Generally speaking, “pace makes the race” is a dependable axiom in horse racing. It works in reverse, as well, as exemplified in the San Antonio Stakes on Feb. 8, when Game On Dude and Blueskiesnrainbows hooked up in an exhausting and encumbering speed duel, eventually winding up fifth and sixth as the favorite and second choice.

Game On Dude, who has a penchant for speed, is out to make amends on March 8 when he runs in the Santa Anita Handicap presented by San Miguel Indian Bingo & Casino.

At least that’s the hope of Mike Smith, regular rider of the 7-year-old multimillionaire gelding, although all the specifics for the Grade I, $750,000 Big ‘Cap are still to unfold.

“A lot of times, I guess it’s true, but sometimes it’s not,” said Smith when asked about the “pace makes the race” principle. “In this case (the San Antonio), he went a little quick early and it was his first race back (since finishing second by a head to Will Take Charge in the Clark Handicap on Nov. 29), so he’s certainly got room to improve.

“If it will be enough, we’ll see. I don’t know until he runs. I know that when he runs his ‘A-plus’ race, I’ll match him with anybody. As for the Big ‘Cap, we’ll just have to wait and see who goes in, where we draw, how we break, and then I’ll be able to tell you something.

“On the whole, he’s usually pretty good out of the gate. In the San Antonio, he was just a step slow leaving there, but I look for him to come back and bounce out of there good and see where it puts him.”


Corey Nakatani is looking forward to next Thursday’s basketball game between Santa Anita’s jockeys and Holy Angels School.

The 47th annual charity event has grown in recognition and stature through the years, and will take place Feb. 27 at La Salle High School in Pasadena, with proceeds to benefit the Holy Angels athletic program, the Kentucky-based Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF) and the Eye on Jacob Foundation.

Sponsored by J. Paul Reddam’s CashCall and Meticulous Talent, game time is 7:15 p.m. and admission doors open at 6:15 p.m.

“Eye on Jacob, Holy Angels and the Jockeys are beneficiaries and the importance of the game has gotten bigger each year,” said Nakatani, one of Santa Anita’s best players. “It also provides a great opportunity for the jockeys to enjoy camaraderie away from the race track. We get to hang out with each other and it’s for great causes.”

In addition to active riders such as Nakatani, Gary Stevens, Mike Smith, Joe Talamo, Rafael Bejarano, Aaron Gryder, Edwin Maldonado, Brice Blanc, Tyler Baze, Mario Gutierrez, Orlando Mojica, Alonso Quinonez, Alberto Delgado, Julien Couton and others, retired Hall of Famers Eddie Delahoussaye and Laffit Pincay, Jr., will be available to sign autographs and other memorabilia beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Delahoussaye and Pincay will also serve as honorary team captains along with game captains Smith, Stevens and Talamo. Tickets are $5 and with the purchase of two, fans will receive one General Admission ticket to Santa Anita, good for any race day through April 27. There will also be a Half Court Shot Contest at halftime, with the winner receiving a two-night stay in a luxury suite at the Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas.

Holy Angels Middle School, located on Campus Drive, just to the south of Santa Anita Park, has long educated many members of the racetrack community, and its church, Holy Angels, has been a source of strength for many as well.

The Eye on Jacob Foundation is named for Jacob Desormeaux, the 15-year-old son of Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux. Jacob was diagnosed several years ago with Usher’s Syndrome, a rare disorder that causes loss of hearing, imbalance, and eventual loss of sight in approximately 14,000 children in the United States.

HRTV’s Kurt Hoover, former standout hoopster at Arcadia High School, will again coach the jockeys’ squad. Hoover’s approach this year is simple: “Just let ’em run-n-gun.”

La Salle High School is located at the southwest corner of Michillinda Ave. and Sierra Madre Blvd. in Pasadena, approximately four miles northwest of Santa Anita. Admission tickets and promotional tee shirts are on sale now at Champions! Gifts and Apparel in Santa Anita’s East Paddock Gardens, on-track, or through Holy Angels School.


A perfect two-for-two on Santa Anita’s unique downhill turf course at about 6 ½ furlongs, Lakerville shoots for No. 3 tomorrow in the $100,000 Sensational Star Stakes.

The 6-year-old Unusual Heat horse tackles six rivals, three trained by Jerry Hollendorfer and two by Marty Jones.

“It’s one of the longest stretches in America,” said Lakerville’s trainer, Barry Abrams, in analyzing why the California-bred chestnut’s late-running style is an ideal fit over the course.

“The come-from-behinders have a longer stretch to catch the leader,” he said. “From the time they make that left turn and hit the dirt to the finish line, that’s longer than it is from the three-eighths pole to the finish line.”

The field for the Sensational Star: Kate’s Event, Victor Espinoza, 8-1; Coach Bob, Kent Desormeaux, 8-1; Summer Hit, Rafael Bejarano, 5-2; Lakerville, Gary Stevens, 8-5; Ain’t No Other, Mario Gutierrez, 9-2; Mr. Orney, Drayden Van Dyke, 20-1; and Ambitious Brew, Brice Blanc, 3-1.

FINISH LINES: Through 36 racing days, Bob Baffert and Jerry Hollendorfer remain statistically in sync in the race for leading trainer. Hollendorfer had 82 starters, 21 wins, 20 seconds, 13 thirds, a win percentage of 26 and purse earnings of $1,543,494. Baffert’s numbers were 80, 21, 11, 14, 26 percent and $1,570,990. Remarkably, neither has a horse entered at Santa Anita on Friday’s card . . . Schoolofhardrocks, a maiden winner at Del Mar, is up to six furlongs in his workouts and is expected to return to the races “in a couple of weeks,” trainer David Hofmans said . . . Fashion Plate, winner of the Grade I Las Virgenes Stakes, is scheduled to work three furlongs Saturday for trainer Simon Callaghan, who is preparing the Kentucky-bred daughter of Old Fashioned for the Grade I Santa Anita Oaks on April 5 . . . San Pasqual Stakes winner Blueskiesnrainbows worked five furlongs Friday in 1:03, but Hollendorfer said he was “on the fence, but probably not” running the speedster in the Santa Anita Handicap. Hollendorfer trainees Fury Kapcori, Hear the Ghost and Rousing Sermon are probable for the Big ‘Cap, however. Fury Kapcori worked five furlongs Friday in 59.80; Hear the Ghost the same distance in 1:01; while Rousing Sermon went six furlongs in 1:12.60 . . . Santa Monica Stakes winner Scherzinger worked six furlongs for Hollendorfer in 1:13.60, while promising maiden turf winner Nashoba’s Gold went five furlongs on the main track in 1:02 for Carla Gaines . . . Well-regarded Baffert 3-year-olds Chitu and Midnight Hawk worked five furlongs in 1:00.40 and 59.60, respectively . . . Jockey Erick Lopez, winner of 11 races at Turf Paradise where he is currently riding, was a visitor at Clockers’ Corner. The 26-year-old Marlboro, N.J. native, son of 53-year-old East Coast-based jockey C.C. Lopez, plans to return to ride at Santa Anita late this year. He rode last year here and was a regular exercise rider for Baffert . . . For the fourth straight year, Horse Racing Radio Network (HRRN) will provide exclusive radio coverage of the Kentucky Derby on May 3, live from Churchill Downs. This Saturday, HRRN begins its “Road to the Kentucky Derby” series with the Grade II Risen Star Stakes from the Fair Grounds and the Grade II Fountain of Youth Stakes from Gulfstream Park, beginning at 1:30 p.m. Pacific Time . . . Tom Quigley’s seminar guests in the East Paddock Gardens this weekend will be David Meah, exercise rider for trainer Doug O’Neill, on Saturday, and Sarah Wolfe, agent for promising apprentice rider Drayden Van Dyke, on Sunday. The sessions start at 11:20 a.m. . . . Santa Anita’s annual Derby Day 5K run takes place Saturday, April 5. Highlights include custom medals to all finishers; all competitors will break from a real starting gate and the course runs through the scenic Arboretum of Los Angeles County and finishes on the track; a post-race beer garden with live music from Kelly’s Lot; free admission to the day’s races, featuring the $1 million Santa Anita Derby; free parking for the 5K run and the races; and funds raised for local high schools and CARMA. For on-line and walk-in registration information, visit or call 760 434-5255 . . . The Late Pick 4 on Santa Anita Handicap Day, March 8, will be guaranteed at $500,000, plus, all THOROUGHBREDS members at Santa Anita will be offered a free Santa Anita Park hat with paid admission, while supplies last . . .Tickets at $50 are still available for this Sunday’s Roast & Toast bash feting veteran agents George O’Bryan, Ivan Puhich and Vince DeGregory at Sirona’s at Santa Anita following the last race. Interested parties can contact Tom Knust (626 390-4900), Mariko Feser (626 536-8661) or Mikki Tsuge (626 840-2032).