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STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN
• CARACORTADO SHARP FOR MALIBU STAKES ON OPENING DAY
• NEW TRADITIONAL DIRT COURSE WEATHERS HEAVY RAIN
• FANS CAN JOIN SMITH, BAFFERT ON ESPN ZONE LA LIVE WEDNESDAY
• DENMAN BACK BEHIND SANTA ANITA MIKE; HOOVER, WHITE ALSO RETURN
• POPULAR WALL CALENDAR FREE TO FANS ON OPENING DAY
CARACORTADO SHARP FOR MALIBU STAKES ON OPENING DAY
Caracortado established himself as a rags-to-riches horse when he went from winning a $40,000 maiden claiming race at Fairplex Park in his debut to capturing the Grade II Robert B. Lewis Stakes last February. But the chestnut gelding trained by Mike Machowsky hit some bumps in the road after that, losing four straight on the Triple Crown trail before he was given six months off.
He returned with an impressive victory in a six furlong turf race at Hollywood Park on Nov. 11, winning by nearly two lengths in a dazzling 1:07 3/5 while breaking from the No. 1 post position in a field of 10. He worked seven furlongs at Santa Anita Dec. 12 in 1:23. That put him on course for the traditional opening day feature at Santa Anita, the Grade I, $250,000 Malibu Stakes for 3-year-olds at seven furlongs on Sunday.
“In the workout, we went the last eighth in :11 and two,” said Joe Talamo, who rode Caracortado for the first time in a race Nov. 11 and who rides him back in the Malibu. “He’s an outstanding horse. Mike told me to ride him with confidence and that he should be real good on turf.
“The work was amazing. He broke good, I just sat there, and about the quarter pole I angled him out and he just exploded. He did it real easy and sat behind another horse. This is an unbelievable track and it should play pretty good for him.”
Added Machowsky: “He worked lights out. Everything’s kind of been going quick on this track, but he really went over it well. He always had that real quick turn of foot,” the trainer said in explaining Caracortado’s debut on grass. “I thought he’d love it, but the timing (spacing) of the race to me was a little bit better than waiting for another allowance race (on dirt) a couple weeks later. That way it gave me more time to keep him fresh for the Malibu.”
Probable for the Malibu: Alcindor, Rafael Bejarano; Caracortado, Joe Talamo; Don Tito, no rider; Noble’s Promise, Julien Leparoux; Setsuko, Alex Solis; Thiskyhasnolimit, Garrett Gomez; Thomas Baines, Martin Pedroza; and Twirling Candy, Joel Rosario.
NEW TRADITIONAL DIRT COURSE WEATHERS HEAVY RAIN
Santa Anita’s new traditional dirt main track received its initial baptism of record rainfall that is ongoing in the Los Angeles area and has weathered the storm as Sunday’s opening day draws near.
“The track was open this morning,” track superintendent Richard Tedesco said early Monday morning, after it was closed Saturday and Sunday. “We got six inches of rain so far (since last Friday afternoon) and have two more coming this afternoon. It should taper off after that, but a big one is scheduled on Tuesday or Wednesday. We had the dogs up this morning and there were gallopers over the track.”
Added Santa Anita President George Haines: “Right now, we’re very surprised the track is as good as it is, after six inches of rain. We’re happy. We’re going to prepare it again for a big rain tonight. It looks like we’re going to get another two inches. I think generally the horsemen have been able to use the main track and exercise their horses and they’re happy.”
FANS CAN JOIN SMITH, BAFFERT ON ESPN ZONE LA LIVE WEDNESDAY
Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, the regular rider of the great Zenyatta, and Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert will appear at the ESPN Zone L.A. Live, in downtown Los Angeles Wednesday, Dec. 22, from 6 to 8 p.m. HRTV racing analyst Peter Lurie will join the distinguished duo. Opening day passes, Santa Anita T-shirts, posters and hats will be given away to those in attendance.
For further information, contact Tim Whiteman or Jeff Freedman at ESPNZONE@LALIVE, or Tim.Whiteman@espnzonelalive.com or Fsprjeff@aol.com. They may be called at 213 765-7078 and 310 871-8317, respectively.
The show will feature a special pre-opening look at the upcoming Santa Anita meet that starts Sunday.
DENMAN BACK BEHIND SANTA ANITA MIKE; HOOVER, WHITE ALSO RETURN
Trevor Denman, the Voice of Santa Anita, returns for his 28th anniversary season as public address commentator at The Great Race Place on opening day. First post time is 12 noon.
The popular Durban, South Africa, native has not called a race since Blame’s pulsating Breeders’ Cup Classic win by a head over the onrushing Zenyatta in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs.
Denman revolutionized race calling in America with his uncanny ability to anticipate developments in a race when he began at Santa Anita’s Oak Tree meeting in 1983.
Kurt Hoover will host Racing from Santa Anita on the web and also on HRTV at 6:30 a.m. ET. Hoover and Jon White will return as hosts of Santa Anita’s simulcast signal. White also starts his second year as Santa Anita’s morning line maker.
POPULAR WALL CALENDAR FREE TO FANS ON OPENING DAY
All fans in attendance at Santa Anita on opening day will receive a beautiful 2011 wall calendar, entitled “Santa Anita on the Silver Screen,” free with paid admission.
Santa Anita has been a prime location for movie locations dating back to its opening in 1934. The full-color calendar chronicles 12 films that have been shot at “The Great Race Place.”
“Our opening day wall calendars are one of our most popular items,” said Candice Chew, Santa Anita’s Director of Print and Graphics. “Opening day and our traditional calendars are synonymous and we are very excited about the theme and look of this year’s edition. From the 1930’s to the present day, Santa Anita remains a very popular shooting destination for the movie industry—and I think that’s a tribute to the fact that Santa Anita offers a distinct look and represents a timeless beauty that producers and directors have been and will continue to be attracted to.”
In 1935’s “Goin’ to Town,” a black-and-white musical comedy, a sensual Mae West performed four songs. After inheriting wealth, the character she portrayed pursued various activities, which included racing her horses in Buenos Aires, with the Arcadia track cast in the role of “stand-in.”
“Charlie Chan at the Race Track,” filmed in 1936, was one of 16 popular Charlie Chan movies starring Warner Oland, who played the role of a Chinese-American detective. In this picture, Chan, working for the Honolulu Police Department, investigated the death of a friend who was kicked to death by his own racehorse.
Perhaps the most successful early movie that was shot at Santa Anita was “A Day at the Races,” which was filmed in 1937 and featured the Marx Brothers. Maureen O’Sullivan, famous from her work in earlier Tarzan movies, played the heroine whose farm must be saved by the zany threesome of Groucho, Harpo and Chico. Long before 2003’s blockbuster hit film “Seabiscuit,” Shirley Temple was at Santa Anita to star in 1949’s “The Story of Seabiscuit.” The film also included Barry Fitzgerald, who played trainer Tom Smith, and Lon McAllister, who portrayed jockey Red Pollard. The Technicolor movie included actual black-and-white newsreels of the legendary Seabiscuit.
Very few actors were stronger at the box-office in the 1950s than Bob Hope, who came to Santa Anita to star in 1951’s “Lemon Drop Kid.” In one memorable scene, Hope, in the role of con man, visits Santa Anita’s Jockeys’ Room “hot box.” He then talks a gangster’s girlfriend out of betting on a winner and cooks up a scam to come up with the money. Another popular film shot in large-part at Santa Anita, was 1983’s “National Lampoon’s Vacation,” which starred Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo. As husband and wife, Chase and D’Angelo drive cross-country in order that their family can visit the fictitious Walley World theme park, which was created in Santa Anita’s expansive main parking lot.
“Seabiscuit,” based on Laura Hillenbrand’s book and release in 2003, generated more box-office revenue than any other film shot at Santa Anita. The cast included Tobey Maguire, Jeff Bridges, Chris Cooper, Gary Stevens and it included dramatic racing footage. Another film depicted in Santa Anita’s 2011 wall calendar is 2009’s “Public Enemies,” which starred Johnny Depp. In the movie, Santa Anita was substituted for South Florida’s Hialeah Park, and Depp played the role John Dillinger, an infamous bank robber who didn’t hide from authorities as he spent an afternoon at the races.
World-renowned producer/director Michael Mann, who worked on “Public Enemies,” is shown in a production photo directing a scene from the Santa Anita walking ring.
FINISH LINES: Sidney’s Candy is one of five horses defending training king John Sadler has scheduled to run in opening day stakes on Sunday. The 3-year-old son of Candy Ride, sixth after setting the pace in the Breeders’ Cup Mile in his most recent start Nov. 6, is set for the Grade II, $150,000 Sir Beaufort Stakes. Also scheduled for the one mile grass race are the Paddy Gallagher-trained Bogie (Garrett Gomez) and Sebastian Flyte from the Ben Cecil stable (Julien Leparoux). In addition to Twirling Candy and Don Tito for the Malibu, Sadler plans to run Switch under Joel Rosario in the Grade I, $250,000 La Brea Stakes and Contemplated in the $100,000 California Breeders’ Champion Stakes. Other La Brea probables include Always a Princess, Rafael Bejarano; La Nez, Victor Espinoza; and Malibu Pier, Gomez . . . Multiple Grade I winner The Usual Q.T. is on course for the Grade II, $150,000 San Gabriel Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on turf next Monday, Dec. 27, when there will be special racing. Regular rider Espinoza will be aboard for trainer Jim Cassidy. Also ticketed for the San Gabriel is Expansion from the Steve Asmussen barn. Gomez, in pursuit of his fifth straight national money crown, has the mount . . . Santa Anita will host a live show after the races opening day on the Sirona’s Stage. “The Police Experience” tribute band will play a 90 minute set . . . Agent Roger Olguin will represent five-pound apprentice rider Avel Cedillo at Santa Anita this meet. The native of Guatemala tacks 107 pounds and ranked among the top 10 riders in the Bay Area.