- IT’S ALL DOWNHILL NOW FOR LONG HOT SUMMER
- ELLIOTT FINDS A NICHE IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
- ARROYO JR. ON TOP OF SANTA ANITA STANDINGS
- SONGBIRD, MASOCHISTIC TO WORK ON THURSDAY
- HELLMERS TAKES AUTUMN HANDICAPPING CROWN
LONG HOT SUMMER PREPS FOR CAL DISTAFF HANDICAP
Long Hot Summer, a specialist on Santa Anita’s unique hillside turf course at about 6 ½ furlongs, returns to that venue next Saturday in the $100,000 California Distaff Handicap, one of the popular Golden State Series races for California-bred or sired fillies and mares.
“Joe (Talamo) breezed her Sunday morning, (four furlongs in 48.40) and he’ll ride her in the race,” said Phil D’Amato, who trains the four-year-old Street Boss filly for owners Anthony Fanticola and Joseph Scardino.
“She loves the hill and she’s coming into her own. We’ve found she’s better on one turn and she’ll be ready to go.”
Added Talamo, who has ridden Long Hot Summer in all of her 12 races, winning five: “She worked good, and going short on the turf, whether it’s five furlongs at Del Mar or 6 ½ here, is an ideal distance for her. She likes to lay back a little bit, loves a target in front of her and she should run well. She’s doing well.”
Long Hot Summer has two wins and a second on the hillside course in three starts.
ELLIOTT MAKES HIS MARK IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
Stewart Elliott won his first race of the meet yesterday when he guided Ward ‘n Jerry to a neck victory for trainer Mike Puype at nearly 8-1 in the sixth race. It ended a string of 21 straight losses for the 51-year-old journeyman.
For good measure, Elliott came back two races later and won the $100,000 LA Woman Stakes by a half-length on Gloryzapper ($11.20) for Phil D’Amato.
Stewart Elliott has seen tougher times.
The Toronto native has been the proverbial “overnight sensation” since arriving full time in Southern California early this year, although he’s been a major presence nationally since 2004, when he nearly won the Triple Crown aboard Smarty Jones.
Elliott became the first rider in 25 years to capture the Kentucky Derby in his first appearance in 2004, then won the Preakness, but was second in the Belmont Stakes. Elliott rode the champion colt in all eight of his career races.
The son of a jockey and show horse rider, Elliott won three consecutive riding titles at Philadelphia Park. Career victory 3,000 came in May of 2003, and 4,000 in 2009. Represented by agent Mark North, Elliott won the recent Los Alamitos riding title with 12 victories.
“I got fed up riding at Philadelphia in the winter,” Elliott said. “The bad weather and the resulting track conditions made it very tough to endure. This was in the spring of 2014.
“I went to Keeneland from there, rode a lot of Mark Casse’s horses and had a really good meet, finishing second to Julien Leparoux. Mark later went to Del Mar and so did I, and it was there that I started working horses for Bob Baffert. The first horse I rode there was for Barry Abrams and it won, paying around $50. Then I won a stake for Casse. I was there three weeks when I was kicked by a horse and suffered rib injuries.
“I was in the hospital getting X-rays when my wife (Lilibeth) called and said we sold the farm in New Jersey. So I said, ‘I’m out of here,’ and we moved to Kentucky. I did all the moving myself, U-Hauls, everything, like I needed to be lifting boxes with my ribs
“I started riding the fall meet at Keeneland, and my ribs were killing me. I wasn’t comfortable, but I rode the whole meet. It was a short meet, but I said, ‘The heck with this.’ My ribs couldn’t heal because I was riding and banging them. I took almost a year off before coming to California the beginning of this year.
“Baffert remembered me from before, so I checked in with him. The first horse he put me on was at the Los Al spring meet and it won.”
Fast forward to September 2016 when Elliott showed he still has the qualities to be a success on a major circuit, winning the favor of Baffert, for whom he has been riding with significant success.
“He’s a really good horseman and gets along with horses really well,” said Baffert, himself a former jockey. “He’s very good at getting my young horses ready and he’s really good out of the gate, probably one of the best gate jockeys.
“Horses just fly out of there for him and that’s very important with young horses. He’s consistent day in, day out. It doesn’t matter if he’s on a 1-2 favorite or a 10-1 shot, he’s just the same. He’s pretty calm and cool.
“He’s a nice person, a gentleman, and really easy to work with. He never seems to get upset. He’s quiet and keeps to himself, but when he gets on a horse, he knows what I expect and gets a lot of run out of them.”
High praise indeed from America’s most recognizable horseman.
NEW FACE ARROYO LEADS SANTA ANITA JOCKEYS
Don’t look now, but Norberto Arroyo Jr. is the leading jockey at Santa Anita.
Norberto Arroyo Jr., a 38-year-old native of Puerto Rico who had nine wins through eight days of the 23-day Autumn Meet to lead Flavien Prat by one and Rafael Bejarano and Kent Desormeaux by two.
“We’ve been working hard and knew that it would come eventually,” said his agent and brother, Nelson. “Our goal isn’t necessarily to be leading jockey, because I’m just getting my calls and Norberto is doing the rest.
“He’s been riding in the United States his whole career, since 2001. He had ridden in Southern California before, in 2006, and did OK, then came back five days before the recent Del Mar meet.”
Note–Santa Anita’s two-day Autumn Handicapping Championship, conducted this past Saturday and Sunday, attracted 79 entrants who competed for just over $130,000 in prize money, including three Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge entries and five National Handicapping Championship entries. Christian Hellmers is now one of three Santa Anita contest winners eligible for a $1 million bonus if they were to win the BCBC.
HELLMERS ADDS TO LAURELS IN MAJOR CONTEST PREP
By Peter Thomas Fortnale, Daily Racing Form
One of the best resumes in the history of handicapping contest play just got a little better. Christian Hellmers won the Santa Anita Autumn Championship this weekend. For his efforts, he keeps his $19,350 bankroll plus $40,000 in cash and seats to the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge and National Handicapping Championship.
Hellmers, well known from his starring role on the “Horseplayers” TV show, is now eligible for a $1 million bonus should he win the BCBC. Twice before Hellmers has run second at racing’s most prestigious live-bankroll contest.
Heading into the second-to-last race on Sunday night, Hellmers had $500 left on his starting bankroll of $3,000. He took that money and played a straight double: Gloryzapper to Mr. Roary. When Gloryzapper dueled and prevailed in the L.A. Woman Stakes, he was drawing live for over $19,000 and the win. Mr. Roary went up by two lengths in the stretch and managed to hold on for a neck victory for his connections – and for Hellmers.
In addition to the two BCBC seconds, Hellmers also owns a Horse Player World Series win, showing he’s a major threat outside of his preferred live-bank format as well. The man they call “the Guru” will surely be one of the key players to watch in four weeks, right back at Santa Anita once again.
The second-place finisher was Donna Mariani. Mariani held the lead in the two-day event after Saturday, for which she won a $4,500 entry into Santa Anita’s March contest. She played conservatively on Sunday, not wanting to bet herself out of position. She ended up with $13,745 in bankroll, $15,000 in cash, plus NHC and BCBC seats. Also winning both major seats was third-place finisher Linda Rodriguez, who also collected $7,500 in addition to her $12,530.40 bank.
Rounding out the top five were Roger McDow ($10,570 bankroll, $5,000 in prizes, NHC seat) and Steve Jaffe ($6,504.50, NHC seat). Jaffe also received a bonus for handling the most money of any player in the contest with a total of $14,224 wagered.
There was also online qualifying action on DRF Tournaments this weekend. Hellmers’s “Horseplayers” castmate Michael Beychok was one of four players to win a BCBC seat on Saturday in a BCQualify contest. His win echoed a theme appropriate to Hellmers’s win as well: In a contest, you’re never out of until you’re out of it.
“I hit the first race and then blanked on the next five,” Beychok explained. “After I hit Hoppertunity in the Gold Cup, I was in the top 20 since favorites kept winning. I texted [my brother] Ben, ‘never say never.’ ”
He closed out in style with three nice prices in a row to get his total to $104.50: Dot Matrix ($36.70 win-place), Guest Suite ($21.60), and Exemplar ($21.20). This is a crazy, busy time of year for Beychok, who works on political campaigns, so he’ll have to skip attending the Breeders’ Cup live but will take advantage of the brand new opportunity to play from home.
Saturday’s overall winner was John Kolodzej ($134.30), who collected in seven races overall. His biggest winner was Photo Call, a cap horse at $52.60, in the First Lady at Keeneland. Vaughn Blair ($109.20) finished second, also with help from Photo Call. Fourth-place finisher John Nichols took a route similar to Beychok, running the table in the last three races.
James Riley was an unlucky fifth by 40 cents in Saturday’s BCQ contest, but made up for that on Sunday with a win and a seat to the Gulfstream Conquer the Crown event. Riley finished with $74.90. In the anchor leg, Santa Anita’s sixth, Ward ‘n Jerry got him home, returning $27 win-place combined.
Also on Sunday, Cheryl McIntyre continued her amazing 2016 in an NHCQualify event. She ran second with $86.70, securing her second NHC seat for 2017 to go with the four BCBC seats she’s already won. She will have to transfer two of them. She cashed in an impressive nine of the 12 races. “I’m just playing the same way I have all year,” she said of the effort.
The overall winner was Howard Schwartz ($87.50). He collected in six of the first seven races, but still needed Ward ‘n Jerry to secure his NHC spot.
FINISH LINES: Ron Ellis reports that TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint favorite Masochistic is “right on schedule” for the $1.5 million race at six furlongs on Nov. 5. “Everything’s perfect,” the trainer said. “He worked (one) 12 and three the other day and he’ll work again on Thursday.” Ellis put to bed earlier reports, saying Masochistic is not a candidate for the Dirt Mile . . . Also scheduled to breeze Thursday is unbeaten champion Songbird, favored against Beholder and Stellar Wind in perhaps the most anticipated Breeders’ Cup race of them all, the $2 million Longines Distaff on Nov. 4 . . . FrontRunner winner Gormley (Juvenile) worked four furlongs Monday for John Shirreffs in 49.60, while Argentinean import Corona Del Inca, (Distaff), worked the same distance in 47.20 for trainer Guillermo Frenkel, and Grade I Shoemaker Mile winner Midnight Storm (Mile) went six furlongs for Phil D’Amato in a bullet 1:13.40. Corona Del Inca earned a fees paid berth to the Distaff by winning the Group 1 Gran Premio Criadores in her native country last May . . . Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist galloped this morning and “looked great,” said Doug O’Neill, preparing the son of Uncle Mo for the Breeders’ Cup Classic, less than a month away on Nov. 5 . . . Kent Desormeaux, who rode Photo Call to a 29-1 upset of odds-on favorite and winner of eight straight races Tepin in Saturday’s Grade I First Lady at Keeneland, returns to the Kentucky track this Saturday to ride Mokat for Richard Baltas in the Grade I Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup presented by Lane’s End . . . Martin Garcia will be at Keeneland on Saturday, Oct. 22, to ride Bellamentary for D’Amato in the Grade II Lexus Raven Run for three-year-old fillies at seven furlongs . . . Santa Anita hosts the undisputed party champion, Michelada Rumble 3, this Saturday, featuring live music by Sweet & Tender Hooligans, food trucks and a car exhibition for only $15. A $40 VIP ticket includes two drinks and much more (must be over 21 to attend) . . . On Sunday, Oct. 16, Santa Anita hosts the popular Road Kings of Burbank Car Show, free in its spacious Infield . . . Santa Anita is dark for live racing Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, but will be open for simulcast racing on Thursday. Live racing resumes Friday at 1 p.m.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Sunday, Oct. 9)|
|Norberto Arroyo, Jr.||33||9||3||4||27%||48%||$363,520|