Jim Cassidy’s emotions were mixed Sunday morning. The 65-year-old trainer was understandably proud that Evening Jewel was named California-bred Horse of the Year Tuesday by the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association, but had concerns about her drawing the outside post in Monday’s Grade II Buena Vista Handicap scheduled for one mile on turf.

“It was fabulous,” the Bronx native said of Evening Jewel’s award. “Her and my other horse (The Usual Q.T.) were one-two in the voting. You don’t have too many years like that. It was great.” Not so for Evening Jewel’s Buena Vista draw.

“It’s a disadvantage going a mile, certainly,” Cassidy said. “We’ve got a lot going against us. We’re the high weight (122 pounds), the rail’s at 15 feet, we’re in the 11 hole and the ground might be a little soft.”

In addition to a class edge, however, Evening Jewel should have another advantage. She runs well on turf or dirt and there appears to be enough pace in the race to aid her tracking style.

“There’s some speed in there and that’ll be helpful, certainly,” Cassidy allowed. “I did nominate her for the Valentine Dancer next Saturday, but now that I think about it, it’s supposed to rain next Saturday and Sunday so we might be in the same sort of situation.”

The field for the Buena Vista for older fillies and mares: Turning Top, Brice Blanc, 6-1; Restless Soul, Alonso Quinonez, 30-1; Cozi Rosie, Mike Smith, 8-1; Bonnie Blue Flag, Martin Garcia, 15-1; Malibu Pier, Rafael Bejarano, 6-1; Lilly Fa Pootz, Joel Rosario, 5-1; Spring Style, Garrett Gomez, 6-1; Burg Berg, Martin Pedroza, 12-1; Briecat, Patrick Valenzuela, 8-1; It Tiz, David Flores, 8-1; and Evening Jewel, Victor Espinoza, 4-1. Prytania and Late Cuddle are also-eligibles.

Santa Anita oddsmaker and HRTV contributor Jon White notes that Malibu Pier is hoping to follow in the footsteps of her dam, Blue Moon, who won the 2002 Buena Vista Handicap.

All THOROUGHBREDS members at Santa Anita on Presidents’ Day will receive free an attractive glass beer mug with paid admission, while supplies last.


When it comes to publicity, world-class jockey Corey Nakatani has been flying beneath the radar this meet, but the veteran has lost little if any of his riding skill and none of his competitive fire.

Nakatani, a 10-time riding king and winner of more than 3,400 races including seven Breeders’ Cup events, ranked eighth in Santa Anita’s riding standings through 35 days with 16 wins. The Covina native hopes to add to that total when he rides Cloneylass in Monday’s Grade III La Habra Stakes for 3-year-old fillies scheduled for about 6 ½ furlongs on turf.

Cloneylass was second in the Sweet Life Stakes under Nakatani last out when she was bothered late, beaten only a half-length.

“It definitely cost her the race,” said the 40-year-old rider, whose business is handled by agent Tommy Ball. “She was doing well but a horse shifted out and took our path a little bit. But my filly is doing good and I’m looking forward to riding her again.”

Cloneylass, an Irish-bred trained by Jamie Lloyd, has a third and two seconds in three U.S. starts, all stakes.

Nakatani’s 16 victories have come from only 86 rides. He’s making the most of his opportunities, as he did in 1996-97, when he won 19 stakes at Santa Anita, a record he shares with Laffit Pincay Jr.

“I’ve got the third-highest percentage of winners,” he said. At 19 percent, Nakatani trailed Joel Rosario at 21 percent and leader Rafael Bejarano at 24 percent.

“If I can get my foot back in the door with everybody,” Nakatani said, “we’ll be good.”

The field for the La Habra, race six on the nine-race holiday card: Rigoletta, David Flores, 8-1; Advantage Player, Alonso Quinonez, 6-1; A Z Warrior, Martin Garcia, 4-1; Cathy’s Crunches, Rafael Bejarano, 5-1; Cloneylass, Corey Nakatani, 3-1; Bloemer Girl, Victor Espinoza, 5-1; She’ll Heir, Patrick Valenzuela, 20-1; True Way of Grace, Chantal Sutherland, 20-1; Teddy’s Promise, Martin Pedroza, 20-1; Cambina, Garrett Gomez, 7-2; and Dawnie Macho, Joe Talamo, 10-1.

Hout Bay, Quiet Oasis and Latin Lashes are on the also-eligible list.


From a Hall of Fame riding career to a highly acclaimed acting debut in the hit film “Seabiscuit,” Gary Stevens has enjoyed a multi-faceted career. Now lending his expertise as an HRTV analyst, Stevens on Thursday will take a break to sign autographs before Santa Anita’s jockeys take on Holy Angels in their annual charity basketball game. He’s looking forward to it.

“I played in the game for years,” Stevens said, “until my knees got so bad, I’d be crippled the next day after I played. All the guys were really competitive, I was competitive and I’d go out there and do more than an old man could do.

“But it’s a lot of fun. The guys have a great time and it’s a great cause.”

The 44th annual Holy Angels-Santa Anita Jockeys Charity Basketball Game will take place at La Salle High School in Pasadena. Tip off is set for 7 p.m.

Proceeds will benefit the Holy Angels athletic department and the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF). Legendary Hall of Fame jockeys Eddie Delahoussaye, Don Pierce, Laffit Pincay Jr., Gary Stevens and Mike Smith will serve as honorary captains and will be on hand to autograph memorabilia from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the La Salle High gymnasium.

This year’s Santa Anita jockey squad figures to include: Team Captain David Flores, Pedro Arambula, Paul Atkinson, Rafael Bejarano, Alex Bisono, Brice Blanc, Antonio Castanon, Victor Espinoza, Martin Garcia, Garrett Gomez, Kerwin John, Edwin Maldonado, Corey Nakatani, Iggy Puglisi, Alonso Quinonez, Joel Rosario, Christian Santiago Reyes, Mike Smith, Chantal Sutherland, Kayla Stra, Joe Talamo, Patrick Valenzuela and perhaps others.

La Salle High School is located at the southwest corner of Michillinda Ave. and Sierra Madre Blvd. in Pasadena, approximately four miles from Santa Anita. Admission is $5.


Next Friday, Feb. 25, following the last race, friends and family of Noble and Beryl Threewitt are invited to gather in Sirona’s Bar at Santa Anita in appreciation of their many contributions to racing.

Threewitt, who trained more than 2,000 winners including 1954 Preakness winner Correlation, retired as one of the most highly respected horsemen in California racing history on Feb. 24, 2007. Threewitt was on hand when Santa Anita opened on Christmas Day 1934 and was a popular and welcome fixture at The Great Race Place ever since. He died at the age of 99 last Sept. 16. His wife died last July 12 at the age of 98. They were married 77 years. Threewitt would have been 100 years old on Feb. 24.


Thomas Foley will have a special signing of his book, “The Simple Game: An Irish Jockey’s Memoir,” 10:15 a.m. to 12 noon on Saturday, March 5, and 10:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 6, at Champions! Gift Shop.

Written with true Irish wit, Foley offers a rare glimpse into the life of a professional jockey and the sacrifices required to succeed. Foley was the exercise rider in the hit film “Secretariat.”

At Saturday’s signing, Foley will be joined by Drew Roy, who played Seth Hancock in the Secretariat film. Fans are encouraged to bring their Secretariat DVD along with their book. The book and the Secretariat DVD are available at Champions!

FINISH LINES: Another inch of rain hit Santa Anita late Saturday afternoon, necessitating Track Superintendent Richard Tedesco to close the main track for training Sunday. “It will be open tomorrow for sure,” he said. “No more rain is forecast until Thursday.” . . .John Sadler plans to work his Fab Five at Santa Anita Monday: Gladding (Santa Anita Handicap), Sidney’s Candy (Kilroe Mile), Switch (Santa Margarita Handicap), Twirling Candy (Big ‘Cap) and Zazu (Santa Anita Oaks) . . . Champ Pegasus came out of his exciting nose victory over Bourbon Bay in Saturday’s San Luis Obispo Stakes in good order and it’s on to Dubai for the $5 million Sheema Classic at 1 1/2 miles on turf March 26. “The last time I was there was when The Tin Man ran second in the Duty Free (in 2006),” Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella said. Through the first 35 days, the San Luis Obispo is a leading candidate as Race of the Meet . . . Crown of Thorns had his first breeze Friday since finishing second to Richard’s Kid in the Goodwood Stakes at Hollywood Park last Oct. 3. He went three furlongs at Santa Anita in :37 flat. “He had a little torn tissue in his hind suspensory area, the carpal canal,” Mandella said. “They cleaned it away; it wasn’t any big deal. We gave him two months off, he spent a month riding at the ranch and he came in.” . . . Agent Ken Goldberg reports that five-pound apprentice rider Tyler Kaplan leaves Aqueduct tomorrow to resume riding at Santa Anita. “He’s won about 80 races and we’re looking forward to coming back,” said Goldberg, a former paddock judge in Southern California who has represented the 17-year-old Kaplan for some three months . . . Carl O’Callaghan plans to ship Kinsale King to Dubai on March 15 for defense of his title in the $2 million Golden Shaheen on March 26. The effusive trainer had three horses entered at Santa Anita on Sunday . . . Vow to bet on vowels: once again, jockeys whose last name end in a vowel won all nine races at Santa Anita Saturday: Valenzuela, Pedroza, Rosario, Garcia and Bejarano.