Trevor Denman will get a rare time-out on Friday. Late night funny man Conan O’Brien, who hosts CONAN weeknights at 11 p.m. on TBS, will step up to the Santa Anita microphone and call Friday’s second race under the watchful eye of America’s premier race caller.

“I think it’s great,” said Denman, who has been calling races at Santa Anita since the fall of 1983. “Conan is universally well-known and well-liked and this is a great way for us to help get the word out on the Breeders’ Cup and live racing here at Santa Anita. He’s a great talent and my advice is always the same—keep it simple and try and have fun with it.”

Announcing styles aside, O’Brien, with high-hair and a 6’ 4” frame, will strike a notable contrast to Denman, who originally aspired to be a jockey in his native South Africa.

And Awaaay They Go . . .


“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”—Lao-tzu, Chinese philosopher (604 BC – 531 BC).

For Mike Machowsky and Caracortado, what seemed like an infinite trekbegan on Jan. 8, 2012.

Since no one can predict the future, the final destination is unknown, but a rich and rewarding stopover could come on Nov. 2, when Caracortado runs in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Santa Anita.

Caracortado was a longshot to take any competitive steps at all, especially in the elevated company he was keeping, after suffering an injury that sent him to the sidelines following victory in the Daytona Stakes nearly two years ago.

But trainer, breeder and part owner Mike Machowsky and his dedicated crew were not about to yield, especially since Caracortado himself encouraged them with his stick-to-itiveness throughout the healing process of the persistent ailment.

Specifically, Caracortado injured the ‘frog’ on his right front foot. In medical terms, the frog not only acts as a shock absorber, it is an important part of a horse’s circulatory system, pumping blood up the leg each time the frog makes contact with the ground.

The blood flows down the leg into the digital cushion, a fibrous part of the inner hoof just above the frog, which contains a network of blood vessels. The horse’s weight then compresses the frog on the ground, squeezing the blood out of the digital cushion and pushing it back up the legs.

Caracortado was an appealing human interest story from the start. He broke his maiden first out in a $40,000 maiden claiming race at Fairplex Park, which, while a fixture in California racing lore, will never rival the rich history of iconic venues such as Santa Anita, Saratoga or Churchill Downs. He won four straight races after that, including the Grade II Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita in 2010.

Caracortado (it means scarface in Spanish) has generated enough interest that he has his own Facebook page (Caracortado) and his own Twitter account (@TheCaracortado).

From 20 career starts, he has won nine, earning $870,105 for Machowsky and his fellow owners who include Super Bowl-winning quarterback Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints; Don Blahut; Steve Sobel; and the Kagele brothers, Tom and Jerry.

After several aborted comeback attempts during his 20-month hiatus, Caracortado finally made it back to the races on Sept. 27, finishing a promising fourth in the Grade III Eddie D. Stakes, run at about 6 ½ furlongs on turf, the California-bred gelding’s favorite course, and identical to that of the Turf Sprint.

Caracortado came out of the Eddie D. well, in fact he worked six furlongs Saturday in 1:12.20 on Santa Anita’s main track. The drill moved him closer to the Turf Sprint. Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens, like Caracortado in a successful comeback, this after a seven-year retirement, rides the 6-year-old chestnut son of Cat Dreams for the first time in the Turf Sprint.

“I’ll breeze him again next week, Saturday or Sunday, maybe on the grass,” Machowsky said. “Gary will work him to get to know him a little bit and feel his turn of foot. The horse has trained great. It took a lot of patience from everybody, me, my help, the owners and the horse.

“He never left Santa Anita that whole time. We kept him at the barn here. It’s been a very tedious process, but that’s what it required. You have to be patient with any horse, but when you have one with his ability . . . We didn’t know if he might come back, or what level he might come back at, but right now, he’s training as good as ever.”

In other Breeders’ Cup news:

Gary Stevens was aboard She’s a Tiger in a bullet 1:10.60 work for six furlongs Sunday at Santa Anita as the Chandelier Stakes runner-up prepares for the $2 million Juvenile Fillies on Nov. 2 for trainer Jeff Bonde.

“It was an excellent work,” the Hall of Fame jockey said. “She always works well . . . I wasn’t asking her for anything. I’m excited. She’s doing well.”

With Steve Asmussen on hand, Untapable (Juvenile Fillies) worked five furlongs in 1:00.80.

Trainer Jorge Gutierrez is likely to enter Bright Thought in the Breeders’ Cup Mile when pre-entries are taken tomorrow.

“We’ll see if we get in, although we probably won’t,” Gutierrez said of the former world record holder for 1 ½ miles on turf. “We’ll enter and go from there.”

Bright Thought worked seven furlongs on Santa Anita’s firm turf course Saturday in 1:28.60. Eddie D. Stakes winner Chips All In (to be supplemented to the Turf Sprint) also worked on grass Saturday, going five furlongs in 1:00.60 for Jeff Mullins. Lady of Shamrock (Filly & Mare Turf) went six furlongs on grass Saturday in 1:14.20 for John Sadler, while City of Hope Mile Stakes winner No Jet Lag (Mile) went five furlongs in 58.80 for Simon Callaghan.

Also Saturday, Obviously, who had his winning streak snapped while finishing fourth as the 1-2 favorite in the City of Hope Mile, worked five furlongs on turf in a bullet 58.40 with Joe Talamo up for Mike Mitchell.

Trainer A.C. Avila will enter L.A. Woman Stakes runner-up Great Hot in the $1 million Filly & Mare Sprint at seven furlongs on Nov. 2. Chantal Sutherland Kruse rides.

Surfer Girl Stakes runner-up Nesso worked five furlongs on Santa Anita’s turf course Saturday in 1:02.40 for the Juvenile Fillies Turf.

“She can go either way,” trainer Vann Belvoir said of her running style. “We’ll see how the race sets up. “I think Martin’s (Garcia) got options. We went easy with her in the work. She finished up (in one) eleven and three (fifths for six furlongs). She’ll have one more breeze next Saturday.”

The Grade I, $150,000 President of the United Arab Emirates Cup Invitational field for Arabian horses, 3-year-olds and up, is expected to attract 13 for the 1 1/16-mile race on Nov. 1.

They include Ms Dixie, 4-year-old filly champion of 2012; Smoke House, champion 3-year-old of 2012; and So Big Is Better, champion older horse of 2012.

Agent Joe Ferrer has the following firm commitments for his two riders, Rafael Bejarano and Julien Leparoux: Goldencents (Bejarano, Dirt Mile); Clenor (Bejarano, Juvenile Fillies Turf); Book Review (Bejarano) and Sweet Lulu (Leparoux, Filly & Mare Sprint); Chips All In (Leparoux, Turf Sprint) and either Boat Trip or Havelock (Bejarano, Turf Sprint); Tiz Flirtatious (Leparoux, Filly & Mare Turf); Dance With Fate (Bejarano) and Diamond Bachelor (Leparoux, Juvenile); and Silentio (Bejarano, Mile).

FINISH LINES: With three wins yesterday, capped by A Toast To You’s upset tally in the $100,000 California Flag Handicap, Pete Miller roared into a tie with Bob Baffert atop the trainer standings, with 10 wins overall . . . Trainer Dan Hendricks was back at Clockers’ Corner Sunday after recuperating from posterior soreness related to being confined to a wheel chair since he was paralyzed from the waist down in a motorcycle accident on July 7, 2004. “I just had a sore from sitting,” said Hendricks, who turns 55 on Dec. 5. “It’s very common with people in wheelchairs. I had it taken care of and pretty much was laid up for the whole time, doing nothing for a period of six weeks.” . . . When Harris Farms’ homebred Water Issues rolled through the stretch to win Saturday’s final race by a half-length under Joe Talamo for trainer Dan Blacker, it marked the fourth maiden winner in the last eight days for the late sire McCann’s Mojave, who died of colic on Oct. 11. Three of the winners were 2-year-olds . . . With nine racing days remaining, 26 players remain alive in ShowVivor entering Sunday’s races . . . Slim Shadey worked four furlongs on the main track Sunday in a bullet 46.80. Trainer Simon Callaghan has the multiple grass stakes winner ticketed for the $70,000 Lure Stakes at one mile on turf Oct. 27 . . . And don’t forget, the World Series starts Wednesday. It’s the Beards versus the Birds.