On the surface, everything points to another solid performance from Juniper Pass in Sunday’s traditional farewell race at Santa Anita, the Grade II, $150,000 San Juan Capistrano Handicap for older horses at about 1 ¾ miles on turf.

The 4-year-old bay colt won the Grade II San Luis Rey Stakes at a mile and a half on March 20. The race was scheduled for the grass, but was run on a sloppy main track due to inclement weather. With warm and clear weather forecast through the weekend, the San Juan should remain on turf, and the added distance is not expected to pose a problem for Juniper Pass. But trainer Ray Bell is cautiously optimistic.

“You never know until you try,” he said. “But he’s given every indication he will run on. He trains like the further the better. The way he ran in the San Luis Rey and the way he galloped out after the race would certainly be a good indication that the distance shouldn’t be a problem.

“But as the legendary Bill Shoemaker once said, ‘He’ll get the trip. It’s just how long it’s going to take him.’”

Sired by 1999 Belmont winner Lemon Drop Kid, Juniper Pass is bred to run all day. “The dam (Child Bride) is by Coronado’s Quest and the second dam is a sister to Storm Cat, so that helps,” Bell pointed out.

Juniper Pass has a 3-1-2 record from 11 starts, with earnings of $194,380 for owners Robert and Betty Irvin of Pacific Palisades.

As was the case last year, the San Juan Capistrano will be run as the final race on the card. The field for the San Juan, the last race on Sunday’s 10-race program: Quindici Man, Martin Pedroza, 117; Haimish Hy, Mike Smith, 119; Dahoud, Joel Rosario, 115; Power Series, Joe Talamo, 112; Interpatation, Alex Jimenez, 111; Imponente Purse, Chantal Sutherland, 116; Romp, Alonso Quinonez, 114; Celtic New Year, Victor Espinoza, 113; Falcon Rock, Brice Blanc, 114; and Juniper Pass, Rafael Bejarano, 118.


With Rafael Bejarano riding Turning Top for trainer Simon Callaghan in Saturday’s Santa Barbara Handicap, Brice Blanc picked up the mount on Malibu Pier in the Grade II race for older fillies and mares at a mile and a quarter on turf. It will be the first time the Frenchman rides the daughter of Malibu Moon, but he does have an ancestral affinity for the chestnut filly trained by Carla Gaines.

“I won the Buena Vista on her dam,” Blanc said, referring to the Grade II race in 2002 which he won on Blue Moon. “I’m grateful to my agent (Mike Ciani) for getting me the mount. This is a great opportunity. She’s going a little farther (than the 1 1/8 miles she traveled in winning the Grade II Santa Ana Stakes on March 19) but I don’t see a problem with her going a mile and a quarter.”

Malibu Pier has a 4-1-1 record from eight starts, with earnings of $252,200 for the Spendthrift Farm of B. Wayne Hughes.

The field for the Santa Barbara, the ninth of 10 races: Cozi Rosie, Mike Smith, 121, 8-5; Malibu Pier, Brice Blanc, 119, 5-2; Calle Vista, Martin Pedroza, 116, 8-1; Andina, Victor Espinoza, 115, 8-1; Restless Soul, Alonso Quinonez, 114, 8-1; and Turning Top, Rafael Bejarano, 118, 5-2.


Mike Smith rides Regally Ready for the first time in Saturday’s Grade III San Simeon Handicap for older horses at about 6 ½ furlongs on turf, but the Hall of Fame jockey is optimistic that the 4-year-old gelding is ready for another top effort.

The son of More Than Ready trained by Steve Asmussen for the Tom Lutt’s Vinery Stable seeks his third straight win on the unique downhill course. He won the Joe Hernandez Stakes on March 18. Regally Ready has a 5-2-3 record from 11 starts. He has earned $237,978.

The field for the San Simeon, which goes as the third race: Supreme Summit, Rafael Bejarano, 118, 5-2; Camp Victory, Joe Talamo, 114, 10-1; Regally Ready, Mike Smith, 120, 1-1; Gallant Son, Victor Espinoza, 116, 8-1; Victory Pete, Chantal Sutherland, 116, 20-1; and Compari, Alonso Quinonez, 119, 3-1.


Bob Baffert, who took command in Santa Anita’s training race on Jan. 2 and never looked back, was set to board a jet Friday for Arkansas to saddle Kentucky Derby favorite The Factor in Saturday’s $1 million Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park.

The Hall of Fame trainer had another Derby prospect, Santa Anita Derby winner Midnight Interlude, back galloping following his $29.80 upset under Victor Espinoza last Saturday. “He’s getting fitter and starting to look like a race horse,” Baffert said Friday morning at Clockers’ Corner.

Meanwhile, Jaycito, runner-up to Premier Pegasus in the San Felipe Stakes in his 3-year-old debut March 12, was progressing for the Coolmore Lexington at Keeneland on April 23. The stretch-running son of Victory Gallop missed the Santa Anita Derby due to a bruised right foot.

“I’m going day by day with him,” Baffert said. “Things are looking better.”

With three racing days left, Baffert held a 41-35 lead over runner-up John Sadler in the trainers’ standings. It would be a Santa Anita record ninth training title for Baffert, who captured the crown seven straight years from 1996 through 2003.

“We were able to build our stable back up and I had confidence in the dirt that replaced the synthetic,” Baffert said. “That was a huge factor in our success, but I couldn’t have done it without an excellent staff and great clientele.”


John Shear, Santa Anita’s 90-year-old Paddock Guard who was gravely injured while protecting a 6-year-old girl from a runaway horse on March 12, will be released from Huntington Memorial Hospital on Saturday, according to his son, Michael.

“My dad wishes to thank you all for your prayers, generosity, and well wishes,” said Shear. “It has been a tremendous strength to him over these past difficult weeks. He’ll be released from the hospital Saturday and will be going home, where he will continue with physical therapy.

“His doctors are amazed at the progress he’s made. He was badly injured and he was in very, very bad shape the first few days following the accident. He lost quite a bit of blood internally and his blood pressure got very low. My dad has always prided himself on eating well and staying physically fit and there’s no doubt this has helped him immensely.”

Shear, a former rider who has been employed seasonally at Santa Anita since Dec. 23, 1961, sustained a fractured pelvis and other injuries as a result of the incident which took place prior to the third race on March 12.

Shear was in his customary position, holding a perimeter rope on the east end of the track’s walking ring. As the field of 10 horses were readying for the upcoming race, Sea and Sage, a 3-year-old gelding, wheeled, freeing himself from his handler and in a 180 degree about-face, sprinted towards the opening Shear was guarding.

As seen on live television, Shear threw himself in front of the young girl, in an act of selfless heroism that could well have saved her life.

“By any accounting, John Shear is a hero,” said Santa Anita President George Haines. “He is an amazing human being and we are elated that he is going to be going home much sooner than was originally thought. Through all of these years, John has been a great employee, a man that his peers looked up to. He loves this business and as he’s said many times, he loves being around it, the horses, the people and show that we all work so hard to put on.

“On behalf of all of us here at Santa Anita, we want to wish John a speedy recovery and look forward to honoring him this coming fall. He is truly one of a kind.” The young girl had been brought to the track by her father, who wanted her to see that small people, jockeys, can be very successful, was uninjured, as was Sea and Sage.


Veteran trainer Lou Carno passed away at 5 a.m. Friday at the age of 90, according to his wife of 23 years, Kathy. Known on the backstretches of Chicago and California as “The Silver Fox,” Carno was seldom without his trademark cigar and biting wit.

Carno was best known as the trainer of Victory Beauty, a hard-hitting gelding who won 30 races, including eight stakes for Carno. Purchased for just $3,500, Victory Beauty won races at Bay Meadows, Golden Gate Fields, Tanforan and every major racetrack in Southern California.

At age 8, in 1964, Victory Beauty won the Escondido Handicap at Del Mar and a minor stakes south of the border, the Agua Caliente Gold Cup, which prompted Carno to note, “He’s now won at every racetrack he’s ever run at.”

Victory Beauty would make history in 1969, when at 13, he became the oldest horse to win at Santa Anita. He retired that year with earnings of $203,491. Carno also garnered considerable acclaim as the trainer of stakes winning Caterman, who was disqualified from victory in the 1981 Hollywood Gold Cup. Regarded as a consummate horseman, Carno was held in the highest regard by those who rode for him.

“He was a great guy to ride for,” said retired Hall of Fame jockey Eddie Delahoussaye. “He was a lot of fun to be around and he was one of the real characters back in the day. He came from the old school. If a horse needed time off to heal, he got it. Lou enjoyed racing and he didn’t want to quit. He’ll be missed.”

Carno, who turned 90 on March 29, retired from training four years ago.

“He never stopped loving his horses,” said Kathy Carno. “They were a very important part of his life and when he left the track it was the hardest thing he ever did. The reason he retired was that he was having so much trouble with his legs and the medication he was taking was affecting him mentally. When we got him off of the medication, he was 100 percent mentally again and was perfectly normal.

“He was in an assisted living facility in Monrovia the past two years because he was immobile and had to be in a wheelchair. He was at peace with everything and he died with a smile on his face.”

Carno is survived by three children, Robert, Sharon and Richard, as well as two step children, Jason and Jeremy.

Funeral arrangements are pending.


Santa Anita Park and City of Hope are in a partnership that will unite the track’s racing fans and the entire California racing industry in the fight against cancer when they present the first-ever “On-Track to Beat Cancer” event at Santa Anita on Sunday, closing day.

Following the last race, humans will replace horses on Santa Anita’s storied main track where legendary horses such as Zenyatta, Seabiscuit, John Henry and others have competed and created some of the greatest moments in racing history.

Fans are invited to join jockeys, trainers and celebrities in a quarter mile walk down the homestretch that begins with a walk through Santa Anita’s starting gate. Among those leading the way for the racing industry are Bo Derek, Chantal Sutherland and Jill Baffert.

“We are thrilled to have Bo, Chantal and Jill involved in this,” said Santa Anita Vice President of Marketing Allen Gutterman. “In one way or another, we’ve all been affected by cancer and to have three women of this magnitude involved is a huge plus for all of us.”

Derek, one of the most recognizable figures in the entertainment industry and a current commissioner on the California Horse Racing Board, has made several public appearances to promote the event.

“This is a very special opportunity for the horse racing industry to give back and I’m very pleased to be part of it,” said Derek. “I’m inviting racing fans to join me on-track to beat cancer and take a quarter of a mile walk down the Santa Anita stretch. We’ll have California’s top jockeys and a few surprises, too. We’ve all been touched by cancer and California horse racing wants to lead the fight for a cure.”

Sutherland, a Canadian native who became the first woman jockey to ever win the prestigious Grade I Santa Anita Handicap on March 5, also is playing a key role in the event.

“I ride five and six times a day at Santa Anita,” said Sutherland. “I’m blessed with good health but too many friends, in and out of racing, have suffered with cancer. I’m proud that horse racing and Santa Anita are joining with City of Hope to battle back.”

Baffert, a broadcaster and wife of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, is also an eager participant.

“Come out and take the walk and help the California horse racing industry battle cancer,” said Baffert. “If you have ever been to the track, you can imagine what a thrill it would be to step on that dirt and walk down that stretch with those spectacular San Gabriel Mountains overlooking the track. If you haven’t, I guarantee it’s an experience you’ll never forget.”

Fans choosing to participate are encouraged to wear purple.

“We will have purple colored ‘On Track to Beat Cancer’ tee shirts available for everyone,” said Gutterman. “For those who would like to show their support for City of Hope’s Women’s Cancer Care and Research Program, they’ll get the tee shirt a wrist band and be able to walk down the stretch for just twenty dollars. We’re hoping to be able to create a sea of purple.

“City of Hope has asked that we encourage all participants to wear purple, which is the official color for the Women’s Cancer Care and Research Program,” he added.

Gutterman noted that following the last race on closing day, the quarter-mile walk will be open to all segments of the California racing industry and to the public.

“We are inviting the Thoroughbred Owners of California (TOC), the California Thoroughbred Trainers (CTT), the California Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association (CTBA), the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB), handicappers, racing fans, unions, farms, vendors, media, other tracks and racing associations and anyone at all who loves horse racing to take the walk.

“We believe this is a remarkable way to end our meet, knowing that we’re supporting research to find a cure for cancer and doing something good,” said Gutterman. “We have great fans and great horsemen and a Great Race Place for a late afternoon walk.

“We’re grateful for the tremendous support from Santa Anita Park and its community of horse racing fans and supporters,” said Steve Martin, associate Vice President of Marketing, City of Hope. “This special day marks the beginning of City of Hope and Santa Anita’s combined efforts in ridding cancers for all women.”

Anyone making a minimum $10 donation to City of Hope on closing day will be eligible to walk on the track. Fans are encouraged to bring signs and banners, create teams, take photos and dedicate the walk to cancer survivors or to the memory of loved ones who have succumbed to or who are battling cancer.

“We’d like to set a Guinness Book of Records mark for the most humans ever to walk in unison on a Thoroughbred track,” said Gutterman. “We don’t know if such a record actually exists, but, if it doesn’t, we’ll set the standard.”

City of Hope will also be hosting ancillary events at Santa Anita on closing day. A Wellness Center will be erected in the infield, featuring blood pressure exams, healthy food demos, bone marrow transplant updates and cancer screenings. Doctors and nurses will be present to facilitate those who wish to participate.

Santa Anita’s infield area will also offer fans live bands, family fun events, food trucks and VIP buffet tents. For more information on how to participate in the “On-Track to Beat Cancer” event, fans are encouraged to visit, or

FINISH LINES: For the first time ever, Mark Glatt had horses in four consecutive races today at Santa Anita, races one through four. “I’ve probably run four or more in one day before,” the trainer said, “but I don’t remember ever running four in a row.” . . . Santa Anita employees Tony Ortega (Parking) and Joe Laricchia (Operations) finished in a win dead-heat in last Saturday’s 5K run. Time for each was 22:59. Sandy Hoar of Hospitality was first among women in 26.38 . . . Tom Quigley, Publisher of HorsePlayer Magazine, will be Steve Andersen’s guest on Saturday’s Daily Racing Form seminar, 11:15 a.m., in the East Paddock Gardens . . . Saturday is Fan Appreciation Day at Santa Anita. All patrons with paid admission receive a free gift of their choice while supplies last on a first-come, first-served basis.