If Caracortado runs in the Santa Anita Derby, it will mark a first for jockey Paul Atkinson and trainer Mike Machowsky. The 40-year-old Atkinson has never ridden in the West Coast’s major steppingstone to the Kentucky Derby, and the 44-year-old Machowsky has never trained a horse that’s run in the race, which will have its 73rd edition on April 3, so it’s easy to understand why both are looking forward to it.

“It would be very exciting,” Atkinson said of competing in the Grade I, $750,000 race at 1 1/8 miles. “Caracortado is a lot of fun and a neat horse. We’re happy with all the publicity he’s been getting and we’re enjoying the ride.”

Caracortado, a California-bred gelding who began his career in a $40,000 maiden claiming race at Fairplex Park and went on to win the Grade II Robert B. Lewis Stakes on Feb. 13, now has designs on the Santa Anita Derby after finishing third as the 7-5 favorite in the San Felipe Stakes on March 13.

“I would hope the Santa Anita Derby would come up with a little more speed than we had in the San Felipe,” Atkinson said. “I hope they just don’t walk around there.” Sidney’s Candy led throughout to win the mile and a sixteenth San Felipe by a half-length, covering the distance in 1:42.30. Fractional times were :24.39, :48.55, 1:13.53, and 1:36.26 for the mile.

“They flew home,” Machowsky said of the first three finishers. “It wasn’t a true race. When they run in 13 and change (for six furlongs), I don’t think you’ll see those fractions again. My horse can sit close if he has to. If they’re going to walk in the Santa Anita Derby, I’ll be laying right on them.”

Caracortado “probably will work Sunday” with Atkinson aboard, Machowsky said. Probable for the Santa Anita Derby: Sidney’s Candy, Joe Talamo; Caracortado, Paul Atkinson; Lookin At Lucky, Garrett Gomez; Setsuko, Rafael Bejarano; Thomas Baines, Joel Rosario; Alphie’s Bet, Alex Solis; Posse Power, no rider; Skipshot, no rider; Cardiff Giant, Christian Santiago Reyes; and Who’s Up, Victor Espinoza.

In other Santa Anita Derby news:

Bob Baffert plans to work Lookin At Lucky at a distance to be determined “Saturday or Sunday” after which he will make a decision on whether to run in the Santa Anita Derby or the Grade I, $1 million Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park on April 10. “That’s when I know if I’m staying or going,” Baffert said.

John Sadler said Sidney’s Candy will breeze next Monday and is “doing fine” after working five furlongs on Pro-Ride Monday in :59.40.

Setsuko worked six furlongs on Pro-Ride Wednesday under Rafael Bejarano in a bullet 1:12, fastest of 23 drills at the distance. “He’s doing fine,” trainer Richard Mandella said of the Sham Stakes runner-up. “He’s got a good style; I just need to get another length out of him. He’s second and third a lot, but I’m not complaining. He’s running good.”

Generous Stakes winner Who’s Up arrived from the state of Washington Wednesday and bedded down in Barn 98 where trainer Tim Yakteen is stabled. Mike Puhich will be the trainer of record for the son of Graeme Hall, and not Jorge Periban, as previously reported.

Skipshot worked four furlongs on Pro-Ride Monday in :51.80 for Jerry Hollendorfer.


Based on breeding, Rendezvous would appear to be ideally suited for Saturday’s Grade III, $100,000 Tokyo City Cup. Run as the San Bernardino Handicap prior to 2005, the Tokyo City Cup will be decided at the uncommonly-run distance of 1 1/2 miles on Pro-Ride.

“His sire won the Belmont (Stakes at a mile and a half),” pointed out Jerry Hollendorfer assistant Dan Ward, referring to Victory Gallop, who denied Real Quiet the Triple Crown in 1998. “The horse is doing really well for this race. He has a bullet work (five furlongs on turf in 1:00 1/5 on March 14). He likes to drop back to last and make one run. He doesn’t like to be laying up close.”

The field for the Tokyo City Cup, the eighth of 10 races Saturday: Tap It Light, Tyler Baze, 114; Eagle Poise, Mike Smith, 115; Unusual Suspect, Alonso Quinonez, 117; High Court Drama, Chantal Sutherland, 117; Philatelist, Rafael Bejarano, 117; Quindici Man, Martin Garcia, 116; Rendezvous, Joel Rosario, 116; and Snowmaster, Jose Valdivia Jr., 114. Sunday is Tokyo City Cup Day at Santa Anita. Fans can enjoy cultural exhibits and performances at Japan Family Day with traditional Japanese culture and entrainment, including Kado, Karate, Koto, Origami, Shinkendo, Shodo, Taiko and tea ceremony performances.


Tandra returns to synthetic in Sunday’s Grade III, $100,000 Santa Paula Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at 6 ½ furlongs, after three straight strong performances on turf.

“There really hasn’t been anything else for her, and I think maybe it’s time to see if she likes the main track here,” trainer Dan Hendricks said of the Florida-bred daughter of Sweetsouthernsaint. “We still have the option to scratch if we don’t like what we see,” Hendricks added, “because it’s a graded race and you can scratch before post time. But looking at the past performances, I think she fits.

“When she ran second (to Rose Catherine in the Sweet Life Stakes at Santa Anita on Jan. 24), the winner is as good a sprint turf filly as you’re going to see.”

Probable for the Santa Paula: Church Camp, no rider; Five Silver Stars, Joel Rosario; La Nez, Mike Smith; and Tanda, Alex Solis.


Dave Solan didn’t need a “syndicate” to hit Sunday’s Pick Six at Santa Anita. Known as “Dynamic Dave” to his FrontRunner Restaurant brethren, Solan, a 70-year-old retired sales consultant from Tarzana, hit the $2,731 Pick Six on only a $2 ticket, and for good measure, hit it again on just a $4 ticket.

“I’ve been coming to Santa Anita for 40 years,” said Solan. “We celebrate everything here, birthdays, holidays, you name it. I’ve hit a couple Pick Sixes over the years, but never on a $2 ticket.”

Solan, a native of Rhode Island, began going to the races at an early age. “When I was a kid, there were two racetracks in Rhode Island and I started out going to the track with my mom. When I was in high school, I walked ‘hots’ on the backside.”

Asked what he intended to do with his winnings, Solan responded, “I’m going to put the money in my racing account and use it to spend it back at Santa Anita.”


HRTV will air the $10 million Dubai World Cup Saturday. It will go as the eighth race over the Meydan track, with a scheduled post time of 10:45 a.m.

The World Cup field: Allybar, Gitano Hernando, Red Desire, Gio Ponti, Gloria De Campeao, Vision D’Etat, Lizard’s Desire, Furthest Land, Crowded House, Richard’s Kid, Twice Over, Mastery, Mr. Brock and Amor De Pobre.


Rachel Alexandra's remarkable Horse of the Year campaign in 2009 captured the imagination of racing fans across the world.

The filly's dominant Kentucky Oaks victory at Churchill Downs was special to many, but none more than a critically-ill young girl, Rachel Mattson, whose touching bond with Rachel Alexandra is chronicled in a poignant edition of HRTV's monthly newsmagazine, "Inside Information," which will air on Sunday at 6 p.m.

Titled "Rachel's Story," the gripping piece recounts the 9-year-old's ongoing courageous battle with Aplastic Anemia, and the emotional uplift she received from a special horse, and a selfless trainer, Hal Wiggins.

"This unique triangle between the two Rachels and trainer Hal Wiggins touched so many people, including Michael Canale, HRTV's senior producer for live production," said Amy J. Zimmerman, HRTV's executive producer. "He has never stopped thinking about them since that day when HRTV carried the Kentucky Oaks coverage live. This is a story Michael has wanted to tell since that day and we are proud to bring it to HRTV." (Canale produced this episode of "Inside Information.")

With Rachel's affliction affecting her ability to produce red blood cells compromised, she was put in contact with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Fascinated with horses most of her young life, her wish was to see the Kentucky Derby. Through the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Churchill Downs, Rachel's wish was granted.

On the morning of the Kentucky Oaks, Mattson found her special horse in her namesake--Rachel Alexandra--with special gratitude to the great filly's then-trainer, Wiggins. Despite his tremendous obligations, Wiggins took Rachel Mattson under his wing that day, and while he kept one eye on his prized horse, he also never let the little girl from Chillicothe, Illinois, out of his sight.

And when it came time to celebrate the biggest win of his career with the biggest horse of his career, Hal Wiggins made sure that Rachel Mattson was re-united with Rachel Alexandra, front and center in the winner’s circle.

"I picked (Rachel) up, and brought her into the stall, and she petted Rachel, and I told her we wanted to give her a good luck pat and all," Wiggins recalled with emotion. "I got in my car and called (his wife) Renee, and I was just crying like a baby."

Rachel Alexandra had plenty of supporters that day, but few more exuberant than a tough young girl, rooting on her favorite horse, and intent on conquering a serious illness.

"We were cheering for Rachel all day long, all the time she was running," he remembered.


The Dal Jones Memorial Texas Hold’ Em No-Limit Poker Tournament will be held Sunday at the top of the stretch at Santa Anita. The event will benefit trainer Dal Jones Jr., who died of an apparent heart attack on Feb. 16 at the age of 38 and left behind a wife and two young children.

There will be food, drinks, music and a silent and live auction at 5:15 p.m. sharp, or 15 minutes after the last race. The tournament starts at 6:15 p.m. There will be prizes for the top three finishers, as well as constant raffles for all in attendance. There is a $200 buy-in, which is not tax deductible.

Interested parties can sign up via credit card or mail in a donation or buy-in to see the prize list. First prize is a Rolex Submariner. For more information, visit or contact Victor Smith at


Two-time Academy Award-winning actor Dustin Hoffman will soon be plying his trade at Santa Anita, as he has been engaged to take on a lead role in the HBO pilot, “Luck.” Hoffman will portray a paroled ex-con in the David Milch-produced pilot, which is being directed by the internationally renowned Michael Mann.

Written by Milch, a two-time Breeders’ Cup-winning Thoroughbred owner and whose credits include “Hill Street Blues,” “NYPD Blue” and “Deadwood,” “Luck” has also attracted “A List” actors Nick Nolte, Dennis Farina and John Ortiz. The series will be centered on horse racing and will develop story lines relating to those involved in the industry.

Mann, whose directing credits include the blockbuster hits “The Last of the Mohicans,” “Collateral,” “Miami Vice,” “The Insider” and “Ali,” is familiar with Santa Anita, as one of his latest films, “Public Enemies,” was shot at Santa Anita.

Ortiz, who has starred in “American Gangster” and “Public Enemies,” will play the part of a trainer, based loosely on real-life conditioner Julio Canani, who won the 1989 Santa Anita Handicap with 50-1 shot Martial Law.

“A project of this magnitude is obviously a major undertaking for all of us here at Santa Anita,” said Pete Siberell, Santa Anita’s Director of Community and Special Events. “Filming is underway and it will encompass many areas—the grandstand, box seats, Paddock Room, Top of the Stretch, the walking ring and saddling paddock, the racetrack itself and the stable area.

“On any given day, we’ll have between 100 and 500 crew, cast and extras on-site here. Mr. Milch and Mr. Mann expressed a strong desire to shoot much of this pilot while we were running live, which we will be, through April 18. It’s going to require a great deal of cooperation and teamwork, and we believe that the finished product is going to be well worth it.

“‘Seabiscuit’ was a monumental undertaking here eight years ago, but that was not shot while we were conducting live racing. A production this big has never been attempted during live racing so this obviously makes it very challenging. I think that due to the fact our horsemen are familiar with David Milch and what he’s accomplished in racing and in the entertainment business, they’ve been very supportive of the project.”

Retired Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens, who garnered wide-spread acclaim for his portrayal of George Woolf in 2003’s “Seabiscuit,” will play the part of an aging, street-smart jockey in “Luck.”

Production on “Luck” will begin March 29 and will continue through April. Of the 24 days allocated to shooting the pilot, 19 are scheduled to be shot at Santa Anita.

HBO has not announced an air date for the pilot, but it is expected that it will be ready to air in early 2011. Should HBO make a decision to proceed with “Luck” as an episodic series, shooting for multiple season-one episodes would begin at Santa Anita sometime next year.

FINISH LINES: With four straight wins Sunday and a second by a nose in the ninth race that would have made it five, Rafael Bejarano now leads runners-up Victor Espinoza and Joel Rosario in the Santa Anita’s jockeys’ race, 75-48. Bejarano will be at Keeneland Saturday to ride San Felipe Stakes runner-up Interactif for Todd Pletcher in the Grade I, $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at 1 1/8 miles, agent Joe Ferrer said . . . Agent Vic Stauffer has Tyler Baze booked in five stakes races and Martin Garcia in six Sunday at Sunland Park. Baze rides Classical Slew for Doug O’Neill in the Grade III, $800,000 Sunland Derby at 1 1/8 miles, while Garcia pilots undefeated San Rafael Stakes winner Conveyance for Bob Baffert in the same race . . . Alex Solis rides Outlaw Man for trainer Ken McPeek Saturday in Turfway Park’s Grade II, $500,000 Lane’s End Stakes at 1 1/8 miles, agent Brian Beach said . . . Craig O’Bryan reports that David Flores will be at the Fair Grounds Saturday to ride Awesome Gem for Craig Dollase in the Grade II, $500,000 New Orleans Handicap at 1 1/8 miles, and Red Alert Day for Neil Drysdale in the Grade II, $500,000 Mervin H. Muniz Jr. Memorial Handicap at nine furlongs on turf . . . Trainer Vladimir Cerin will be Jerry Antonucci’s guest at The Today’s Racing Digest seminar, 11 a.m. Saturday, in the East Paddock Gardens.