- CONNER MAKES WINNING FIRST IMPRESSION AT SANTA ANITA
- THREE-VICTORY OPENING DAY LANDMARK FOR TRAINER RUIS
- INORDINATE IS READY FOR SUNDAY’S GRADE II JOHN HENRY
MEMORABLE FIRSTS FOR JOCKEY TYLER CONNER
Several firsts went by the boards Friday when jockey Tyler Conner won the Grade III Eddie D. Stakes on Mr. Roary at odds of nearly 23-1 for trainer George Papaprodromou.
It was the first win at Santa Anita for Conner, his first graded stakes win, and the first time both he and the horse had ever raced over the unique downhill turf course at about 6 ½ furlongs.
“It was my first win at Santa Anita and the first win for both me and the horse going down the hill,” said Conner, whose father, John, currently trains out of Penn National in Grantville, Pa., and whose mother, Sandra (Lisa) was a steward at Delaware Park and rode in the late 1980’s and early 90s.
Tyler, who will be 24 on Oct. 9, was born in Lancaster, Pa., not far from Penn National.
“George just told me to let the horse settle in and do his thing,” said Conner, represented by agent Jim Pegram, whose family has more members in racing than the Wallendas have on the high wire.
“The horse has been running two turns and George just said to let him settle and when it’s time to go, try to get him in the clear to make his run. He won by a neck and just got up in the last jump or two.”
Said Papaprodromou, who trains Mr. Roary for owner Rustin Kratz: “I liked this jock (Conner) from the first time he stopped by my barn. He listens and he’s very professional.”
Added Pegram: “Tyler started riding four years ago. He’s been leading rider at Penn National this past year and has won 135 races at a 20 percent rate. He’s had three really strong years, especially riding with the ‘bug’ at Delaware Park, and wanted to make the move here.
“Winning a race yesterday was huge. People were congratulating me, trainers took notice, and winning your first race at Santa Anita with a new face is the hardest one to win.
“Winning a stakes just magnifies it.”
TRAINER RUIS WINS THREE RACES ON OPENING DAY
Mick Ruis never ran three horses in one day on the same card, let alone win three in
one day on the same card.
That void came to a resounding fill for the 56-year-old trainer on opening day of Santa Anita’s Autumn Meet Friday when he sent out four horses and won three races. With only 18 days remaining in the Autumn Meet, Ruis, born and raised in San Diego, is Santa Anita’s leading trainer.
He won the first race with 5-1 shot Bacoli ridden by Israel Ocampo; the second with 3-1 Image of Joplin under apprentice Austin Solis; and the fifth with Warrior’s Lullaby under Edwin Maldonado at a $13.80 win payoff.
Only Heir of Storm failed to land in the winner’s circle, finishing fourth as the second choice at 8-5 in the third race.
“We’re lucky if we run one a day,” Ruis said Saturday morning, “but we saved all the horses for this meet. I’m a believer that if someone helps you out, you try to help them, so we wanted to save our horses for this short meet since we’re stabled at Santa Anita (with 27 head).
“It just happened we’ve got a lot of fresh horses right now and got to run four in a day.”
Ruis has been back training for two years and did so for five years prior to that before he took a 10-year leave of absence. “I had to make some money to do this again,” he said.
“I felt pretty confident yesterday.”
JOHN HENRY TURF CHAMPIONSHIP SUITS INORDINATE
Inordinate has already revealed his penchant for marathon grass races, winning the Grade III San Juan Capistrano at about 1 ¾ miles on turf last April 22.
Next up, Sunday’s Grade II John Henry Turf Championship at a mile and a quarter. The five-year-old Harlan’s Holiday horse was an encouraging fifth last out in the Grade II Del Mar Handicap at 1 ¾ miles on grass, beaten only two lengths.
“I think the further the better for him,” trainer Richard Baltas said. “His last race was OK. It was his first in a long time (four months). This is a tough race, but it would be nice to win.”
The John Henry, named for the two-time Horse of the Year (1981 and 1984) trained by Ron McAnally: Itsinthepost, Tyler Baze, 2-1; Prime Attraction, Victor Espinoza, 10-1; Frank Conversation, Mario Gutierrez, 5-1; Chicago Style, Drayden Van Dyke, 6-1; Dressed in Hermes, Tiago Periera, 12-1; Up With the Birds, Jaime Theriot, 10-1; Inordinate, Corey Nakatani, 10-1; Hunt, Flavien Prat, 5-2; and Win the Space, Joe Talamo, 12-1.
JOHN MORRIS GOLF CLASSIC BENEFITS PERMANENTLY DISABLED JOCKEYS’ FUND
The sixth annual John Morris Golf Classic, originally staged in Lexington, Ky., will be held for the first time at Santa Anita Golf Course in Arcadia on Tuesday, Oct. 10. Proceeds will benefit the Permanently Disabled Jockeys’ Fund (PDJF), Easter Seals Cardinal Hill and Project Walk (Spinal Cord Rehabilitation Center). One hundred percent of the charity proceeds will go to benefit these three charities.
Tournament registration is at 10:30 a.m., with an 18-hole shotgun start at 12:30 p.m. Fees also include cart, lunch, refreshments, prizes and there will be a reception (that includes a silent auction) immediately following the tournament. Prices are $175 per player or $600 per team. All fees must be paid by Oct. 10 in order to participate.
For more info, visit http://www.santaanita.com/events/johnmorrisgolfclassic/, or call (626) 574-RACE.
FINISH LINES: There is a Pick Six carryover of $50,809 into today’s races . . .Hall of Fame jockey, “Big Money” Mike Smith and trainer John Shirreffs were on hand in the East Paddock Gardens this morning to sign DVD copies of “Zenyatta, Queen of Racing.” One of Smith’s many well-wishers was Gisela Gerull, a German citizen who first met Smith at Saratoga some 30 years ago. “I had just flown there from Calgary (Alberta, Canada) and I picked up a magazine in the gift shop. There was a nice story on Mike and I met him the next day. I’ve visited America every year since and I’ve made a point to say hello. He’s got will, heart, and I love that. He rode bulls as a boy and anybody that can do that has a lot of inner strength. I admire that.” . . . Accelerate, training up to the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, worked five furlongs Saturday for John Sadler in 1:02 flat . . . Agent Nelson Arroyo is back representing his brother, Norberto Jr., as well as Jamie Theriot.