- SHOW STEALER EYES SANTA MARGARITA UPSET
- ENOLA GRAY IS A HORSE FOR DOWNHILL COURSE
- McCARTHY MARE ‘TRAINING SUPER’ FOR O’BRIEN
- FORMER TOC PRESIDENT VAN DE CAMP DIES AT 81
PACE WOULD AID SHOW STEALER IN SANTA MARGARITA
Show Stealer has finished second in her last two starts behind streaking Vale Dori, who led throughout in the La Canada Stakes and the Santa Maria Stakes, each a Grade II race at a mile and a sixteenth.
Trainer Art Sherman is hoping the added sixteenth of a mile in Saturday’s Grade I Santa Margarita Stakes and a faster pace will result in a victory for the five-year-old daughter of Eskendereya owned by longtime Sherman client, owner/breeder George Krikorian.
“The race has come up a little tough but my mare is doing well and she’s been running good,” Sherman said. “I’m hoping for another good performance.”
Show Stealer has been a gem of consistency. In 21 career starts, she has finished worse than fifth only twice, winning three, with four seconds and three thirds, good for a bankroll of $257,180.
“It looks like the Santa Margarita will have a good pace. There are a couple good speed horses in there,” Sherman said, alluding to the aforementioned Vale Dori and champion older female sprinter of 2016 Finest City. “I need a lively pace up front.”
Krikorian is a native of Salem, New Hampshire, who turns 72 on July 27. He was raised in the shadows of the grandstand at old Rockingham Park in New England, where his father, George Sr., was a noted trainer.
George Jr. owned a chain of movie theatres in Southern California but sold eight locations to Regal Cinema in 1996 and later opened his own company, Krikorian Premiere Theatres. Sherman understandably is proud of their long and successful association.
“George is a super guy to train for,” Sherman said.
The field for the Santa Margarita, race nine of 10: Autumn Flower, Martin Pedroza, 20-1; Vale Dori, Rafael Bejarano, 9-5; Finest City, Tyler Baze, 8-5; Show Stealer, Kent Desormeaux, 8-1; Lady Tapit, Mario Gutierrez, 20-1; Perfect Pic, Santiago Gonzalez, 5-1; Wild At Heart, Flavien Prat, 6-1; and Estrechada, Stewart Elliott, 15-1.
ENOLA GRAY LOVES GOING DOWN HILL, IN A GOOD WAY
With two wins from two starts on Santa Anita’s unique hillside turf venue at about 6 ½ furlongs, Enola Gray is the epitome of a horse for course.
The four-year-old gray daughter of Grazen goes for her second win in a row over the layout Saturday in the $100,000 Irish O’Brien Stakes, part of the lucrative Golden State Series restricted to California-bred or sired horses.
Enola Gray, a play on words of the plane that dropped the atom bomb on Hiroshima in 1945 (Enola Gay), has never been out of the money in eight starts, winning five and earning $449,100.
“She’s doing really well and loves that hill,” said Phil D ‘Amato, who trains Enola Gray for owner/breeder Nick Alexander, a major player in California for years and current Chairman of the Thoroughbred Owners of California (TOC). “Those performances were probably two of her most impressive. Hopefully, we’ll use this race as a springboard to the Royal Heroine (a Grade II race at one mile on turf April 8 with a $200,000 purse).”
D’Amato, an assistant to the late Mike Mitchell for 10 years, knew Alexander during that span. “I’ve probably known and worked for Nick 15 years. He’s a very loyal owner, understands the highs and lows of the game and was a big supporter of Mitchell. He’s a big-time backer of the Cal-bred program and a big reason for my success early on as a trainer.
“It’s very special, too, because most of these horses I get are by Grazen and Mike and I always thought very highly of him as a stallion. It’s just fun to watch his offspring flourish here.”
The Irish O’Brien, which goes as race seven: Chaulk O Lattey, Rafael Bejarano, 8-1; Roo’s Valentine, Martin Pedroza, 6-1; Enola Gray, Tyler Baze, 8-5; Desert Steel, Flavien Prat, 5-1; Lily Kai, Stewart Elliott, 20-1; Bert’s Melody, Brice Blanc, 8-1; Smoove It, Mario Gutierrez, 5-1; Cuddle Alert, Corey Nakatani, 12-1; Emmy and I, Joe Talamo, 20-1; and Late ‘n Left, Edwin Maldonado, 12-1.
MCCARTHY HAS BERT’S MELODY READY TO ROLL IN IRISH O’BRIEN
Idle since winning the one mile turf Fran’s Valentine Stakes here last May 28, Oakcrest Stable’s homebred Bert’s Melody is primed for a big effort in Saturday’s $100,000 Irish O’Brien Stakes for older fillies and mares bred or sired in California.
“She’s training super,” said trainer Sean McCarthy. “She looks great and she’s carrying good weight. I’m confident she’ll run well, but it’s a tough race and we’re up against California’s Champion Filly or Mare (Enola Gray). When they haven’t run in a long time, you worry that maybe she’ll be fresh and a little too aggressive early in the race. But she’s six years old now and I think she can relax and settle well . . . I look for her to run a good race.”
By Bertrando and out of the Tale of the Cat mare Unchanged Melody, Bert’s Melody is lightly raced, but has made the most of her limited afternoon appearances, evidenced by her overall mark of 12-4-1-3 and earnings of $231,893.
“I’ve been training for John and Betty (Barr, who race as Oakcrest Stable) about six years now,” said McCarthy. “They’re great people to train for . . . real horse people who fully understand the realities of our business. They never put any pressure on you.”
Although she’s winless in two hillside starts, Bert’s Melody was a solid fourth, beaten one length, in the 2015 Irish O’Brien, which will no doubt be taken into consideration by those playing the race tomorrow. (In a talent-laden field of 10, she’s 8-1 on the morning line).
McCarthy also noted that he has a talented half brother to Bert’s Melody, who’s being readied for a return to training in the near future.
“He’s a three year old, named Caiifornia Clone. He broke his maiden here last October (9, in his third start, a Cal-bred maiden special weight, winning by 4 ¼ lengths at six furlongs). He’s a nice horse and he’ll be back here in about 40 days or so.”
Note: An owner and breeder in California for more than 40 years, John Barr is President of the Oak Tree Racing Association, a Board Director of the CTBA and is a member of The Jockey Club’s National Thoroughbred Safety Committee.
FORMER TOC PRESIDENT JOHN VAN DE CAMP PASSES
John Van de Kamp, who was TOC President and General Counsel from 1996 through 2004, died March 14 at his home in Pasadena following a brief illness. He was 81.
Van de Kamp was born in Pasadena into a prominent family known for its popular baked goods and windmill-themed bakeries. He graduated from Stanford Law School in his early 20s and served a short stint in the military before being appointed an assistant U.S. attorney. He was a towering political figure who made his mark as the top prosecutor in Los Angeles County and then California, serving as California’s Attorney General in the 1980s. Most recently he served as counsel in Mayer Brown LLP’s Los Angeles office.
As the second TOC president, he helped define the position of a new entity in the industry’s decision-making process. Through his strong leadership and dedication, he gave the horse owner a greater voice in the California thoroughbred industry.
“I learned early in my tenure that if industry progress was to be accomplished, nearly every element of the industry had to be on board,” said Van de Kamp upon his retirement. “When divided, we would fall short.”
In the late 90s he was instrumental in obtaining license fee and tax relief that meant an additional $20 million a year in purses to owners, and in 2004 he successfully worked for the passage of AB 701, which provided workers’ compensation relief. He strengthened funding for the organization by obtaining an increase from one percent to 1/1/2 percent of purse revenues for TOC and CTT. Also during his tenure, he oversaw the implementation of the Cal-bred Bonus Program and expansion of simulcast wagering. He also served as a member of the NTRA board.
“I was privileged to work with John during his years on the NTRA board,” said TOC President and CEO Greg Avioli. “He was a brilliant lawyer and always a strong advocate for horsemen. He was well known for his integrity, honesty, and professionalism. Our industry has lost a great man.”
Van de Kamp is survived by his wife, Andrea, and daughter, Diana. Funeral services are scheduled for Thursday, March 30, 3 p.m. at St. Andrew’s Catholic Church, Pasadena.
TOC is the official organization serving new, veteran and future Thoroughbred owners in the state. It represents, advances and protects owners’ interests and rights in legislative, administrative and business matters. www.toconline.com.
FINISH LINES: Doug O’Neill said Friday that California Derby winner So Conflated will join stablemates Iliad and Term of Art in the $1 million Santa Anita Derby on April 8, and pass the Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park next Saturday, March 25. Borderland Derby runner-up Irap will be back in New Mexico to run in the Sunland Park Derby next Saturday, O’Neill added . . .Victor Espinoza and Mike Smith ride in the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park tomorrow, Espinoza aboard Robert B. Lewis Stakes winner Royal Mo for John Shirreffs and Smith on Sham Stakes runner-up American Anthem for Bob Baffert . . . With the Winter Meet drawing ever nearer to a close three weeks hence on April 9, Tyler Baze is hanging tough against jockey leader Flavien Prat. Thanks to three wins yesterday, the hard-working 34-year-old Seattle native moved to within seven wins at 49-42. The trainers’ race is considerably tighter, Peter Miller three up on Jerry Hollendorfer, 28-25. Miller has started 94 runners to Hollendorfer’s 119, but Hollendorfer leads all trainers in purse earnings with $1,657,909. Prat is more than $900,000 ahead in purse earnings over Baze, $3,140,770 to $2,207,962 . . . Trainer Ron Ellis and Horseplayer Jason Avila will be Tom Quigley‘s guests, Saturday and Sunday respectively, 11:20 a.m. in the East Paddock Gardens . . . The date for the California Horse Racing Board meeting originally set for March 23 at Golden Gate Fields has been changed to April 6. The meeting of the Racing, Breeding and Stabling Initiatives Committee will still take place March 23 at Golden Gate at 10 a.m.
SANTA ANITA STATISTICS
|(Current Through Thursday, March 16)|
|Norberto Arroyo, Jr.||97||19||10||9||20%||39%||$820,176|
|J. Keith Desormeaux||42||9||4||5||21%||43%||$504,600|