Despite the fact that Einstein has never raced on a synthetic track, his participation in Saturday’s $1 million Santa Anita Handicap was a no-brainer.

“He’s doing well. He’s really settled in nicely,” said Helen Pitts, who trains the Brazilian-bred son of 1985 Kentucky Derby winner Spend a Buck. “He’s handled the track fine, and seems to be going good. We’ve had great weather (before Wednesday’s rain), and he’s adapted very well.”

Einstein is the 121-pound highweight for the Grade I, mile and a quarter Big ’Cap. “I couldn’t quite see that,” Pitts said, “since he’s never run on synthetic before.

“He’s only ever trained on it while he’s been here, and maybe four other days in Chicago (Arlington Park), in his life. I think he likes it. He’s working great and seems to be handling it fine. Running on synthetic is a whole new angle, but we hope it’s a good angle.”

Victory in the Big ’Cap would push Einstein’s bankroll over the $2 million mark. With nine wins, three seconds and two thirds from 23 starts, he has earned $1,678,020 for Bill Gallion and Shirley Cunningham Jr. of Lexington, who race as Midnight Cry Stable.

“I’ve been training Einstein since I’ve been on my own in 2005,” Pitts said. “Kenny (McPeek) had him before that and I was his assistant for six years before that, so I’ve been with Einstein his whole career. I was an assistant in Maryland for a long time, and did the jumpers for quite a while before moving to the flat tracks.”

This is not Pitts’ first visit to Santa Anita. “I came here in 2003 for the Breeders’ Cup with McPeek when we ran Take Charge Lady,” she said. Take Charge Lady finished sixth behind victorious Adoration in the Distaff.

The field for the 72nd Big ‘Cap, which goes as race No. 10 on an 11-race program: Matto Mondo, Rafael Bejarano, 116, 6-1; Cowboy Cal, John Velazquez, 120, 5-1; Heroi Do Bafra, Michael Baze, 111, 30-1; Monba, Edgar Prado, 114, 15-1; Colonel John, Garrett Gomez, 119, 9-2; Magnum, Joel Rosario, 116, 12-1; Blue Exit, Robby Albarado, 115, 12-1; Einstein, Julien Leparoux, 121; 6-1; Dansant, Tyler Baze, 116, 20-1; Cause, Jon Court, 110, 30-1; Court Vision, Ramon Dominguez, 119, 6-1; Zambezi Sun, Victor Espinoza, 116, 12-1; Champs Elysees, Jose Valdivia Jr., 118, 12-1; and Stream Cat, Alex Solis, Alex Solis, 114, 20-1.
In other Big ’Cap news:

Tiago, winner of the Grade I Santa Anita Derby and Grade I Goodwood Stakes in 2007, was not entered. “He backed off his feed a little, and for a race like this, we wouldn’t run him if he’s not 1000 percent,” said Dottie Shirreffs, wife of trainer John Shirreffs and stable manager. “Hopefully, he’ll be back at 1000 percent very soon and continue training for whatever race might be next.”
Saturday’s local weather forecast calls for sunny skies and a high near 70 degrees.

Pitts, trainer of multiple Grade I winner Einstein, will be on HRTV’s “Across the Board” show tonight at 5 p.m.

Jockey John Velasquez, who rides Cowboy Cal in the Big ‘Cap, and who will remain to accept the Santa Anita George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award this Sunday, will be the guest on a pre-taped episode of “ATB” which will air on next Wednesday, March 11, at 5 p.m. Scott Hazelton and Becky Witzman host ATB. Chris Speck produces.

All fans in attendance at Santa Anita will receive a free Big ‘Cap sports bag with paid admission, while supplies last.
First post time is 12 noon. Gates open at 10 a.m.


Vladimir Cerin hopes the third time’s the charm for Will O Way against champion Stardom Bound. Will O Way was defeated twice by Stardom Bound as a 2-year-old, but Cerin is optimistic about his filly’s chance in Saturday’s Grade I, $300,000 Santa Anita Oaks at 1 1/16 miles.

“She’s trained very well,” Cerin said of Will O Way, who is owned by Ron Waranch and Holly and David Wilson. “I just want her to run her race. I can’t control Stardom Bound. I can control my horse, and I know she’s coming up to this race in really good condition. I’m very lucky to have Russell (Baze, who won aboard her in the California Oaks at Golden Gate Fields on Jan. 31).”

The field for the 70th Santa Anita Oaks: Stardom Bound, Mike Smith; Burg Berg, Tyler Baze; Miss Silver Brook, Alex Solis; Hooh Why, Robby Albarado; Stormy Slew, John Velazquez; Nan, Corey Nakatani; Will O Way, Russell Baze; Beltene, Joel Rosario; Third Dawn, Rafael Bejarano; and Acronym, David Flores. Each filly carries 122 pounds.


Hollywood Gold Cup winner Mast Track, who was nominated to the Santa Anita Handicap, has been entered in the Grade I, $300,000 Frank E. Kilroe Mile on turf Saturday.

It would mark the first start for Mast Track since finishing third in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Oak Tree last Oct. 24. Owned and trained by Bobby Frankel, Mast Track has a 5-2-1 record from 13 starts, with earnings of $759,622.

The Kilroe would be his first race on grass since the Grade I Shoemaker Mile at Hollywood Park last May 26. He finished fifth behind victorious Daytona that day.

Mast Track had also been mentioned as a candidate for the New Orleans Handicap at the Fair Grounds on March 14. Frankel is Santa Anita’s career leader in training victories with 911 (not including Oak Tree).

The field for the 50th Kilroe: Ventura, Garrett Gomez, 118; Mast Track, Julien Leparoux, 117; Monterey Jazz, no rider, 116; Hewitts, David Flores, 114; Wise River, Albarado, 116; Artiste Royal, Rafael Bejarano, 119; Dixie Chatter, Tyler Baze, 115; Mr Napper Tandy, Joel Rosario, 113; Global Hunter, Jose Valdivia Jr., 116; Becrux, Edgar Prado, 115; Gio Ponti, Ramon Dominguez, 118; and Victory Pete, Mike Smith, 113.

John Velazquez, winner of the 2009 Santa Anita George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award, will receive the prestigious honor at Santa Anita this Sunday.

In a ceremony between races in the Santa Anita winner’s circle, Velazquez will formally receive the Woolf Trophy and be joined by many former winners of the award, which was instituted by Santa Anita in 1950. By a vote of his peers nationwide, Velazquez was selected over four other finalists: Gary Baze, Calvin Borel, Javier Castellano and David Flores.

The winner’s trophy is a replica of the full-size statue of George Woolf which adorns Santa Anita’s Paddock Gardens area. The statue was created through donations from the racing public after Woolf’s death following a spill at Santa Anita on Jan. 13, 1946.

Woolf, who was regarded as one of the greatest big-money riders of his era, was affectionately known as “The Iceman” in reference to his cool under pressure, and was revered by his colleagues as a fierce competitor and consummate professional. The award, which honors and recognizes riders whose careers and personal character earn esteem for the individual and the sport of Thoroughbred racing, is regarded as one of the most prestigious honors in the racing world.


Nearly 18,000 fans—17,972--attended Santa Anita Sunday on the track’s first-ever Snow Day. Not only did they enjoy the fun, they drew relief from unseasonably warm temperatures that surpassed 80 degrees.

“We’re very pleased by the turnout,” said Santa Anita Vice President of Marketing Allen Gutterman. “It was a lot of fun. The infield was packed with people. The kids had a blast. We more than doubled our attendance from the comparable Sunday in 2008 and that was just counting adults.

“There probably were 7,000 or 8,000 children, but we don’t add them to the attendance and we never charge admission for anyone under 17. It was a great family day and a wonderful opportunity to introduce Santa Anita to neighbors who have never been here before. The only problem, I guess, was it was too nice a day. The temperature got up to 80 degrees and we kind of felt helpless as we watched the snow start to melt sooner than we had anticipated.”

FINISH LINES: Eclipse Award winner Garrett Gomez, who has pulled away to a nine-win lead over runner-up Rafael Bejarano in Santa Anita’s jockeys’ race (60-51), departs for Keeneland when the Kentucky track opens on Friday, April 3, returns to ride Pioneerof the Nile in the Santa Anita Derby on Saturday, April 4, then returns to Keeneland to ride the remainder of the meet which ends April 24, agent Ron Anderson reports. Santa Anita concludes its meet on April 19 . . . Joe Talamo has been suspended three days (March 7, 8 and 11) for causing interference on Irish Torrent in Friday’s eighth race . . . Trainer Gary Stute said Robert B. Lewis runner-up Papa Clem is scheduled to work tomorrow for the March 14 Louisiana Derby . . . Chocolate cake was the order of the day at Clockers’ Corner on a rainy Wednesday morning as Gary Stevens, Danny Sorenson, Barry Abrams and the Hostess with the Mostess, Rosie Yberra, celebrated imminent birthdays . . . There are 6,930 people signed up for ShowVivor II . . . Santa Anita overnights are now available to be e-mailed automatically on a daily basis as soon as they’re available. To sign up for this free service, go to