STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN

• SPECHT SEEKS HERNANDEZ UPSET WITH GIG HARBOR SUNDAY

• HRTV SPOTLIGHTS OLD ENGLISH RANCHO ON SUNDAY SHOW

• SANTA ANITA HOSTS POPULAR PHOTO DAY FRIDAY, MARCH 9

BAY AREA INVADER GIG HARBOR SET FOR SUNDAY’S JOE HERNANDEZ HANDICAP

Gig Harbor is in from his Northern California base for Sunday’s $70,000 Joe Hernandez Handicap and trainer Steve Specht feels the Kentucky-bred son of City Zip is ready to put his best foot forward in the race for older horses at about 6 ½ furlongs on the turf.

Owned by Daniel O’Neill of San Francisco, Gig Harbor won a minor stakes at Golden Gate last May at a mile and a sixteenth on the turf, then was sidelined until Jan. 28 when he prompted the pace in the Albany Stakes at six furlongs on the synthetic Tapeta surface at Golden Gate before finishing fifth, beaten less than two lengths.

Specht explained the chestnut colt’s eighth-month absence.

“He was training super back in December and I had him ready to run, and he got caste one night in his stall and damn near tore the stall apart,” Specht said. “By the time the groom got out of bed and got the horse up, he could hardly walk behind.

“He never hurt anything, he was just body-sore from struggling for so long, so I had to back off, walked him for three days, and galloped and jogged him for another week to get him back where I could train him.

“I had him about ready to roll again and he had an ankle kind of fill up. He never was sore on it but it made me back away again. I could never string together three solid works on him. In his last race he got a little tired.”

Specht was optimistic about the Hernandez. “The grass will be no problem for him and the distance will be just right. He’s got a lot of speed, but I think he’ll rate and still keep running. Other than that one time at Hollywood (third in the six furlong Harry Henson on turf last April), (jockey Frank) Alvarado couldn’t quite make up his mind what he wanted to do.

“The horse broke a step slow that day and kind of rushed up, then he tried to sit still and he was in an awkward spot. Then he got up in there again, then he backed off. But he still ran well and he’s worked well coming into this race.

“The only concern is going down the hill and a new race track. I don’t think the turf is going to be an issue, but crossing the dirt always makes me hold my breath.”

The field for the Hernandez: Dancing in Silks, Alex Bisono, 15-1; Mr Gruff, Joel Rosario, 8-5; Pressday, Mike Smith, 4-1; Silver Summation, David Flores, 6-1; Chosen Miracle, Rafael Bejarano, 6-1; Gig Harbor, Kevin Krigger, 15-1; Mobilized, Frederic Lenclud, 20-1; Ain’t No Other, Martin Garcia, 6-1; and Mensa Heat, Joe Talamo, 9-2.

A small indicator of how tough Sunday’s Hernandez shapes up was in evidence on Friday, when the Mark Glatt-conditioned Leroy’s Dynameaux took the afternoon’s featured In Excess Purse at one mile on turf. “Leroy” was one of 29 Hernandez nominees.

OLD ENGLISH RANCHO FEATURED ON HRTV'S ‘INSIDE INFORMATION’ SUNDAY

The Old English Rancho has been synonymous with California racing for nearly 80 years, and HRTV's award-winning documentary show, "Inside Information: Old English Rancho," will provide an intriguing historical retrospective on the facility tomorrow at 5:30 p.m.

The 30-minute show takes a comprehensive look at the rich history surrounding Old English Rancho. From a dedicated vision formed by Ellwood Johnston, and his determination to satisfy his lifelong passion with horses, he established a farm and breeding operation in California--first in Chino, and later moved to Ontario. While Johnston and partner Ted Tepper unwaveringly followed their blueprint, there were tough, lean times and general uncertainty.

"Inside Information" will chronicle Old English Rancho's acquisition of Fleet Nasrullah, which changed its fortunes and led to its prosperity in the early 1970s. The rollercoaster ride continued, with the untimely death of Johnston, downturn of business in the area, and a relocation of Old English Rancho to Sanger, CA. After a tragedy in 2005, their fortunes took a positive swing a year later when Acclamation was born.

Despite a slow start in his racing career, Acclamation gradually reached his potential in 2010 and 2011, and Old English Rancho reached its pinnacle when Acclamation, a horse they bred and owned in partnership, earned a 2011 Older Male Eclipse Award after a brilliant season for trainer Don Warren. Acclamation was also recognized as 2011 Cal-bred Horse of the Year.

Produced by Steve Scheidler, interviews were conducted with the Johnston family, as well as Mary Fleming Simon, Eclipse Award-winning author of The History of the Thoroughbred in California.

SANTA ANITA HOSTS POPULAR PHOTO DAY AGAIN ON FRIDAY, MARCH 9

Photography fans again will be welcome at Santa Anita on Friday, March 9, as the historic track hosts another of its unique Photography Days. Whether a beginner or a professional, photographers can enter Gate 8 by 7:30 a.m. to register and then click to their hearts’ content at scenic Clockers’ Corner, where the backdrop of the San Gabriel Mountains provides an ideal setting.

Thoroughbreds will be working out and when the drills are over, breakfast will be served followed by a question and answer session with track photographers, trainers and management. Each registrant will have insider access to the paddock.

Advance tickets are $20, day of event tickets are $25 and children are admitted for $12. Photos from the day will be posted on www.santaanita.com.

FINISH LINES: Robert Lewis Stakes runner-up Empire Way, prepping for next Saturday’s Grade II San Felipe Stakes, worked five furlongs on Hollywood Park’s Cushion Track Saturday in 1:01 for trainer Mike Harrington . . . With 886 contestants selecting Coluda to finish at least third in Friday’s second race, and the 8-5 favorite winning by 3 ½ lengths under Joel Rosario, 2,046 players remained alive in ShowVivor2 going into Saturday’s race . . . The Southern California racing community mourns the loss of “Fat Eddie” Rosenblum, a Damon Runyonesque character who was found dead of an apparent heart attack at his home Friday afternoon. Also known in sports-talk radio circles as “Eddie from Alhambra,” he was believed to have been 53 years of age.

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