There is no shortage of opinions at the race track, no matter the sport. With Super Bowl 44 set for Sunday in Miami between the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints, horsemen at Santa Anita were at the ready with their thoughts on which team would win the big game, as the following random sampling attests:

Barry Abrams: Indianapolis. They have the experience. They’ve been there.

Ron Anderson: Under the total (of 56). I don’t bet against Peyton Manning.

Jerry Antonucci: Colts.

Bob Baffert: I’m a Manning man. I see them at the (Kentucky) Derby every year, Archie, Eli and Peyton. They all know me, so I’m rooting for the Colts.

Brian Beach: New Orleans and Drew Brees, because he’s a racing fan and lives in Del Mar.

Bob Bean: The Colts. They’re a better team.

David Bernstein: New Orleans.

James Cassidy: The Colts. Manning is the difference.

Vladimir Cerin: The Colts by 20.

Eddie Delahoussaye: New Orleans has been trying for a long time. It’s great to see them winning. I used to ride horses for the team’s owner, Tom Benson.

Caesar Dominguez: Saints. I’m rooting for Brees and the underdogs.

Ron Ebanks: Who Dat? If I don’t pick the Saints, my mom’s going to give me a whipping. I lived in New Orleans as a kid, and my mom lives in Lafayette.

Joe Ferrer: I lived in New Orleans all my life, and wore paper bags over my face when the Saints were so embarrassing they were called the Aints.

Carla Gaines: My big thing is the NCAA. Alabama is my team and they already came through, so I’ll root for the Saints.

Paddy Gallagher: I like the Dodgers, myself.

Rick Hammerle: The Saints. The Colts are the Atlanta Braves of football.

Eoin Harty: I met Drew Brees a couple times at Del Mar. He seems like a great guy so I’m pulling for him.

Dan Hendricks: New Orleans. They deserve it after 40 years of what they’ve been through there.

Jerry Hollendorfer: Sentimentally, New Orleans, but I think the Colts are the best team.

Kurt Hoover: Colts, 31-20. Peyton Manning does not lose these types of games. Sandy Kilmer, wife of ardent horseplayer and original Saints quarterback, Billy Kilmer: Billy wants the Saints to win, but he’s torn because he knows the Manning family. Archie succeeded Billy in New Orleans in 1971, when Billy got traded to the Redskins.

Steve Knapp: The Saints. I’m pulling for the underdog, because they’ve never won it.

Brian Koriner: I’m a Reggie Bush fan.

Eric Kruljac: I’m rooting for the Saints, because of the people who endured Katrina and because of what Brees had to go through to reach the top. It’s a good underdog story.

Mike Machowsky: Colts.

Gary Mandella: Peyton Manning can win the game by himself. He’s too smart. Richard Mandella: Who’s playing?

Ron McAnally: The Colts. Manning is more agile back there than Favre, and he gets his passes off quicker.

Sean McCarthy: I’m pulling for New Orleans. It would be fun to see them win it.

Charlie McCaul: Indianapolis. Manning will make the difference.

Henry Moreno: I’m rooting for the horses and Kobe. I played basketball at Corona in my youth.

Craig O’Bryan: New Orleans.

Dennis O’Neill: Indianapolis. I don’t think New Orleans is that good. I think it will be a blowout.

Doug O’Neill: The Colts.

Martin Pedroza: The Saints. I’m going with the underdog, and rooting for my man Joe Talamo, the Cajun. Brad Pegram: The Saints. I love the city of New Orleans and I’d like to see it for that reason.

Mike Puype: The Colts easy.

Jay Robbins: Colts.

John Sadler: I’m happy with either team, but I like the Saints because they’ve never won.

Richie Silverstein: Indianapolis.

Danny Sorenson: I’m pulling for New Orleans. I like Drew Brees. It’s an even match. I just want to see a fantastic game.

Vic Stauffer: They could play the game 100 times and Indianapolis would win every time. Manning finds a way to win. He’s like Zenyatta.

Gary Stevens: Indy. I figure if we had Peyton Manning in Iraq, the battle would have been over a long time ago.

Gary Stute: I’m rooting for New Orleans. I like Drew Brees.

Chantal Sutherland: I think I’m watching the Oscars that day.

Richard Tedesco: New Orleans. It would make for a good story if they win, what with Katrina and all.

Toby Turrell: I’m the master of the obvious when I pick the Colts, but no guarantee on whether they’ll cover the point spread.

Jon White: I think either team can win. That said, I’ll pick Indianapolis because Peyton Manning is one of the all-time great QBs and seems in a zone right now. New Orleans was very lucky to beat Minnesota. But if the Saints win, it wouldn't surprise me because they look like a team of destiny.

Howard Zucker: Colts. They’ve been there before and it’s tough for a team to win the first time in the Super Bowl. The game should provide a lot of fireworks, though.


Evening Jewel lost to Crisp by a length when spotting that rival six pounds in the Grade III, Santa Ysabel Stakes on Jan. 10. Trainer James Cassidy is hopeful a break in the weights will be beneficial to the daughter of Northern Afleet when she tackles Crisp, prohibitive favorite Blind Luck, and three others in Saturday’s Grade I, $250,000 Las Virgenes Stakes.

“We’re taking on a monster (in Blind Luck), but my filly worked awfully good last week,” Cassidy said. “I’m quite happy to run her. We gave six pounds to Crisp last time, and we’re at equal weights this time (at 118). She only beat us a length, so I think it will make a difference.” After finishing sixth in her debut, Evening Jewel has never been worse than second in five starts, winning the California Breeders’ Champion Stakes for fillies in her final race as a 2-year-old on Dec. 27. The bay filly has a 2-3-0 record, with earnings of $120,600 for owners Tom and Marilyn Braly of Indian Wells.

The field for the Las Virgenes, which goes as the fourth race on a 10-race program: Summer Games, Michael Baze, 116, 20-1; Blind Luck, Rafael Bejarano, 122, 1-2; La Nez, Mike Smith, 118, 8-1; Switch, Tyler Baze, 116, 6-1; Evening Jewel, Victor Espinoza, 118, 8-1; and Crisp, Joel Rosario, 118, 4-1.


American Lion makes his first start in nine weeks Saturday in the Grade II, $150,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes at 1 1/16 miles, a major prep for the Grade I, $750,000 Santa Anita Derby on April 3.

A son of 2000 Horse of the Year Tiznow owned and bred by WinStar Farms and trained by Eoin Harty, American Lion last raced on Nov. 21, winning the Grade III Hollywood Prevue at seven furlongs.

“I didn’t have a race for him,” Harty said in explaining the absence. “This is the first opportunity, and he’s doing fine.”

American Lion will be ridden by 2009 Eclipse Award winner Julien Leparoux, who is unbeaten in two previous rides aboard the bay colt, both at the distance of seven furlongs.

The field for the Lewis: Macias, Victor Espinoza, 117, 8-1; Dave in Dixie, Joel Rosario, 115, 3-1; Tiz Chrome, Garrett Gomez, 117, 2-1; Caracortado, Paul Atkinson, 117, 6-1; Tango Tango, Rafael Bejarano, 115, 20-1; American Lion, Julien Leparoux, 117, 5-2; and Domonation, Joe Talamo, 115, 8-1.


HRTV will expand its programming lineup when it begins airing top-flight Equestrian-related programming, commencing with the World Equestrian Festival, CHIO-2009 from Aachen, Germany, this Monday, Feb. 8.

HRTV's airing of the best of the Aachen event at 6:30 p.m. will be the North American premiere of English-language coverage of the prestigious event, which took place in late June-early July, 2009.

The initial broadcast is the first of five one-hour shows from Aachen, which will be shown on successive weeks on HRTV. Each new show will premiere on Monday nights, with re-airs slated for Tuesdays and the following Sunday.

Headlining HRTV's first foray into Equestrian programming will be the 2009 Eventing Nation's Cup CICO from Aachen, featuring international horse-and-rider teams. Sometimes termed a "horse triathlon," Eventing is a demanding event testing the training and strength of a horse, along with the unique connection between a horse and rider, who work in tandem through Cross Country, Stadium Jumping, and Dressage disciplines.

"HRTV, based in horse sports, is pleased to expand its mission of leadership in Equestrian TV by bringing the Aachen World Equestrian Festival, in English, to the US TV and worldwide internet audiences," said Jim Bates, HRTV's executive vice president and general manager. "This production by Carr-Hughes, Saratoga Springs, NY, is a great start to HRTV's launch of a series of horse-oriented programming."

FINISH LINES: On Super Bowl Sunday, there will be an early first post time of 11 a.m., with gates opening at 9:30 a.m. THOROUGHBREDS members will be admitted to the Grandstand for only $1 . . . Doug O’Neill said San Marcos Stakes runner-up High Court Drama is pointing to the Grade I $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap on March 6, while Square Eddie suffered a “slight suspensory issue” on the track at Hollywood Park yesterday, forcing him to be scratched from Saturday’s Strub Stakes . . . Thursday’s two winning Pick Six tickets worth $42,442.40 each were purchased on a $750 ticket at Fantasy Springs in Palm Springs and a $540 ticket at Barona near San Diego . . . Through 28 days and with 33 victories, Rafael Bejarano had opened a seven-win lead over runners-up Garrett Gomez and Victor Espinoza in Santa Anita’s jockey race. Joel Rosario was next with 24 wins, but each was winning at 20 percent or better . . . The trainers’ race was also tight, with Bob Baffert (14), John Sadler (13) and O’Neill (12) the top three . . . Streaking winner St Trinians, prepping for a meeting with Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic winner Life Is Sweet in the Grade II, $250,000 Santa Maria Handicap on Feb. 13, worked six furlongs at Hollywood Friday in a bullet 1:13.80, breezing, for Mike Mitchell, who also sent Monzante four furlongs in :50.20, breezing, for the Grade I, $250,000 Frank E. Kilroe Mile on March 6 . . . Long-time press box elevator operator Gail McNeal has announced her retirement at the end of this meet. “I’m both happy and sad,” said ‘Elevator Gail,’ “because I’ve been here since 1977 and I’ve made good friends. It feels like family, and I’m leaving them.”