Zenyatta is back and racing needs her. It needs star power, and she has it. The welcome news that the unbeaten mare would be “unretired” and continue to run in 2010 generated a breath of fresh air within the industry.

Ron McAnally knows. He trained one of the last major gate attractions, the late John Henry, a two-time Horse of the Year who was the rage of the 80s. Santa Anita recently unveiled a life-sized statute of the popular horse.

“Zenyatta’s return to racing is a plus, and so is bringing people to the track, because that’s what we need,” the Hall of Fame trainer said. “I commend (co-owner) Jerry Moss for bringing her back. “I do hope she wins Horse of the Year. She would definitely get my vote, just as I would have voted for (John) Shirreffs as the year’s outstanding trainer.

“John Henry brought people to the track, but he was a gelding and had nothing else to do but to race. We couldn’t breed him, whereas Zenyatta can be bred. But her return is great for racing. We need champions, like any other sport. Champions bring out the fans.”


Barry Abrams was thrilled to win Sunday’s Grade II $150,000 El Encino Stakes with $61.40 longshot Pretty Unusual, not as much for himself as the filly’s trainer, but for veteran actor and part owner Jack Klugman.

Klugman, 87, was ushered to the winner’s circle by Abrams. “Jack gave us Pretty Unusual’s dam, Sci Fi Kin, whose dam was Akinemod,” Abrams said. Akinemod was owned by Klugman and won the El Encino by 18 lengths under Gary Stevens in 1990. Klugman was on hand for that victory 20 years ago.

“We gave Jack one-third share of the foal,” Abrams said in explaining how Klugman became part owner of Pretty Unusual. “The win put a smile on his face. There aren’t many owners that age that get to the winner’s circle in a Grade II race.”

Pretty Unusual was ridden by Chantal Sutherland. A daughter of Unusual Heat, Pretty Unusual is owned by Madeline Auerbach, Murray Goda and Klugman. Abrams said the bay filly will be pointed to the Grade II $150,000 La Caňada Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on Feb. 14.

Klugman, known for his roles in sitcoms, movies, television and Broadway shows, is best-known for his role as Tony Randall’s sloppy roommate, Oscar Madison, in “The Odd Couple” TV show in the 1970s, and for his starring role in “Quincy, M.E.”, in the 1970s and 1980s. A native of Philadelphia who now resides in Malibu, Klugman appeared in the 1957 film “12 Angry Men” as juror number 5 and is the last surviving actor who played a juror in that movie.


Frank Monteleone saddled his last horse yesterday. After 26 years in racing, the veteran trainer is yielding to a daunting economy.

“I can’t make it,” said the La Verne resident, who turns 61 on Feb. 20. “I don’t have any owners and I only have eight horses left. I’ve got a chance to take a rider from up north, so effective with the new (condition) book (Jan. 27), I’ll become an agent and represent Inoel Beato.

“Joel Rosario called me and told me Beato is a very, very good rider. He was second to him at several meets in their native Dominican Republic. I’ve never been an agent before, but the economy has forced me right out of training.

“It cost me $2,000 a day to train every time I walked out the door. This way, I can trim expenses dramatically and it will be better for my health. I’ve had some good horses and some good clients, but I’ve got to survive and I couldn’t do it the way things were going.”

Monteleone will turn his horses over to Linda Mikus, his assistant for 24 years. “She gets on the horses herself, so it’s going to be a lot easier for her to make a living than it was for me,” he said.

Monteleone’s last runner, Pedo Viejo, finished third in Sunday’s fourth race with Rosario aboard.

FINISH LINES: HRTV will carry the Horse of the Year announcement live tonight from the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. The announcement is expected to take place at 7:15 p.m. As previously announced, TVG has exclusive coverage of the Eclipse Awards, but will allow HRTV to also carry the announcement live on their network . . . Christophe Clement was pleased with Gio Ponti’s five-furlong drill in 1:00.40 on Pro-Ride Saturday with Brice Blanc aboard. “It was a nice work and he came back in good order,” the trainer said of the Breeders’ Cup Classic runner-up. “We might run him on Feb. 7 (in the Grade II $150,000 San Antonio Handicap at 1 1/8 miles).” . . . Santa Anita is dark for live racing Tuesday and Wednesday. Racing is scheduled to resume Thursday at 1 p.m. . . . Agapito Delgadillo recently moved his tack to Sunland Park in New Mexico, where he will ride full time. “I need to ride more horses to provide for my family,” the 43-year-old jockey said . . . Through Sunday, there were 27 contestants alive in ShowVivor.