TRAINER POINTS NEW BUY TO SANTA ANITA DERBY
POPULAR JAY COHEN IS BACK ON THE HORN TODAY
RETIRED GARY STEVENS FEELING GOOD BEHIND MIC
PAPAPRODROMOU SEEKS SANTA ANITA DERBY UPSET
George Papaprodromou plans to run rank outsider and recent private purchase Synthesis in the Santa Anita Derby a week from Saturday, April 6.
Stifle those guffaws and hark on back to April 19, 2014. That’s the day Papaprodromou saddled Imperative to win the $1.5 million Charlestown Classic by a length-and-a-half at 26-1, upsetting 3-5 favorite Game On Dude, three-time winner of the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap.
“So far, so good,” said the 42-year-old Papaprodromou, whose 76-year-old father, Andreas, was a trainer in his own right. “The horse worked last week, he’ll work again Sunday and we’ll go from there.”
Previously trained by Keith Desormeaux for owners Big Chief Racing LLC and Madaket Stables, Synthesis is a three-year-old Kentucky-bred son of First Samurai who was fourth Feb. 10 in the Grade II San Vicente Stakes at seven furlongs, beaten a length at odds of nearly 18-1.
The new owners are Kretz Racing, John Decker and Jay Selby.
In nine starts, Synthesis has a maiden win at Keeneland last Oct. 20, in addition to one second and four thirds, with earnings of $117,400.
Fans will be treated to a stakes bonanza April 6, with seven added money events worth $2,750,000 on the calendar, topped by the $1 million Santa Anita Derby and the $600,000 Santa Anita Handicap presented by San Manuel Casino.
In addition to the 1 ¼-mile Big ‘Cap and the 1 1/8-mile Santa Anita Derby, each bestowed with Grade I status, Santa Anita will showcase the Grade I, $400,000 Santa Anita Oaks for fillies at 1 1/16 miles; the $200,000 Echo Eddie Stakes for three-year-olds at 6 ½ furlongs; the $200,000 Evening Jewel Stakes for three-year-old fillies at 6 ½ furlongs; the Grade II, $200,000 Royal Heroine Stakes for older fillies and mares at one mile on turf; and the Grade III, $150,000 Providencia Stakes for three-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles on the grass.
First post time for the biggest day in racing to date this year will be 12 noon.
JAY COHEN BACK AT SANTA ANITA TO BLOW HIS HORN
Jay Cohen, Santa Anita’s popular horn blower, is back on the beat at Santa Anita today after missing some three months battling a face-paralyzing ailment called Bell’s Palsy.
Cohen, 63, has been a fixture at Santa Anita for the past 31 years, treating fans to their favorite tunes upon request, telling what are best described as “corn-ball” jokes and performing magic tricks when not beckoning horses to the track with his signature ‘Call to the Post,’ but Bell’s Palsy put an end to those glorious moments, at least until now.
“I’m about 80 percent as far as playing the trumpet goes,” Cohen said, “but the Bell’s Palsy has been gone for weeks. I’ve been extremely lucky with a huge amount of support medically and from fans who sent letters wishing me well.”
Cohen took advantage of his down time to learn additional magic tricks for his many patrons. “My time off gave me a chance to come up with some new tricks,” he said.
“I’m good enough to come back to work, and I can tell you, I’ve played the trumpet when I’ve felt worse. I’m back and nothing’s going to stop me now.”
Or to paraphrase a lyric from the song ‘Nothing Can Stop Me now,’ Jay Cohen has “found a dream worth fighting for . . . ”
STEVENS DOING WELL AFTER RETIRING FROM THE SADDLE
Gary Stevens, fresh out of the starting gate in a new career behind the mic after retiring from a Hall of Fame riding career last November, was a recent visitor to Clockers’ Corner, taking in the breathtaking landscape that is uniquely Santa Anita’s, and schmoozing with friends and acquaintances.
Stevens is recovering well from an operation on his C4 vertebra nearly two months ago following a post parade mishap at Del Mar.
“The surgery took place the latter part of January at USC, so I’m about eight weeks into recovery right now, and I’m doing well,” Stevens said. “I’m in therapy twice a week and doing home exercise. I’m on an elliptical machine and exercising to strengthen my neck.
“I’m pain free and there’s no numbness in my arms or fingers or feet. That’s all gone, but it was a quadruple fusion, and they used cadaver bone, a plate and six screws. It takes six months to a year to fully heal.”
Stevens also is mending emotionally from his retirement as a world-class rider.
“I went to work (as analyst) for Fox Sports and NYRA (New York Racing Association),” he said. “I’ve done five shows but I’ve got a little bit of boredom going on. I watch a lot of races on TV since we haven’t been racing at Santa Anita.”
On a happier note, Stevens was understandably pleased that his older brother, Scott, 58, was named winner of Santa Anita’s George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award.
“Well-deserved,” said Gary, 56, who won it in 1996. “He should have won it before I did, so it’s good. He’s excited.”
FINISH LINES: Bob Baffert plans to breeze Improbable tomorrow for the April 13 Arkansas Derby, while Simon Callaghan has Bellafina scheduled to work five furlongs for next Saturday’s Santa Anita Oaks . . . Jockey Aaron Gryder will be Tom Quigley‘s handicapping guest Saturday at 11:50 a.m. . . . Hunch exacta box of the day: Whirling and Swirling, both daughters of Twirling Candy, in today’s second race.
LATEST CONTENT FROM XBTV:
Big ‘Cap Memories: Mike Smith talks about his three wins in the Santa Anita Handicap
Big Cap Memories: Gary Stevens reminisces on his 1990 Santa Anita Handicap victory aboard Ruhlmann
Big ‘Cap Memories: Sean McCarthy looks back to 1982 at John Henry’s win in the Santa Anita Handicap
Big ‘Cap Memories: Bob Baedeker says nothing beats Spectacular Bid’s victory in 1980
Big ‘Cap Memories: Ron McAnally takes us back to the 1981 Santa Anita Handicap
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