Bob Baffert has the 4-5 morning line favorite (Collected) and the 9-2 third choice (Cat Burglar) in Saturday’s Grade III Precisionist Stakes for three-year-olds and up at 1 1/16 miles, but the Hall of Fame trainer is not taking the race lightly.

“It’s a tough race,” Baffert said. “We’ll see how they stack up . . . It’s very competitive, so we’ll see what’s going on. I’d like to try Collected on turf, though.”

The breeding is there, and the son of City Zip did break his maiden on grass, winning by a nose on Santa Anita’s downhill course at about 6 ½ furlongs Oct. 12, 2015. He won the Grade III Cecil B. DeMille at a mile on turf in his next start, Nov. 29, 2015, at Del Mar.

Collected, a four-year-old colt owned by Speedway Racing LLC, has won six of nine career starts including the Grade II Californian last out on April 22.

Cat Burglar, a seven-year-old full horse by the same sire as Horse of the World Arrogate, Unbridled’s Song, won an overnight race on March 31, his first start in 11 months. He won the Santana Mile in April of 2016.

Accelerate, a gem of consistency in 10 starts for John Sadler with three wins, three seconds, three thirds and one fourth, is on point for the Precisionist.

            “He’s very consistent and he’s doing well for this race,” Sadler said. “He’s had high quality form every time and we’re expecting a big effort from him on Saturday.”

Like Baffert, Doug O’Neill has two horses entered in the Precisionist, Donworth and Keane, the latter an Argentine-bred making his U.S. debut.

A five-year-old full horse, Keane last raced Nov. 19, 2016, at La Plata in Argentina,

winning his fourth straight race, going a mile and a half on the main track under 131 pounds.

“We’ve had him since late February,” said Leandro Mora, assistant to O’Neill, who trains Keane for Zedan Racing Stables, Inc. “He came to us with the purpose of training him and taking him to the Dubai World Cup (last March), but thank God we didn’t go, because Arrogate would’ve kicked our butt.

“It looks like he’s acclimated pretty well. If he runs the way he’s been feeling these last two weeks, we’re going to have some fun.”

The field for the Precisionist, which is named for the 1985 Breeders’ Cup Sprint

champion trained by Ross Fenstermaker: Donworth, Mario Gutierrez, 6-1; Keane, Tiago Pereira, 8-1; Accelerate, Tyler Baze, 5-2; Collected, Martin Garcia, 4-5; and Cat Burglar, Rafael Bejarano, 9-2.



Like Collected in the Precisionist Stakes, morning line odds maker Jon White has Battle of Midway the 4-5 choice in Saturday’s Grade III, $100,000 Affirmed Stakes for three-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles.

A Smart Strike colt, Battle of Midway more than outran his odds of 40-1 when he finished third in the Kentucky Derby on May 6, beaten nearly eight lengths by Always Dreaming but holding his position through the stretch to earn $200,000.

Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, Battle of Midway was second in the Santa Anita Derby prior to the Run for the Roses and has a 2-1-2 mark from five starts with earnings of $490,000.

The field for the Affirmed, named for the 1978 Triple Crown winner trained by

Laz Barrera: B Squared, Mario Gutierrez, 6-1; Battle of Midway, Flavien Prat, 4-5; $2,000 supplemental nominee Quiet Dude, Tiago Pereira, 20-1; Term of Art, Tyler Baze, 9-2; and Arms Runner, Norberto Arroyo Jr., 9-5.



            A treasured piece of racing history moved on to that Great Race Track in the Sky when Ivan Puhich died peacefully in his sleep Monday night in San Diego at the age of 89.

The longtime jockey’s agent would have been 90 on Dec. 22.

Stories abound about the long and lanky former Marine who fought on Okinawa in 1945, but perhaps none captures the essence of the man as the following excerpt recounted by one-time exercise rider and current assistant starter Huey Barnes, from the August-October 2016 issue of North American Trainer Magazine, written by yours truly:

“Ivan saved my life in a dice game at Washington Park in Chicago in the early 70s. I was working for a trainer called Buddy Hirsch at that time, and Ivan had jockey Bill Mahorney and we was just gambling, and I was winning probably 17, 18 hundred dollars.

“Those guys who were losing wanted me to keep gambling. They didn’t have nothing but nickels, dimes and quarters, but they wanted me to keep gambling so they could get their money back, but I said, ‘I’m not going to gamble here. You ain’t got no money to gamble with.’

“So one guy got mad at me and told me I couldn’t leave and he drew a straight razor on me. They were from East St. Louis and I knew they meant business. I saw Ivan and hollered for him and he came over, found out I was winning with their dice, grabbed a gun from his jacket and shot down in the ground and they all backed up . . . That’s how Ivan saved my life.”

Added Barnes Friday morning at Clockers’ Corner: “Everybody that I know loved Ivan. He treated everybody nice, he respected people, and that’s how Ivan was, but if you did something wrong to him, you lost a good friend, because he didn’t want to be around you no more. That’s just the kind of man he was, and I respected him for that.

“He never did anything to hurt anybody. Everything he tried to do, he tried to help people. He was a wonderful man as far as I know. If I asked him for something, he would do it, and if he asked me, I’d give him my opinion, and that’s the way it went.

“I feel sorry for Ivan, but he’s in a better place now.”

Trainer John Sadler said Friday morning that a remembrance for Puhich will be held at a date to be announced during the upcoming Del Mar meet which starts July 19.



The Southern California racing community continued to mourn upon the news of veteran jockey agent Ivan Puhich’s passing on Monday at age 89. “Big Ivan” as he was affectionately known from his early days at Longacres Race Course near Seattle to Agua Caliente south of the border, had been retired for several years and was living with his daughter in San Diego.

Born Dec. 22, 1927 in St. Helena, CA, and raised in Renton, WA, Ivan followed older brothers Nick and Stan to the track as a youngster, selling newspapers, mucking stalls and walking hots. With the outbreak of WW II, Ivan enlisted in the Marine Corps and saw combat in the South Pacific and later, in China.

Following the war and upon his return to base in San Diego, he obtained permission from his commanding officer to take leave in order to attend the 1948 Kentucky Derby.

“I’ll never forget it,” Puhich said in an interview 23 years ago at Hollywood Park. “I hitch hiked back there, in uniform and got in free. Calumet (Farm) ran one-two with Citation and Coaltown.”

Physically fit and an imposing figure at 6’5″ and 220 to 230 pounds, it was no secret that Puhich, who was gregarious by nature, was as adept with his oversized fists as he was with a condition book.

“When I got out of the service, I decided to box at Gonzaga (College, in Spokane, WA),” Puhich once related.  “They had a really good boxing program there and I did well, but that wasn’t what I wanted to do.” (A photo of a pugilistic Ivan Puhich, a member of the 1951 Zags Boxing Team, currently adorns the walls of the Gonzaga University Athletic Department).

A member of the starting gate team at Agua Caliente for a time in the early 1960s, Puhich unquestionably made his professional mark as a top agent for riders such as William Mahorney, Marco Casteneda, Tyler Baze (who Puhich guided to an Eclipse Award as America’s Champion Apprentice Jockey in 2000), and miraculously, 25-year-old Mario Gutierrez, with whom he won the 2012 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes aboard the Doug O’Neill-trained I’ll Have Another.

A dyed in the wool San Francisco 49ers fan, Puhich was a regular attendee, rain or shine, at both Kezar Stadium and Candlestick Park, where his all-time favorite “Niner,” Joe Montana, took the team to unprecedented heights, winning four Super Bowls following his graduation from Notre Dame in 1979.

“The greatest quarterback of all-time,” Puhich would readily testify on behalf of the irrepressible Montana.

Puhich was pre-deceased by his infant son, Ivan, Jr. and another son, Steven. He is survived by his daughter, Robin Freeman and three grandchildren, Jeanie Freeman, Kevin Freeman and Brad Puhich. Ivan is also survived by extended family that includes a nephew, trainer Michael Puhich.

FINISH LINES: There will be no simulcast wagering available at Santa Anita next Thursday, July 29. After this Sunday’s races, Santa Anita will resume live racing with a five-day week on Friday, June 30, and race through Tuesday, July 4 when the Spring portion of the current meet ends . . . Beholder Mile winner Stellar Wind is scheduled to work Sunday for the Grade I Clement L. Hirsch Stakes at Del Mar on July 30, trainer John Sadler said . . . Champion Finest City, prepping for the Grade II, $200,000 Great Lady M Stakes at Los Alamitos July 8 worked four furlongs for Ian Kruljac Friday in 48.20. “She’s doing well,” the trainer said. The Great Lady M will be decided at 6 ½ furlongs. . . . Laz Barrera winner American Anthem worked four furlongs in company for Bob Baffert in 48.60 with Uninvited, who was clocked in 48.40 . . . Jockey Danny Vergara, closing in on 2,000 wins, will be represented by agent Craig Stephen, who plans to have Vergara ready to ride at Los Alamitos when the Orange County meet starts on July 5 . . . Indygo Bo, 2-1 morning line chance in today’s second race, has been claimed from his last three races and four of his last five . . . There is a single ticket Pick Six Jackpot carryover Friday of $176,727 . . . Suspensions aplenty: Rafael Bejarano has waived his appeal of a suspension issued April 29 and will serve four days, June 23, 24, 25 and 30. Likewise, Flavien Prat has withdrawn his appeal of May 25 and will serve three days June 23, 24 and 25. The meet’s leading rider also has been handed four additional days (July 1, 2, 3 and 4) for causing interference on Spooky Woods in last Saturday’s ninth race, resulting in the disqualification of his mount from third to fifth. Additionally, Kent Desormeaux is serving a four-day ban (June 24, 25, 30 and July 1) for causing interference shortly after the start of last Saturday’s fifth race on Supreme Venture . . . Ed Golden, author of Santa Anita’s widely read Stable Notes, will be Tom Quigley‘s guest handicapper Saturday 11:50 a.m. in the East Paddock Gardens.


(Current Through Sunday, June 18)          
Jockey Mts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% ITM% Money Won  
Flavien Prat 147 34 21 26 23% 55% $1,718,930  
Rafael Bejarano 136 31 21 21 23% 54% $1,827,322  
Joseph Talamo 173 30 32 20 17% 47% $1,468,076  
Evin Roman 135 28 16 13 21% 42% $840,810  
Tyler Baze 150 19 28 27 13% 49% $1,032,953  
Tiago Pereira 133 17 21 19 13% 43% $719,110  
Gary Stevens 59 14 9 6 24% 49% $764,311  
Edwin Maldonado 96 12 15 16 13% 45% $602,453  
Santiago Gonzalez 117 12 13 20 10% 38% $582,501  
Kent Desormeaux 61 12 12 8 20% 52% $820,857  
Martin Pedroza 105 11 9 18 10% 36% $429,504  
Norberto Arroyo, Jr. 67 10 11 11 15% 48% $637,299  
Kyle Frey 73 10 6 11 14% 37% $268,744  
Trainer Mts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% ITM% Money Won  
Peter Miller 104 29 13 15 28% 55% $1,064,179  
Richard Baltas 93 23 14 14 25% 55% $1,134,611  
Philip D’Amato 105 19 18 12 18% 47% $1,243,820  
Steven Miyadi 59 14 8 10 24% 54% $379,063  
Bob Baffert 44 14 8 7 32% 66% $1,264,355  
Doug O’Neill 80 11 20 12 14% 54% $652,244  
John Sadler 60 10 11 9 17% 50% $684,983  
Peter Eurton 37 10 6 5 27% 57% $511,363  
Jerry Hollendorfer 74 9 11 11 12% 42% $596,150  
Jack Carava 39 9 2 8 23% 49% $212,775  
Hector O. Palma 42 7 8 5 17% 48% $286,861  
Michael Machowsky 33 7 6 7 21% 61% $318,359  
Simon Callaghan 26 7 3 3 27% 50% $319,101  
Jeff Mullins 17 7 1 3 41% 65% $204,280  
Eddie Truman 18 7 1 2 39% 56% $247,105