- TRIPLE CROWN COUNTDOWN ON FOR ESPINOZA
- CATCH A FLIGHT ON THE MOVE IN CALIFORNIAN
- TEXAS RED WORKS FOR POSSIBLE RUN IN DWYER
ESPINOZA, AGENT PURSUE ELUSIVE TRIPLE AGAIN
And so it comes to pass that Victor Espinoza, a former bus driver, and Brian Beach, a
former broadcaster, stand once again on the verge of racing immortality.
In just over a week, jockey Espinoza, and his agent, Beach, could be indelibly etched in history. All Victor has to do is guide American Pharoah to victory in the Belmont Stakes next Saturday and capture the Triple Crown, ending a 37-year drought that began in 1979, a year after Affirmed became the 11th and to date last winner of the game’s most elusive prize.
The symbiotic team of Espinoza and Beach know this drill. They went through it last year with California Chrome, who dead-heated for fourth in the Belmont, thus missing the Triple and ending a five-week frenzy that began with victory in the Kentucky Derby, followed by a Preakness triumph that led to pursuit of the Belmont.
“It’s been similar as far as the whole routine,” said Beach, experienced in race track PR and a former radio and TV broadcaster who has represented Espinoza since January 2013. “Media inquiries and requests have steadily increased as the Triple Crown series has gone on.
“We both had pretty positive experiences with it last year and the same so far this year. It’s just a matter of trying to manage his time and also trying to fulfill all the requests. This year, if anything, I think we’re doing fewer than last year.
“Santa Anita helped quite a bit by holding a big media event last Thursday (May 21) when both Bob (Baffert, trainer of American Pharoah) and Victor were able to knock out a bunch of interviews all in one day. That kind of helped slow things down.
“It gets a little exhausting mentally after a while to keep answering the same questions over and over again. This weekend, we’ve got it pretty much shut down. He’s got one more deal tomorrow with CBS Evening News, and when we get to New York, we have just a few obligations. He’ll be at the post position draw Wednesday with media there. Hopefully, we can take care of everything then and give him a break the last couple of days before the race.”
The easy-going Espinoza and less-than-gregarious Beach might be opposites in some respects but are otherwise two veritable peas in a pod when it comes to maintaining low profiles, both on and off the track.
“It’s pretty hard to wipe the smile off Victor’s face,” said Beach, 52, a former Director of Broadcast Publicity at Bay Meadows and Golden Gate Fields, who has represented Kent Desormeaux, Julie Krone, Mike Smith, Alex Solis and Gary Stevens, each in the Hall of Fame.
“Prior to the jobs at Bay Meadows and Golden Gate, I worked in radio and television for about 10 years, so I know what they’re going through on the other side of it and they’re all trying to do their jobs and get their stories, so I try to help them as much as I can.
“The great thing about Victor is his positive attitude and good outlook on things in general. He understands the whole process, this being his third time through it (the first being in 2002 with War Emblem).
“He’s able to kind of compartmentalize all that and do his job and try to have some fun with the whole thing.”
CATCH A FLIGHT EYES BIGGER PRIZES AFTER CALIFORNIAN
Catch a Flight is on the move. The Argentine-bred horse is an up-and-comer Richard Mandella hopes will continue to climb the stakes ladder when he runs in today’s Californian Stakes, a Grade II race for 3-year-olds and up that could lead to the Grade I, $500,000 Gold Cup at Santa Anita on June 27.
“He’s doing well and continues to improve as we go,” Mandella said of the 5-year-old son of Giant’s Causeway, who won the Grade III Precisionist Stakes on May 2 after running a creditable third behind victorious Shared Belief in the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap.
“He is what he is,” Mandella said matter-of-factly. “He just won that little stakes and he ran good against Moreno (beaten a head for second in the Big Cap on March 7).
“It will be interesting to see how we do at this stage with a little more experience,” Mandella said. “But Moreno’s a good horse, I know that.”
TEXAS RED WORKS WITH DWYER IN MIND
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Texas Red worked five furlongs on Santa Anita’s main track Saturday in 1:02.80, after which trainer Keith Desormeaux indicated the son of Afleet Alex could make his return to the races in the $500,000, Grade III Dwyer Stakes at Belmont Park on July 4, as opposed to the Grade II, $350,000 Los Alamitos Derby the same day.
“The Dwyer is a one-turn mile, and the Los Al Derby is a mile and an eighth,” Desormeaux said. “The horse is 100 percent right now and if plans work out, we could run at Saratoga this summer, so the Dwyer in New York seems like a good starting point.”
Texas Red missed the Triple Crown classics due to abscess issues on his right front foot. Now Desormeaux is looking forward to a summer campaign that could start with a bang, naturally enough on July 4.
FINISH LINES: Detroit Tigers superstar outfielder Miguel Cabrera, a winner of the 2012 American League Triple Crown, posed for pictures last night with prospective Triple Crown winner Victor Espinoza prior to the Halos defeating the Tigers, 2-0, at Angel Stadium in Anaheim. Special thanks to Angels PR wizard, Tim Mead . . .Best wishes for a speedy recovery to top agent Ron Anderson who underwent triple bypass heart surgery earlier today in New York. Anderson currently represents Joel Rosario . . . Santa Anita Oaks winner Stellar Wind, prepping for the Grade II Summertime Oaks on June 20, worked five furlongs Saturday morning in 1:00.20 for John Sadler . . . Santa Anita hosts a book signing of John Perrotta‘s new publication, “Racetracker,” from noon to 2 p.m. across from Champions! Gift Shop next Saturday. All proceeds from the event will benefit the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Friday, May 29)|
|Drayden Van Dyke||62||9||7||6||15%||$400,132|
|Dan L. Hendricks||11||3||2||0||27%||$110,390|