- AUDIBLE PLACES BIG MACHER IN PALOS VERDES
- HIGH FIVE FOR HOLLENDORFER IN LAS VIRGENES
- STEADY HOME RUN KITTEN IN FORM FOR ARCADIA
- ‘CHROME’ VOX POPULI AUCTION STARTS TODAY
- SERVICES THIS SATURDAY FOR GARY DIMKICH
BALTAS HOPES TO IMPROVE ON CLAIM TO FAME
Stymie and Lava Man are two of racing’s greatest claims. Stymie, haltered for $1,500 by legendary trainer Hirsch Jacobs back in the 1940s, went on to earn a then-world record of more than $900,000 before Triple Crown winner Citation surpassed the mark when he won the 1951 Hollywood Gold Cup.
Lava Man, claimed for $50,000 by Doug O’Neill, subsequently won the Hollywood Gold Cup three times and the Santa Anita Handicap in 2006 and 2007, earning more than $5 million before his retirement.
Enter Big Macher. The California-bred gelding isn’t within a furlong of Stymie and Lava Man at this point, but the son of Beau Genius taken by trainer Richard Baltas from his first start, a $20,000 maiden claiming race on July 17, 2013, has paid his way and then some, earning more than $500,000. His future is still in front of him, starting with Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 Palos Verdes Stakes at six furlongs.
Baltas had ticketed Big Macher for the $150,000 California Cup Sprint on Sunshine Millions California Cup Day last Saturday, but after drawing the one post position, opted to wait for the Palos Verdes, one reason being he hoped to get a more advantageous post position.
“I didn’t expect him to achieve what he has so far, hell no,” Baltas said of the 5-year-old gelding. “When you claim a horse and it improves, I don’t think it’s a matter of luck. It’s up to the trainer to make the decisions. Look at Ron Ellis. He took Seeking the Sherif for $12,500 and did everything he had to do to improve the horse.
“That’s what happens in this business with guys who know how to train a horse. It doesn’t happen to Joe Schmo. Guys just don’t get lucky. You’ve got to take care of horses every day, day in, day out . . . You’ve got to make the right decisions.
“It’s like coaching a football team. You’ve got to know what you did wrong and try to improve on it. You look at a horse every day to see what you can do to make it better next time. The horse has to earn its way through the ranks.
“Sometimes you claim a horse and it works out, sometimes it doesn’t.”
As to the Palos Verdes, Baltas said the break is important and he hopes to see Big Macher “right behind Bonde’s horse,” referring to trainer Jeff Bonde’s speedball Distinctiv Passion, who breaks just inside Big Macher in the No. 1 post position.
The field for the Palos Verdes, race six of nine: Distinctiv Passion, Mike Smith, 2-1; Big Macher, Tyler Baze, 5-2; Conquest Two Step, Joe Talamo, 4-1; Secret Circle, Martin Garcia, 5-2; Wild Dude, Rafael Bejarano, 4-1; and Chief Lion, Martin Pedroza, 15-1.
IT’S CINCO DE LAS VIRGENES ON SATURDAY
Jerry Hollendorfer has five horses entered in Saturday’s Grade I Las Virgenes Stakes, half the field.
That couldn’t happen in the old days, when they would have had to run as an entry, a bet on one being a bet on all.
“I think the most we’ve entered in a race before was three,” said Hollendorfer’s assistant of eight years Dan Ward.
“I never saw it,” said agent Vince DeGregory, who has been in the game since 1959. Ditto for agent Scotty McClellan, who although he didn’t remember it occurring in the 43 years he’s been in racing, added, “But I think it might have happened.”
Be that as it may, Hollendorfer, who is inching his way towards 7,000 career wins, entered five of the six horses he had nominated to the one-mile race for 3-year-old fillies.
Hollendorfer’s Fab Five for the $300,000 race: Glory, Lutine Belle, Achiever’s Legacy, Majestic Presence and Light the City.
Safety in numbers is not necessarily a bad thing. “Years ago,” California Horse Racing Board steward Tom Ward recalled, “someone said that one day Charlie Whittingham will have every horse in a race,” to which Santa Anita Racing Secretary Jimmy Kilroe had this rejoinder: ‘What’s wrong with that?'”
The field for the Las Virgenes, which goes the eighth race: Glory, Mike Smith, 4-1; Maybellene, Rafael Bejarano, 3-1; Lutine Belle, Alex Solis, 12-1; Achiever’s Legacy, Drayden Van Dyke, 8-1; Mio Me, Corey Nakatani. 15-1; Majestic Presence, Gary Stevens, 7-2, Callback, Martin Garcia, 4-1; Suva Harbor, Martin Pedroza, 8-1; Miss Mandate, Joe Talamo, 12-1; and Light the City, Kent Desormeaux, 6-1.
HOFMANS HOPES TO GO YARD WITH HOME RUN KITTEN
Home Run Kitten goes for the second stakes win of his career when he runs in Saturday’s Grade II Arcadia Stakes at one mile on turf.
The versatile son of Kitten’s Joy trained by David Hofmans for longtime client Susan Osborne, who races as Tarabilla Farms, Inc., won the Singletary Stakes at one mile on grass and also the Grade III Eddie D. at about 6 ½ furlongs on turf. Last out, he was second by a neck in the Grade II Mathis Brothers Mile on Dec. 26.
“I’m happy with the draw (post position two in a field of nine), but the field’s a little tough,” Hofmans said. “He tries every time and there’s no other place to run.”
In 10 career starts, Home Run Kitten has a 4-2-2 record with earnings of $257,800. He will be ridden once again by Joe Talamo, who been aboard in each of his previous starts.
The Arcadia field: Play Hard To Get, Alex Solis, 20-1; Home Run Kitten, Joe Talamo, 3-1; Baccelo, Tiago Pereira, 20-1; Kaigun, Corey Nakatani, 5-2; Edge of Reality, Flavien Prat, 8-1; El Nino Terrible, Fernando Perez, 12-1; Talco, Drayden Van Dyke, 8-1; Za Approval, Mike Smith, 3-1; and Avanzare, Gary Stevens, 4-1.
CALIFORNIA CHROME VOX POPULI AUCTION BEGINS TODAY
Collectors, “Chromies,” and curators will be vying for the race-worn winning silks of a champion as well as other prized pieces in a historical opportunity when the California Chrome Vox Populi Charity Auction begins today.
This unique, 10-day online auction will feature five museum-quality pieces celebrating California Chrome, the winner of last year’s Kentucky Derby and Preakness as well as the 2014 Eclipse Award for Horse of the Year and the Secretariat Vox Populi Award, which recognizes the horse whose popularity and racing excellence best resounded with the American public and gained recognition for Thoroughbred racing.
The items–all with impeccable provenance and of profound significance–were donated by California Chrome’s owners Steve Coburn and Perry Martin in collaboration with Mrs. Penny Chenery and the Secretariat Archives, to benefit the Secretariat Foundation.
Most notable in this impressive collection are the actual DAP Racing silks worn by Victor Espinoza when he guided California Chrome to his first significant win in the San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita last spring. This piece, signed by each member of the California Chrome team, marks the first time–at least in recent memory–when the original race-worn winning silks of a newly crowned Horse of the Year have been offered to the general public.
The auction also will feature a sculpted bust of California Chrome by esteemed equine artists Kitty Cantrell and Caroline Boydston, who created the official trophy for the Vox Populi Award, as well as an original oil painting of California Chrome by acclaimed Kentucky equine artist Jaime Corum. The highly-sought after Vox Populi prints released earlier this month at Santa Anita were created and published from this original portrait.
The Vox Populi Auction also will offer two items that represent the storied career of California Chrome’s trainer, Art Sherman. One is a 1955 issue of Sports Illustrated, featuring the legendary Swaps on the cover and signed by Sherman, who as a teenager was a stable hand and exercise rider for Swaps’ connections. The other is an exquisite miniature hand-painted pewter figurine of California Chrome commissioned specially for this auction. Only two of these miniatures were produced, and the other Sherman received during the Vox Populi Awardpresentationas a special reminder of his amazing champion.
Secretariat.com, in conjunction with eBay, will host this first-ever Vox Populi Auction. Bidding will begin this evening, and conclude Sunday, Feb. 8. For more information about the auction or the Vox Populi Award visit Secretariat.com
The Secretariat Foundation is a non-profit charitable organization created by Mrs. Penny Chenery to assist the Thoroughbred industry in the areas of research, rehabilitation, retirement and recognition. Mrs. Chenery named the foundation after her great champion to use his enduring appeal to bring greater awareness to the many causes found within the equine-related community. Secretariat Foundation revenue is raised through donations, signing appearances, and the sales of memorabilia and officially licensed products on Secretariat.com.
GREAT RACE PLACE MOURNS PASSING OF OWNER/RACONTEUR DIMKICH
Funeral services for owner/raconteur Gary Dimkich have been set for Saturday,10 a.m. at St. Steven’s Serbian Orthodox Cathedral in Alhambra. A frequent visitor to Clockers’ Corner, Dimkich enjoyed the everyday camaraderie of friends and was well-steeped in the lore and tradition of racing and “All Things Santa Anita.”
A Los Angeles native, Dimkich, 69, passed away suddenly at his Arcadia home on Saturday night following a day spent with friends on Sunshine Millions/California Cup Day at the track. A graduate of Woodrow Wilson High School in nearby El Sereno, Dimkich went on to play football at Cal State Los Angeles, where he led his school’s conference in punting one season.
A lifelong friend of influential Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich, Dimkich developed a myriad of relationships over the years and operated the popular eatery, Delacy’s Club 41, in Old Town Pasadena for eight years. Subsequent to that, he enjoyed a career as a part-time actor, appearing on the HBO series LUCK, and later on shows such as The Mentalist, Sons of Anarchy and others.
Dimkich also endeavored to benefit area children by working at the Pasadena Ronald McDonald House. He is survived by his wife; Leah, two daughters, Nicole and Cara, two granddaughters, Isabella and Sofia, his brother Mitch, two nieces and a nephew.
The Dimkich family has asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be sent to the Pasadena Ronald McDonald House: 763 South Pasadena Ave., Pasadena, Ca., 91105.
XPRESSBET, SANTA ANITA, GULFSTREAM INTRODUCE ‘X-COUNTRY’ PICK 4
Leading online wagering provider Xpressbet, in conjunction with Santa Anita Park, Gulfstream Park and the Stronach Group, is excited to announce its plans to offer horseplayers the opportunity to play a special Pick 4 on Saturday, Feb. 7. The all-stakes, $500,000 guaranteed ‘X-Country’ (Cross Country) Pick 4 will combine the best races that day at Gulfstream – the Donn Handicap and Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap – and Santa Anita – the San Antonio Stakes and San Marcos Stakes – and will coincide with a live broadcast of those races on Fox Sports 1.
The majority of North America’s best racehorses are scheduled to be in action that day, with Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner California Chrome likely to square off against Pacific Classic and Malibu Stakes victor Shared Belief in the San Antonio Stakes, while Lea targets a repeat in the Donn Handicap against last year’s Florida Derby winner, Constitution.
“February 7 is a day that many horseplayers and racing fans circled on their calendars weeks ago,” said Xpressbet President, Ron Luniewski. “Not only do these races historically draw exceptional fields, but this year is truly special with so many of the world’s best horses planning to run. We’re excited that the X-Country Pick 4 has become a reality, and we’re excited that horseplayers will have the opportunity to bet on all of these great horses and races as part of one wager.”
“With world-class cards at both Santa Anita and Gulfstream Park on Feb. 7, horseplayers can expect some great wagering opportunities, including the X-Country Pick 4.” said Santa Anita President Tom Ludt. “We are very excited for a potential rematch of the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic in the Grade II San Antonio Stakes and an exciting day of racing.”
P.J. Campo, Vice President of Racing for The Stronach Group and General Manager of Gulfstream Park, added, “It’s going to be a huge weekend. Not only will our fans see four of the country’s most prestigious races and top horses, but another unique wager from The Stronach Group with a $500,000 guarantee. We’re looking forward to working with our partners at Santa Anita and Xpressbet to make this a memorable day.”
In addition to the Grade I Donn Handicap and Grade I Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap, Gulfstream Park’s Feb. 7 card also includes the Grade III Fred Hooper Stakes, the Grade III Suwannee River Stakes and the Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint. Santa Anita’s Feb. 7 card also features the Grade III Robert B. Lewis Stakes, as well as the Grade II San Marcos Stakes and the San Antonio.
Customers who play the X-Country Pick 4 at Xpressbet will also receive 0% takeout for their winning wager, as well as 4-times XB Rewards Bonus Points. To sign up for an Xpressbet account and to receive an enhanced $150 Welcome Bonus, please visit www.xpressbet.com/XCountry and enter promo code XCOUNTRY.
FINISH LINES: Santa Anita invites fans to its Big Game Party Sunday in the Bud Light Lounge & Sirona’s. Enjoy a buffet, program, big screen HDTV’s, two full-size pool tables, and $3 Budweiser and Bud Light brews all day for only $20. Tickets are available online at santaanita.com/events. Fans must be 21 or older to enter this area on a first come, first served for seating. Call 626-574-6400 for rates. First post time is 11 a.m. . . .Sunland Derby and Damascus winner Chitu worked four furlongs in company for Bob Baffert Thursday morning in 46.60 under Martin Garcia. Stablemate Global Hottie was clocked in 47 flat . . . Richard Mandella on how Beholder is coming along: “She couldn’t be better.” . . . Tom Quigley‘s guest handicapper Saturday in the East Paddock Gardens at 11:20 a.m. will be HRTV reporter/analyst Zoe Cadman. There will be no seminar Sunday due to early post time . . . No fear of triskaidekaphobia: Aperfectdaytofly ($7.40 in the seventh race) and Sum Midnight Star ($9.60 in the ninth) each won Sunday wearing saddle cloth No. 13 . . . Former jockey Corey Black is known for being loquacious, but trainer Howard Zucker was on point in his description: “You ask him what time it is and he tells you how to build a clock.”
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Sunday, Jan. 25)|
|Drayden Van Dyke||81||9||7||12||11%||$506,206|
|A. C. Avila||13||4||0||1||31%||$82,000|