Thursday, April 30, 2009

"Run for the Roses: The Kentucky Derby and the Business of Horse Racing" on CNBC Tonight at 9 PM

CNBC's primetime original program, Run for the Roses: The Kentucky Derby and the Business of Horse Racing, anchored by Melissa Francis, and premiering Thursday, April 30, at 9PM and 1AM ET takes a behind-the-scenes look at the horse racing industry, spotlighting the premier race in the triple crown.

CNBC explores the continually expanding, publicly traded Churchill Downs which now includes the online wagering service, a 50% stake in Horseracing Television, a $121 million renovation of the main site, and racetracks in Chicago, Miami Gardens, Fla. and New Orleans.

"Run for the Roses" also offers a breakdown of money that surrounds this storied race including the $200 million that is pumped into the Louisville economy, the $100 million-plus in bets, and the $2 million purse.

Interview subjects include Mike Iavarone, CEO of International Equine Acquisitions Holdings, Inc./owner of past Derby champion Big Brown; Chris McCarron, Hall of Fame jockey; Steven Crist, Racing Form publisher, Andrew Beyer, Washington Post horse-racing columnist/author; John Asher, Churchill Downs historian, and Kentucky Derby legend/Hall of Fame jockey Pat Day.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

2009 Breeders' Cup To Remain at Santa Anita

It's official! The 2009 Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships will remain at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif.

Breeders' Cup officials announced today that the championships will go on as planned Nov. 6 and 7 during the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meet, despite the track's owner, Magna Entertainment Corp. (MEC), filing for bankruptcy.

MEC filed for bankruptcy in March and is currently seeking approval from the bankruptcy court to auction off its properties, including Santa Anita. If issues surrounding the bankruptcy had not been resolved, the Breeders’ Cup would have been moved to Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., which is scheduled to host in 2010.

Breeders’ Cup President and CEO Greg Avioli made the following statement on today’s court ruling:

“At a hearing earlier today, the Delaware court overseeing the MEC bankruptcy fully affirmed Oak Tree Racing Association’s lease with Santa Anita through the end of 2009. As a result we can now officially confirm that this year’s Breeders’ Cup World Championships will be held at Oak Tree at Santa Anita Park on November 6 and 7 as originally planned. Together with our colleagues at Oak Tree and Santa Anita, we are very excited to showcase another outstanding Breeders’ Cup from Southern California to our fans and horsemen around the globe. We also want to take this opportunity to thank Bob Evans and the Churchill Downs organization for agreeing to serve as back-up host site for this year’s Championships, and we very much look forward to our return to Churchill Downs in 2010.”

Hollywood Park Cancels Thursday Card

Larry Zap's Highlights from Saturday's Gold Rush card at Hollywood Park.

After live racing at Hollywood Park today, the southern California track will be dark tomorrow due to limited race entries, remaining open for simulcast wagering, including racing from Golden Gate Fields.

Racing from Hollywood Park resumes Friday, with a special first post time of 1:00 p.m. -- the only Friday matinee at the 13-week Spring/Summer Meet -- to accommodate the simulcast of the Kentucky Oaks.

With the Kentucky Derby Day program on Saturday, Hollywood Park will have an 11 a.m. first post. The entire Churchill Downs program will be carried beginning at 7:30 a.m. Pacific time.

In the video, Larry Zap provides some great on-track footage of Saturday's successful California Gold Rush Day card at the track of the lakes and flowers. Enjoy!

Read more about Zap in About.

Start Your Kentucky Derby Party with a Mint Julep!

If you'll be watching the Derby broadcast on TV, why not add to the fun with a special Derby Day menu? Of course, no Derby party would be complete without the famous mint juleps! This video from shows exactly how to put one together.

For a printed version, there's a great mint julep recipe on Food Network by chef Emeril Lagasse, which includes the "simple syrup" that is an integral part of the recipe.

Here's the basic menu for my Kentucky Derby Party:
  • Mint Juleps
  • Barbequed Shrimp Appetizer
  • Kentucky Barbequed Pork Chops
  • French Rolls
  • Potatoe Salad
  • Cole Slaw
  • Derby Pie
The barbequed pork chops are a Kentucky tradition. They use bone-in chops that are served on a bun -- a challenge to eat, but oh so yummy! Here's the recipe I'll be using: Kentucky Barbequed Pork Chops.

There are several variations of Derby Pie, but they're all versions of a chocolate-nut pie that's more like a chewy brownie in a pie crust! I use this recipe for Derby Pie.

You can get lots more great ideas for Derby Day entertaining at party central, here.

Have fun, and bon appetit!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I Want Revenge Puts in Final Work before Derby

I Want Revenge worked 4 furlongs in :47.34 at Churchill Downs this morning with jockey Joe Talamo for trainer Jeff Mullins.

Talamo indicated that he was happy with the work, which he completed just before a downpour began.

One of the stars of the highly rated Animal Planet series, Jockeys, Talamo has recently been jet-setting back and forth between Churchill Downs and Hollywood Park, where he is riding for the Spring/Summer meet that began April 22.

On Saturday, one week before the Derby, Talamo was the guest of Kurt Hoover for a live interview at Hollywood Park on "The Inside Scoop." John Chun provides a great video of the interview, in two parts, on his YouTube channel.

Monday, April 27, 2009

NTRA Reaches out to Blogosphere

There's good news for horse racing, as the industry moves forward into the 21st Century and takes advantage of the powerful marketing tools now available through the Internet.

For some time, the NTRA (National Thoroughbred Racing Association) has been at the forefront in the industry, utilizing the latest technological tools to communicate with fans and prospective fans -- including the traditionally hard-to-reach youth demographic. They have done this by establishing a presence on Facebook, Twitter, and through NTRA blogs. In addition, they have been reaching out to the fast-growing world of independant horse racing bloggers, including the formation of an online task force that offers suggestions and ideas from the front lines of the blogosphere.

Today I participated in a conference call hosted by the NTRA for Thoroughbred horse racing bloggers. The conference had a two-fold purpose: to update bloggers on what the NTRA is doing via social networking sites in the weeks leading up to each of the Triple Crown events, and to gather input and ideas -- a kind of telephonic brainstorming session. And there are some pretty exciting things happening right now!

NTRA participants on the call included Alex Waldrop and Fritz Widaman. Widaman announced that NTRA has hired Caton Bredar to do personal interviews all week on the backstretch at Churchill Downs -- with trainers, jockeys, and owners -- which will be posted regularly on NTRA will also be Twittering from the backstretch, starting tomorrow, with a continual feed of tweets from Derby connections. The interactive capabilities of Twitter will allow fans to send questions to jockeys and trainers via NTRA's Twitter Page, and have them answered on the spot! NTRA will also be sending tweets throughout the day Saturday from the track.

On his "Straight Up" blog, Waldrop said, "The Internet has opened up a whole new avenue for marketing and promoting horse racing. Our sport is tailor made for the medium. We are a fact intensive, highly interactive, opinion-driven business. If you don't think so, just read a few of the comments to my blogs and you will see that almost everyone in racing has an opinion and is not afraid to express it."

Here, here! Let's see if we can keep the ball rolling.

Two California Shippers Post Works for Kentucky Derby

Monday morning, April 27th, Churchill Downs.

Santa Anita Derby winner Pioneerof the Nile worked 5 furlongs in a controlled 1:01 under regular exercise rider and former jockey, Joe Steiner. Trainer Bob Baffert, who observed the work from the stands, indicated he was happy with the way the colt moves on the dirt track. Pioneerof the Nile had previously been training and running on synthetic tracks in southern California.

Santa Anita Derby runner-up Chocolate Candy went 5 furlongs in :59.20, the second fastest of 26 works at the distance Monday, under jockey Mike Smith. Northern California-based trainer Jerry Hollendorfer also indicated he was pleased with the way his colt runs on dirt.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Silent Soul Schools for Inglewood Handicap

Silent Soul
, a 5-year-old chestnut by Afternoon Deelites, looked absolutely smashing in the paddock at Hollywood Park Saturday afternoon, where he was schooling for trainer Dave Hofmans in preparation for Sunday's $100,000 Inglewood Handicap.

In his last race, Silent Soul won a one-mile Allowance/Optional Claiming race on the all-weather track at Santa Anita Feb. 13, beating Mr. Napper Tandy. Mr. Napper Tandy subsequently ran a close second in the Grade 2 Arcadia Handicap at Santa Anita.

Hollywood Park Schooler: Gale in the Vale

Gale in the Vale schools in the Hollywood Park paddock 4/25/09.

If you're watching the Sunday card at Hollywood Park, you might want to keep an eye out for this lovely 4-year-old bay filly, Gale in the Vale, who runs in the 9th race for trainer Howard Zucker. I watched her school in the paddock during the afternoon races Saturday, and she certainly looks fit.

Joe Talamo has the mount for owners Fast Lane Farm, WGAS 10 Racing Stable, Baneth, et al, in the claiming race for fillies and mares, 3 and up, at 7 furlongs on the synthetic track. Gale in the Vale is a Maryland-bred daughter of Two Punch.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Joe Talamo in a Live Interview at Hollywood Park

Jockey Joe Talamo interview
Kurt Hoover interviews Joe Talamo for "The Inside Scoop."

Jockey Joe Talamo unleashed some of his southern charm on a group of fans at Hollywood Park this morning in an interview with Kurt Hoover for "The Inside Scoop." Talamo spoke about several topics, including his mount on Kentucky Derby contender I Want Revenge, his upcoming races on the Gold Rush Day card at Hollywood Park, and his fitness regimen.

Blue skies and an ocean breeze are the backdrop for today's California Gold Rush Day, which features ten stakes races for California-breds. The stakes are all named for past California champions such as Snow Chief, Melair, Khaled, Fran's Valentine, B. Thoughtful, Tiznow, Grey Memo and Alphabet Kisses. Talamo has mounts for seven of the stakes races.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Sharing the Stute Pride in Kentucky Derby Contender Papa Clem

Mel Stute L.A. Times
Nowhere is news of Papa Clem more closely followed than right here at Clockers Corner, Santa Anita. Morning regulars gather around iconic trainer Mel Stute, hanging on every bit of current information about the California contender for the Kentucky Derby trained by his son, Gary.

Earlier today, Mel was proudly passing around this morning's article in the Los Angeles Times by well-known sports columnist Bill Dwyre. Dwyre brings attention to the story of the people behind the horse -- the "Hirsch-Stute team."

Dwyer's is the type of human interest story that gives life to the coverage of the Run for the Roses, and that inspires would-be racing fans to take a closer look at, and perhaps fall in love with, the sport that so beautifully weaves together the lives of humans and equines.

Papa Clem is trained by Gary Stute for owner Bo Hirsch. Warren Stute, Gary's uncle, trained for Bo's father, Clement L. Hirsch, for more than 40 years.

Mel Stute, who is still training at 81, also trained for Clement Hirsch in the early 60s, taking over for a couple of years when his brother tried a stint as a private trainer for Travis Kerr. Pressed for a story of one of his better runners from the period, Mel recalled Mary Mel -- a filly he claimed for Hirsch for $5,000 and who subsequently ran a close third against males in the 1963 Del Mar Derby.

With only 8 days to go until the First Saturday in May, the buzz at Clockers Corner will no doubt continue to escalate as we follow Papa Clem, Pioneerof the Nile, Chocolate Candy, I Want Revenge, and all of the "California connections" making their presence known in Louisville.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Harry Henson Stakes Kicks off Hollywood Park Meet

They're off and running at beautiful Hollywood Park!

Hollywood Park kicks off its 70th Spring/Summer meet Wednesday with an 8-race card highlighted by the $70,000-added Harry Henson Stakes. The 7th race on the program, the Henson is for 3-year-olds at 6 furlongs on the turf.

Harry Henson was Hollywood Park's popular race caller from 1958-1982. A jockey in the early 1930s, Henson began his career as a race caller in 1938 at the Puyallup Fair in the state of Washington. He called races at Longacres for 14 years, then at Arlington and Washington Parks in the Chicago area, before moving to Hollywood Park. Henson also called the races at Del Mar Thoroughbred Club from 1968-1982. In 1991, Hollywood Park renamed the Debonair Stakes in his honor. Henson died the following year at the age of 78.

The 65-day Spring/Summer meet will have a first post time of 1:00 p.m. Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays and 7:05 p.m. Fridays (with the exceptions of 1:00 p.m. on Friday, May 1; 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, Apr. 25; and 11:00 a.m. on Saturdays, May 2 and 16 and June 6).

Monday, April 20, 2009

Zap! of the Week: Mike Smith Works Chocolate Candy

Zap of the Week

Larry Zap brings you a beautiful, close-up look at serious Kentucky Derby contender Chocolate Candy in his first work after his nice second to Pioneer of the Nile in the Santa Anita Derby. This three year old by the great racehorse Candy Ride and trained by Jerry Hollendorfer subsequently shipped to Kentucky for his chance to run for the roses. Mike Smith has the mount for the Kentucky Derby. Smith, who stars in the Animal Planet show Jockeys, has won the race with Giacamo. Nicely narrated by Zap. Enjoy!

Read more about contributor Larry Zap in About.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Historic San Juan Capistrano Handicap Highlights Santa Anita's Closing Day Card

A view up the hill of Santa Anita's El Camino Real Turf Course.

In 1956, L.A. Times columnist Ned Cronin wrote of Santa Anita's San Juan Capistrano Handicap: “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.” 1

One of the jewels of the Santa Anita Winter-Spring meet, the turf marathon begins at the top of the hill on the historic El Camino Real course, making a slight right-hand turn, followed by a left-hand turn before crossing the main track and continuing on the turf oval. At 1-3/4 miles, it is the longest Thoroughbred grass race in America. Today marks the 70th running.

The San Juan Capistrano has been won by the likes of Seabiscuit, Noor, George Royal, Niarkos, Cougar II, and John Henry. The great trainer Charlie Whittingham won a record five consecutive runnings from 1983-1987 with Erins Isle, Load The Cannons, Prince True, Dahar and Rosedale.

A field of six are entered for today's San Juan Capistrano, including last year's winner, Big Booster and stablemate Church Service for trainer Mike Mitchell, who is seeking his third consecutive win in the historic race.

The race is named for the community of San Juan Capistrano in Orange County, which took its name from the mission established in 1775 to commemorate St. John Capistran. The mission is famous for its Miracle of the Swallows. Flocks of migratory cliff swallows return each year on March 19, St. Joseph's Day, to nest in the eaves and archways of the old mission church. According to legend, the swallows have been visiting each Spring for centuries.
1  Los Angeles Times, Mar. 1, 1956, B3

Friday, April 17, 2009

Jungle Prince Schools for Saturday's San Simeon Hcp.

Jungle Prince
looked marvelous schooling in the Santa Anita paddock during the 3rd race on Friday for trainer Victor Garcia. Jungle Prince returns to the races in Saturday's Grade 3 San Simeon Handicap for 4-year-olds and up at about 6-1/2 furlongs on the downhill turf course. The 8-year-old Sir Cat gelding has been rested since Del Mar, where he finished 7th in the Pirate's Bounty Handicap and third in the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Handicap -- both at 6 furlongs on Polytrack. He faces a field of 9, including Desert Code and Euroglide, in the San Simeon.

Saturday marks the 42nd running of the San Simeon Handicap, named for San Simeon Rancho granted to Jose Ramon Estrada by the Mexican governor of California after the secularization of the California missions. The rancho was originally attached to the San Miguel Mission.

The present-day city of San Simeon is located on the California coast just north of San Luis Obispo and is home to the famous Hearst Castle.

Here's the field for Saturday's race:

San Simeon Handicap - Grade 3
Four Year Olds and Up - $100,000
About Six And One Half Furlongs, Downhill turf

PP Horse Jockey Age Sex Wt. Trainer
1 Euroglide Michael Baze 5 g 114 Peter Eurton
2 Prussian Rafael Bejarano 4 c 115 Mike Mitchell
3 Doppio Alex Solis 7 g 115 Carla Gaines
4 Tiz West Victor Espinoza 4 c 117 Richard Mandella
5 Jungle Prince Agapito Delgadillo 8 g 116 Victor Garcia
6 Headache Julien Couton 6 g 112 Leonard Powell
7 El Merito Corey Nakatani 5 g 115 Mike Puype
8 Mr Gruff Joel Rosario 5 g 113 Ron Ellis
9 Desert Code Aaron Gryder 5 h 122 David Hofmans

Black Mamba Set for Rematch in Saturday's Santa Barbara Hcp.

Black Mamba heads out for a morning work at Santa Anita.

Black Mamba will square off with Foxysox again in Saturday's Grade 2 Santa Barbara Handicap at 1-1/4 miles on the turf at Santa Anita. Black Mamba lost last year's Santa Barbara by a nose to Foxysox. In addition to these two 6-year-old mares, the field for the Santa Barbara includes 7 other fillies and mares 4 years old and up.

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. In her last start, she finished 4th to males in the Grade 1 Hollywood Turf Cup at Hollywood Park in December.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Temple City Schools for Friday Feature at Santa Anita

Temple City
looked fabulous schooling in the Santa Anita paddock during the 1st race on Thursday for trainer Carla Gaines. The 4-year-old dark bay Dynaformer colt was preparing for the allowance feature at 1-1/8 miles on the turf on Friday's Santa Anita card. Owned by B. Wayne Hughes, Temple City will be ridden by Rafael Bejarano.

The field for Friday's feature also includes the highly regarded John Sadler-trained Globetrotter. In his most recent start, Temple City finished third in an optional claiming race at a mile on the turf on Mar. 18 -- a race in which Globetrotter was 2nd.

Camo Schooling at Santa Anita

, this lovely 4-year-old chestnut gelding by High Brite, schooled in the paddock at Santa Anita during the 3rd race on Thursday for trainer Howard Zucker. Camo runs in the 2nd race at Santa Anita on Friday, a claiming race for 4-year-olds and up going one mile on the all-weather track. "Smokin' Joe" Talamo has the mount.

Camo is owned by JoAnn Buss, Brad Penny, and WGAS 10 Racing Stable. He won at this distance on the Polytrack at Del Mar on Aug. 27. In his last race, he finished 10th in an allowance event at 1-1/8 miles on Mar. 19. Best of luck to Camo and his connections!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Pioneer of the Nile Puts in a Bullet Work at Santa Anita

In his final Santa Anita work before shipping to Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby, Pioneer of the Nile worked 4 furlongs in :46.20 on the all-weather track for trainer Bob Baffert on Wednesday morning. His regular exercise rider, Joe Steiner, was up. It was the fastest of 39 recorded works at the distance.

Unfortunately, my video recorder malfunctioned, so I was unable to record the work. However, I can tell you he looked marvelous and seemed to do it quite effortlessly!

Legendary California Training Family Has a New Shot at the Kentucky Derby

Mel and Gary Stute
Father and son: trainers Mel and Gary Stute at Clockers Corner 4/15/09.

There hasn't been this type of excitement in the Stute family since 1986, when champion Snow Chief won the Florida, Jersey, and Santa Anita Derbys. Trained by Mel Stute, Snow Chief ran 11th behind Ferdinand in the Kentucky Derby, but went on to win the Preakness and the following year's Strub Stakes and Oaklawn Handicap on his way to retiring as the all-time California-bred earner.

This year, Mel's son Gary takes Papa Clem to Churchill Downs on the heels of his impressive win in the $1 million Arkansas Derby on Apr. 11.

Papa Clem was named in honor of owner Bo Hirsch's father, Clement L. Hirsch. According to Gary Stute, "Papa Clem" was the nickname given to the elder Hirsch by Bo's children.

Clement Hirsch was a prominent California Thoroughbred owner best known as co-founder and president of the Oak Tree Racing Association at Santa Anita. The Hirsch and Stute families share a long association in California racing. Warren Stute, Mel's older brother, trained for Hirsch for more than 40 years.

A Parade of Schoolers in the Santa Anita Paddock

Horses schooling in the paddock at Santa Anita, 4/14/09.

I couldn't resist shooting a quick video of the parade of horses going through the paddock on a quiet Tuesday morning at Santa Anita. It was the last Tuesday morning of schooling before the close of the 2008-09 winter-spring meet on Sunday, Apr. 19. Judging by the number of schoolers, we should be looking at some pretty full fields for closing week!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

California Sending Four Major Contenders to Kentucky Derby

Four California-based three-year-olds are among the top contenders for the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May -- Chocolate Candy, I Want Revenge, Papa Clem, and Pioneer of the Nile.

Chocolate Candy left this morning (Tuesday) at 2:00 a.m. for Louisville. Trained by Northern California-based Jerry Hollendorfer, Chocolate Candy had a final California work on Sunday, going 5 furlongs in :59.20 with jockey Mike Smith up, at Santa Anita.

I Want Revenge, trained by Jeff Mullins, is at Churchill Downs, where he worked 4 furlongs in :50 on a muddy track this morning under jockey Joe Talamo.

Trainer Gary Stute was back at Clockers Corner this morning celebrating with his dad, legendary trainer Mel Stute, after Papa Clem's win in the $1 million Arkansas Derby on Saturday. Papa Clem shipped from Oaklawn to Churchill Downs today.

Trainer Bob Baffert said Pioneer of the Nile will have his final work over the Santa Anita all-weather track Wednesday morning and will ship to Louisville on Thursday. Look for a video of that work on this blog Wednesday evening!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter from Santa Anita

The sun coming up over the all-weather track at Santa Anita, Easter morning 2009.

The mountains sparkle in the sun, after two days of gloom and cold.

Clockers Corner is bustling with work as usual -- plus a popular "Seabiscuit Breakfast Buffet."

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Zap! of the Week: Triumphant Flight Works at Santa Anita

Zap of the Week

It's time to start thinking about Hollywood Park, which opens Wednesday, Apr. 22! Opening weekend at Hollywood showcases the very popular Gold Rush Day on Saturday, Apr. 25.

Larry Zap provides some very nice footage of Triumphant Flight, trained by Eric Kruljac, working at Santa Anita in preparation for the $250,000 Snow Chief Stakes on Gold Rush Day. Enjoy!

Read more about regular contributor Larry Zap in the About tab.

Friday, April 10, 2009

History Behind the Name: Saturday's La Puente Stakes at Santa Anita

Santa Anita's La Puente Stakes is named for an early California land grant, La Puente Rancho. The present day city of La Puente in Los Angeles County exists on the plains and hills that were inhabited by Native Americans for at least 1,000 years before the area was visited by the Portola expedition in 1769. It is said that the Portola party built a bridge made of poles to cross the arroyo at San Jose Creek. As the old Spanish term for bridge was "la puente," the area was subsequently known by that name.

Rancho La Puente belonged to the San Gabriel Mission until, after the secularization of the missions, the land was granted to William Workman and John Rowland. Workman and Rowland came to California with a wagon train of settlers along the Old Spanish Trail from New Mexico, bringing along their Mexican wives and children on the 1,200-mile journey.

In 1842, the two men applied for and received a land grant from Governor Juan Alvarado, obtaining title to the nearly 49,000-acre Rancho La Puente for $1,000 in gold and a pledge to hire the local Native Americans. The rancho prospered, with wheat crops, grist mills, cattle ranching, and wine production. The area was later known for its fruit and walnut groves, and in the 1930s the city of La Puente was known for the world's largest walnut packing plant.

Today, the city of La Puente, located about 20 miles east of downtown Los Angeles in the San Gabriel Valley, is a suburban community of over 41,000 people.

The La Puente Stakes, for 3-year-olds at one mile on the turf, will be run for the 29th time on Saturday. Last year's winner was Tiz West, trained by Richard Mandella, marking Mandella's third La Puente win. He also won the stakes in 1997 with Wild Rush and 1994 with Majestic Style. The only other trainer with a La Puente triple is Bob Baffert --with Mountain Ridge in 2002, Purely Cozzene in 2000, and Commitisize in 1998. Baffert has a good shot at a 4th La Puente win with Wall Street Wonder.

Here's the field for this year:

The 29th Running of the La Puente Stakes
$100,000 Guaranteed - One Mile(Turf) - Three-Year-Olds
1 DAPPER GENE          116  Valdivia, Jr., J  Velasquez, Danny
2 CAPE TRUTH 116 Quinonez, A J O'Neill, Doug
3 LEEDSTHEWAY 116 Talamo, J Mullins, Jeff
4 ARDEN PARK 118 Smith, M Gilchrist, Greg
5 SMOKEY LONESOME 116 Espinoza, V Sherman, Art
6 WALL STREET WONDER 116 Rosario, J Baffert, Bob
7 DOVER STREET ART 116 Baze, M O'Neill, Doug
8 CHARLIE'S MOMENT 116 Solis, A Solis, Walther
9 ROBS HERO 116 Flores, D Mason, Lloyd
10 MR. MONKEY JONES 116 Nakatani, C Hess, Sr., Robert
11 LESSON IN DECEIT 118 Barton, J McCarthy, Sean
12 BATTLE OF HASTINGS 116 Baze, T Mullins, Jeff
--Also Eligible--
13 RENEGADE STORM 116 Talamo, J Jones, Martin

Belated Bid Schools at Santa Anita

Belated Bid Schools at Santa Anita 4/9/09.

Here's a very nice looking filly I watched schooling for trainer Bob Baffert in the Santa Anita paddock on Thursday morning. Belated Bid, a dark bay daughter of Forest Wildcat, is entered in the 6th race at Santa Anita on Sunday, a Maiden Special Weight event for 3-year-old fillies at 6-/12 furlongs on the all-weather track. Owned by movie theater magnate George Krikorian, Belated Bid will be ridden by Joel Rosario, and she certainly looks ready.

In her debut, a 6-furlong MSW on March 22, Belated Bid set the pace from the inside post before tiring in the stretch to finish 9th of 10. She had a very decent workout on Monday morning, going 4 furlongs in :49.20.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Rich History and Current Interest Surround Sunday's Las Cienegas Handicap

The Avila Adobe in downtown Los Angeles, once part of Las Cienegas Rancho.

The 35th running of the Grade 3 Las Cienegas Handicap at Santa Anita on Sunday is noteworthy in more than one way.

The race will provide a final chance for jockey Garrett Gomez, who returns from Keeneland to ride Tuscan Evening, to match a Santa Anita record for most stakes wins in a single season. The record of 19 stakes wins is shared by Laffit Pincay Jr. (1982-83) and Corey Nakatani (1996-97). It will also mark Gomez's final appearance at the current Santa Anita meet, which ends on April 19.

On another note, trainer Barry Abrams will be seeking a second consecutive win in the Las Cienegas with Bel Air Sizzle, having won the 2008 running with Lightmyfirebaby.

The name of the race, like so many of Santa Anita's historical stakes races, evokes an earlier time rich in the tradition of the early California ranchos. It is named for Rancho La Cienega O' Paso de la Tijera, or simply Las Cienegas Rancho, an early land grant in southwestern Los Angeles county. The lengthy name was originally given to a series of adjoining adobe structures near the pueblo of Los Angeles, one of which is thought to be the oldest surviving building in the city. Another, known as the Avila Adobe, on Olvera Street in the downtown area, was built in 1818 and retains the honor of the oldest residence in Los Angeles.

The original land grant, approximately 4,500 acres, was made in 1843 to Vicente Sanchez by Manuel Micheltorena, the Mexican Governor of Alta California. "La Cienega" is derived from the Spanish word cienaga, which means swamp or marshland and refers to the marshes in the area between Baldwin Hills and Beverly Hills. "Paso de la Tijera," or "Pass of the Scissors," was used by the early Spanish to describe the pass into Los Angeles through the nearby hills, which resembled an open pair of scissors.

Here's the field for Sunday's Las Cienegas:

The 35th Running of the Las Cienegas Handicap (Grade III)
Purse $100,000 Guaranteed - About Six And One Half Furlongs (Hillside Turf Course)
Fillies and Mares 4 Years Old and Up

1 TROUBLE MAKER '03 M 114 Espinoza, V Robbins, Jay
2 BEL AIR SIZZLE '05 F 116 Nakatani, C Abrams, Barry
3 TUSCAN EVENING (IRE) '05 F 113 Gomez, G Hollendorfer, Jerry
4 REBA IS TOPS '04 M 117 Talamo, J Glatt, Mark
5 DAWN AFTER DAWN '04 M 118 Rosario, J Sadler, John
6 GORGEOUS GOOSE '05 F 115 Bejarano, R Puype, Mike
7 GOTTA HAVE HER '04 M 117 Baze, T Sahadi, Jenine
8 STAR OF WHITNEY '03 M 116 Gryder, A Koriner, Brian
9 MACADAMIA '04 M 113 Valdivia, Jr., J O'Neill, Doug

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Santa Anita Derby Day 5K: Running Like Thoroughbreds!

A Santa Anita Derby Day tradition for 15 years, the Derby Day 5K Run & Walk was contested over about 3.2 miles on the asphalt, cement, and sandy training track by a field of more than 3,000 human runners. The course, which started in the racetrack parking lot then wound its way through the beautiful L.A. Arboretum & Botanical Gardens, eventually took runners into the Santa Anita infield and, finally, onto the racetrack itself for the final stretch drive.

Leading the start of the race was jockey David Flores, who finished first in the "Santa Anita Horsemen" division. Yours truly finished 4th among women in that division -- not too shabby, considering I was simultaneously attempting to get some video clips for the blog! It was a ton of fun, followed up by a great party in the infield.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

In Memory of Got Koko

This morning I learned from trainer Bruce Headley that grade 1 stakes winner Got Koko died from foaling complications on Sunday, Mar. 5 after delivering a Bernardini colt at Jess Jackson’s Stonestreet Farm in Kentucky.

I will never forget the thrill of watching the gutsy filly make history at Santa Anita for Headley, who trained her for his wife, Aase, and Paul Leung. Got Koko was one of only three fillies ever to sweep the prestigious La Canada series, which she accomplished during the early part of the 2002-03 Santa Anita meet. The series consists of the La Brea Stakes (G1), El Encino Stakes (G2), and La Canada Stakes (G2).

Got Koko won seven of 15 starts and earned $960,946. She is the dam of a three-year-old filly by A.P. Indy named Koko Pop, a two-year-old colt by A.P. Indy, and a yearling colt by Ghostzapper. Rest in peace, Koko.

Greetings from The Pamplemousse

The Pamplemousse at Santa Anita, 4/7/09.

The Pamplemousse looked relaxed in his stall this morning at trainer Julio Canani's barn, posing for a photo and happily chomping on a peppermint I gave him.

According to co-owner Alex Solis II, The Pamplemousse will be out of training for six to 12 months due to a lesion on the tendon of his left foreleg. The Pamplemousse, winner of the Grade 3 San Rafael and Grade 3 Sham stakes at Santa Anita this year, was scratched from Saturday's Santa Anita Derby.

Although Saturday's turn of events saw so many people's Kentucky Derby hopes go up in smoke, it is heartwarming to know there are horsemen of such integrity caring for "The Mousse" and making the difficult decisions based on what's best for the horse. I will provide future updates on his progress.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Zap! of the Week: Latest Top Ten Derby Picks

In light of the weekend's developments, I thought it was a good time to take a look at the Kentucky Derby contenders in a fresh light. Here's Larry Zap's top ten. I would personally move Pioneer of the Nile up a notch or two, but I haven't been following the non-California horses as closely as Zap. Want to weigh in? I've added a new poll so you can vote for your favorites! Enjoy.

Larry Zap's Kentucky Derby Top Ten

1. Quality Road - I'm sold.

2. Rachel Alexandra - freaky filly is as fast as the boys, love her
natural speed.

3. I Want Revenge - loves conventional dirt racing.

4. Pioneerof the Nile - learning how to win, much upside.

5. Fresian Fire - has the pedigree and ability.

6. Dunkirk - deserves a chance to compete, he's a runner.

7. Chocolate Candy - will love the distance, improving.

8. Mr. Hot Stuff - follow this guy, would love the distance.

9. Papa Clem - should love Oaklawn, improving.

10. Musket Man - starting to believe in this underdog.

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, April 4, 2009


Santa Anita Park press release.

The Pamplemousse, 9-5 morning line favorite for today’s Santa Anita Derby, was declared a stakes scratch shortly after 10 a.m. Saturday.

“Dr. (Jill) Bailey (D.V.M. representing the Los Angeles Turf Club), during her pre-race examination, identified an issue that she brought to the attention of (trainer) Julio (Canani),” explained Dr. Rick Arthur, Equine Medical Director for the California Horse Racing Board in a telephone press conference in Santa Anita’s press box around 11 a.m.

“Julio had his veterinarian, Dr. Helmuth von Bluecher, look at the horse, and agreed there was an issue that needed further diagnostics, and they scratched the horse, because what needed to be done couldn’t be done between now and race time (post time for the Santa Anita Derby was listed at 2:40 p.m.),” Arthur continued. “Julio erred on the side of the horse, which they should have done, and in line with the type of horseman he (Canani) is.”

Co-owner Alex Solis II confirmed that a soft-tissue issue necessitated the scratch. “The tendon had a little heat and as a result, Julio decided to scratch him. We’ll scan the tendon and evaluate it and go from there,” he said. “We’re not going to take any chances with him.”

Arthur reiterated that although Bailey, von Bluecher and himself agreed there was an issue with the tendon. “This is a stakes scratch. He is not on the vet’s list, and frankly, I wouldn’t talk about the specifics of anything like that. It’s inappropriate for obvious reasons . . . You can scratch a horse in stakes races up to an hour before post time . . . Julio still has goals for this horse.”

Arthur said Dr. Bailey’s examination “probably was a little after seven (a.m.), and Dr. von Bleucher probably got to the barn about 9:30. They sent the horse out (to the track) and trained and looked at the horse a little bit later. Julio understands what Dr. Bailey’s concern was, and when it was pointed out to him, he became concerned as well, so I think everything worked the way it was supposed to work.

“Julio obviously is terribly, terribly disappointed . . . We’ve been in this game long enough to know that the Derby trail breaks a lot of hearts.”

Friday, April 3, 2009

Chocolate Candy Schools for Jerry Hollendorfer

Chocolate Candy, the Northern California based Derby contender, schooled at Santa Anita during the 5th race on Friday for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. Chocolate Candy will face The Pamplemousse, Pioneer of the Nile, and 7 other 3-year-olds in Saturday's $750,000 Santa Anita Derby.

The Pamplemousse Schools for the Santa Anita Derby

The Pamplemousse looked awesome schooling in the Santa Anita paddock Friday afternoon during the 4th race, in preparation for Saturday’s Santa Anita Derby.

The Grade 1, $750,000 Santa Anita Derby, for 3 year olds at 1-1/8 miles, is the final west coast prep for the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May. The Pamplemousse is the likely favorite in a field of ten 3-year-olds, including Pioneer of the Nile and Chocolate Candy.

The strapping roan son of Kafwain has won three of five starts and earned $209,280. He was a wire-to-wire winner of the San Rafael Stakes at Santa Anita on Jan. 17, then won Santa Anita’s Sham Stakes at by six lengths on Feb. 28.

The Santa Anita Derby will go as the 6th race Saturday, at approximately 2:45 p.m. (pst) on an 11-race card, which includes four other stakes races.

Pioneer of the Nile Schools for Santa Anita Derby

Pioneer of the Nile schooling at Santa Anita 3/2/09.

Impressive doesn't begin to describe how Derby hopeful Pioneer of the Nile looked schooling during the second race at Santa Anita Thursday. The colt looked spectacular -- all dappled and fit, nicely filled out, relaxed and very well behaved.

Pioneer of the Nile faces The Pamplemousse, Chocolate Candy, and seven other three-year-olds in the 72nd running of the Santa Anita Derby on Saturday, the final California prep race for the Kentucky Derby on May 2nd. In his last start, Pioneer of the Nile won the San Felipe Stakes for an enthusiastic St. Patrick's Day celebration crowd.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Post Positions Drawn for Saturday's Santa Anita Derby

Post Position Draw for 2009 Santa Anita Derby.

With picture perfect Southern California weather, the post position draw for the 72nd running of the Santa Anita Derby was held following a buffet breakfast at Clockers' Corner Wednesday morning. A crowd of owners, trainers, and race fans were on hand to enjoy the annual event.

Following the draw, race connections seated at the head table gave their takes on their various post positions, and expectations for the race. Among the speakers were trainers Bob Baffert, Julio Canani, and Eoin Harty, jockeys Garrett Gomez, Corey Nakatani, and Alex Solis, and owners David Bienstock and Alex Solis Jr. The discussion was moderated by Santa Anita's Mike Willman.

Santa Anita Derby (Grade I)
Purse $750,000 Guaranteed - One Mile And One Eighth - 3 Year Olds

1 CHOCOLATE CANDY Rosario, J Hollendorfer, Jerry
2 Z DAY Gryder, A Mitchell, Mike
3 UNBRIDLED ROMAN Baze, T Paasch, Christopher
4 PIONEEROF THE NILE Gomez, G Baffert, Bob
5 MR. HOT STUFF Nakatani, C Harty, Eoin
6 FEISTY SUANCES Espinoza, V Vienna, Darrell
7 TAKE THE POINTS DeCarlo, C Pletcher, Todd
8 CAPE TRUTH Baze, M O'Neill, Doug
9 GALLANT SON Bejarano, R Lucarelli, Frank
10 THE PAMPLEMOUSSE Solis, A Canani, Julio

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

California to Unveil Micro Racing

California Horseracing Industry Leaders (CHIL) has announced a bold plan aimed at preserving horseracing in the face of recent and imminent racetrack closures -- micro racing. By using miniature horses (averaging 3 inches in height), races will be confined to tiny tracks that can be built quickly and located just about anywhere.

Based on a 1/100 scale, the micro racetrack will be 5.28 feet in circumference -- small enough to fit on a coffee table. The smaller tracks are inexpensive to install and can be maintained with tiny garden rakes, eliminating the need for expensive harrowing and renovation equipment.

"These pocket ponies are just as cute as can be," said CHIL chairman Prof. Arthur Wagstaff. "And, along with their little bitty racetracks, we believe they will be a real boon to racing. Just think of the money we can save," Wagstaff continued. "Racetracks can be set up in little dioramas, complete with rows of tiny barns!"

The first of the mini tracks will open almost immediately. "Our kick-off for Micro Racing is scheduled for Wednesday, April 1, or April Fool's Day," Wagstaff concluded.

The Pamplemousse Puts in a Bullet Work at Santa Anita

The Pamplemousse
worked 3 furlongs Tuesday morning in :34.80 -- the fastest of 13 works at the distance. He took his time walking back to trainer Julio Canani's barn, just ambling along under jockey Alex Solis, checking out the scenery and other horses in his usual, relaxed style!

It was his final blowout before Saturday's Santa Anita Derby. Also working Tuesday morning were Derby rivals Pioneer of the Nile, who went 4 furlongs in :47.60 for trainer Bob Baffert, and Chocolate Candy, who also worked 4 furlongs, in :48.60, for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.