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STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN
TALAMO ON THE NOWNOWNOW HORSE IN SATURDAY’S SAN PASQUAL
Between winning scores of races, riding the morning line Kentucky Derby favorite I Want Revenge and starring in the popular TV show, “Jockeys,” Joe Talamo enjoyed a banner 2009. The teenage riding star hopes to enhance that success in 2010 starting Saturday when he rides Nownownow in the Grade II $150,000 San Pasqual Handicap.
Talamo won the Grade II San Fernando Stakes aboard the 5-year-old horse trained by Patrick Biancone last year. He rode the son of Whywhywhy for the third straight time in the Strub Stakes last Feb. 7, but missed the ride in the Mervin Muniz Jr. (Memorial) Handicap at the Fair Grounds last March 14, the last time the bay horse started.
“I was supposed to ride him in the Muniz but I had to stay here to ride Santa Teresita, the mare I won the Santa Maria Handicap with last year,” Talamo recalled. “She hooked up with Life Is Sweet the same day, March 14, and finished second, which was no disgrace (Life Is Sweet went on to win the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’’ Classic on Nov. 6).
“For me and my agent, Scotty McClellan, it was a good year overall. November was a good month, and we had an unbelievable finish at Hollywood Park after I got back from Hong Kong (riding in a Jockey Challenge).”
“He’s a great kid, he works hard, he’s here every day and he’s 19. How can you beat him?” McClellan said. “He’s going to be 20 in a week (Jan. 12). He’s riding for the right people and he’s got his whole future ahead of him. We’ve just got to get lucky and win some big races.” The San Pasqual would be a good start.
“As for Nownownow, he’s a nice horse,” Talamo said. “I worked him his last few times and he’s definitely fit. He seems to love the track. He’s run some nice races over it, and if he has some pace to run at, it will help.”
Nownownow, owned by Fabian Ouaki (Fab Oak Stable) of Versailles, Ky.; Richard Giacopelli (Kona Stables) of Woodcliff Lakes, N.J.; and Robert Trussell of Lexington, Ky., has a 3-3-2 record from 15 starts, with earnings of $836,024. Most of that came from his victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf on Monmouth Park’s yielding course in 2007.
The field for the San Pasqual: Cherokee Artist, Rafael Bejarano; Bold Chieftain, Russell Baze; Nownownow, Talamo; Goldsville, Alex Solis; Neko Bay, Mike Smith; Spurrier, Joel Rosario; and Furthest Land, Garrett Gomez.
SMITH, HEADLEY SEEK ANOTHER STAKES WIN IN PASEANA HANDICAP
Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith and trainer Bruce Headley hope to continue their winning ways together in Saturday’s $65,000 Paseana Handicap for older fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on Pro-Ride.
Smith and Headley won Sunday’s $60,000 Kalookan Queen Handicap with 4-5 favorite Free Flying Soul, who now has designs in the Grade I $250,000 Santa Monica Handicap on Jan. 31. Smith rides Silver Swallow for Headley in the Paseana.
“I worked her about two weeks ago and she went dynamite,” said Smith, who finished second aboard the 6-year-old gray daughter of Alphabet Soup in the Grade II Bayakoa Handicap Dec. 5 at Hollywood Park. “She’s really doing well. I look for her to have a big year this year. She’s coming into her own. I know she’s an older mare, but she really seems to be good right now, so we’ll see what happens.”
Silver Swallow has a 3-8-5 record from 21 starts, with earnings of $371,038. She worked four furlongs on Pro-Ride Tuesday in :48.40.
The field for the Paseana: Briecat, Martin Garcia; Devine Actress, no rider; Cherryblossommiss, Tyler Baze; Silver Swallow, Smith; Made for Magic, Omar Berrio; My Baby Baby, Garrett Gomez; St Trinians, Joel Rosario; You Lift Me Up, Rafael Bejarano; and Floating Heart, Joe Talamo.
SANTA ANITA REMEMBERS’ ANGELS’ RORY MARKAS, A TRUE RACING FAN
Longtime Angels’ broadcaster Rory Markas, who died unexpectedly at his home in Palmdale Monday night at the age of 54, will not only be missed by Angel fans and family throughout Southern California, he’ll be missed at Southern California’s racetracks as well. “Rory loved the races,” said Santa Anita Director of Publicity Mike Willman. “He loved the characters, the athleticism involved, and like so many of us, he liked picking winners as well.”
Willman, who first met Markas when the two were plying their respective trades in the Pacific Coast League in the early ‘80s, (Markas as a play-by-play broadcaster for the Seattle Gulls and Willman as an umpire) had developed a close friendship with Markas over the years. “Like everyone else, I was just absolutely stunned to get the news yesterday,” Willman said. “It’s just a tragedy on so many levels. I told my kids this morning that if there is one thing we can learn from this, it is that life is precious and we should never take it for granted.
“Rory worked so long and so hard to get to where he was. He was just now reaching his peak. Believe me, the upbeat, positive guy you saw and heard on the air was the way he was in life. He loved to come out here on occasion and he stayed in touch with the sport year ‘round. I’ll never forget back in 2005 when Afleet Alex overcame what was nearly a catastrophic spill to win the Preakness, Rory wove that story into a live call of an Angel game. I believe Chone Figgins was going from first to home on an extra base hit and Rory said . . . ‘and Figgins is rounding third like Alfeet Alex turning for home in the Preakness!!’
“His love for racing was genuine and so was his passion for baseball and for the way it should be played. Anytime you’re working for a ball club, as Rory did, you have to be diplomatic at times when it comes to player performance or lack thereof—I think anybody who listened to Rory over the years knew where he stood and he let you know in an objective, light way. Beyond baseball, he was a tremendous broadcaster who could handle any assignment, including horseracing, as he did on KCBS Channel 2, in the mid ‘90s at Hollywood Park.
“The last time I spoke to him was a couple weeks ago. He called to tell me he liked the picture of my kids and a horse on our Christmas card, and we made a tentative decision for him and his girlfriend, Armie, to get together and ride one day in January. This is just a huge loss for so many people and it’s very difficult to process.”
Added HRTV’s Kurt Hoover, another of Markas’ many cohorts: “Rory was a great broadcaster and a real professional who loved horse racing. But most importantly, he was a real good guy.”
FINISH LINES: Agent Ron Anderson and jockey David Flores have parted company. “I’ll have him through Sunday, then he’ll be on his own,” said Anderson, who represents Garrett Gomez . . . Gary Stevens remembers Cotton Tinsley with great respect. The veteran trainer was found dead early Monday more than three days after he was missing from his home in Arcadia. He was 81. “He was a super guy,” the Hall of Fame jockey and current trainer and HRTV analyst said. “He was a great horseman, old school, and always in a good mood. He told it like it was and didn’t pull any punches.” A Celebration of Life will be held for Tinsley on Monday, Jan. 11, 5 p.m., at Arcadia Golf Course, according to Tinsley’s wife, Pat . . . Misremembered, third in the Grade I Malibu Stakes on opening day, worked four furlongs on Pro-Ride Wednesday in a bullet :47.60 under Joe Steiner. “We’re pointing to the Strub (Stakes, Grade II $200,000, 1 1/8 miles on Feb. 6) and the Big ’Cap,” Bob Baffert said . . . Baffert, John Shirreffs and Steve Asmussen are the finalists for an Eclipse Award among trainers; Gomez, Ramon Dominguez and Julien Leparoux are finalists among jockeys; and Christian Santiago Reyes, Luis Batista and Luis Saez are finalists in the apprentice jockey category . . . Agent Vince DeGregory reports seven-pound apprentice rider Alex Gonzalez will invade from Golden Gate and begin riding at Santa Anita next Wednesday. The 18-year-old from Miami tacks 104 pounds and carries his seven-pound allowance until Nov. 1. He won his first race on his first mount, at Calder Race Course in Florida . . . Mike Machowsky said Sunland Park Derby winner Kelly Leak is back galloping after a possible bleeding issue following the Oklahoma Derby last October, and could surface in a turf sprint. “He may go somewhere down the hill,” the trainer said. “It would be a good spot to try off a layoff.” Undefeated Caracortado, winner of the California Breeders’ Champion Stakes on opening day, will go for his fifth straight win in the Grade II $150,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes on Feb. 6, Machowsky said. “Paul (Atkinson) will stay on him. They’re perfect so far.” . . . Friday is the first Free Friday at Santa Anita this meet. General Admission is free, as are box seats, while supplies last. Hot dogs, beers, sodas, popcorn and coffee are only $1 . . . Trainer Gary Sherlock will be Jerry Antonucci’s guest at the Today’s Racing Digest seminar, Saturday, 11 a.m., in the East Paddock Gardens . . . Entering Wednesday’s races, there were 1,039 contestants alive in ShowVivor and 624 in WinVivor.