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STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN
FLORES, BOB BLACK JACK TOGETHER AGAIN FOR SAN CARLOS HANDICAP
David Flores is excited about reuniting with Bob Black Jack for Saturday’s Grade II, $150,000 San Carlos Handicap for older horses at seven furlongs. The last time the veteran jockey teamed up with the speedy son of Stormy Jack, they won the Grade I Malibu Stakes at seven furlongs back on Dec. 26, 2008.
Ailments have sidelined Bob Black Jack since, but the 5-year-old horse has been working forwardly at Hollywood Park for trainer James Kasparoff.
“Kasparoff is doing a great job with him,” Flores said. “The horse is looking good, he’s healthy and he’s sound. His last work was good and he’s coming back really well. I don’t know if he’s going to need the race, because at seven-eighths, he might, but we don’t know.”
Bob Black Jack is a committed front-runner, having failed to make the lead only three times in his 10 career starts. “That’s his natural style,” Flores said, “so I’m not going to go against him. He knows what to do and I’m going to let him.”
Bob Black Jack set a world record for six furlongs of 1:06.53 when he won the Sunshine Millions Dash on Jan. 26, 2008. He has earned $594,925 for owners Jeff Harmon and Tim Kasparoff, Jim’s older brother.
The field for the San Carlos, which goes as the ninth race on a 10-race program: Hunch, Joe Talamo, 113; Supreme Summit, Rafael Bejarano, 113; Bob Black Jack, Flores, 120; Dancing in Silks, Joel Rosario, 121; Bestdressed, Alonso Quinonez 115; Ventana, Victor Espinoza, 114; and Quietly Mine, Inoel Beato, 114.
VERSATILE UNUSUAL SUSPECT SET FOR MARATHON SAN LUIS OBISPO
Win or lose, Unusual Suspect has the most unique resume of any entrant in Sunday’s Grade II, $150,000 San Luis Obispo Handicap for older horses at 1 1/2 miles on turf. According to trainer Barry Abrams, the 6-year-old is the only horse to have won at every major track in California—Bay Meadows, Del Mar, Golden Gate Fields, Hollywood Park and Santa Anita. He also has won at distances from six furlongs to a mile and a half, beating Pacific Classic winner Richard’s Kid in the mile and a half Cougar II Handicap at Del Mar last August.
With earnings of $739,850, Unusual Suspect is the leading money earner among Unusual Heat’s vast list of progeny. Unusual Heat, who turned 20 on Jan. 1, has sired 294 runners since starting his stud career 12 years ago. “His oldest foals are 11 years old,” Abrams said. “Raise the Heat is 10 and from his second crop, and still running.
“The San Luis Obispo is a tough race, but I just need somewhere to run Unusual Suspect,” Abrams said. “Hopefully, this will get him fit for the next race (the $100,000 Crystal Water Handicap on Feb. 28).”
Unusual Suspect worked four furlongs on Pro-Ride Thursday in :48.60.
The field for the San Luis Obispo: Dynamic Range, Victor Espinoza, 117; Sir Dave, David Flores, 114; Bourbon Bay, Rafael Bejarano, 114; Romp, Chantal Sutherland, 112; Unusual Suspect, Alonso Quinonez, 115; Obrigado, Joel Rosario, 116; Troubletimesthree, Martin Garcia, 111; Sudden War, Alex Solis, 114; and Porfido, Joe Talamo, 116.
RACING MOURNS PASSING OF TWO ‘FIRST LADIES’
Racing lost two of its most gracious and successful owners recently when Mary Jones Bradley passed away on Feb. 5 and Betty L. Mabee followed on Feb. 15.
Bradley, who owned the popular 1970s star Cougar II, died at age 90 in Rancho Santa Fe. She raced Cougar II under the name of Mary Jones. An heiress to the Florsheim shoe fortune, she was married to singer and actor Alan Jones at the time. Cougar II, trained by Charlie Whittingham, won 20 of 50 starts including the 1973 Santa Anita Handicap.
“She was a larger-than-life character and had great success with Charlie when I was an assistant with him,” said Hall of Fame trainer Neil Drysdale.
Betty Mabee, who with her late husband, John, helped build one of the west's great Thoroughbred breeding empires and played a key role in the blossoming of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club and Del Mar racetrack, died Monday about 7 p.m. at her home in nearby Rancho Santa Fe. She was 88. Mrs. Mabee passed "peacefully and quietly," according to her son, Larry, who noted that his mother had finally succumbed to an extended illness.
“She was a real-class lady,” said Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella, who, among others, conditioned Bel’s Starlet, Event of the Year and Best Pal for the Mabees. “We had some very nice horses, and Mrs. Mabee was a very gracious lady. It’s sad to see her go, but I guess it was time.”
A warm, personable woman with an easy smile, Mrs. Mabee made a point of carving out time in her busy life to be deeply involved in numerous charitable organizations and programs during more than half a century in the San Diego area. She had a special love for projects involved with children in need and was a founding member of Voices for Children and the Angels of Aseltine Auxiliary.
Mrs. Mabee, a native of Unionville, Missouri, grew up in Iowa and married John, her high school sweetheart, to start a partnership that was to last for 60 years and see them reach great heights in the world of business, as well as fame and fortune in the Thoroughbred industry.
The Mabees moved from the heartland to San Diego during World War II and opened a mom-and-pop grocery store that evolved into the 30-store Big Bear Supermarket chain. Subsequently, the Mabees started and ran Golden Eagle Insurance Company, California's third-largest workers' compensation carrier with more than 1,300 employees. But the couple discovered their true love in 1957 when they bought two horses for $6,000 at the Del Mar Yearling Sale.
That small investment led to the founding of Golden Eagle Farm in Ramona, California, which grew from 197 to 568 acres at its height in the early 2000s. Among the Mabees many equine successes, the best of all -- and Mrs. Mabee's personal favorite -- was Best Pal, a rugged California champion they bred and foaled at their farm who went on to win more than $5.6 million, including the 1991 inaugural running of Del Mar's most prestigious race, the $1-million Pacific Classic.
Following the death of her husband in 2002, Mrs. Mabee agreed to join the board of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club as a director, a role she served in until 2008, when she took on the title of Director Emeritus.
Besides her son, Mrs. Mabee is survived by three grandchildren. The family encourages those wishing to honor her in some fashion to make a donation to their favorite charity in her name, or send a contribution to one of Mrs. Mabee’s favorite cause, Aseltine School (www.aseltine.org) in San Diego. The school’s mission is to aid emotionally troubled and learning disabled children to lead independent and fulfilling lives.
HRTV TO ANNOUNCE 2010 SANTA ANITA GEORGE WOOLF AWARD WINNER SATURDAY
The 2010 Santa Anita George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award winner will be announced Saturday on HRTV. The announcement will be a part of HRTV’s “Saddle Battle,” which begins at 3 p.m. The five finalists are Calvin Borel, Garrett Gomez, Randall Meier, Gallyn Mitchell and Deshawn Parker.
“Santa Anita has presented the Woolf Award since 1950 and it is an integral part of our historical fabric,” said Santa Anita’s Vice President, Business Coordination and Director of Broadcast, Amy J. Zimmerman.
“The Woolf Award is one of the most highly coveted honors any rider can attain and some of the greatest jockeys in the history of the sport have this trophy on display. This is an award of national significance and we are proud to be able to make this very important announcement Saturday on HRTV.”
NEW FACES COULD TAKE UP SLACK IN CHARITY BASKETBALL GAME FEB. 25
Santa Anita’s jockeys will be missing three of their best players when they take on Holy Angels in the 43rd annual Charity Basketball Game next Thursday, Feb. 25, 7:15 p.m., at LaSalle High School in Pasadena. Kent Desormeaux and Corey Nakatani are riding on other circuits, and ex-rider Corey Black has retired.
But long-time local stalwart David Flores, the jockeys’ co-captain, is not discouraged. “We have a bunch of new riders in the colony, and it looks like they want to be part of this,” Flores said. “Hopefully, they’ll bring some good basketball skills to the game. A few of the young kids can play, so I’m thinking we have a good team this year.”
Proceeds will benefit the Holy Angels athletic department. Legendary Hall of Fame jockeys Eddie Delahoussaye, Laffit Pincay Jr. and Gary Stevens will be on hand along with four-time national money-earnings champion Garrett Gomez to sign autographs beginning at 6:15 p.m.
As he has for the past 10 years, HRTV anchor/analyst Kurt Hoover will coach the jockeys.
Along with Flores and Paul Atkinson, Rafael Bejarano, Joel Rosario, Mike Smith, Joe Talamo, Martin Garcia, Brice Blanc, Alonso Quinonez, Felipe Valdez, Mike Baze, Tyler Baze, Omar Berrio, Christian Santiago Reyes, Micheal James and others are expected to participate.
LaSalle High School is located at the southwest corner of Michillinda Ave. and Sierra Madre Blvd. in Pasadena, approximately four miles from Santa Anita. Admission is $5. TOC Industry Summit Draws Broad Interest
FIRST TOC SUMMIT ATTRACTS FULL TURNOUT AT SANTA ANITA
The Baldwin Terrace room at Santa Anita was filled to capacity Saturday for the first-ever Owner/Trainer Industry Summit hosted by the Thoroughbred Owners of California. Nearly 150 people heard industry representatives and expressed their concerns about the most pressing issues facing California racing.
First up was a panel on California’s satellite wagering system, which included Tom Varela of SCOTWINC, George Haines of Santa Anita, Craig Fravel of Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, Robert Hartman of Golden Gate Fields and Chris Korby of CARF.
Discussion focused on possible long-term solutions for the aging satellite network. Established nearly 25 years ago, the system includes 32 wagering sites throughout California, predominantly at fairs. It has been losing money in recent years due to a combination of factors including migration of handle from brick and mortar locations to Internet wagering, high-fixed costs, and outdated facilities. Proposed solutions include opening up-to-date “mini-satellites” in locations such as sports bars, card clubs and Indian casinos, as well as reducing the 20-mile radius restriction for placement of new mini-satellites in relation to existing California wagering facilities.
The second panel included John Harris of the CHRB, Tom Robbins of Del Mar and trainer John Sadler, who discussed California’s year-round racing calendar and what it might look like in the future. Possible scenarios discussed included reductions in race days and longer breaks between race meets. In response to a question from the audience, Harris explained the process of race date allocation and the importance of consensus among all industry partners, including the owners, trainers, tracks and labor.
The closing panel on track surfaces included Drs. Lucy Anthenill and Francisco Uzol of the UC Davis Laboratory, Dr. Rick Arthur of UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and CHRB, trainers John Shirreffs and Sadler, Fravel, and professional handicapper Toby Turrell. Drs. Anthenill and Uzol presented statistics on findings from their necropsy program on racehorse fatalities from 2005 through 2009 on dirt, synthetic and turf tracks. Additional data was presented by Dr. Arthur on catastrophic injuries both in racing and in training. Fravel presented statistics reflecting Del Mar’s experience in relation to horse injuries, field sizes, and various runner statistics before and after the installation of Polytrack.
Shirreffs and Sadler detailed some of their experiences on synthetic surfaces, explaining the reasons they favor a return to traditional dirt tracks, while Turrell spoke about some of the mis-perceptions about handicapping synthetic versus dirt track races. Several members of the audience expressed their opinions about track surfaces, including trainer Darrell Vienna and owner Jerry Moss, both in favor of a return to traditional dirt tracks. What some feared might become a shouting match between the two camps turned out to be a civil and useful dialogue, with panelists and audience members alike expressing a desire to work together to find a solution to California’s track surface issue.
FORMER TRAINER DAL JONES JR. DEAD AT 38
Tragedy struck the racing community Tuesday as former trainer Dal Jones Jr. died of an apparent heart attack after undergoing surgery at Arcadia Methodist Hospital. He was 38. “We grew up together and played baseball at Temple City High,” said agent Tommy Ball. “We were very good friends.” Jones also played baseball at Azusa Pacific University and later worked at Santa Anita in Group Sales. Jones was currently an integral member of Hollywood Park’s marketing and group sales departments. His mother, Eleanor, works in Santa Anita’s Operations Department. Jones is survived by his wife, Sally, and their two young children, son Dal Jr. and daughter Avary. A memorial service for Jones will be held at Santa Anita at a date to be announced.
FINISH LINES: Tomorrow marks another ‘Free Friday’ at Santa Anita. Patrons will receive free General Admission and box seats, while supplies last, as well as being offered $1 hot dogs, beers, sodas, popcorn and coffee . . . Undefeated Caracortado is back on the track “and doing great” following his fifth straight victory last Saturday in the Grade II Robert B. Lewis Stakes, trainer Mike Machowsky said. The California-bred gelding is scheduled to take on Kentucky Derby Future Book favorite Lookin At Lucky in the Grade II, $150,000 San Felipe Stakes on March 13 . . . Agent Vince DeGregory reports he has taken the book of jockey Alonso Quinonez effective immediately from Nick Cosato, who is going into another business . . . Dan Ward, assistant to Jerry Hollendorfer, said Tuscan Evening’s victory in Monday’s Buena Vista Handicap was “the best race of her career,” and she could return in the Grade II, $150,000 Santa Ana Handicap at 1 1/8 miles on turf on March 21. “But we will nominate her to the (Frank E.) Kilroe (Mile) on March 6,” Ward said, adding that Las Virgenes winner Blind Luck is scheduled to work Monday for the Grade I, $250,000 Santa Anita Oaks on March 6 . . . Jordan Blair, assistant to trainer Kenny McPeek, said Striking Dancer, upset winner of Sunday’s Grade II La Caňada Stakes, likely will make her next start in the Santa Ana. “It’s either that or face Zenyatta in the Santa Margarita on March 13,” Blair said. “Our options are limited.” . . . The road to the Kentucky Derby kicks into high gear this weekend, and HRTV will provide onsite coverage from the Fair Grounds and Gulfstream Park, sites for two key Grade II Derby preps Saturday. Gary Stevens and Scott Hazelton will be in New Orleans for the $300,000 Risen Star, and Caton Bredar and Daily Racing Form's Jay Privman will provide the latest from South Florida and Gulfstream's $250,000 Fountain of Youth . . . Trainer Barry Abrams will be Jerry Antonucci’s guest Saturday at the Today’s Racing Digest seminar, 11 a.m., in the East Paddock Gardens . . . ShowVivor II was down to 885 contestants going into Thursday’s races.