Thursday, July 28, 2011

Miss Cougar contest adds spice to Cougar II Handicap card

There’s still time to cast your vote for Miss Cougar 2011. One of six finalists will be crowned this year’s Miss Cougar at Del Mar on Friday, July 29, where she will present the trophy for the Cougar II Handicap.

According to official contest rules, a “cougar” is a mature woman who pursues younger men, typically more than eight years her junior. Voters can view photos and statements of the finalists, as well as cast their vote, on the Del Mar Scene website.

The feature race, the Cougar II Handicap, is named after the famed horse who captured the hearts of scores of race fans in the early 1970’s. In addition to being the longest distance stakes race of the summer meet, the Cougar II Handicap generated the inaugural Miss Cougar Del Mar contest in 2009, which quickly became a popular addition to the “Four O’Clock Friday” card.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Santa Anita opens new track

Slideshow: New track surface 7/26/2011

Santa Anita's newly renovated track was open for business on Tuesday morning after a two-week closure for a renovation project.

Although the track was restricted to joggers and gallopers, it will be open for full training on Thursday. See a detailed report at this author's page.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Santa Anita on track with renovation

Slideshow: Santa Anita track renovation in progress.

Santa Anita is tentatively scheduled to reopen its track for training on July 26, following a two-week renovation to reduce the clay content. During the project, which began July 11, the top six inches of the surface - more than 17,000 tons of material – was removed, mixed with sand, and returned to the track.

Santa Anita, which converted from a synthetic main track to natural dirt in December 2010, experienced near record rainfall immediately following the installation and, as a result, the composition of the newly installed soils was altered resulting in an unacceptably high percentage of silt and clay. The current project is expected to remedy this imbalance.

The track has remained open for training during the current Del Mar meeting, with the inner training track available to horsemen during the course of the project. The Santa Anita autumn meeting is tentatively scheduled to open on Sept. 29.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Del Mar: Let the excitement begin

San Diego television crews were out early for workouts on opening day at Del Mar.

Today is opening day at Del Mar... where the turf meets the surf ! As usual, the buzz started at daybreak in the barn area, with news crews jockeying for position on the viewing stands at morning workouts.

Look for regular updates on the people, the horses, and the great racing during the seaside track's 37-day meet at this blog or the author's site on

Monday, July 11, 2011

Happy Birthday Ron McAnally!

Trainer Ron McAnally gets a birthday cake while Bob Baffert looks on.

Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally celebrated his 79th birthday at Santa Anita's Clockers' Corner this morning, where Rosie Ybarra presented him with a birthday cake while trainers and other morning regulars sang "Happy Birthday." Trainer Bob Baffert, always the joker, quipped, "You're missing about 80 candles!"

McAnally, a three-time Eclipse Award winner, was inducted into racing Hall of Fame in 1990, along with his signature star, John Henry. McAnally can be found every morning at Santa Anita, where he is one of our most beloved trainers. Happy birthday, Ron!

Photo courtesy of on-the-beat reporter Howard Zucker.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Sunrise over Santa Anita. Happy Fourth of July!!