American Pharoah is one-third of the way to capturing racing’s most elusive prize: the Triple Crown. A hundred and forty one horses have won the Kentucky Derby; one does each year, as Pharoah did on May 2. Hundreds have won Breeders’ Cup races and other valued stakes.

But none has swept the Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes since 1978, a drought that would extend to 37 years should Pharoah fail this year. Affirmed was the last to win the Triple, and only 11 in racing history have done so since its inception nearly a century ago, in 1919, when Sir Barton became the first.

Theories abound as to why. Three of the most prevalent cite the increased fragility of the Thoroughbred; the penchant to breed for speed; and the daunting task of winning three classic races at different distances over different race tracks in a span of five weeks, a challenge no trainer short of Barry Abrams would attempt these days unless so mandated.

Gary Young has been watching horses train in Southern California for 35 years, betting on them, buying them and recommending them to others.

The private clocker and bloodstock agent picked American Pharoah to win the Derby in no uncertain terms, putting his reputation boldly on the line when he said before the Run for the Roses, “There’s no such thing as cinches, but barring anything unforeseen, this horse is going to be awful tough to beat.”

Breaking from post position 15 in a field of 18 and wearing saddle cloth No. 18, American Pharoah won the 1 1/4-mile Derby by a length, for the first time in three starts this year being strongly urged the length of the stretch by jockey Victor Espinoza. Can the two win Saturday’s 1 3/16-mile Preakness Stakes after drawing post position one in a field of eight?

“Mile and a half races, especially on dirt, are not run very much at all in the United States anymore,” Young said, alluding to the Belmont Stakes, the final leg of the Triple Crown which is run at that distance, this year on June 6.

“The Belmont is about the only meaningful race at that distance on dirt in America. Name any other mile and a half race of any consequence in America. It’s definitely a unique race. There are some on turf, but not on dirt.

“It has never been America’s forte to produce mile and a half horses through breeding and it’s even more so nowadays. There have been plenty of horses able to run back in two weeks and win the Derby and the Preakness, but running a mile and a half three weeks after the Preakness takes a certain kind of horse, and that’s why there hasn’t been a Triple Crown winner in so long.

“When I was a kid growing up and Secretariat won the Triple Crown in 1973, he was the first to do it since Citation in 1948. I thought that was a long interval back then, but now it’s been a really long time.

“That said, American Pharoah is definitely the horse to beat in the Preakness everything being equal, and with the National Weather forecast calling for 40 percent chance of showers in Baltimore Friday and Saturday, that would only give him a greater edge, when you consider how easily he won the Rebel Stakes on an off track before he won the Kentucky Derby.

“It will be quite warm Saturday with a high of 87. Not that he needs any more breaks the way he skipped through the mud at Oaklawn, but he might get one if the Pimlico track is off.”

Bob Baffert’s record in the Preakness and 3-year-old classics in general is another plus. The Hall of Fame trainer has four wins in the Run for the Roses and is seeking his sixth Preakness victory Saturday, with American Pharoah and/or Santa Anita Derby winner Dortmund, beaten only three lengths in the Derby after setting the pace until deep stretch.

“He certainly knows how to get a horse ready for Triple Crown races,” Young said of Baffert. “That shouldn’t hurt him come Saturday.”

Espinoza, meanwhile, was well-received at Dodger Stadium Tuesday night when he tossed out the ceremonial first pitch before the game–that veered “high and away” to Dodger bench coach Tim Wallach.

In conjunction with the Preakness, Santa Anita will present an attractive day of live racing along with a big Preakness party featuring the Preakness Handicapping Challenge offering $100,000 in prizes this weekend, May 16 and 17.

For details, visit



The purse for Saturday’s Angels Flight Stakes is only $75,000, but in the eyes of trainer John Sadler, who has two horses entered in the seven furlong race for 3-year-old fillies, it’s not an easy race.

“It’s a tough race,” said Sadler, who sends out Ben’s Duchess and Suva Harbor. “Even though it’s a small field, there’s plenty of quality. Suva Harbor won a stakes at Sunland Park (the Island Fashion on Feb. 22), but the race after that on turf, the Ultra Fleet here, she didn’t run well. We don’t think she liked the grass. She’ll be better on dirt.”

The field for the Angeles Flight, the second race on an 11-race card that starts at 11:30 a.m.: Ultimate Holiday, Felipe Valdez, 12-1; Tara’s Tango, Mike Smith, 1-1; Suva Harbor, Edwin Maldonado, 12-1; $1,500 supplemental nominee Moon’s Over, Elvis Trujillo, 6-1; Fantastic Style, Rafael; Bejarano, 9-5; and Ben’s Duchess, Joe Talamo, 7-2.



It’s been 20 years since Gary Lewis had his day in the sun, running Jumron in the 1995 Kentucky Derby. Off at 5-1 under jockey Goncalino Almeida, the English-bred horse finished fourth, beaten three lengths and a head by Thunder Gulch.

Lewis is long done training, but he’s still around to cherish the memories.

“Jumron won the El Camino Real Derby, the Golden State Derby and was third in the Santa Anita Derby behind Larry the Legend and Afternoon Deelites,” said Lewis, now retired, who turned 74 on March 22. Lewis still makes an appearance at the track on occasion.

He took out his trainer’s license in 1979 and had several stakes winners along the way in addition to Jumron, most notably the crack sprinter Lucky Forever, a Washington-bred gelding who set a world record of 1:13.24 for 6 ½ furlongs at Hollywood Park almost 20 years ago, on May 20,1995.

“He’s probably the best horse I ever had,” Lewis said.



With the Special Olympics World Games being held throughout Southern California from July 25-Aug. 9, the City of Arcadia will be among the many communities hosting a group of participating athletes and their coaches for three days prior to the competition.

And the legendary Derby restaurant at 233 Huntington Drive is doing its part to help.

This Monday, May 18, the Derby will donate, after costs, all proceeds from lunch, dinner and alcohol to a volunteer committee that has been making plans to house, feed, transport and entertain a contingent of approximately 100 from the twin-island country of Trinidad & Tobago and the Kyrgyz Republic, the former Soviet Union country of Kyrgyzstan.

A number of jockeys, including Mike Smith and Gary Stevens, and retired great Laffit Pincay Jr., plus horse trainers and city dignitaries, have indicated they will be at the Derby on Monday. Reservation are highly recommended and can be made by calling 626 447-2430. A mention of Special Olympics is encouraged.

For further information, contact committee member Larry Stewart at 818 512-1608.


FINISH LINES: Two-time Eclipse Award winner Beholder went back to the track Thursday, recovered from a fever that forced her to miss the Grade I Vanity Stakes last Saturday. “She went out with a pony,” said Richard Mandella, who has the daughter of Henny Hughes ticketed for the Grade III Adoration Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on June 13, while American Stakes winner Bal a Bali goes in the Grade I Shoemaker Mile on turf June 13. Precisionist Stakes winner Catch a Flight, a candidate for the Grade I, $500,000 Gold Cup at Santa Anita on June 27, went four furlongs for Mandella in 49.20 . . . San Onofre, runner-up in the Kona Gold Stakes, worked six furlongs in a bullet 1:11.20 for Karen Headley, who has designs on the Grade III Los Angeles Stakes at six furlongs on May 25. Getting in a turf work before late morning rain fell was Santa Barbara Handicap winner Queen of the Sand for Paddy Gallagher . . . Trainer A.C. Avila served the final day of his 60-day suspension yesterday and was back at Santa Anita Thursday morning, happy to be on hand but 15 pounds overweight after living the good life in Miami, Kentucky, Italy and his native Brazil during his sojourn. He bought some fresh stock at Keeneland and in Brazil . . .Three Hearts, third in the Santa Barbara Handicap on April 18, worked seven furlongs for Neil Drysdale on Santa Anita’s firm turf course Sunday in 1:29.80 for the Grade I, $300,000 Gamely Stakes for fillies and mares at nine furlongs on the grass Monday, May 25. Drysdale also worked Brazilian import Going Somewhere seven furlongs on turf Sunday in 1:29.40 for the Grade II Charles Whittingham Stakes for 3-year-olds and up at 1 ½ miles on grass May 24. Going Somewhere won the Group 1 Gran Premio Internacional Carlos Pelligrini in 2012 in his native country . . . Professional horse player Duke Matties and horse player Billy Blake will be Tom Quigley‘s guests 10:20 a.m. Saturday and 11:20 a.m. Sunday, respectively, in the East Paddock Gardens . . . The Great Race Place presents its Santa Anita Carnival on Memorial Day weekend, Saturday, May 23 through Monday, May 25. The entire family is invited for three days of live racing, carnival rides, games and prizes, with unlimited rides for children for only $10. Admission and parking to the Infield is free through Gate 6 off Colorado Place.


(Current Through Sunday, May 10)
Jockey Mts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% Money Won
Flavien Prat 45 11 10 2 24% $620,370
Tyler Baze 63 10 9 12 16% $486,750
Rafael Bejarano 41 8 8 9 20% $361,570
Fernando Perez 40 7 7 6 18% $294,780
Joseph Talamo 41 7 2 8 17% $254,162
Drayden Van Dyke 35 6 4 2 17% $240,310
Felipe Valdez 38 5 7 4 13% $198,080
Edwin Maldonado 33 4 8 6 12% $177,160
Tiago Pereira 23 4 6 3 17% $187,670
Elvis Trujillo 33 4 1 3 12% $187,200
Santiago Gonzalez 31 3 7 1 10% $130,458
Gonzalo Nicolas 35 3 2 7 9% $111,236
Mike Smith 12 3 1 1 25% $314,280
Alex Solis 11 2 3 1 18% $110,400
Mario Gutierrez 15 2 2 4 13% $115,120
Alonso Quinonez 19 2 1 5 11% $73,268
Brayan Pena 28 2 1 2 7% $55,410
Victor Espinoza 8 2 1 0 25% $98,270
Martin Garcia 10 2 0 1 20% $56,990
Trainer Sts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% Money Won
Doug O’Neill 35 7 10 5 20% $333,550
Philip D’Amato 20 7 2 2 35% $278,960
Richard Baltas 21 6 3 1 29% $307,610
Richard Mandella 17 5 5 1 29% $385,840
Dan Hendricks 8 3 1 0 38% $71,890
William Spawr 7 3 0 0 43% $59,220
Peter Miller 22 2 8 1 9% $171,510
Jerry Hollendorfer 23 2 5 4 9% $200,504
John Sadler 23 2 4 3 9% $137,598
Mark Glatt 18 2 3 3 11% $89,354
Mike Puype 20 2 2 3 10% $126,560
Jorge Periban 7 2 2 1 29% $45,870
Michael Machowsky 9 2 2 1 22% $68,850
Peter Eurton 14 2 1 4 14% $64,956
Bob Baffert 9 2 1 1 22% $94,740
Robertino Diodoro 10 2 1 1 20% $47,640
Vladimir Cerin 7 2 0 2 29% $74,180
John Shirreffs 2 2 0 0 100% $67,200
Martin Jones 5 2 0 0 40% $199,350