It was just last June that Keith Desormeaux ran a horse back in seven days, raising the ire of traditionalists who accused him of bordering on being Abramsesque.

The horse was Crucero, who had finished second in an allowance race at a mile and a quarter on turf June 21, then came back in the Grade III San Juan Capistrano Stakes at about 1 ¾ miles on turf June 28, winning by a neck under Keith’s younger brother Kent at 23-1 odds.

“The horse was giving me every sign that he was ready to run,” Keith said in explaining the uncharacteristically quick turnaround for the five-year-old Florida-bred.

Desormeaux got the last laugh, not to mention the winner’s share of $90,000.

Fast forward to Pimlico, two days before yesterday’s Preakness Stakes.

  1. (for John) Keith Desormeaux is taken to task by a member of the media on Exaggerator’s “numbers” as the colt prepares to again challenge unbeaten champion Nyquist, who had beaten Exaggerator in four previous meetings, including the Kentucky Derby May 7.

“I’ve heard some talk about that, but I really can’t put any credence in those numbers,” Desormeaux responded. ” . . . I’m only focused on my horse and the particular situation we’re in. My horse came out of the Derby in great shape and I’m very much expecting for him to move forward . . . Two days out of the Derby he was wide-eyed and ready to go again.”

On TVG two days before the Preakness, Desormeaux told an interviewer Exaggerator was “coming out of his skin.”

Face it. The man knows how to read a horse. Keith Desormeaux reads a horse like Olivier read Shakespeare.

Exaggerator won the Preakness on a sloppy track by 3 ½ lengths, giving Kent his third triumph in the second leg of the Triple Crown.

“Kent knew exactly what he wanted to do and he executed it,” said veteran horseman Dan Landers, assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally.

Fortunately, racing can look forward to another meeting between Exaggerator and Nyquist, a contemporary version of Affirmed and Alydar.

The two are scheduled to do battle again in the Belmont Stakes on June 11.

Three weeks. That should be plenty of time for Keith Desormeaux.



            Champions Songbird and Stellar Wind each worked on Santa Anita’s fast main track Sunday morning for upcoming stakes engagements at The Great Race Place.

Unbeaten and untested Songbird, champion two-year-old filly of 2015, worked four furlongs in 46.40, breezing, in preparation for the Grade II, $200,000 Summertime Oaks for three-year-old fillies at a mile and a sixteenth on June 18.

“She did it easy,” trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said of the daughter of Medaglia d’Oro owned by Rick Porter. “She’s doing fine. If she comes out of it good and everything’s OK, she’ll continue on.”

Songbird galloped out five furlongs in 59.20.

Stellar Wind, Eclipse Award winner as last year’s outstanding three-year-old filly, went six furlongs in company under regular rider Victor Espinoza for John Sadler in 1:13.60, while stablemate Too Fast to Pass was clocked in 1:14.40.

“Too Fast to Pass was a length in front of me,” Espinoza said. “This is the second time I worked Stellar Wind since she’s come back. She looks great and she galloped out strong (seven furlongs in 1:26.40). So far, so good.”



After a successful run that brought him to the apex of the Southern California riding circuit two years ago, jockey Santiago Gonzalez handed agent Craig Stephen his pink slip Saturday, hiring Brandon O’Bryan.

“He’s a great rider and this is a great opportunity,” said 28-year-old Brandon, an agent for 10 years and the son of agent Craig O’Bryan, who represents Gary Stevens and Tyler Baze.

After coming back from a riding mishap that forced him to miss six weeks, Gonzalez had eight wins from 54 mounts through 11 days of Santa Anita’s Winter Meet, with $407,375 in purse earnings.

Former trainer Stephen, meanwhile, plans to smell the roses for a while. “I’m just going to relax for a bit,” he said, “but I’ll come back firing.”



John Sadler sends out the winner and the seventh-place finisher from the May 5 Royal Heroine Stakes at one mile on turf in the May 30 Memorial Day feature, the Grade I Gamely Stakes for fillies and mares, three and up, at 1 1/8 miles on turf.

Elektrum, a five-year-old Irish-bred mare, closed from 13th in a field of 14 to be beaten only four lengths in the Royal Heroine, while Nancy From Nairobi rallied three wide to win the race by a half-length.

Owned by Sadler’s principal client, Kosta and Peter Hronis, each has a similar manner of running.

“Both come from off the pace,” Sadler said. “The Royal Heroine was a little too short for Elektrum, so we’re happy about the mile and an eighth for her. She runs all day, but the Royal Heroine was a nice comeback race for her.”

The Royal Heroine marked the first race for Elektrum in more than five months, since last Nov. 21, when she was second in the Grade III Red Carpet at Del Mar despite steadying early and going three wide in the stretch.

Nancy From Nairobi is an English-bred mare on a three-race winning streak. She won her first race in the U.S. in a 1 1/8 overnight turf event on a “good” course Feb. 5.

“Nancy can run both distances, too, so we feel we have two good ones in the race,” Sadler said. “Both horses are pretty nice to work around. They’re both real ladies.”



Boozer, a versatile son of Unusual Heat who has won six of seven career starts on turf, returns to the main track next Saturday in the $150,000 Tiznow Stakes for four-year-olds and up at one mile, one of five added money events in the Golden State Series for California-bred or sired horses on Gold Rush Day at Santa Anita.

Trained by Mark Glatt for Al and Sandee Kirkwood, Boozer won at a mile on dirt at Los Alamitos last out on April 16 under Edwin Maldonado, who retains the mount in the Tiznow.

Others scheduled to run in the Tiznow are Avanti Bello (Rafael Bejarano), Soi Phet, (Kent Desormeaux), and Songforjohnmichael (Joe Talamo).

Also featured next Saturday are the $100,000 Lennyfrommalibu Stakes, the $200,000 Melair Stakes, the $125,000 Fran’s Valentine Stakes, and the $200,000 Snow Chief Stakes. Post time for the first live race will be 2 p.m.

Memorial Day weekend offers the CARNIVAL in Santa Anita’s spacious Infield. For three straight days, beginning next Saturday, May 28, the Infield will be transformed into a festival of fun, complete with thrilling rides, challenging games and delicious carnival snacks.

‘Unlimited rides’ wristbands are available online now for only $10. Walk-ups will

cost $15. CARNIVAL will begin at 12 noon each day. There is FREE admission and parking through Gate 6 off of Colorado Place. Visit for more information.


FINISH LINES: Congratulations to 31-year-old Giuseppe Ercegovic on winning his first race ever at Santa Anita Saturday aboard Pioneerof the West, trained by Vladimir Cerin, who had two wins on the day. “He looked like Shoemaker,” Cerin said. A native of Rome, Italy, Ercegovic (pronounced ERCH-eh-go-vich) has ridden 900 winners in his 13 year career. He is represented by agent Dudley Osborne . . . With two more wins Saturday, Phil D’Amato opened an 11-6 lead over runners-up Jerry Hollendorfer and John Sadler in the race for leading trainer. Just call Santa Anita “D’Amato Downs” . . . Si Sage is expected to make his second start for trainer Jim Cassidy after 13 races in the U.S. for Darrell Vienna when the six-year-old French-bred horse runs in next Sunday’s Grade II, $200,000 Charles Whittingham Stakes at 1 ¼ miles on turf. Mike Smith has the mount. Others expected for the Whittingham include Bal a Bali (Flavien Prat), Quick Casablanca (Tyler Baze) and Royal Albert Hall (Rafael Bejarano) . . . Multiple graded stakes winner Masochistic worked three furlongs in 34.80 for Ron Ellis, who has the Grade I, $300,000 Bing Crosby at Del Mar July 31 as a long-range goal . . . Laz Barrera winner I Will Score worked four furlongs for Hollendorfer with Martin Garcia up in 48.40 . . . Former trainer Mel Stute, who won his first $100,000 race with First Balcony in the Californian Stakes at Hollywood Park on May 27, 1961, will present the trophy to the winning connections of today’s Californian. . . Navy Hymn, a three-year-old gelded son of Songandaprayer who won his fourth straight race as the 3-10 favorite in Saturday’s third heat, was claimed for $40,000 in a nine-way shake by trainer Richard Baltas, who had the horse for one race before it was claimed by Robertino Diodoro for $25,000 on May 8. Navy Hymn has never been worse than second in seven career races, winning his last four . . . Spud Spivens, an eight-year-old Tizbud gelding formerly conditioned by retired trainer Henry Moreno, won Saturday’s sixth race at Golden Gate Fields under Ricardo Gonzalez for trainer Sergio Ledezma, paying $18 in the one mile race for $16,000 claimers . . . And kudos to Pimlico morning line oddsmaker Keith Feustle on near-perfect numbers for the Preakness, to wit (closing odds with Kevin’s  in parentheses): Exaggerator, 5-2 (3-1); Cherry Wine, 17-1 (20-1); Nyquist, 7 – 10 (3 – 5); Stradivari, 8-1 (8-1); Lani, 30-1 (30-1); Laoban, 66-1 (30-1); Uncle Lino, 34-1 (20-1); Fellowship, 58-1 (30-1); Awesome Speed, 51-1 (30-1); Collected, 14-1 (10-1); and Abiding Star, 40-1 (30-1).

(Current Through Saturday, May 21)
Jockey Mts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% ITM% Money Won
Edwin Maldonado 52 12 10 6 23% 54% $411,161
Rafael Bejarano 53 12 10 6 23% 53% $612,992
Tyler Baze 59 11 10 13 19% 58% $495,125
Joseph Talamo 41 9 8 8 22% 61% $464,918
Santiago Gonzalez 54 8 9 8 15% 46% $407,375
Flavien Prat 34 8 5 4 24% 50% $388,900
Martin Garcia 32 6 4 2 19% 38% $335,830
Martin Pedroza 32 5 3 4 16% 38% $182,980
Tiago Pereira 43 3 7 10 7% 47% $162,233
Fernando Perez 22 3 2 2 14% 32% $127,710
Brayan Pena 24 3 1 5 13% 38% $61,615
Ignacio Puglisi 12 3 1 1 25% 42% $77,158
Trainer Sts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% ITM% Money Won
Philip D’Amato 33 11 6 4 33% 64% $543,810
Jerry Hollendorfer 30 6 3 4 20% 43% $441,320
John Sadler 26 6 0 3 23% 35% $322,305
Mike Puype 25 5 2 2 20% 36% $180,080
Mark Glatt 22 4 3 3 18% 45% $133,486
Patrick Gallagher 11 4 0 0 36% 36% $111,155
Richard Baltas 21 3 4 2 14% 43% $145,298
Hector O. Palma 6 3 2 0 50% 83% $54,945
Edward Freeman 8 3 1 2 38% 75% $94,945