Santa Anita Stable Notes Sunday, October 29, 2023
STABLE NOTES BY VICTOR RYAN
__SUNDAY, OCT. 29, 2023 __
• MIRAHMADI READIES FOR 2ND BREEDERS’ CUP ON THE MICROPHONE • APPRENTICE TORREALBA MAKING A MARK AT SANTA ANITA • BREEDERS’ CUP POST POSITION DRAW IS MONDAY AT 4:45 PT • SATURDAY’S PICK 6 RETURNS $24,445 TO 3 WINNING TICKETS • SUNSHINE AND TEMPS IN LOW 80s FORECAST BREEDERS’ CUP WEEK • EIGHT STAKES, SPECIAL THURSDAY CARD NEXT WEEK AT SANTA ANITA
MIRAHMADI READIES FOR 2ND BREEDERS’ CUP ON THE MICROPHONE Frank Mirahmadi, a fan for life and a full-time race caller for 27 years, will be behind the microphone at Santa Anita for his second round with the Breeders’ Cup World Championships this Friday and Saturday and although he won’t be the voice of the Breeders’ Cup on NBC, he’ll be in his regular role for all races entertaining and informing on-track fans and those around the country tuned to Santa Anita’s simulcast signal.
A Los Angeles native, Mirahmadi, 56, who became the primary voice of Saratoga Race Course this past summer, is finishing up his fifth season as the full time voice of Santa Anita. Well-traveled, Mirahmadi took a circuitous route to his current position. He began in 1996 at Hialeah Park and has called at various tracks across America including Oaklawn Park, Monmouth Park, Louisiana Downs, Golden Gate Fields and the Northern California fairs.
As he approaches the 40th annual Breeders’ Cup with the enthusiasm of a newcomer, the following question-and-answer session was conducted between races on Saturday in the same Santa Anita Announcer’s Booth that was occupied for so many decades by the likes of Joe Hernandez, Chic Anderson, Dave Johnson and Trevor Denman. Q. Frank, we’re just a few days away from what is racing’s Super Bowl, the Breeders’ Cup World Championships. Your general thoughts going into the event? A. Well, it’s obviously the most exciting time of the year. It’s huge for Santa Anita, it’s huge for our fans and it’s huge for racing. Having experienced it once as the announcer here in 2019 was certainly the highlight of my career. To have that experience under my belt certainly makes me more comfortable going into this year’s edition. For me it's nothing short of immense excitement looking at these races and looking forward to describing them and do what I do on a daily basis, which is to celebrate winners. Q. Frank, to draw a general sports comparison, there’s a consensus of opinion here in town that what hurt the Dodgers in their playoff flameout this year more than anything else, was the fact they sat idle for five days after clinching their division. That won’t be the case with Frank Mirahmadi, as we’re going to be running a full card this Thursday, a day in front of the Breeders’ Cup. A. I feel great about running this Thursday and about everything, really. I feel like I’m on my game and that’s very important every day and every race. Over the years, I like the racing cards that lead into the Breeders’ Cup, regardless of the venue. There’s always a lot of excitement because friends are coming into town. I have several friends that I haven’t seen in a long time and I want to be able to take time to visit them…to see some of the horsemen and some of the connections. There’s a lot of anticipation. If you look at social media, it’s all about the Breeders’ Cup, the final works, the preparations, the nervousness. I think we all feel those same emotions. We’re trying to put on the show and the horses, the jockeys, the trainers and the owners are all right in the thick of it. Q. Frank, we’ve got a big load of international shippers this year. We expect 59 international horses, including nine from Japan, to run over the two-days. That alone makes this event a big challenge for any announcer, but with all the 2-year-old races on Friday and many of them never having run here before, would you agree Breeders’ Cup Day One might be tougher than Classic Day, Saturday? A. Day One was certainly tougher here in 2019, I can say that. If it was a horse race, I probably broke half a step slowly because we had full fields, new horses…But in the end, I just try to take it race by race and study as hard as possible. The tougher part about the international horses is the pronunciation of their names. It’s important to have all of that straightened out (in advance). It’s all about focus and letting the race develop. The key for me is to keep my eyes open and to let the people know what I see. You know, Trevor Denman told me when I got this job, ‘Open your eyes and tell them what you see.’ It’s the most simple advice, but it’s actually the best advice someone can give…Ultimately, you just have to wait for things to develop and hope to have the right words and preparation to deliver the story for the fans. Q. How does your preparation for the Breeders’ Cup compare to what you do the rest of the year? A . No question, preparation is hugely important anytime. It’s a responsibility to tell the story properly and the Breeders’ Cup is the culmination of campaigns and it’s where championships are decided. It’s very important to be prepared and to be aware of all the storylines in play going in. I’m not one to pre-script calls. I don’t like contrived calls, but at the same time, it’s important to be prepared. If you look at the great Breeders’ Cup calls in history, you can’t say that sentence without mentioning Tom Durkin’s unbelievable descriptions of most of the Breeders’ Cup races, dating back to 1984 at Hollywood Park…You don’t want to overdo it, but as an announcer, you want to be able to have the words to describe the situation that’s developing…When you think about Tom’s call after 911 in the Classic when he said ‘Tiznow wins it for America,’ that was a perfect statement for that time. And when Sunday Silence and Easy Goer met in 1989, it was obvious that was the storyline…You have to prepare. You have to know all the pedigree lines, all the connections and the implications for championships that could very well be decided on that particular race. Q. Frank, it’s been an incredible year for you. It’s your fifth year as The Guy here at Santa Anita and you experienced your first summer as the full-time announcer at Saratoga. How does it feel to be essentially ending your year on an absolute crescendo? A. These are the big days. This is what it’s all about. The Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita, there is nothing that’s bigger than that in our game. You look over the history and some of the big races that have taken place here…It’s really an honor and a privilege and a great responsibility. I try to also take a moment to enjoy the blessing that this opportunity has presented to me. It’s important to be focused, to be serious and to also have some fun. In the end, it’s enjoying the successes of others on the track. My job is to do my best to celebrate with them. By doing that and by having that attitude, I think it helps me enjoy the experience immensely.
Q. Larry Colmus will again be calling all of the Breeders’ Cup races on national television and on NBC, but I think our fans need to know that you’ll calling all of the races as well for those attending on-track and for those following our simulcast presentation. A. It’s a tradition that the on-track announcer calls for the on-track audience and I’m very thankful for that. I know that a lot of people are excited to hear me call and that means the world to me. I’ve met a lot of fans and I like to interact with them. They know I’m a racing fan and I love to talk about racing and to share the joy I’m having in this sport with others…Some of my closest friends are going to be on-track. My Mom will be watching at home like she always does. It’s a big moment for me and I don’t take it lightly…I think as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become much more comfortable in this environment…I said it many years ago, in 2014 or 2015, that I wasn’t going to let the mountains intimidate but rather, to invigorate. If you think too much about (the scope of the assignment), it can overwhelm you. The key is to just keep the blinkers on. Q. As a fan or professionally, is there one Breeders’ Cup race that stands out from the rest? A . I guess the one that really has to stand out to me was Tiznow in 2000 and I think it was because I had called the Super Derby at Louisiana Downs, which was won by Tiznow. Fast forward to November and I had been invited to Churchill Downs by (the late) Luke Kruytbosch to be a part of All Star Announcer Day the day before the Breeders’ Cup Classic…That day was one of the greatest days of my life and one that I’ll always cherish. And then the next day, the Super Derby winner, the Cal-bred, Tiznow…That beast showed up at Churchill and I lost my voice screaming for him to beat Giant’s Causeway…I just still remember Chris McCarron after the race waving his arms with those pink sleeves and at that point, I knew Tiznow had won and it was a moment that will live with me forever.
APPRENTICE J.G. TORREALBA MAKING A MARK AT SANTA ANITA Apprentice jockey J.G. Torrealba continued to serve notice on Saturday when collecting his sixth victory of the Santa Anita Autumn Meet aboard odds-on favorite Thompson for trainer Tim Yakteen.
With the popular win, Torrealba moved into a tie for sixth-place in the jockeys’ standings with veterans Joe Bravo and Mario Gutierrez. The victory continued what’s been a notable ascent for the 22-year-old native of Venezuela.
Torrealba, who stands 4-foot-11 and weighs 111 pounds, was raised in the small town of El Sombrero in the Venezuelan state of Guarico. He had no connection to horse racing until he was exposed to the sport in his native country as a fan. Torrealba would soon learn to ride and by 2019 he was riding races in Venezuela.
“I didn’t have family or anything related to the track in Venezuela. I never thought I would be a jockey,” Torrealba, who does not speak English, said through an interpreter Sunday morning. “But I like the races a lot. That’s when I learned to be a jockey.”
Torrealba came to the U.S. in September of last year, a move he said was facilitated by Maryland-based trainer Jose Corrales. Torrealba would land at Thistledown in Ohio. His first mount came on April 24 of this year. The following day he won his first race aboard Fast as Fast Can B for trainer Terrance Guidry.
Torrealba would win at a 14 percent clip at Thistledown before pulling up stakes and moving to Southern California this summer to ride at Del Mar. He is represented locally by agent and former trainer Joe Griffin, who said Corrales tipped him off to the rider this summer.
“Jose called me and said there’s a jockey I might be interested in,” Griffin recalled. “From what I’ve seen he’s just a great kid. He continues to learn more every day and is very dependable. He doesn’t balk from working.”
Torrealba currently receives a seven-pound weight allowance as an apprentice. At Del Mar, things were a bit of a struggle as he won just three races from 57 mounts. But since then, things have gotten much better. Torrealba won at a 17 percent clip during the short Los Alamitos meet in September. At the current Santa Anita stand, he has won at a solid 15 percent rate entering Sunday’s card.
“I’m very happy with how things are going,” said Torrealba, whose initials stand for Jose Gregorio.
Torrealba’s apprenticeship is scheduled to end in May, Griffin said.
“I think things have gone well,” he added of the partnership. “The more you win the better things will get.”
Torrealba has two rides scheduled for Sunday at Santa Anita. Both are for high-profile trainers. In the second race, he rides Big Novel (4-1) for John Sadler in an allowance/optional claimer at a mile on dirt. In the fifth race, he’ll partner with Ole Silver (8-1) for Phil D’Amato in a starter/optional claimer going a mile on turf.
Torrealba is hoping he can make Southern California his permanent home.
“Yes, this place is beautiful,” he said.
BREEDERS’ CUP POST POSITION DRAW IS SET FOR MONDAY Next weekend, Santa Anita hosts the two-day Breeders’ Cup for a record 11th time. The post-position draw for the 40th Breeders’ Cup will be held Monday starting at 4:45 PT at the nearby Pasadena Civic Center.
Next Friday, five Breeders’ Cup races for 2-year-olds highlight a 10-race card starting at 11:30 a.m. Pacific. The first Breeders’ Cup race on “Future Stars Friday” will be the $1 million Juvenile Turf Sprint at 2 p.m.
On Saturday, nine Breeders’ Cup races will be part of a 12-race card. First post Saturday is 10:10 a.m. The first Breeders’ Cup race will be the $1 million Dirt Mile at 11:30 a.m. The $6 million Classic is scheduled for 3:40 p.m.
For the first time in the 40-year history of the Breeders’ Cup, the Classic will not go as the final Breeders’ Cup race. This year it will be followed by the $1 million Turf Sprint at 4:25 p.m. and the $2 million Sprint at 5 PT.
Monday’s post-position draw will be televised on FanDuel TV and streamed at Breederscup.com.
SATURDAY’S PICK 6 RETURNS $24,445 TO 3 WINNING TICKETS Five winning overlays on Jon White’s morning line and a single favorite produced handsome payouts in the late multi-race wagers at Santa Anita Saturday.
Starting with the fourth race, the Pick 6 sequence winners were Violent Runner ($11.00, 4-1 ML) for trainer Steve Knapp, Blue Oasis ($12.20, 3-1 ML) for Tim Yakteen, Canelo ($10.40, 3-1 ML) for Kristin Mulhall, Yerwanthere ($9.60, 5-2 ML), Favoritism ($21.60, 6-1 ML) for Luis Mendez and the lone favorite, Easter ($6.00, 3-1 ML), for Graham Motion.
The $1 Pick 6 returned $24,445.40 to three winning tickets. The late Pick 5 paid $2,606.35 for 50 cents and the late Pick 4 returned $499.85 for 50 cents.
Sunday’s Pick 6 starts with the fourth race at 2:35 p.m. PT.
SUNSHINE AND TEMPERATURES IN LOW 80s FORECAST BREEDERS’ CUP WEEK All signs indicate it should be a beautiful week of weather at Santa Anita for the Breeders’ Cup.
According to the National Weather Service, temperatures are forecast to hit the mid-80s on Wednesday and then dip slightly to the low 80s when the 40th Breeders’ Cup is contested on Friday and Saturday.
Santa Anita will be hosting the Breeders’ Cup for a record 11th time.
In addition to 14 Breeders’ Cup races, Santa Anita will also host eight supporting stakes this week. Friday’s Breeders’ Cup undercard includes the $150,000 Senator Ken Maddy for fillies and mares on the hillside turf course, $175,000 Golden State Juvenile for statebred 2-year-olds at seven furlongs, $175,000 Golden State Juvenile Fillies also at seven furlongs and the $150,000 Qatar Golden Mile for 2-year-olds on turf.
On Saturday, Santa Anita runs the Grade II, $250,000 Twilight Derby at a mile on turf and the GII, $250,000 Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance at 1 5/8 miles on dirt.
On Sunday, closing day of the Santa Anita Autumn Meet, scheduled to be run are the GII, $200,000 Goldikova for fillies and mares at a mile on turf and the GIII. $100,000 Autumn Miss for 3-year-old fillies at a mile on turf.
FINISH LINES: The main track will be open for workers on Tuesday. Typically, Tuesday training on the main track is limited to joggers and gallopers...Star jockey Frankie Dettori won Saturday’s Lure Stakes in dramatic come-from-behind fashion with Easter for trainer Graham Motion on his first day back riding at Santa Anita…Trainer Tim Yakteen and jockey Antonio Fresu each won a pair of races on Saturday’s nine-race card…Santa Anita will host a special Thursday card next week prior to the Breeders’ Cup. On-track fans will receive free parking and admission, $3 beers and $ margaritas. First post is 1 p.m.