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STABLE NOTES BY MIKE WILLMAN
. VETERAN TRAINER MEL STUTE CUTTING BACK, BUT NOT QUITE RETIRING
. CLAIBORNE FARM EPITOME OF CLASS AT ECLIPSE AWARDS
. HORSES, GOURMET FOOD TRUCKS & MUSIC MAKE ‘SUNSHINE’ SYNERGY
MEL STUTE TO DISPERSE STABLE ON MONDAY, BUT WILL REMAIN IN ACTION
Veteran trainer Mel Stute, who saddled his first winner at Portland Meadows in 1947, and who ranks eighth all-time at Santa Anita with 540 winners, has nine horses catalogued at the Barretts Winter Mixed Sale on Monday, but although the consignment represents his entire Santa Anita stable, the 83-year-old Indiana native isn’t quite ready to announce his retirement.
“I am cutting back,” said Stute from Clockers’ Corner on Saturday morning. “We’ve got nine in the sale on Tuesday with (consignor) Mary Knight. “These are horses of racing age and most of them are in (wife) Annabelle’s name. I’m keeping my 2-year-olds and I’ve got a couple of them turned out right now.
“I’ve got five 2-year-olds coming in here to Santa Anita on Feb. 1. I don’t know how long I’ll keep them. I might run them through the Barretts Sale in May, so we’ll have to wait and see. I want to do what I can to help (son) Gary also, so we’ll be evaluating everything in the next few months.” Stute’s career highlights include wins in the Grade I Santa Anita Derby and Preakness Stakes in 1986 with Snow Chief; the 1986 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies with Brave Raj, and the 1987 Breeders’ Cup Sprint, with the filly, Very Subtle.
Both Snow Chief and Brave Raj went on to win Eclipse Awards in their respective categories in 1986. The Stute-conditioned Double Discount, owned and bred in California by long-time client The Hat Ranch, set a world record at Santa Anita in 1977, running a mile and a quarter on turf in 1:57.40 in the Carlton F. Burke Handicap. He was ridden by Paco Mena, who was also the regular rider Telly’s Pop, a fans-favorite who Stute bred and later sold to movie mogul Howard Koch and actor Telly Savalis.
Telly’s Pop would go on to win the 1975 Del Mar Futurity and ’75 Norfolk at Oak Tree. He later won the 1976 California Derby at Golden Gate Fields.
HRTV’S ZIMMERMAN MOVED BY CLAIBORNE FARM’S CONSUMATE CLASS
From Executive Producer Amy Zimmerman, to everyone involved at HRTV, all parties were elated when it was announced that HRTV would be receiving an Eclipse Award for its spellbinding portrayal of the ill-fated 1984 Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes winner Swale, in its documentary entitled “Inside Information: Swale.”
That elation was perhaps literally eclipsed however, in the aftermath of the Eclipse Awards this past Monday night in Miami. Swale, who was owned and bred by Claiborne Farm, and who inexplicable died just eight days after his Belmont triumph, rests at Clairborne, in Lexington, Kentucky. The feature was told through the eyes of Claiborne owners, Seth Hancock and his sister, Dell.
“When we won the Eclipse Award for the Swale piece on Monday night, we gave the trophy to Claiborne Farm,” said Zimmerman, who has now been a part of 15 Eclipse broadcast victories. “As you know, the ceremony on Monday night ran very long, but Dell sought me ought, right after the Horse of the Year presentation and insisted that we take the trophy back. She was very gracious, complimentary, but firm. She said ‘Seth already has a herd (of Eclipse trophies).’
“I was, and am, a bit overwhelmed by her gesture—Claiborne had just lost the Horse of the Year trophy (to Zenyatta) and she was very disappointed, but it was more important for her to find me in the back of the room and tell me that she was proud of the job we had done on the piece.” It’s often been said that you find out a lot more about people when they lose, as compared to when they win. In the case of Claiborne Farm and Dell Hancock—the verdict is clearly in.
GOURMET FOOD TRUCKS, MUSIC TO COMPLIMENT SUNSHINE MILLIONS SATURDAY
A fleet of 20 gourmet food trucks and two popular rock bands will provide a unique synergy on Sunshine Millions Day, next Saturday, Jan. 29.
“Gourmet food trucks have become a significant part of Southern California culture over the last year or two and we’re happy to introduce the truck phenomenon to our fans,” said Santa Anita Vice President of Marketing Allen Gutterman. “We’ll have over 20 trucks in the east infield serving just about anything you might want to eat.
“We’re going to have Cantor’s Deli, Border Grill, Rajin Cajun, South Philly Experience, Don Chow Tacos, The Grilled Cheese Truck and a lot more. Along with the food, we’ll have a Santa Anita Gastropub and really hot ‘80s rock band called the Spazmatics, who have performed twice at the White House. If you’re already at the track, admission to the Food Truck Festival is only five dollars.”
Gutterman also noted that another band, Steel Rod, will play after the races, in Sirona’s, on the main floor of the grandstand. Steel Rod is also a popular Southern California band that covers classic rock.
“With all of these components working in conjunction with what we hope is some great racing, this should be a memorable Sunshine Millions Day,” said Gutterman.
FINISH LINES: Jockey Martin Garcia, idle since early November, worked five horse this morning at Hollywood Park and will return to afternoon action at Santa Anita on Thursday, according to agent Jim Pegram…Gene Williams, on behalf of Churchill Downs, was an early-morning visitor at Santa Anita on Saturday, soliciting early nominations to the Triple Crown. Nominations are $600 per horse and the early nom deadline is midnite (EST) Saturday…A total of 168 horses worked on the Santa Anita main track Saturday, including Cost of Freedom, who worked six furlongs in 1:12.60 in preparation for Saturday’s Sunshine Millions Sprint...Sir Beaufort Stakes winner Jeranimo drilled five furlongs on turf 1:02.40, while Cal-bred Caracortado breezed in 1:01 flat…Randy Wang, board operator for Tim Conway Jr.’s popular nighttime show on KFI, AM 640, will host an internet podcast from the infield Saturday.