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STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN
• DRYSDALE FILLS BIG SHOES OF MENTOR WHITTINGHAM IN SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO
• I’LL HAVE ANOTHER HAS STYLE TO WIN KENTUCKY DERBY
• SANTA ANITA MOVES FORWARD UNDER NEW CEO MARK VERGE
WHITTINGHAM’S 14 SAN JUAN WINS A RECORD THAT WILL STAND THE TEST OF TIME
To records considered made not to be broken, such as Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak and the .406 batting average recorded by Ted Williams, both in 1941, add Charlie Whittingham’s remarkable feat of 14 victories in the San Juan Capistrano Handicap.
Santa Anita’s traditional closing-day feature at the marathon distance of about 1 ¾ miles on turf highlights the final day of the 72-day winter/spring season tomorrow, with Bourbon Bay the 6-5 morning line favorite in a field of six.
Winner of the San Juan in 2010, Bourbon Bay is conditioned by Hall of Fame trainer Neil Drysdale, who was an assistant to the late Hall of Fame member Whittingham for four years, from 1970 to 1974, a span in which Whittingham won the San Juan three times, with Practicante in 1972; Cougar II in 1971 and Fiddle Isle, who dead-heated with Quicken Tree in 1970.
“That’s probably a record that will never be broken,” Drysdale said of his former mentor’s 14 San Juan triumphs. “It’s a great record, one to be admired. Charlie taught me everything I know, but not everything he knew. He was a great teacher.”
Whittingham taught Tim Yakteen a thing or two during Yakteen’s tour as an assistant to “The Bald Eagle” from 1991 to 1997.
“Patience and developing confidence in your horses,” said the 46-year-old Yakteen, a trainer in his own right for the past six years and husband of HRTV’s Millie Ball. “After a horse would win the San Juan, he would always give them plenty of time to recover from such a demanding race.
“As for his 14 wins, that could be record that will never be equaled.”
The field for the San Juan, race nine of 10: Dhaamer, Rafael Bejarano, 9-5; Bourbon Bay, Joel Rosario, 6-5; Hog’s Hollow, David Flores, 8-1; Eagle Poise, Alex Solis, 4-1; Bonfire Knight, Joe Talamo, 20-1; and Harrods Creek, Mike Smith, 4-1.
Race seven Sunday marks the start of a $400,000 guaranteed Late Pick 4 presented by DRF TicketMaker. Race five is the first leg in a mandatory Pick 6 payout.
BARGAIN COLT I’LL HAVE ANOTHER HAS LOOK OF A DERBY WINNER
With $450,000 in graded earnings from his victory in the Santa Anita Derby alone and $601,000 in graded gleanings overall, it’s been all gravy for I’ll Have Another since his maiden victory last July 3.
Not many, if any, horsemen with a trained eye could have expected what I’ll Have Another has achieved on the race track, since he cost only $35,000 when purchased by owner J. Paul Reddam at the OBS sale in Florida last April.
Since his maiden victory, the chestnut son of Flower Alley was second in the Grade II Best Pal Stakes; had a wide trip on a sloppy track he did not fancy when finishing sixth in the Grade I Hopeful at Saratoga last September; and caught nearly everyone off guard with a 43-1 victory in the Grade II Robert B. Lewis Stakes on Feb. 4 before nosing out Creative Cause in the Grade I, $750,000 Santa Anita Derby on April 7.
Dennis O’Neill, brother of Doug who trains I’ll Have Another for Reddam, picked the colt out at the OBS venue. In what many feel is a crop of deep, quality 3-year-olds in pursuit of the Kentucky Derby on May 5, Dennis, vested interests aside, says I’ll Have Another has the characteristics of a Derby winner.
“I looked at the Ragozin Sheets on Thursday and it looks like the most wide open Derby I’ve seen in years,” Dennis said. “They go 10 or 12 deep with horses that have a realistic chance.
“Even Bodemeister, as well as he ran (winning the Arkansas Derby by 9 ½ lengths), didn’t have that fast of a Sheets number. I just think winning the Derby is going to boil down to some horse getting lucky, because nine times out of 10 something happens at the start of the race and somebody gets that dream trip and wins the Derby. Why not us?”
Dennis is en route to the OBS sales again next week in hopes of finding another bargain bonanza. “We bought some really nice horses there last year so I’m excited about getting back there again,” he said. “For $35,000, I think I’ll Have Another has worked out pretty well.
“The thing I like best about him is he has tactical speed. He makes his own trip. He’s not a horse that’s going to sit back and have to weave his way through. He’s not a horse that has to be on the lead.
“He just needs to break and settle right in behind. He really is a classic type of Derby horse in the sense that he’s going to make his own trip and if he’s good enough, he’s going to win.”
SANTA ANITA CEO VERGE HAS ‘GREAT RACE PLACE’ MOVING FORWARD
Mark Verge is committed to his innovative philosophy in regenerating fan interest in Santa Anita here and now.
The vibrant, 44-year-old Verge, who was named Santa Anita CEO on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, is an unyielding believer in Thoroughbred racing (himself an owner) and in one of the world’s most beautiful and palatial venues in Santa Anita Park.
“We’re in the process of having people rediscover the game,” Verge said on a warm Saturday morning while mingling with the masses at Clockers’ Corner. “We have to make everything at Santa Anita a good experience, whether fans are betting or at the bar.
“We’re moving in the right direction. I think people are really buying in to what we’re trying to do. The employees are buying in, the jocks are buying in . . . They love it.”
AMAZOMBIE PASSES TIZNOW FOR RICHER CHURCHILL DOWNS STAKES
Adhering to the popular catch phrase “Show me the money” from the 1996 hit film “Jerry Maguire", Bill Spawr will run Breeders’ Cup Sprint champion Amazombie in the $400,000, Grade II Churchill Downs Stakes at seven furlongs on May 5 and not the $125,000 Tiznow Stakes at Hollywood Park on April 28 as originally planned.
“I talked to Tom Cruise,” joked Spawr, who owns the 6-year-old California-bred with partner Tom Sanford, “and he said, ‘Show me the money!’ Seriously, Amazombie is doing great, he likes Churchill (where he won the Breeders’ Cup Sprint last Nov. 5) and the money was a major factor.”
Amazombie is coming off a victory in the Grade II Potrero Grande Stakes at Santa Anita on April 7. He finished third in the San Carlos Stakes in his 2012 debut on Feb. 25.
AMI ATKINSON HONORED AS SANTA ANITA’S EMPLOYEE OF THE MEETAmi Atkinson is being honored as Santa Anita’s Employee of the Meet tomorrow.
Conscientious and pleasant at the same time, Ami has worked at “The Great Race Place” since 1992, holding several positions in the Racing Department. She is currently the Horsemen’s Liaison, responsible for taking care of the needs of owners and trainers who have horses in races each particular day, fulfilling this very important job with a sunny and friendly disposition.
Another of her duties is arranging trophy presenters for stakes races and escorting winning connections of those races to the Directors’ Room for a champagne celebration.
Ami is married to jockey Paul Atkinson, who will be with her today in the Winner’s Circle, along with their two daughters Makenzie, 14 and Sarah, 7.
As tokens of Santa Anita’s appreciation, Santa Anita Park President George Haines will present Ami with a custom plaque made by James Corral, (whose work under “If These Shoes Could Talk” is displayed at Clockers’ Corner on weekends), a gift certificate to The Derby Restaurant in Arcadia and movie passes to the Krikorian Premiere Theatres in Monrovia.
‘PARTY IN THE PADDOCK’ FOR FANS AT SANTA ANITA ON CLOSING DAY
Santa Anita celebrates its first-ever “Party in the Paddock” on closing day tomorrow. Following the day’s final race, the paddock will be transformed into a celebratory atmosphere where fans, horsemen and employees can enjoy live music by the classic rock cover band, The Answer.
In addition to live music, fans will be treated to dancing and half-price food and drink specials at Sirona’s well into the evening.
“This is Santa Anita’s way of saying ‘thank you’ to everyone for making the 2012 meeting a season to remember and one that we can all build upon,” said Santa Anita CEO Mark Verge. “We think this is a great opportunity for us to get to know our customers better and to build better relationships with everyone. It should be a lot of fun.”
‘LUCKY BENITO’S TAQUERIA’ OFFERS TACOS AND MORE CLOSING WEEKEND
Those attending the races today and Sunday will be treated to tasty morsels from “Lucky Benito’s, Taqueria,” which will offer fans authentic grilled chicken, carne asada soft tacos, nachos, churros, pretzels and a variety of beers.
“Lucky Benito’s” is in the East Paddock Gardens, adjacent to “Champions! Gifts & Apparel.”
“This is a very popular addition to our overall food service approach,” said Santa Anita Director of Hospitality Randy Fowler. “We expect a lot of people coming to the paddock for tacos and a beer.”
FAN APPRECIATION DAY TODAY; JOCKEY AUTOGRAPH SESSION SUNDAY
Today is Fan Appreciation Day at Santa Anita. Fans can enter to win cash prizes in drawings throughout the day and contest entry forms will be handed out at admission gates. Items to be given away include posters of Zenyatta and her new-born foal by Bernardini, and 34-ounce Santa Anita beer mugs, free, while supplies last. THOROUGHBREDS members can scan their cards at the gate for a chance to win additional prizes.
Santa Anita’s jockeys will hold an autograph session tomorrow, closing day, from 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. in the East Paddock Gardens.
‘WALK TO BEAT CANCER’ AT SANTA ANITA ON CLOSING DAY, SUNDAY
Santa Anita will present a second annual “On Track To Beat Cancer” event on closing day tomorrow. With statistics showing that one in three women will be diagnosed with cancer this year, the public is encouraged to join jockeys, horsemen and celebrities in a walk down Santa Anita’s historic homestretch to raise money to support City of Hope find cures for women’s cancers.
“This was a very successful fundraiser last year and all facets of the racing industry came together to help fund cures for women’s cancers,” said Santa Anita Vice President of Sales and Marketing Chris Quinn. “We expect to have a couple thousand people participating and we hope when they finish on the track, they’ll join us for some live music and our Party in the Paddock, which should be a lot of fun.”
All participants are encouraged to wear purple. There will be a Flash Mob in evidence on the apron following the sixth race. All participants will be dressed in purple and their mission is to draw attention to the On Track To Beat Cancer Walk following the races.
City of Hope will have its mobile blood donation RV at Santa Anita Sunday, located west of Kingsbury Fountain. Anyone who donates blood will receive a $5 In-N-Out Burger Gift Card.
Anyone making a $10 donation to City of Hope on closing day will be eligible to walk on the track. Fans are encouraged to bring signs and banners, create teams, take photos and dedicate their walk to cancer survivors or to the memory of loved ones who have succumbed to or who are battling cancer.
City of Hope will bring their mobile blood donation truck for fans who wish to donate blood while at the track.
WINNER OF 2012 HRTV/SANTA ANITA FILM FESTIVAL TO BE ANNOUNCED SUNDAY
The winner of the Fan Favorite Award in the inaugural HRTV “A Day at the Races” Film Festival at Santa Anita with $28,000 in prize money at stake will be announced after the seventh race tomorrow. A total of 25 short, non-fiction films were submitted at a maximum of five minutes in length and all were shot at The Great Race Place.
“Santa Anita Park is honored to not only participate, but to be the focal point in all of these great stories that are being told by some fantastic film makers,” said Santa Anita Vice President of Sales and Marketing Chris Quinn. “We are very pleased with the huge on-line voting response we received.”
The winner of the Fan Favorite Award, which was determined through on-line voting at www.HRTV.com, will take home $10,000.
The Judges’ Prize pays $10,000. Second place is worth $5,000 and third $3,000.
PUBLIC INVITED TO CHRB MEETING AT HOLLYWOOD APRIL 26
The California Horse Racing Board will conduct its regular meeting Thursday, April 26, in the Sunset Room at Hollywood Park beginning at 9:30 a.m. The public is encouraged to attend. An audio-only Webcast of this and all regular monthly Board meetings can be heard through the “Webcasts” link on the CHRB Website (www.chrb.ca.gov). The audio archive for past meetings also is available on the Website.
The CHRB Pari-Mutuel /ADW and Simulcast Committee will conduct a public meeting on Wednesday, April 25, beginning at 2 p.m. in the Sunset Room at Hollywood Park. This meeting will not be Webcast.
The agenda and supporting package of materials for both the Board and Committee meetings can be accessed through the following links: agenda, package,
FINISH LINES: Bob Baffert, who holds a seven-win lead over John Sadler with two racing days remaining, is en route to his 10th Santa Anita training title. “We had a tremendous meet,” said the Hall of Fame trainer, who plans to embark for Kentucky on Monday along with CashCall Futurity winner Liaison, a candidate for the Kentucky Derby despite his recent disappointing races. “Right now I see no reason not to run him,” Baffert said . . . San Pedro Stakes winner Midnight Transfer worked four furlongs on Santa Anita’s main track Saturday in a bullet 47 seconds. “Amazing” is how trainer Carla Gaines termed the drill for the son of Hard Spun, who is ticketed for the Grade III, $100,000 Lazaro Barrera Memorial Stakes at seven furlongs at Hollywood Park on May 12 . . . At Hollywood on Saturday, John Sadler-trained stakes winners Switch and Zazu worked six furlongs on Cushion Track in 1:12.20 and 1:13.40, respectively; Santa Ynez winner Reneesgotzip worked four furlongs in 48.20 for Peter Miller; and Kentucky Derby hopeful Rousing Sermon went seven furlongs in 1:27.20 for Jerry Hollendorfer . . . Richard Mandella has ticketed the $70,000 Time to Leave Stakes at five furlongs at Hollywood on May 6 for Kalookan Queen Handicap winner Rumor. “Danny Velasquez rode Time to Leave when I was in diapers,” the Hall of Fame trainer cracked. Garrett Gomez, currently riding in Kentucky, will be in to ride Rumor, agent Tony Matos said . . . Jockey Jesiere Medina has been suspended 30 racing days through June 14, 2012, “for exhibiting gross carelessness by crossing over without sufficient clearance and causing interference which resulted in an accident and disqualification of her mount (Whiskey Talks in the ninth race last Saturday) to unplaced,” Santa Anita’s stewards representing the California Horse Racing Board have ruled. Medina’s negligence resulted in a chain reaction spill from which Martin Pedroza sustained two broken ribs, sidelining the veteran reinsman for two to four weeks . . . With the majority of players backing odds-on winner Blingo in yesterday’s La Puente Stakes, 10 contestants are alive in ShowVivor2 entering Saturday’s races.