The spotlight shines on 3-year-olds with Triple Crown aspirations at Santa Anita next Saturday with the running of the Grade III, $150,000 Sham Stakes.

One candidate for the mile and an eighth race for 3-year-olds is the lightly raced Kettle River, a bay son of Congaree owned by Darley Stable and trained by Eoin Harty.

“I can’t imagine I’m in much of a different position than anybody else in the race,” Harty said. “The horse is training well and this looks like a good spot to see what he can do.”

Kettle River has won two consecutive races since finishing sixth by 9 1/2 lengths in a six-furlong maiden race on a sloppy Saratoga track last August. He came from just off the pace to break his maiden at 1 1/16 miles on Hollywood Park’s turf course on Nov. 15, and came back with a strong rally to win an allowance race at 1 1/16 miles on Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride Jan. 6. Brice Blanc, who was aboard for the two victories, retains the mount.

Harty saddled Colonel John to win the Santa Anita Derby in 2008.

Probable for the Sham, a major steppingstone to the Grade I, $750,000 Santa Anita Derby on April 3: Alphie’s Bet, no rider; Boulder Creek, no rider; Kettle River, Blanc; Nextdoorneighbor, Mike Smith; Outlaw Man, no rider; Privilaged, no rider; Setsuko, Rafael Bejarano; The Program, Martin Garcia; Viva Macho, Silvio Amador; and Wolf Tail, Joel Rosario.


The 2010 Santa Anita George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award winner will be announced by Gary Stevens from the Fair Grounds today 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.”


You don’t have to be a basketball fan to enjoy the 43rd annual Charity Basketball Game on Thursday, Feb. 25 between the Santa Anita jockeys and Holy Angels School. Tip off is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. at LaSalle High School in Pasadena.

In addition to watching an action-packed, fun-filled game, fans will get a chance to meet--up-close-and-personal--legendary Hall of Fame jockeys Eddie Delahoussaye, Laffit Pincay Jr. and Gary Stevens, along with four-time national money-earnings king Garrett Gomez, who will sign autographs starting at 6:15 p.m.

Gomez, twice honored with an Eclipse Award as the nation’s outstanding jockey, is looking forward to the occasion, even though he won’t be in uniform.“I played in a benefit game that WinStar Farms put together one year at Saratoga,” Gomez said, “but that’s the only time I’ve ever really played.

“All the years I’ve been riding here, for one reason or another, I’ve never attended one of the games. It’s just never worked out, and I’ve never played, so there was really no reason to go. But I was asked to sign autographs this year, and I said, ‘Sure.’ I’m more than happy to do that.”

As he has for the past 10 years, HRTV anchor/analyst Kurt Hoover will coach the jockeys.

Game captain David Flores, 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. Proceeds will benefit the Holy Angels athletic department. 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.


A memorial service for longtime turf writer Larry Bortstein, who passed away at age 67 on Jan. 31, will be held in Santa Anita’s FrontRunner Restaurant on Wednesday, Feb. 24, at 5 p.m., following the afternoon’s races.

Bortstein, who at the time of his death was a regular contributor to the Orange County Register and the California Thoroughbred Magazine, succumbed from the effects of a pulmonary embolism he suffered at his home on Jan. 23.

His longtime friend and colleague, Bill Christine, a retired multiple Eclipse Award-winning staff writer for the Los Angeles Times, will emcee the service.


Horse Capital Productions and HRTV have reached an agreement for the network to serve as a presenting sponsor of the 2010 International Equestrian Festival (IEF), scheduled for Lexington, Ky., this fall.

As a presenting sponsor, HRTV, which is viewed in 19 million households and worldwide via its broadband platform, will have a major presence at the IEF. The network will be accorded special access to industry stars involved in the extravaganza.

The IEF will be held in the state-of-the-art convention center in downtown Lexington from Sept. 25 through Oct. 10 and is designed to complement the World Equestrian Games eight world championships in reining, dressage, show jumping, eventing, endurance, driving, vaulting and para-equestrian.

Administered by the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), the Games are held every four years, with 2010 marking the first time that the United States hosts the competitions. Over 600,000 spectators from more than 50 countries are expected in Lexington for these events. The multi-million dollar International Equestrian Festival will include a 16-day equestrian conference, live demonstration arena, and an international shopping expo for 300 retail stores. It is also the pick-up and drop-off location for famous Kentucky horse farm tours.

FINISH LINES: The funeral for former trainer Dal Jones Jr. will be Tuesday, Feb. 23, 11 a.m., in the Sky Rose Chapel at Rose Hills Cemetery, 3888 Workman Mill Rd. in Whittier (562-699-0921). A reception will follow at 1 p.m. in Santa Anita’s Chandelier Room of the Turf Club. Jones died Tuesday following surgery at the age of 38. A Dal Jones IV Memorial Fund at Wells Fargo Bank in San Gabriel has been established. For inquiries, contact Branch Manager Johanes at 626 237-3900 . . . Friday’s single winning Pick Six ticket worth $77,254 was purchased for $200 at Pleasanton . . . Joel Rosario has been suspended three days (Feb. 26-28) for failing to maintain a straight course in the stretch on 3-2 favorite Tamerin in Thursday’s fifth race, resulting in a disqualification of his mount from fourth to eighth . . . Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic winner Life Is Sweet worked three furlongs at Hollywood Park Saturday in a bullet :36.00, breezing. . . Shadow of Illinois, who attempted unsuccessfully to become the first 10-year-old to win a stakes race at Santa Anita in the Sensational Star Handicap on Jan. 1, is doing well and could resurface against lesser company early next month. “The last couple races for him have been a little tough,” said Anthony Savaadra, who trains the gelding for his wife, Jennifer. “We might find a little easier race for him next month. He’s training great and he’s as ornery as ever, so we’ll see how he goes.” . . . Probable for next Sunday’s $100,000 Crystal Water Handicap for older California-breds at one mile on turf: Jack’s Wild, Brice Blanc; Liberian Freighter, Rafael Bejarano; and Live Sundays, Alex Solis . . . Garcias Rule! Puerto Rico native Julio Garcia and Martin Garcia of Mexico ran one-two on 4-1 winner Little Ruler and 41-1 runner-up Country Impact in Friday’s fourth race to produce a $152.60 exacta payoff . . . ShowVivor II was down to 599 contestants going into Saturday’s races.