Fate plays a role for agents who have put jockeys on a Kentucky Derby winner. If Alonso Quinonez wins the Run for the Roses on May 7, agent Vince DeGregory will add another chapter in his voluminous book of racing tales that span six decades.

DeGregory got the mount on Santa Anita Derby favorite Premier Pegasus from owner/trainer/breeder Myung Kwon Cho simply because of a conflict that is not uncommon between agents and trainers.

“We were riding horses for Mr. Cho before we got to Del Mar and won races for him,” DeGregory recalled.

“Mr. Cho called one morning and asked if we could ride a horse that originally was supposed to have been ridden by Joe Talamo, but he had a call John Sadler was firm about honoring, and Mr. Cho said, ‘Vincent, you ride my horse.’

“That’s all he said. We had never worked Premier Pegasus up to that point, and he won the first time out (July 24, by one length at Del Mar). He paid $90 ($90.80) and that was it. Alonso’s been riding him ever since. But he rarely works him.”

That exception will come Saturday when Alonso is scheduled to work Premier Pegasus for only the second time, in DeGregory’s memory. Quinonez is looking forward to climbing back aboard.

“The last race was his best yet, and I think the Santa Anita Derby distance of a mile and an eighth helps him,” the 27-year-old native of Mexico said. “The longer he goes, the better he gets. Taking off the blinkers going a distance definitely helps a lot. When he lost to The Factor at seven-eighths, he needed that race.

“It was his first start in three months and he only had two works before the race. He kind of got a little tired on me the last sixteenth. But it really set him up for the San Felipe.

“I’m taking things as they come. I don’t want to put too much pressure on me or any of us. I just want to go step by step. We’ll go for the Santa Anita Derby now and go from there.”

Should Quinonez get to Churchill Downs on May 7, it would not mark his first ride at the historic track. He won the Grade I Humana Distaff there on Intangaroo for Gary Sherlock in 2008, but he has never ridden in the Kentucky Derby.

Probable for the Santa Anita Derby: Anthony’s Cross; Bench Points; Celestic Night, Joe Talamo; Comma to the Top, Corey Nakatani; Indian Winter; Mr. Commons, Mike Smith; Offlee Wild Boys; Premier Pegasus, Alonso Quinonez; and Silver Medallion, Garrett Gomez.


Amazombie, second last out in the Sensational Star Handicap at about 6 ½ furlongs on turf, returns to traditional dirt in Sunday’s Grade II, $150,000 Potrero Grande Stakes for older horses at 6 ½ furlongs.

Bill Spawr likes his chances. “He’s better on dirt,” the trainer said of the 5-year-old California-bred gelding, who won the Sunshine Millions Sprint on Santa Anita’s main track Jan. 29. Spawr has retained the services of Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, the regular rider of 2009 Malibu Stakes winner M One Rifle, who also is entered in the Potrero Grande. Smith has ridden M One Rifle in all but one of his 11 career starts, including the Malibu.

“He likes Amazombie,” Spawr said of Smith. “He worked him Tuesday (five furlongs in 1:00.40). The horse is a tryer. You can depend on him. If you beat him, you better run hard. He’s that kind of horse.”

Added Smith: “He worked really good. He’s a classy old horse. He does his thing. I basically stay out of his way.”

The Potrero Grande field: Atta Boy Roy, Vicky Baze; Amazombie, Mike Smith; Chocolate Candy, Corey Nakatani; Don Tito, Joel Rosario; Captain Cherokee, Joe Talamo; M One Rifle, Chantal Sutherland; Crown of Thorns, Rafael Bejarano; Colgan’s Chip, Brice Blanc; Ventana, Martin Garcia; and Bet On Victor, Patrick Valenzuela.

M One Rifle worked four furlongs on Santa Anita’s main track Wednesday in a bullet :45.60 for Bruce Headley, who has the services of Chantal Sutherland for the race.

Smith also rides Silver Swallow for Headley in Saturday’s Grade III, $100,000 Las Flores Stakes for older fillies and mares at 6 ½ furlongs.

“I haven’t worked her but I’ve been riding her and she’s doing well,” said Smith, who has ridden Silver Swallow in seven of her last nine races. “I like her a lot.”

The field for the $100,000 Las Flores, which goes as the fourth of 10 races: Broken Dreams, Garrett Gomez; Candy’s Pleasure, Patrick Valenzuela; Mother Ruth, Martin Garcia; Subsidized, Rafael Bejarano; Gilded Gem, Joel Rosario; and Silver Swallow, Mike Smith. Each horse is assigned 118 pounds.

Silver Swallow worked three furlongs on Santa Anita’s main track Wednesday in a bullet :34.80.


Back by popular demand at Santa Anita Saturday is Food Truck Festival II, this time bigger and better than when it debuted at Santa Anita on Jan. 27.

Fans can enjoy gourmet food from 80 of Southern California’s finest gourmet food trucks in Santa Anita’s infield from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., including The Grilled Cheese Truck and the Lobsta Truck. Fans will also be treated to live bands that will play between races.

General Admission to Santa Anita is $5 which includes entrance to the Food Truck Festival. Children 17 and under are free when accompanied by an adult.

Visit for more information.


Santa Anita offers another in its series of “Free Fridays” tomorrow. All patrons will receive free General Admission.

In addition, Santa Anita will offer $2 beers, soft drinks and hot dogs and free box seats as available. The promotion will continue on the final two Fridays of the meet, which ends April 17.


Game On Dude, winner of the Grade I, $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap on March 5, has taken over the top spot in the weekly national Thoroughbred poll conducted by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA).

Trained by Bob Baffert, Game On Dude was ridden in the Big ’Cap by Chantal Sutherland, who became the first female rider to win the prestigious event since it was first run in 1935. Game On Dude worked four furlongs in :48 flat Tuesday at Hollywood Park.

Game On Dude replaced Giant Oak at No. 1 on the NTRA poll. Giant Oak, who won the Grade I Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 5, finished third as the 3-2 favorite in the Grade II New Orleans Handicap at the Fair Grounds last Saturday. Giant Oak slipped to No. 4 this week, behind Game On Dude, Tackleberry and Uncle Mo.

Rounding out the Top 10, in order, are Big Drama, Goldikova, Mission Impazible, Twirling Candy, Havre de Grace and Gio Ponti.

Undefeated Uncle Mo, last year’s Eclipse Award winner as champion 2-year-old male and winner of the Timely Writer Stakes at Gulfstream Park on March 12 in his 2011 debut, is No. 1 on this week’s NTRA 3-year-old poll. Soldat is No. 2, with Santa Anita-based The Factor and Premier Pegasus ranked No. 3 and No. 4, respectively.

Completing the Top 10 are Dialed In, Stay Thirsty, Flashpoint, Mucho Macho Man, To Honor and Serve and Pants On Fire.


Chantal Sutherland, the first female jockey to win the Santa Anita Handicap, aboard Game on Dude, will visit approximately 60 children with autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and other developmental disabilities at the AbilityFirst Lawrence L. Frank Center in Pasadena on Tuesday, April 5 from 4 to 5 p.m.

Her appearance, coinciding with Autism Awareness Month, is in support of the Santa Anita Derby Day 5K run on Saturday morning April 9 at Santa Anita. AbilityFirst, serving children and adults with developmental disabilities through 24 locations in Southern California, is the beneficiary of the Run/Walk.

The Derby Day 5K is part of the AbilityFirst Marathon Campaign, presented by Comerica Bank, and is the agency’s largest annual fundraising activity that raises money to enhance its programs and services. Nearly 800 AbilityFirst families and friends will participate in the 5K.

During her visit, Sutherland will be the official starter for two horse races (children on hobby horses) and present winners with flower wreaths; watch the AbilityFirst cheerleaders perform; and sign autographs and pose for photos with children and parents.

In addition, a $35,000 check will be presented to AbilityFirst by Comerica Bank officials in support of the AbiiltyFirst Marathon Campaign. The Marathon Campaign goal for all of AbilityFirst is $400,000. Members of the AbilityFirst team have been gathering sponsor donations through this event and the Los Angeles Marathon. For the fifth consecutive year, the Forest Lawn Foundation is providing a generous matching grant. The AbilityFirst Marathon Campaign is presented by Comerica Bank and is sponsored by Skechers.

The AbilityFirst Lawrence L. Frank Center is located at 201 South Kinneloa Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91107. Telephone number is (626) 449-5661.

AbilityFirst Marathon Campaign information can be found, and sponsorship donations can be made, at Derby Day 5K Race schedule information (including additional activities and events for the day) can be found at

AbilityFirst, established as the Crippled Children’s Society in 1926, is one of Southern California’s largest and oldest nonprofit social service organizations. AbilityFirst operates a network of 24 facilities for people of all ages with physical and developmental disabilities (including autism, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, Down syndrome, and other neurological impairments).

Additional information about AbilityFirst can be found at

FINISH LINES: NFL legend and long-time San Diego Chargers’ offensive coordinator Ernie Zampese will celebrate his birthday at Santa Anita Friday and have the sixth race named for him . . . Santa Anita will honor one of the Southland’s most highly respected broadcasters and a recent inductee into to the Southern California Sports Broadcasters Hall of Fame with the seventh race named the “Rich Marotta Hall of Fame Purse” on Sunday. Marotta, who is a regular contributor on radio station KFI’s top-rated Bill Handel Show, which airs weekday mornings from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m., is a legendary figure in the world of boxing and calls boxing on Fox Sports Net television. Marotta will further enhance his Hall of Fame resume this summer, when he is inducted into the California Boxing Hall of Fame on June 25 . . . Jeff Bloom parted company three weeks ago with the ownership group West Point Thoroughbreds, where he was vice president of West Coast operations, to join with owner Mike Shustek. “I’m partnered up with Mike, who races horses under his own name,” said former jockey Bloom, 47, Thursday morning at Clockers’ Corner. “We’ve put a stable together called Majestic Racing Stable. We’ll be putting partnerships together and hoping to grow. I had a nice run with West Point for a little over six years. We did a lot of good together in terms of building a presence here on the West Coast and growing the business. We had some great horses like Grade I winner Awesome Gem, who was a franchise horse for us, and others like El Gato Malo and Tropic Storm. West Point still has some real nice horses here that will carry the black and gold (silks) for them.”. . . Monrovia High School Day at the Races, benefiting the school’s band, will take place in Santa Anita’s infield on Sunday. For further information contact . . . Joel Rosario, Santa Anita’s leading jockey and the leader in national purse earnings, will be Steve Andersen’s guest at Saturday’s Daily Racing Form seminar, 11:15 a.m., in the East Paddock Gardens . . . Jeff Siegel and Jon White of HRTV will be Jack Disney’s guests on Sunday’s Fans’ Forum, 11:15 a.m., also in the East Paddock Gardens. White also is Santa Anita’s morning line oddsmaker.