- ‘VENEDA’ SEEKS FOURTH STRAIGHT; BEHOLDER OUT
- PREAKNESS STAKES NEXT FOR AMERICAN PHAROAH
- RACING MOURNS THE PASSING OF ‘BUD’ JOHNSTON
- STREAKING TALCO EYES HIS THIRD WIN IN A ROW
BAZE KEEN ON WARREN’S VENEDA FOR GRADE I VANITY
Tyler Baze felt he had a good thing going with Warren’s Veneda when he rode her to her first win over two years ago.
It came in a stakes race.
Baze piloted the California-bred daughter of Affirmative to a 1 ¾-length victory in her second career start, the Alphabet Kisses Stakes for state-breds at Hollywood on April 27, 2013.
Since then, the 32-year-old Seattle native has ridden her seven times, winning four, the last three in a row, including the Grade I Santa Margarita Stakes on March 14 for Craig Lewis, who trains the stretch-running chestnut mare for owner/breeder Benjamin Warren.
Next up: Saturday’s Grade I, $300,000 Vanity Stakes for fillies and mares, three and up, at 1 1/8 miles, a race in which two-time Eclipse champ Beholder was entered, but will not run.
“She had a temperature this morning and had a high white blood count,” trainer Richard Mandella said Thursday. “She’s on antibiotics and out of the race.”
It might have been four straight wins for Warren’s Veneda but Baze was beaten a head by Tiz Midnight in the Grade II Bayakoa Stakes at Los Alamitos last Dec. 6.
“She was a little unlucky at Los Alamitos, but she’s done everything so easy this year,
just playing around and having fun, just happy really,” Baze said. “Craig’s been keeping her happy. She’s loving what she’s doing.
“In all three of the wins, I got down to ride her a little bit, but she’s had her ears pricked forward having fun. She’s doing great now and I expect her to run huge.”
The field for the Vanity, race five of nine: Warren‘s Veneda, Tyler Baze; Gas Total, Flavien Prat; My Sweet Addiction, Mike Smith; and Legacy, Martin Garcia.
CALIFORNIA ‘BIG THREE’ DOING GREAT FOR PREAKNESS
Only one horse on the planet can win the Triple Crown this year, and that horse is American Pharoah.
That said, the first three finishers in the Kentucky Derby, Pharoah, Firing Line and Dortmund, all based at Santa Anita, are scheduled to meet in the second jewel of the Triple Crown, the Preakness Stakes, at Pimlico on May 16.
“You go in there with two really good horses and you’re hoping they run their races, and they did,” said Bob Baffert, trainer of Pharoah and Dortmund, recounting the experience last Saturday before a record Churchill Downs crowd of more than 170,000.
“Dortmund really looked good in the paddock, but Pharoah got a little worked up on the walk. I was a little concerned because he spent a lot of energy going through all those people getting to the saddling area, and they were running alongside, and he doesn’t like that.
“It really stirred him up pretty good, and he dragged his galloper and his groom all the way to the paddock. He was getting a little hot but then he cooled down and settled down, and after that he was real professional, like he usually is.
“Everybody wanted to get a picture of him on the walk over. Dortmund handled the saddling really well. Down the backside Dortmund was in a nice stride and I thought he was going to go all the way with it, and then he got a little tired at the end.
“Victor (Espinoza) swung way wide on Pharoah who seemed to be struggling a bit and I was worried a little about that, because Firing Line was running the race of his life, and that’s what you need to win the Derby, especially this year.
“It was the toughest Derby I’ve ever been in. This crop is really strong.”
American Pharoah and Dortmund both went to the track today and Jimmy (assistant Jim Barnes) said they really looked excellent,” Baffert said. “We’re pretty excited about the Preakness.”
Simon Callaghan was happy with Firing Line’s second by a length to American Pharoah.
“He came out of the race really well,” Callaghan said of the Sunland Derby winner. “He’s showing us all the right signs since the race and he’ll ship to Pimlico on Wednesday. He ran great. He did everything you could ask, he just got run down late, but he came out of the race as good as you could hope.”
RACING MOURNS PASSING OF OWNER/BREEDER BUD JOHNSTON
The racing world and California in particular mourned the passing of Elwood (Bud) Johnston, who died in his sleep Tuesday. Johnston, who bred and raced 2011 Eclipse Award champion older male Acclamation, would have been 78 yesterday.
“I’m just numb,” said an emotional Kenny Black, assistant to Don Warren, who trained for Johnston many years. “He was so good to me. He was an excellent horseman and treated me like a son. He loved horse racing and he loved to run.
“The only thing he didn’t like was not running. ‘Dag-nab it,’ he would say if he was angry or upset because a horse couldn’t race. I never heard him use a curse word.
“He was at our house in Rancho Cucamonga all day Sunday for my daughter Kaylee’s seventh birthday party, playing with all the kids and having a great time. He and his wife were the last people to leave.
“In all my years in the business, I never met a better a horseman. I learned something from him every day.”
In addition to Warren, the Johnston family had tremendous success over the years with trainer Bruce Headley. “He was my best friend, my buddy, my partner,” Headley told the Paulick Report on Tuesday. “He was very honest, very knowledgeable, and always enthusiastic. He truly loved horses. He was nice to people and always a gentleman, always smiling.”
California’s leading breeder 13 times, Old English Rancho has bred more than 200 stakes winners and has been home to prominent stallions such as Fleet Nasrullah, The Pie King, Lucky Mel, Windy Sands, Kennedy Road and Unusual Heat.
Johnston was the son of Elwood B. “The Pie Man” Johnston, who began breeding and owning horses in California in the 1940s with the establishment of Old English Rancho in Chino. Bud Johnston and his wife, Judy, took over management of the farm which had been moved to Ontario, in 1957. “O.E.R.” was again relocated in 1997 to Sanger, near Fresno, where its current stallion roster is comprised of Acclamation (by Unusual Heat), Cyclotron, Surf Cat, Vronsky and Big Bad Leroy Brown.
Acclamation won 11 of 30 starts including the $1 million Pacific Classic in 2011, in a career spanning from 2008 to 2012. He earned $1,958,048, and was thus Johnston’s all-time leading money earner.
Preceded in death by his father and mother, Betty, Johnston is survived by his wife of 58 years, Judy, daughters Darlene Johnston Smith, Mary Johnston Hilvers, five grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.
Services for Johnston are pending.
TALCO EYES GRADED STATUS IN AMERICAN STAKES
Talco steps up in pursuit of his third straight victory when he runs in Saturday’s Grade III American Stakes for 3-year-olds and up at one mile on turf.
The 4-year-old French-bred colt won an overnight race at one mile on grass March 12, and the restricted Thunder Road on April 4, also at a mile on turf.
“He’s doing really well,” said John Sadler, who trains the son of Pivotal for Hronis Racing LLC. “He had a very good, game win in the Thunder Road. We were delighted with it.
“This is a little tougher field, facing the sensational horse from South America (Bal a Bali). I know he’s pretty good, so this is kind of the next step up.”
As for Santa Anita Oaks winner Stellar Wind, fourth in the Kentucky Oaks on May 1, she came out of the race in good order and could run at Santa Anita late next month.
“She came back well, but we have no plans yet,” Sadler said. “She’s possible for the Summertime Oaks (June 20, Grade II, $200,000, 1 1/16 miles).”
The field: Enterprising, Gary Stevens, 12-1; War Academy, Corey Nakatani, 15-1; Winning Prize, Rafael Bejarano, 5-2; Gabriel Charles, Tyler Baze, 8-1; Talco, Victor Espinoza, 5-2; Little Jerry, Martin Pedroza, 20-1; Home Run Kitten, Joe Talamo, 5-1; and Bal a Bali, Flavien Prat, 9-5.
FINISH LINES: WELCOME BACK–Veteran jockey Scott Stevens, 54, who just wrapped up his seventh riding title with 104 wins at Turf Paradise, rode first-time starter Mint Julep Taffy to a third-place finish for trainer Molly Pearson in today’s third race, marking his first engagement at The Great Race Place “in at least 10 years.” . . . Jockey David Flores has been granted permission to resume riding by the California Horse Racing Board effective immediately. The 46-year-old native of Tijuana had been disqualified from participating in riding for one year by authorities in Singapore in late March.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Sunday, May 3)|
|Drayden Van Dyke||23||3||4||1||13%||$150,840|