Monthly Archives: October 2012

Vote now: Will the Breeders’ Cup ever be held on a synthetic surface again?

Joe Santos, son of Derby-winning jockey Jose Santos: college athlete and future horse trainer

Remember the pictures of the young son of jockey Jose Santos, who won the Kentucky Derby aboard Funny Cide?

Joe Santos is now a freshman at Bellarmine University in Louisville. He’s a member of the Knights soccer team.

Santos enjoys riding horses, but he says by 14, he “shot up” and grew taller. So he turned to soccer as his athletic pursuit. He hopes to become a horse trainer.

“Whatever I do in life, it’s going to be involved with racing,” he said.

Check out this video feature on Joe Santos, son of Jose Santos, provided by Bellarmine University.

“My father said he was going to win the Derby, and he wound up winning,” he said. “It was probably the most exciting moment of my life.”

Breeders’ Cup: Bill Spawr: Amazombie’s enemy is clear skies

While everyone is lauding the Utopian California weather for this year’s Breeders’ Cup, trainer Bill Spawr is wishing for some Seattle-like rain.

“I’d feel real good if it rained a couple days before (next Saturday), but it’s not good for us: clear skies,” he said.  “But Amazombie tries anyway.”

Amazombie, the California-bred gelding, is seeking to repeat as Sprint champion. He’s remained consistent until his last race – an uncharacteristic fourth in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship Stakes.

Amazombie was slated to work at Santa Anita Friday morning, according to the track’s press notes.

“He’ll work a long five (furlongs) and (go) out three-quarters,” Spawr said. “Depending on how he works, I’ll come back on Thursday (Nov. 1) and do something. I’m not sure about two-minute clipping or actually working three-eighths. That’s pretty much been standard for him and it’s been pretty successful.”

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A big Breeders’ Cup birthday for jockey Brian Hernandez, Jr.?

It could be a very special birthday for locally-based jockey Brian Hernandez, Jr.

Hernandez, Jr, will be aboard Fort Larned for the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 3 – also the day of his 27th birthday.

It’s been an eventful year for the jockey. He recently married wife Jamie and has enjoyed success with his Classic contender, Fort Larned. A Kentucky-bred son of E Dubai trained by Ian Wilkes, Fort Larned won the Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Handicap before pulling off an upset in the Grade 1 Whitney.

In his most recent start, the 4-year-old Fort Larned was third behind Flat Out and Stay Thirsty in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup.

Fort Larned worked five furlongs in 1:01.00 at Churchill Downs Monday in preparation for the Classic.

Like many of the Classic contenders, this will be the first trip West for Fort Larned. His running style could be well-suited to the Santa Anita track – suggesting a big birthday party in the winners’ circle is a possibility.

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Imagine: The real Battle of the Bluegrass

Call it an affinity for the competition of horse racing, a nod to the bond between a coach and player and a dash of good old-fashioned marketing.

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Pitino talking with Terry Bradshaw and Elliott Walden at the 2011 Derby

University of Louisville coach Rick Pitino, long involved in horse racing since the days of Halory Hunter and A.P. Valentine, has three young colts in training named after his players: Siva, Gorgui and Russdiculous.

Pitino is hoping they have a bright future that might include a trip along the Triple Crown Trail. What would be better than a Kentucky Derby featuring a contender named after a hometown-based player owned by the hometown’s favorite coach?

A rivalry. That’s what’s better.

Imagine if Kentucky coach John Calipari, longtime nemesis of Pitino, got involved and bought some 2-year-olds. He could even name them after Wildcat stars, past or present.

Since many of Pitino’s horses are trained by Derby-winning trainer Doug O’Neill, Calipari could elicit the talents of a rival trainer. Dale Romans, maybe – or D. Wayne Lukas?

What if they made it to the trail as well and went head-to-head with the Cardinal colts?

The epic stretch battle of the Santa Anita Derby could sound something like this: “Coming from off the pace, it’s Russdiculous. . .but he’ll have to catch Nerlens Noel, who’s gaining more with every stride…

“This…is…un-bel-ievable!”

So how about it, Coach Calipari? A boost for both basketball and the racing industry is just a phone call away.

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Meet Chad Brown: Binders full of fillies?

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney may have binders full of women, but trainer Chad Brown boasts what would constitute a binder full of fast fillies.

Leading the world-class list is the indomitable Awesome Feather, who is pointing to the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic. The daughter of Awesome of Course is a perfect ’10’ – undefeated in 10 starts and coming off an 11-length romp in the Nasty Storm Stakes. The Ladies’ Classic is shaping up to be the centerpiece of this year’s event with Royal Delta, My Miss Aurelia, Questing and Grace Hall.

Brown’s bevy of lawn-loving ladies is led by the classy French-bred Zagora, a Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf hopeful. The daughter of Green Tune ran a superb second to Nahrain in the Flower Bowl Invitational, and will likely meet up with that rival again at Santa Anita.

Dayatthespa is a take-charge lady who likes the lead – all the way to the finish, as she did so expertly in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes at Keeneland. The New York-bred daughter of City Zip, who is unbeaten in five stakes races this year, will head to the Matriarch at Hollywood Park.

Irish-bred Watsdachances is a talented, lightly-raced filly who hasn’t seen the high level of publicity as her stablemates, but is a top contender for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. She’s 3 for 4 and beat a decent field in the Miss Grillo Stakes.

Brown is hoping Flashy Gal, a daughter of Smart Strike who broke her maiden at Belmont Park in her second start, can join the cast of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.

These are just a few of Brown’s blossoming filly stars.

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Cuidate! An inside look at what happened in last Friday’s no-contest race at Santa Anita

From Santa Anita press notes by Ed Golden, this is an inside look at what happened in last Friday’s race, declared a no contest because of the loose horse.

Had Joe Talamo spoken “poquito Espanol,” he might have had earlier knowledge of a bizarre incident that occurred in Friday’s second race. In any language, it had a happy ending.

Friday’s second race, a six furlong sprint for maiden 2-year-olds, was declared a no contest by track stewards as a result of a loose horse running the wrong way up the homestretch.

Spinning Love was away in good order, but as he left the chute he hesitated and then jumped to his left, over the temporary inside rail, unseating jockey Alonso Quinonez. He proceeded to run the wrong way along the inside rail through the Club House turn and into the stretch.

Talamo, a 22-year-old native of Louisiana, might be fluent in Cajun but Spanish is not his strong suit. “I saw Alonso’s horse duck in, but down the backstretch, the other riders (Quinonez, Edwin Maldonado, David Flores, Rafael Bejarano and Martin Pedroza, all of Hispanic descent) were all screaming in Spanish,” Talamo said after the smoke had cleared.

“At the three-eighths pole I asked what’s going on, whatcha all talkin’ about? Flores said there was a loose horse and then we all saw it pulling up and went back to riding. At the time it wasn’t funny because it could have been a mess. Thank God everything worked out good.”

Added Quinonez, who would go on win Friday’s seventh race on Oligarch at a $51.60 payoff: “First-time starters coming out of the one hole going three-quarters, sometimes they do that (veer in). Sometimes we’re able to help them by keeping the stick in the left hand, but when my horse saw the horses outside of him, he tried to run away from them.”

Santa Anita’s three-member board of stewards, Scott Chaney, Kim Sawyer and Tom Ward, acted swiftly.

“We radioed our outriders and one of them was able to communicate to the jockeys that we had a loose horse running the wrong way,” said Sawyer. “We also told Trevor (Denman) and he immediately announced it. As the field rounded the turn, the jockeys could see the loose horse and they stopped riding.

“Our outrider who is positioned at the starting gate chased the loose horse and was able to herd him towards the outside rail as he headed up the stretch, and at that point the jockeys went ahead and persevered with their mounts to the wire.

“It was our judgment, however, that the race be declared a no contest, because it was obvious that the running of the race had been seriously disrupted.”

Trainer Tim Yakteen reported that Spinning Love exited his wrong way ordeal in good order.

As a result of the no contest ruling, full refunds, totaling $267,507, were granted on all daily doubles involving races two and three, win, place and show wagers, exactas, trifectas and superfectas.

For those including race two in their Pick 3s, 4s, 5s, and in the Pick All, the race was considered an “All” race for pari-mutuel purposes and the tickets were live. 

Where is the love for Jose Lezcano?

It seems Jose Lezcano is always “pinch-hitting” for other jockeys when they’re not available.

On Saturday at Keeneland, Lezcano pulled his own Raul Ibanez-like performance. Did anyone see it?

First, he powered 25-1 shot Strike the Moon to a second-place finish behind monster Groupie Doll in the Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes. Seriously – that added some value to the exacta!

He urged Tapitsfly past Daisy Devine in the First Lady, undoubtedly one of the most stirring stretch battles so far this season. Tapitsfly hadn’t shown much in her last two starts.

The big finale: filling in for John Velazquez aboard quite possibly America’s best horse in training, Lezcano guided Wise Dan around traffic in a five-wide move to win in the Shadwell Turf Mile.

Where is the love for Jose Lezcano?

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Bill Spawr on Amazombie: “People are acting like he died.”

From Santa Anita press notes:

Bill Spawr confirmed early Monday morning that he was awaiting results of precautionary blood tests on Amazombie that would take several days, following the California-bred gelding’s fourth-place finish by just over a length as the 4-5 favorite in Saturday’s Santa Anita Sprint Championship.

“People are acting like he died,” the trainer and co-owner of last year’s Eclipse Award winner as outstanding male sprinter said. “He came out of the race OK. Results of the tests take five days.

“Mike Smith (Amazombie’s regular rider) loved the race. Unless there’s something unforeseen, the horse is on target (for the Breeders’ Cup).”

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Who was Saturday’s brightest star?

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