Bill Shoemaker won the Santa Anita Handicap a record 11 times. He retired as the world’s winningest jockey in 1990 and later turned to training, employing Paddy Gallagher as his assistant.

If anything good rubbed off on Gallagher during his tour of some seven years with Shoemaker, the gregarious Irishman stands a good chance with one of his two Big ‘Cap runners, Aggie Engineer and Soul Candy, in Saturday’s Grade I, $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap presented by San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino.

“Shoe was a very balanced individual and never got too high or too low, as a jockey and as a trainer,” Gallagher said. “He understood the nuances of the game as well as anyone. As a person, he had a good sense of humor and was a super guy to be around.”

As for Aggie Engineer and Soul Candy, they’re ready to go.

“Both horses are in good shape so far,” Gallagher said. “They both breezed nice last week. Aggie Engineer has a lot of speed and should be close. Soul Candy has never run on dirt but he trains well on it.”

With four starters—Spurrier, First Dude, Tweebster and Game on Dude--Bob Baffert would equal the Big ’Cap record set by Charlie Whittingham in 1976 when he sent out Top Command (seventh), Dahlia (ninth), Dulcia (10th) and Gay Style (12th).

“Twirling Candy looks tough,” Baffert said, “but it’s the Big ’Cap and it’s only 100 yards to walk the horses over.”

The field for the 74th running of the Santa Anita Handicap, which goes as the 10th of 11 races: Soul Candy, Garrett Gomez, 114, 30-1; Spurrier, Alonso Quinonez, 115, 15-1; Gladding, Rafael Bejarano, 117, 6-1; Pode Ir, David Flores, 112, 50-1; Twirling Candy, Joel Rosario, 122, 4-5; Setsuko, Victor Espinoza, 112, 30-1; Quindici Man, Martin Pedroza, 115, 30-1; First Dude, Martin Garcia, 116, 5-1; Tweebster, Mike Smith, 116, 15-1; Aggie Engineer, Joe Talamo, 118, 6-1; and Game on Dude, Chantal Sutherland, 115, 15-1.

Saturday’s local weather forecast calls for sunny skies with temperatures in the 70s.

On Big ’Cap Day, Santa Anita will offer an attractive Santa Anita baseball cap free, with paid admission, while supplies last. There is a guaranteed $500,000 late Pick 4.

First post time on Big ‘Cap Day is 12 noon. Gates open at 10 a.m.


Don Warren learned the hard way that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, or in this case, an old horse.

Actually, Acclamation isn’t that old. He’s a 5-year-old California-bred son of Unusual Heat who makes his 22nd start in Saturday’s Grade I Frank E. Kilroe Mile on turf, and after a period of trial and error, and barring the unforeseen, count on Acclamation being in front as far as he goes in the Kilroe.

“We always thought he’d be a good horse, and he’s done very well,” said the 59-year-old Warren, a long-time fixture on the California racing scene along with his primary owners and breeders, E.W. (Bud) Johnston and his wife, Judy, of Old English Rancho fame.

“The horse seems even more mature than he was last summer,” Warren continued, “so we’re really happy with the way he’s come along and progressed.”

Aside from his maiden win, Acclamation’s other three victories have been on the front end, including the Grade II Jim Murray Handicap at Hollywood Park last May and the Grade I Charlie Whittingham Handicap at Hollywood a month later. He was ninth in the Grade I United Nations at Monmouth Park after that, and sixth in his most recent start, the Grade I Eddie Read at Del Mar last July 24.

In 21 starts, Acclamation has four wins, two seconds, six thirds and earnings of $502,048.

Asked if Acclamation has to be in front to run his best, Warren said, “That’s a good question. At first, Bud Johnston used to say,’ I think this horse has to be in front,’ and I kept saying, ‘If we don’t teach him to rate, he’s never going to be any good.’ So we kept trying to teach him to rate and we kept getting seconds and thirds in graded races.

“Finally, going a mile and a half (in the Jim Murray), I thought there was a good chance for him to make an easy lead, and (Christian Santiago) Reyes sent him right to the front and he never looked back (winning by 7 ½ lengths at 14-1). He did the same thing in the Whittingham (winning the mile and a quarter race by a length and a half at 3-1).

“Then I made a mistake of trying to take a hold of him again in the United Nations and it didn’t work. The trouble is, he’s not a sprinter, so he really doesn’t have the speed to open up two or three (lengths) going a flat mile, I don’t think. So does he have to be in front to win? it’s a good question. I haven’t figured it out yet.”

Acclamation also is entered in Sunday’s $75,000 Santana Mile, but Warren said that race is only an option. “It looks like there’s more speed in that race than the Kilroe,” he said, “so I’m leaning towards the Kilroe.”

The field for the Kilroe: Liberian Freighter Martin Garcia, 20-1; Fluke, Rafael Bejarano, 3-1; Acclamation, Christian Santiago Reyes, 15-1; Caracortado, Joe Talamo, 5-2; Square Eddie, Joel Rosario, 20-1; Sebastian Flyte, Garrett Gomez, 8-1; Lieve, Corey Nakatani, 20-1; Times Gone By, Victor Espinoza, 15-1; Jeranimo, David Flores, 3-1; and Gallant Son, Mike Smith, 6-1.


Turbulent Descent looked every bit the 2-5 favorite as she rolled into the stretch in the Grade I Las Virgenes Stakes on Feb. 5. But when push came to shove, the finalist for an Eclipse Award as top 2-year-old filly of 2010 couldn’t hold off the onrushing Zazu and suffered her first defeat after opening her career with three straight wins, losing the one mile race by a length and a quarter.

Trainer Mike Puype is hoping to reverse the outcome Saturday in the Grade I, $250,000 Santa Anita Oaks at 1 1/16 miles.

“Everything’s ready, so we’ll see what happens,” Puype said. “She got a little tired in the Las Virgenes. We’ll see if we can make amends tomorrow.

“It’s a short field, so there shouldn’t be any excuses. We should have every chance to get it done.” The field for the Oaks: May Day Rose, Martin Garcia, 6-1; Zazu, Joel Rosario, 2-1; Turbulent Descent, David Flores, 1-1; Kilograeme, Garrett Gomez, 10-1; and A Z Warrior, Rafael Bejarano, 4-1. Each filly carries 122 pounds.


HRTV will present a special half-hour edition of its popular show “Grandstand” featuring the live running of the prestigious Santa Anita Handicap Saturday at 5 p.m. Scheduled post time for the Big ’Cap is 5:10 p.m.

“Grandstand” is hosted by Laffit Pincay III, son of five-time Santa Anita Handicap-winning jockey Laffit Pincay Jr. Pincay’s co-hosts, Gary Stevens and Jeff Siegel, have also won the Big ‘Cap. Stevens rode the winner in 1990, 1991, 1995 and 2005, while Siegel was a part-owner of Martial Law, the upset winner of the 1989 running at odds of 50-to-1.


Bob Bean wasn’t at his usual haunt at Clockers’ Corner Thursday morning, and it wasn’t because he was counting his money from betting on 64-1 shot Golden Augusto.

The 4-year-old California-bred gelding trained by Bean won Sunday’s third race by 2 ¼ lengths under a heady ride by the Aussie Lassie, Kayla Stra, paying $131.20, $33.20 and $7.40 across the board. The winner’s share of the purse was $11,400.

“The reason I wasn’t here Thursday was because I couldn’t get out of my driveway,” said the 68-year-old trainer, who came up under Riley Cofer, Noble Threewitt and Leonard Dorfman. Bean had a taste of the Kentucky Derby as an assistant to Cofer when he saddled Jaklin Klugman to a third-place finish behind the filly Genuine Risk in 1980.

“The fog was so bad in Corona I couldn’t find my truck in the driveway,” Bean continued. “It’s about an hour drive and I usually leave about 4:30, but Thursday I couldn’t leave until 6.”

Golden Augusto had every reason to light up the tote board. After finishing third by a length at Hollywood Park in a $25,000 maiden claiming race last November, the bay son of Anziyan Royalty was beaten a total of nearly 49 lengths in his next four races.

“I saw the horse at Stockton the first time he ran,” Bean recounted. “He was in the race with Boston Baked Bean (trained by Bean). Craig Dollase had Golden Augusto at the time, and I said to my wife, ‘We can’t beat that horse.’ He was a good-lookin’ sonofagun. Boston Baked Bean ran third, but Golden Augusto had a terrible trip and ended up fifth. Charlie Stutts trained the horse after that first race, and I tried to get the horse from his owner with no luck.

“Finally, after the horse ran on Jan. 16, they wanted to get rid of him and were asking $5,000. I gave them $5,000 and the next day I gelded the horse. He wasn’t quite right when I ran him back (on Feb. 11 when he finished ninth), so I waited three more weeks to run him and I took the blinkers off to get him to relax.”

The rest, as they say, is history. There was a large crowd in the winner’s circle after Golden Augusto’s triumph. The race was named for Highland Park’s Franklin High School Class of 1960 Reunion. “They were all in the picture,” said Bean, a native of North Attleboro, Massachusetts, hard by Foxboro, home of the New England Patriots.

So did Bean go on the town with the $859 he won with his $10 across the board on Golden Augusto? Not a chance.

“I gave the money to my help at the barn,” he said. “My exercise rider, the groom and my pony girl. Without them, I couldn’t have won.”

FINISH LINES: With four wins Thursday, Joel Rosario moved into a tie for first in the Santa Anita standings with Rafael Bejarano, who had one victory yesterday. The two have 57 wins each and are also one-two nationally in purse earnings through Wednesday with $2,636,950 and $2,275,808, respectively . . . Bob Baffert is still considering the Sunland Park Derby or the Rebel Stakes for Santa Anita track record-setter The Factor. “I probably won’t make up my mind until a week before the race,” Baffert said of 3-year-old son of War Front, who ran six furlongs in 1:06.98 on opening day . . . John Sadler has a busy day tomorrow. In addition to Twirling Candy , Gladding and Zazu in Grade I stakes, the trainer had seven other horses entered to run on the 11-race card . . . Off the Wall’s victory in Thursday’s fourth race was a hunch play. Off the Wall is the slogan of Vans Shoe Company, after which the race was named. -30-