

3 Pioneer of the Nile
Improving colt is probably the horse with the most

4 I Want Revenge
Showed how strong the Californians are...loved him
since day one.

5 Dunkirk
Lite on experience, but heavy on talent...mommy won
the KY Oaks

6 Rachael Alexander
Filly has run as fast as any of the boys around two
turns...reminds me of Eight Belles.

7 Papa Clem
Ran well at Fairgrounds considering shipping and the
slop...this guy will love the Derby distance.

8 Quality Road
His win in the Fountain of Youth was terrific...
distance is a question.

9 Mr. Hot Stuff
On the improve...his Sham was BTL and he came out
of it awesome...surprise package.

10 Giant Oak
Illinois bred can really run...needs a little luck...
I still believe he has the quality.

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 .

Friday, March 13, 2009

Pioneer of the Nile Heads Field for San Felipe Stakes

A field of seven Derby hopefuls entered for Saturday’s Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes at 1-1/16 miles at Santa Anita, including the west coast’s leading Derby candidate, Pioneer of the Nile.

The San Felipe is considered the final steppingstone to the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby on April 4. The race is named for Valle de San Felipe Rancho, an 1846 land grant made to Felipe Castillo and located in San Diego County.

In its 71-year history, ten San Felipe winners have gone on to take the Santa Anita Derby: Your Host (1950), Determine (1954), Hill Rise (1964), Terlago (1970), Solar Salute (1972), Affirmed (1978), Sunday Silence (1989), Free House (1997), Point Given (2001), and Buddy Gil (2003). Determine, Affirmed, and Sunday Silence also went on to capture the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May.

Pioneer of the Nile will be seeking his third graded stakes win for trainer Bob Baffert and owner Zayat Stable. Already under his belt are victories in the CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park and Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita. His regular jockey, Garrett Gomez, has the mount.

Here’s the entire field as listed on the overnight; however, it appears there will likely be some scratches, including that He's Really Big, New Bay, Feisty Suances and Kelly Leak.

The 72nd Running of the San Felipe Stakes (Grade II) $200,000 Guaranteed - One Mile And One Sixteenth Three-Year-Olds
PP Horse              Age Sex Wt   Jockey        Trainer
1 HE'S REALLY BIG 06 C 115 Gryder, A Becerra, Rafael
2 PIONEEROF THE NILE 06 C 122 Gomez, G Baffert, Bob
3 FEISTY SUANCES 06 C 115 Flores, D Vienna, Darrell
4 SHAFTED 06 C 115 Rosario, J Casse, Mark
5 JERANIMO 06 C 115 Blanc, B Pender, Michael
6 KELLY LEAK 06 C 115 Espinoza, V Machowsky, Michael
7 NEW BAY 06 C 115 Talamo, J Mandella, Richard

Ditto This Schooling for Trainer Canani

Ditto This will return to the races following an 8-week rest, in today's 2nd at Santa Anita, a $40,000 claimer for 4-year-old fillies at one mile on the turf. David Flores gets the mount for trainer Julio Canani and owners Gold & Gold LLC.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Pamplemousse Takes a Jog at Santa Anita

The Pamplemousse was out for a morning jog on the main Santa Anita track for trainer Julio Canani Tuesday morning. He's looking good as ever, and I look forward to following his progress over the next few weeks leading up to the Derby!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Indian Blessing Ready for Dubai

Champion filly Indian Blessing enjoyed a gallop over Santa Anita's synthetic surface on Tuesday and is set to take on the males in the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen on Mar. 28. The 4-year-old daughter of Indian Charlie has been working forwardly for trainer Bob Baffert.

In her last race, Indian Blessing captured the La Brea Stakes at Santa Anita on Dec. 27. Owned by her breeders, Hal and Patty Earnhardt, she has won five Grade 1 stakes, earned more than $2 million, and was voted Champion Two-Year-Old Filly of 2007 and Champion Female Sprinter in 2008.

Suit Yourself Looking Good for Wednesday's 7th at Santa Anita

Suit Yourself looked great schooling for trainer Oscar Garcia this morning in the Santa Anita paddock. Another crisp, clear, slightly breezy day had all the schoolers on their toes.

Suit Yourself runs in tomorrow's 7th at Santa Anita, an allowance race for 4-year-olds and up at about 6-1/2 furlongs on the hillside turf course. Alex Solis has the mount.

Happy Birthday Rosie!

There was a very special celebration for everyone's favorite lady at Clockers' Corner, Santa Anita, this morning. Rosie Ybarra is known as the face of Clockers' Corner to the trainers, riders, owners, track employees and other regulars at the morning workouts, where she has been serving up coffee, breakfast and warm smiles for as long as I can remember!

Rosie always knows when a trainer or jockey has a birthday, and makes sure there's a cake to be shared by all. It was only fitting to see she had already received a couple of bouquets early this morning when I stopped by -- one of them with money leaves.

Happy Birthday, Rosie -- and many more!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Zap! of the Week: Einstein Wins the Big 'Cap!

Larry Zap takes you from the saddling paddock to the winner's circle for an up-close look at Saturday's $1 million Santa Anita Handicap and the winner, Einstein. Enjoy!

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 .

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Synnin and Grinnin Schools for the Honest Lady Stakes

Synnin and Grinnin, owned by Boston Red Sox pitcher Brad Penny (formerly of the Los Angeles Dodgers), schooled for trainer Howard Zucker during Thursday's 6th race at Santa Anita in preparation for the Honest Lady Stakes on Saturday for fillies and mares, 4 years old and up, at 6 furlongs.

Breezy conditions had the Thoroughbreds slightly on edge Thursday afternoon, but Synnin and Grinnin definitely looked sharp.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Monba Schooling for Todd Pletcher

Trainer Todd Pletcher schooled Monba, winner of the Grade 1 Bluegrass Stakes at Keeneland in 2008, at Santa Anita on Friday morning. Monba runs in Saturday's $1 million Santa Anita Handicap. Edgar Prado has the mount for owners Starlight Stable, Lucarelli & Saylor.

Cowboy Cal Schooling for the Santa Anita Handicap

Cowboy Cal schooled Friday morning for trainer Todd Pletcher at Santa Anita in preparation for Saturday's $1 million Santa Anita Handicap. Cowboy Cal, winner of the Grade 2 Strub Stakes at Santa Anita on Feb. 7, was schooling with stablemate Monba. Monba and Cowbay Cal were first and second in the Grade 1 Bluegrass Stakes at Keeneland last April.

John Velazquez, who has the mount on Cowboy Cal in the Big 'Cap, will stay over for a special ceremony on Sunday, when he will receive the coveted George Woolf Award.

Blue Exit Schools for Big 'Cap at Santa Anita

I had the pleasure of watching this big, beautiful colt school for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer during the 2nd race at Santa Anita Thursday. He looked absolutely smashing as he went through the paces in preparation for Saturday's $1 million Santa Anita Handicap.

Blue Exit was runner-up to Cowboy Cal in the Grade 2 Strub Stakes at Santa Anita on Feb. 7. For anyone who likes to play hunches, I might add that I recently dreamt about a blue horse....

Greg Gilchrist Takes Two Stakes Runners to Gulfstream Park

Northern California based trainer Greg Gilchrist will send out two very nice mares owned by the Estate of Harry Aleo in stakes at Gulfstream Park this weekend.

Wild Promises, a 5-year-old daughter of Wild Event, will be the likely favorite in Saturday's $100,000 Honey Fox Stakes. In December, I was very impressed watching Wild Promises gallop in the morning at Golden Gate Fields.

Victorina, a 6-year-old mare by Delaware Township, will run in Sunday's $75,000 Ocala Stakes. She has won both of her starts this year -- the Paseana Handicap at Santa Anita on Jan. 2 and the Campanile Stakes at Golden Gate Fields in Feb. 7. Jockey Edgar Prado picks up the mount on Victorina.

Best of luck to the NorCal connections!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Coco Belle Schools for The Honest Lady Stakes at Santa Anita

Coco Belle schooled for trainer John Sadler during the first race at Santa Anita on Wednesday. She will run in The Honest Lady Stakes, for fillies and mares four years old and up at 6 furlongs, on Saturday at Santa Anita. Mike Smith has the mount for owners Jerry and Ann Moss.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Velazquez to Receive Santa Anita's Woolf Award Sunday

Statue of George Woolf, Santa Anita paddock.

Edited Santa Anita press release.

John Velazquez
, winner of the 2009 Santa Anita George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award, will receive the prestigious honor Sunday, March 8, in a ceremony between races in the Santa Anita winner’s circle. Velazquez will be joined by many former winners of the award, which was instituted by Santa Anita in 1950. By a vote of his peers nationwide, Velazquez was selected over four other finalists: Gary Baze, Calvin Borel, Javier Castellano and David Flores.

The winner’s trophy is a replica of the full-size statue of George Woolf which adorns Santa Anita’s Paddock Gardens area. The statue was created through donations from the racing public after Woolf’s death following a spill at Santa Anita on Jan. 13, 1946.

Woolf, who was regarded as one of the greatest big-money riders of his era, was affectionately known as “The Iceman” in reference to his cool under pressure, and was revered by his colleagues as a fierce competitor and consummate professional. The award, which honors and recognizes riders whose careers and personal character earn esteem for the individual and the sport of Thoroughbred racing, is regarded as one of the most prestigious honors in the racing world.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Zap! of the Week: Select Plays at Calder Sale

Larry Zap’s Select Plays
Fasig-Tipton Calder Selected Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale
Tuesday, March 3, at Calder in Miami, FL.

Today is a stern test for the thoroughbred market as Fasig Tipton conducts its premier two year old in training sale at Calder...a couple that caught my eyes and scored a high VI (visual index):

#88 Medaglia d'Oro - Babeinthewoods colt
This one is very gratifying to me because he was my favorite horse I saw at Keeneland September yearling sale in 08... I tried to buy him for my client at that sale - Owners Stable, but came up short- he sold for $180k and should bring good money today... he has the look of a Derby horse and his pedigree is awesome... he is by hot sire and great racehorse Medaglia d'Oro and is out of a mare who is the half sister to the dam of House of Fortune, who I selected back in the day at the old Del Mar yearling sale. This is the female family of the very brilliant Delicate Vine...he was foaled march 9 2007.

#127 Distorted Humor- Dawn Princess filly
What an athletic, balanced and powerfully made filly... she has all the makings of a top class filly... she would have a big edge at two, but will grow into a nice three year old filly as well... her pedigree has a good mixture of stamina and speed... her sire is one of the best in the world and her first three dams were all stakes winners... her third dam produced the great filly and breeders cup juvenile filly champion Countess Diana... it's all there...s he was foaled march 10 2007.

#174 Ghostzapper- Holiday Runner filly

This filly has an elegance to her that whispers class... no doubt will be the most sought after filly in the sale...s he is by the great racehorse Ghostzapper, who will be a great sire too and her dam could really run as well... Holiday Runner at two beat the boys on Derby day at Churchill Downs and has been well received as a broodmare. Two years ago her Street Cry filly brought 1 million at this very same sale and her name is Seventh Street, who was a much the best 2nd in the 2009 Grade 2 Barbara Fritche stakes... this filly is a runner... she was foaled April 15 2007.

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 .

California's Synthetic Tracks Measuring Up in Safety Statistics

A view of Santa Anita's Pro-Ride track during Breeders' Cup 2008.

TBA blogger Left at the Gate's post today, Good News is No News, calls attention to something we need more of in racing -- positive news!

At the Feb. 26 meeting of the California Horse Racing Board, equine medical director Dr. Rick Arthur presented some very promising statistics about California's synthetic tracks. According to Arthur, “We have had one racing fatality at Santa Anita since December 31, and in Northern California we have not had a racing fatality since the Golden Gate meet started on December 26. We went back through the records going back to 2004 and could not find a major racing track with dirt that had no fatalities for a month. Apparently the rain or maintenance changes or other changes solved some of the problems."

In an industry where bad news is sensationalized, it's great to see someone pointing out something positive. Thanks, Left at the Gate!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Santa Anita Jockeys Play Basketball for Charity

The Santa Anita jockeys played the Holy Angels Varsity basketball team Thursday evening at La Salle High School in Pasadena, California. It was the 42nd annual game, which raises proceeds for the Holy Angels Athletic Department. Holy Angels is a Catholic elementary school just across Huntington Drive from Santa Anita Racetrack in Arcadia.

Jockeys participating in the game were David Flores, captain, Rafael Bejarano, Brice Blanc, Isaias Enriquez, Corey Nakatani, Joe Talamo and Kayla Stra. In addition, Mike Smith and retired jockeys Eddie Delahoussaye, Laffit Pincay Jr. and Gary Stevens lent support. The jockey team was coached by HRTV's Kurt Hoover.

The game is always a lot of fun to watch and very well attended. During half time, Nakatani represented the jockeys in a contest for the most free throws in three minutes, which he won with 27 successful shots.

The final score: Holy Angels 35, Jockeys 19.