- SONGBIRD IS RIGHT AT HOME IN DISTAFF BREEZE
- ‘LORD’ REIGNS IN ‘WIN AND YOU’RE IN’ SPRINT
- D’AMATO: TWO FOR THE MONEY IN CITY OF HOPE
- NYQUIST EYES THE BREEDERS’ CUP CLASSIC
- DOLLAR DAY IS NEXT MONDAY AT SANTA ANITA
- TRAVERS HERO ARROGATE BREEZES FOR CLASSIC
- VETERAN PHOTOGRAPHER MOCHON PASSES AT 74
SONGBIRD ‘STEALS THE SHOW’ IN WORKOUT
Songbird, queen of the north, south, east and west, who, no matter the locale, always runs her best, worked four furlongs under exercise rider Edgar Rodriguez in a bullet 46.80, breezing, shortly after sunup Thursday at 6:45 a.m. as she prepares for the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Santa Anita on Nov. 4.
The race for fillies and mares, three and up at 1 1/8 miles, is shaping up as an equine version of the Three Tenors, only this won’t be a classical opera comprised of Pavarotti, Domingo and “the other guy.”
The Distaff looms a classic race between three champions, Songbird, Beholder and Stellar Wind. Call them the Three Terrors.
“I got her in 47 point two; the clockers gave 46-four,” Jerry Hollendorfer said after watching the undefeated daughter of Medaglia d’Oro in her first work since steamrolling her opposition in the Cotillion at Parx on Sept. 24 for her 11th straight dominating triumph. She has won by a combined margin of just over 60 lengths, an average of more than five per race.
“It was just a maintenance work to get her back into action,” Hollendorfer said. “She’s got plenty of foundation, so we’re just maintaining her until the Breeders’ Cup. I gave her more time before this breeze because we shipped to and from the East Coast twice.
“I got her (galloping) out (five furlongs) in 59.90, (six furlongs in) 1:12.70, (seven furlongs in) 1:26.60 and a mile in 1:41.
“She’ll have approximately three more breezes prior to the Distaff. She’s maintained her weight despite traveling back and forth form east to west, and I’m really appreciative of that. She hadn’t lost any weight coming back from Saratoga (after winning the Coaching Club Oaks and the Alabama) and she looked good coming back from Parx.
“Her work today was nice and smooth, nice and easy, very much on her own.”
Breeders’ Cup-bound Arrogate and Masochistic also worked Thursday, but clocker Toby Turrell of The Yellow Sheet said “Songbird stole the show.”
LORD NELSON SEEKS THIRD STRAIGHT GRADE I WIN
Lord Nelson will be heavily favored to win his third straight Grade I race when he runs in Saturday’s Santa Anita Sprint Championship for three-year-olds and up at six furlongs.
The four-year-old son of Pulpit trained by Bob Baffert for the Spendthrift Farm of B. Wayne Hughes drew post position four in a field of five, with stablemate Jazzy Times the likely one to catch.
Lord Nelson won the Triple Bend at seven furlongs June 25 and the Bing Crosby at six furlongs July 31, each a Grade I test. The chestnut colt has a beneficial stalking style, but rarely is far out of it, as he seeks his seventh victory from 13 career starts. He has earned $778,271.
The field for the Sprint, race four of 10: All Run, Martin Garcia, 12-1; Anytime Anyplace, Victor Espinoza, 20-1; Cautious Giant, Tyler Baze, 10-1; Lord Nelson, Flavien Prat, 2-5; and Jazzy Times, Rafael Bejarano, 9-5.
OBVIOUSLY ONE TO CATCH (AGAIN) IN CITY OF HOPE
Phil D’Amato appears to have all corners covered in Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 City of Hope Mile for three-year-olds and up on turf.
The meet’s leading trainer at the Santa Anita Summer Meet and the recent Del Mar session sends out committed front-runner Obviously and stalker Vyjack in the City of Hope, in which the eight-year-old Irish-bred Obviously finished fourth as the 1-2 favorite in 2013.
The bay gelding will be making his first start since June 18, when he won the Grade III Poker at Belmont, leading all the way in the one mile grass test.
Tyler Baze, who has enjoyed great success on front-runners throughout his career, will ride Obviously for the first time.
“He’s a great replacement,” D’Amato said. “He’s a great speed rider and we’re going to the lead. If they want to come catch us, they know where to find us. Obviously always gets breaks between his races, which was the reason for his layoff. He never left the barn.
“I was planning to go in the Woodbine Mile (Sept. 17) but it was too much of a headache to get him there. He would have had to go to Kentucky, train for two weeks then ship 11 hours to Woodbine . . . It was too much.”
Vyjack, previously trained by Bill Mott, was second to Masochistic in the Grade II Pat O’Brien on dirt at seven furlongs Aug. 27 in his first start for D’Amato, but has run well on turf.
“He’s run some big races on the grass,” D’Amato said of the six-year-old Into Mischief gelding, “so I’ve got a nice one-two punch.”
The City of Hope, which goes as race eight: Frank Conversation, Rafael Bejarano, 20-1; St. Joe Bay, Santiago Gonzalez, 15-1; Patriots Rule, Joe Talamo, 15-1; Om, Gary Stevens, 2-1; Ed Johnson, Martin Garcia, 30-1; Hootenanny, Julio Garcia, 12-1; Express Himself, Victor Espinoza, 12-1; Obviously, Tyler Baze, 9-5; Perfectly Majestic, Nelson Arroyo Jr., 12-1; and Vyjack, Flavien Prat, 4-1.
TEAM O’NEILL TARGETS CLASSIC FOR NYQUIST
The Breeders’ Cup Classic is on the agenda for Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist, who is coming off three disappointing losses since capturing the Run for the Roses on May 7.
“He’s doing well,” said trainer Doug O’Neill, who had the son of Uncle Mo galloping Thursday morning at Santa Anita. “If he continues to do well, we’re shooting for the Classic.”
DOLLAR DAY NEXT MONDAY, COLUMBUS DAY
Santa Anita offers another of its popular Dollar Days next Monday, Oct. 10, Columbus Day. Beer, hot dogs and sodas will be on sale for a buck apiece. First post time will be 12:30 p.m. Admission gates open at 10:30 a.m.
Santa Anita will be dark for live racing Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, Oct. 11, 12 and 13.
There will be two stakes races Monday, each offering $100,000 in purse money, the Zuma Beach for two-year-olds at a mile on turf, and the Surfer Girl for two-year-old fillies at a mile on turf.
RACE TRACK CHAPLAINCY OF AMERICA ANNOUNCES WHITE HORSE AWARDS
Race Track Chaplaincy of America (RTCA) has announced the recipients of the 2016 White Horse Awards honoring unsung heroes of the horse racing community. The selection committee had a difficult decision to make, as this was a record year for nominations of deserving individuals.
The Community Service Award will be presented to William Gotwals of Brook Ledge Horse Transportation. The work ethic and focus on providing excellent service that has brought Brook Ledge to the forefront of the industry is the same as that which guides Gotwals personally. He has been a faithful supporter of RTCA and other charitable organizations over the years. While he prefers to serve “silently,” we say “Thank you” for his faithfulness to our ministry and to the broader community which he so humbly and generously serves.
The Tribute to Excellence Award will be presented in memory of E.W. “Buddy” Johnston of Old English Rancho in Sanger, CA. In addition to serving 21 years as director and president of the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association (CTBA), Johnston was inducted into the CTBA Hall of Fame and also presented with Hollywood Park’s Laffit Pincay Jr. Award bestowed upon an individual “who has served the sport with integrity, extraordinary dedication, determination and distinction.” Buddy Johnston passed away in his sleep the morning of May 5, 2015 one day before his 78th birthday.
Finally, the White Horse Award for heroism on behalf of human or horse will be presented to two companies whose teams banded together to save the lives of more than 200 horses in California. Bob Hubbard Horse Transportation of Colton, CA and KC Horse Transport of Atascadero, CA. are typically rivals, but in the light of news that areas of the San Gabriel Valley were in the direct path of this summer’s wildfires, that rivalry was cast aside. The new team used seven trucks, each holding 15 horses, and drove the refugees away from the fires to waiting farms and tracks with barns ready to receive them. Two drivers came back early from vacation and several others slept in their trucks at Santa Anita awaiting their calls to action. Race Track Chaplaincy of America wishes to acknowledge the teams from Bob Hubbard and KC Horse Transport for their ability to rise above their businesses and act together on behalf the horses they love.
This year’s White Horse Awards Luncheon will take place Thursday, Nov. 3, at the Embassy Suites in Arcadia. Along with the award presentation, events will include a buffet luncheon, live and silent auctions, special music, Master of Ceremonies Jonathan Horowitz (Track Announcer at Arapahoe Park), and guest speaker Janet VanBebber (Chief Racing Officer, AQHA).
Reservations can be made to attend the White Horse Award Luncheon by visitingwww.rtcanational.org.
FINISH LINES: Arrogate, whose 13 ½-length victory in the Travers earned him a lofty 122 Beyer Figure, worked five furlongs Thursday for the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 5 in 1:00.80. Rafael Bejarano was aboard the three-year-old gray son of Unbridled’s Song, while Mike Smith looked on intently from the box seat area. “He went great,” Bob Baffert said. “He galloped out (six furlongs) in 1:13.” . . . Masochistic, prepping for the $1.5 million TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint at six furlongs Nov. 5, worked six furlongs in a bullet 1:12.60 for trainer Ron Ellis. Santa Anita clockers had fractional times of 24.80, 36.40, 48.20 and a seven furlong gallop out time of 1:26.20 . . . Condolences to the family of award-winning photographer Bill Mochon, a friend of those who knew him at Santa Anita for many years, who died this past Monday afternoon at the age of 74. On April 2, the Press Photographers’ Association of Greater Los Angeles awarded him its Lifetime Achievement Award. A fixture at Santa Anita for years, Mochon was a native of Providence, Rhode Island and began his career in 1960 while in the Marine Corps in Quantico, Virginia. Upon his discharge, he came to California and worked as a commercial photographer. He married his wife, Joan, in 1967, and worked at Santa Anita beginning in 1974 with Vic Stein & Associates shooting finish line and winner’s circle pictures. His exhibits includes “The Cape” (1973), “Sandcastles at Del Mar” (1976), “A Season in the NFL” featuring the Los Angeles Rams (1978) and “The Giants of Katmai, the Grizzlies of Katmai and the Valley of Smokes” (1993). His work also has been published in the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame. Funeral arrangements are pending . . . The live money 2016 Autumn Handicapping Championship happens this Saturday and Sunday at Santa Anita. Prizes based on 90 entries (subject to change) total $85,000. The top five finishers earn entrance to the 2017 National Handicapping Championship in Las Vegas. For more info, contact Annie Gutierrez at 626 574-6388 . . . Players Tournament Player Kevin Cox and Live Money player Nick Tammaro will be Tom Quigley‘s guests, Saturday and Sunday, 11:20 a.m., in the East Paddock Gardens.