- OPENING DAY AT SANTA ANITA NEVER GROWS OLD
- MACHOWSKY HOPES TO SMELL THE ROSES IN FRANKEL
- BARGAIN CLAIM DRAWS BETTER POST FOR RON ELLIS
- TRAINER HENRY MORENO ON HAND AT CLOCKERS’ CORNER
FRANKEL AND LOGAN: THE BUCK STOPS WITH TRUMAN
Like the picture of Dorian Gray, opening day at Santa Anita never grows old.
“It’s unbelievable,” said trainer Eddie Truman as he absorbed the perennial beauty of
The Great Race Place on a brisk, sun-filled morning with the 78th season only hours away.
“Palms trees and mountains: what else do you want? To get up every morning and see that–wow! Palm trees and mountains with snow on the mountains. Give me a break. Nowhere in the world can you see this.”
Santa Anita honors two of its most treasured personages this weekend with the running of the Robert J. Frankel Stakes and the Eddie Logan Stakes on Saturday. Truman, who turns 68 on Jan. 23, has fond memories of both.
“I worked for Bobby for two years back in 1972,” Truman said. “He was walking horses when I was riding horses at Tropical Park in Florida. I came out here with the intention of working for the best, so I went to Bobby and he gave me a job that day.
“I forgot everything I knew when I worked for him, but I didn’t learn enough. He taught me so many things just by using his system. I didn’t have the natural instincts that he had; he was the best.
“Eddie Logan, he was at his post outside the Racing Office every day since the track opened in 1934 until before he died (on Jan. 31, 2009). What a guy. Every day he had something to say to you, he’d speak to everybody and he showed up every day. He never missed. He was a tough guy.”
KATHLEEN ROSE TRIES LONGEST DISTANCE IN FRANKEL
Kathleen Rose, a steady California-bred daughter of Good Journey trained by Mike Machowsky, tackles her longest distance yet when she runs in Saturday’s Grade III Robert J. Frankel Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on turf.
Winner of five starts with five seconds and two thirds from 14 starts, Kathleen Rose has never raced beyond one mile.
“She’s a pretty honest filly,” Machowsky said. “She kind of does anything, turf, synthetic, and she’s very consistent. She’s never run this distance but she likes this turf course, so I don’t think it will be a problem. She acts like she can run that far.”
Asked about Frankel, the Hall of Fame trained for whom the race is named, Machowsky said: “On a personal note, his baseball card collection was pretty amazing. But for what he accomplished as a trainer, there certainly should be a race named for him.”
Frankel died from lymphoma in 2009 at the age of 68.
The Frankel field: Three Hearts, Tyler Baze, 8-1; Lady Pimpernel, Victor Espinoza, 5-1; Diversy Harbor, Gary Stevens, 9-2; Lady of Gold, Kent Desormeaux, 8-1; Scooter Bird, Corey Nakatani, 12-1; Blingismything, Joe Talamo, 12-1; Kathleen Rose, Maldonado, 6-1; Winning Rhythm, Mike Smith, 6-1; Rusty Slipper, Aaron Gryder, 7-2; and Aguafria, Kieren Fallon, 12-1. Bee Brave and Floral Romance were scratched.
EURTON OPTIMISTIC ABOUT ‘BAMBINO’ IN DAYTONA
Betty’s Bambino seeks his third straight win in his first stakes attempt when the California-bred son of Unusual Heat runs in Sunday’s Grade III, $100,000 Daytona Stakes for 3-year-olds and up at about 6 ½ furlongs on turf.
It will mark the 4-year-old gelding’s first race since Oct. 16, when he beat four rivals on Santa Anita’s unique downhill course by 5 ¼ lengths.
“He had a nice breeze the other morning, did it very easy. We got a great draw and he’s got tactical speed to be where we want,” trainer Peter Eurton said.
Betty’s Bambino drew post nine in a field of 11 and will be ridden by Martin Garcia for the fourth straight race.
OFF THE RAIL, ‘SHERIF’ RIDES SHOTGUN IN MIDNIGHT LUTE
Seeking the Sherif has won five of nine starts including the $75,000 Katella Stakes at Los Alamitos since Ron Ellis claimed him for a partnership for a pittance, $12,500, last Dec. 28.
Even though the 5-year-old gelding is coming off an eighth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint on Nov. 1 when he runs in Saturday’s Midnight Lute Stakes, Ellis knows he has a tough assignment.
Seeking the Sherif broke from the one hole in the Sprint, dashing any serious hopes Ellis had of defeating the likes of Secret Circle, who was second in the field of 14 and who won the race in 2013.
“Breaking from the rail in the Breeders’ Cup was a tough thing to overcome but it was a tough race,” Ellis said. “The horse is probably not quite that good, but he doesn’t owe us anything after being claimed for $12,500.
“He’s a hard-trying horse and he’s doing great. I just don’t know if he’s as good as Secret Circle.”
Secret Circle drew just outside of Seeking the Sherif in the Midnight Lute, post position six in a field of seven.
HENRY MORENO ALIVE, WELL & ENJOYING OPENING DAY
Veteran trainer Henry Moreno, 85, was at his familiar post this morning enjoying coffee and laughs with friends and colleagues at Clockers’ Corner. With apologies to Mark Twain, reports of his demise have been greatly exaggerated.
“I’m very much alive,” Moreno said after one of his horses, the stakes-placed Spud Spivens, worked five furlongs in 1:01. “I’ve been out here at Santa Anita for 45, 50 years, and I’ve been training horses all my life.
“I was raised on a big ranch with horses and that’s all I’ve ever done. I did serve in Korea and had some pretty close calls, but I survived there, too. I’m a survivor.”
FINISH LINES: Former trainer Richard Lockwood, winner of more than 1,200 races in a 35-year career, was among many visitors at Clockers’ Corner Friday. “I just came out to get a calendar and visit with friends,” said the four-time training king at Turf Paradise, where he won more than 800 races (second to all-time leader “King” Richard Hazelton) . . . Jockey Corey Nakatani will be Tom Quigley‘s guest at his handicapping seminar Saturday, 11:20 a.m., in the East Paddock Gardens . . . Crimson Giant, a 5-year-old gelding who makes his 61st career start in today’s second race, has finished third on 14 occasions, nearly 25 percent of the time.