Opinions and speculation were there for the taking Sunday morning on the San Felipe Stakes, in which favored Flashback suffered his first defeat and jockey Kevin Krigger, who rode fourth-place finisher Goldencents in the Grade II race for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles, was critical of the tactics used by Julien Leparoux, who rode Flashback.

Hear the Ghost came from fifth in a field of eight at the half-mile pole to win by a half-length under Corey Nakatani. Flashback, favored at even money, held on to be second, a half-length in front of Tiz a Minister, who roared from 17 lengths behind at the half-mile marker to finish third by a length under Garrett Gomez.

Goldencents, who held the lead on Flashback into the stretch, weakened slightly late to wind up fourth, beaten 2 ¼ lengths.

Krigger’s post-race quotes questioned Leparoux’s strategy. “. . . I was surprised, as good a rider as Julien is supposed to be, the move he made around the turn to make us have a dogfight race all the way around,” Krigger said. “Turning into the backstretch, that’s like committing suicide, you know?

“If we’re going that fast easily, it’s understandable, but to pressure a race like that . . . being on a favorite, that’s not a favorite’s ride at all . . . ”

Leparoux was back on the beat Sunday morning, as usual. “You know what,” the two-time Eclipse Award-winning jockey said. “I watched the replay. You make a decision on the first turn; I made mine . . . I thought the decision I made on the first turn was good. I wish I could have made him relax a little bit more on the backside.

“Other than that, nothing (would have changed). It (the loss) might be a good thing for the horse (Flashback) in the long run. Time will tell.”

In other post-San Felipe news:

Leandro Mora, assistant to Doug O’Neill, said Goldencents came out of the race in good shape, other than perhaps a bruised ego.

“He came out really good,” Mora said. “He ate well, but I would say he knows, that in his mind, he was upset that he got beat . . . He was pinning his ears back a little bit and he never does that.

“He’s just a kid. He’s learning the basics right now, I think.”

Asked about the Santa Anita Derby: “That’s up to the owners. I guess they’re going to have a meeting and talk about it, but they’ll decide whether to run in the Santa Anita Derby or try somewhere else.”

Trainer Paul Aguirre’s post-race comments on his Tiz a Minister’s monster race, in which he was 9 ½ lengths behind the next-to-last horse at the half-mile pole: “If it weren’t Garrett Gomez (riding), I’d be waiting over here for the ambulance. But Garrett’s got a way with those horses.

“That’s a victory to me, to be in the same category as Flashback and Goldencents.”

Corey Nakatani was understandably delighted with his victory for Jerry Hollendorfer aboard Hear the Ghost, who was coming off two sprint races, a maiden win and a second in the San Pedro Stakes, each at six furlongs.

“To do what he did yesterday was impressive to me,” Nakatani said Sunday morning. “You don’t see too many horses do what he’s done and not turn out to be a pretty good horse. He’s got a lot of ability.”


More Chocolate worked six furlongs on Santa Anita’s fast main track Sunday morning in a bullet 1:12, her final major drill for Saturday’s Grade I, $300,000 Santa Margarita Stakes for older fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles.

A 4-year-old daughter of Malibu Moon trained by John Sadler for owner Michael Talla of Los Angeles, More Chocolate has not raced since winning the Grade II La Caňada Stakes on Jan. 20, but that’s by design.

“She ran so big in the La Caňada, and it’s a long year,” said Sadler assistant Larry Benavidez. “There’s no reason to be ahead early.”

As for the workout under Martin Garcia, who rides the bay filly in the Santa Margarita, Benavidez said: “She went beautiful. She galloped out strong. She was about eight (lengths) behind a workmate and did it the right way. She’s ready to go.”

Probable for the Santa Margarita: Book Review, Great Hot, Joyful Victory, More Chocolate, My Miss Aurelia and The Only Key.


When it comes to conquests in South America, Ron McAnally will never challenge Simon Bolivar.

But the 80-year-old Hall of Fame trainer certainly holds his own with successful Thoroughbred imports from Latin America, one of which is Interaction, who will seek his first stakes win in North America when he runs in next Saturday’s San Luis Rey Stakes at 1 ½ miles on the turf.

A 7-year-old Argentine-bred horse owned by Pozo de Luna, Inc., Interaction was second last out in the Grade II San Marcos Stakes at 1 ¼ miles on the grass Feb. 9. He closed fast from 10 lengths back early on to be beaten just a length by Slim Shadey, who led throughout, going unchallenged on the front end.

The San Ley Rey distance should be no problem for Interaction, according to McAnally, who has won the race three times, twice with the immortal John Henry (1980 and 1981) and with Dark Moondancer in 2000.

“This is a mile and a half and he won the Pellegrini in Argentina at a mile and half,” McAnally said, referring to the Group 1 classic at San Ysidro in December of 2009. “Interaction is training well, he looks good and he likes this turf course. Hopefully, he runs better.

“I think he can beat Slim Shadey. He got an easy lead (in the San Marcos).”

Probable for the San Luis Rey: All Squared Away, Interaction, John Scott and Slim Shadey.


From earning four Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star following the Allied invasion of Normandy, to owning and operating one of the most popular Italian eateries in Los Angeles, to playing the races on a regular basis at Santa Anita, Carmen Miceli has had anything but an ordinary life and as such, will be honored by Santa Anita next Sunday, March 17, with the “The Carmen Miceli Purse,” as Santa Anita joins with Miceli, his friends and family to celebrate his 90th birthday.

Along with his wife, Sylvia, Carmen opened Miceli’s Pizza House in 1949 on Las Palmas Ave. and the fledging business thrived as a late-night destination for Hollywood celebrities craving Italian food. It was one of the few restaurants open until early morning hours in that era.

Using family recipes brought from Sicily, the pizzeria soon morphed into a full-fledged Italian restaurant and it wasn’t long before it was attracting large crowds and the likes of Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Bugsy Segal and Sal Mineo.

Over the decades, Miceli’s, which is also famous for its live entertainment and singing waiters, has attracted entertainment and political giants such as The Beatles, Marilyn Monroe, and Presidents Kennedy and Nixon.

An everyday customer in Santa Anita’s Turf Club Chandelier Room, the Chicago native first attended The Great Race Place on Dec. 26, 1946. Miceli loves fast horses, good company, jazz, and yes, an occasional cigarette.

“I love the races,” said Miceli. “I love hanging out with the people here and the competition. It keeps me young. I’ve had a great life and I can’t think of a better place to spend my 90th birthday than at Santa Anita. I know I probably shouldn’t smoke, but hey, I’ve made it this far, right?”

In addition to Miceli’s restaurant in Los Angeles, he also founded a “sister” location in Universal City, which understandably, keeps the soon-to-be nonagenarian plenty busy.

“I have good people running both locations for me, thank goodness,” said Miceli. “Back in the day, my wife and I were hands-on and we had some fabulous times. I’m still enjoying myself, but I just can’t devote the amount of time to each place that I used to.”

A close friend of trainer Eric Kruljac and actor/horseplayer Jimmy “The Hat” Allard, Miceli is also a frequent visitor to the Santa Anita Winner’s Circle.

“Jimmy and I play the Pick Six every day and we have a lot of fun,” said Miceli. “Eric gives me a horse to bet on every now and then and sometimes we get lucky. I just can’t wait to get back to the track and I can’t wait to have some fun on Sunday.”

FINISH LINES: Super Ninety Nine, prepping for next Saturday’s Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park, worked five furlongs in company Sunday morning with stablemate Den’s Legacy for Bob Baffert. Each 3-year-old was clocked in 59.80. Rafael Bejarano was aboard Super Ninety Nine, while Erick Lopez rode Den’s Legacy . . . John Sadler assistant Larry Benavidez said Triple Crown hopeful Demonic is scheduled to work “probably Thursday” with the April 6 Santa Anita Derby still a possibility . . . Megahertz Stakes winner A Jealous Woman is scheduled to work six furlongs Monday, after which trainer Francis Meza will make a decision on running in next Sunday’s $100,000 Irish O’Brien Stakes on St. Patrick’s Day. Probables include Curvy Cat with Joe Talamo and the Doug O’Neill-trained duo of Dancingtothestars and Toomanytomatoes . . . Trainer Mike Pender reports that he plans to work multiple graded stakes winner Ultimate Eagle “in two to three weeks” following his disappointing 10th-place finish in the Donn Handicap on Feb. 9. “We still have eyes on the Charles Town Classic (on April 20),” Pender said. “It’s a three-turn race, so sometimes it’s weird and it favors speed and other times it rains, the track opens up and they come from dead last. I don’t know if there’s any pronounced bias. Jeranimo is marching forward. We’re just keeping the air in him and pointing him to the (Grade I, $500,000) Woodford Reserve (Turf Classic) at Churchill Downs on Derby Day (May 4).” . . . One-third of the 12 horses entered in today’s sixth race were sired by Unusual Heat . . . With 100 players selecting even-money favorite Flashback to finish at least third in yesterday’s San Felipe (he ran second), 159 remained alive in ShowVivor II going into Sunday’s races.