A victory by Accelerate in the Breeders’ Cup Classic would enhance his resume, but whether it would be enough to outpoll undefeated Triple Crown winner Justify for Horse of the Year honors ain’t necessarily so.

“I’ll take my hat off to Accelerate,” said private clocker and bloodstock agent Gary Young. “He’s done something few horses have done as far as reaching his peak at age five.

“He’s much better now than he was in previous years, and he’s done very well in the handicap division. But a horse can’t win the Triple Crown without being Horse of the Year, and that’s no disrespect to Accelerate or the job (trainer John) Sadler and the Hronis brothers (owners Kosta and Peter) have done with him.

“But if a horse wins the Triple Crown, that seals Horse of the Year for him in my book.”

Meanwhile, Sadler has Accelerate set to work at 6:30 Saturday morning in his first breeze since winning the Awesome Again Stakes on Sept. 29. Assistant trainer and former jockey Juan Leyva will be aboard for the first of three drills at Santa Anita before Accelerate ships to Kentucky the week of the Breeders’ Cup Classic which will be run Nov. 3.

“Everything’s going smooth, no bumps in the road,” Sadler said of Accelerate, 5-2 favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Classic Future Book #2 to win the race. “Catalina Cruiser (favored in the Dirt Mile Nov. 3) works Sunday, as does Catapult (also Dirt Mile).”



Victor Espinoza, who suffered a fractured vertebra in a training mishap at Del Mar July 22, continues a lengthy and arduous recovery and hopes to resume riding when Santa Anita’s Winter Meet starts on Dec. 26.

“He saw the doctors this week and they’re happy with his progress,” agent Brian Beach said Friday morning. “They say he’s further along than most people would be who experienced such injuries, but he’s not quite there yet, so Victor’s going to target the Big Meet at Santa Anita for his return.

“He’s not going to be able to make it back for the Breeders’ Cup or anything in between. There’s no sense in rushing now. He’s seeing a neurologist and a neurosurgeon (at Scripps La Jolla Hospital). They’re both happy with his progress but still exercising caution.

“It’s only been a month since he’s had the (neck) brace off. They’re redoing X-rays and MRI’s to make sure they’re satisfied with what they see. Victor is still in San Diego close to the doctors he’s been seeing through this entire process.

“He’s doing rehab and quite a bit of things on his own, although he’s restricted to some degree when it comes to weights and things like that, but he is doing more than what he had done before.”

Espinoza, a recent inductee into the Hall of Fame who rode American Pharoah to a Triple Crown sweep in 2015 and was the regular pilot of two-time Horse of the Year California Chrome, is the 46-year-old uncle of 18-year-old apprentice sensation Assael Espinoza, also represented by Beach.

“Victor will listen to the doctors and heed their advice,” Beach continued. “Right now they say it’s too early to give him a thumbs up on riding, because both they and he want to make sure he’s 100 percent when he comes back, but the target date is Dec. 26.”

That would make for a Merry Christmas for sure.



Ismelucky returns to a distance she fancies in Saturday’s $100,000 California Distaff Handicap for fillies and mares, three and up, at five furlongs on turf.

The three-year-old Lucky Pulpit filly owned by Jerome Russell and Jeff Bonde, who also trains her, has a second and a third in two previous tries at five furlongs on turf.

She was a distant sixth going a mile last out, Sept. 15, at Golden Gate Fields.

“She ran terrible going a mile,” Bonde allowed. “She had no answer when they turned for home. She’s shortening back up and she’s been a good, useful filly so hopefully she’ll return to form.

“I can’t get any three-year-old races for her, so we’ll go against older Cal-breds. Hopefully, something good will happen.”

The California Distaff is one in the lucrative Golden State Series.

The field: Princess Roi, Mike Smith, 8-1;Hailey Rachele, Brayan Pena, 20-1; Beau Square, Tyler Baze, 10-1; Helen’s Tiger, Rafael Bejarano, 12-1; Meet and Greet, Drayden Van Dyke, 5-1; Ismelucky, Gary Stevens, 12-1; How About Zero, Mario Gutierrez, 4-1; Late ‘n Left, Edwin Maldonado, 30-1; S Y Sky, Joe Talamo, 5-2; Love a Honeybadger, Tiago Pereira, 5-1; and Family Girl, Flavien Prat, 12-1.



For the second time in eight racing days, a life-changing score appeared on the precipice at Santa Anita, as there were two “live” tickets in the track’s popular 20 cent Rainbow Pick Six Jackpot going into Monday’s 10th and final race. With a $500,000 guaranteed Jackpot at stake and a sixteenth of a mile to run, one of those horses, number four, Weather Market, was finishing resolutely under Evin Roman, but finished a half-length behind Irish-bred Chalky.

Although the Jackpot remained elusive, Monday’s 20 cent Rainbow Pick Six payoff was by any accounting outstanding, as there were five tickets with six winners, each worth a tidy $31,450.75.

With $292,278 in “new money” wagered into the Rainbow Six Monday, there is a live-money Jackpot carryover today of $364,450.75.

(Monday’s Rainbow Six handle of $292,278 was the largest through eight racing days).

With 55 horses entered and eligible to run in today’s Rainbow Six, field size stood at 9.1 runners per race.

First post time for today’s eight-race card is 1 p.m. Approximate post time for race three, the beginning of the Rainbow Pick Six Jackpot, is at 2 p.m. PT.

Through eight days of racing at Santa Anita’s 22-day Autumn Meet, Rainbow Pick Six handle has been robust and payouts have been consistently generous:

            Live money pool

            Sept. 28 – $82,392–6 winning tickets, each worth $7,336.25

            Sept. 29 – $251,385–12 winning tickets, each worth $11,189

            Sept. 30 – $221,946–14 winning tickets, each worth $8,469.20

            Oct. 4 – $133,840–33 winning tickets, each worth $2,180.75

            Oct. 5 – $117,694–40 winning tickets, each worth $1,571.85

            Oct. 6 – $245,810.40–2 winning tickets, each worth $71,169.10

            Oct. 7 – $225,916–20 winning tickets, each worth $6,104.70

            Oct. 8 – $292,278–5 winning tickets, each worth $31,227.30

            Should no one “hit the Jackpot” by holding a single winning ticket for the remainder of the Autumn Meet, there will be a mandatory payout on closing day, Sunday, Nov. 4.



Santa Anita’s popular “Friday Happy Hour,” which features two dollar draft beers and half price on signature cocktails such as the “Baldwin Buck,” will again be in effect today and every Friday at The Great Race Place. Santa Anita’s signature cocktails are made with Woodford Reserve, the official bourbon of Santa Anita Park.

Ice cold draft Budweiser and Montejo Pale Lager will also be available until the last race is official on all Fridays at Sirona’s Sports Bar, the Club House Bar across from the sandwich carving station on the main floor, and the Horseshoe Bar on the track’s Mezzanine level.

While these draft beers will be available for two dollars, signature cocktails will be sold for just six dollars each Friday through Nov. 2.

“We feel this provides great value for everyone and along with free parking and admission on weekdays, it’s a compelling way to bring in new fans and take care of our core customers as well,” said Nate Newby, Santa Anita Vice President, Marketing. “We’re offering a great many promotions now on the weekends that are attracting a much younger demographic and there’s also no question there’s room to grow our business on weekdays.”

For more information on “Happy Hour” and other promotions, please visit or call (626) 574-RACE.

FINISH LINES: Champion Abel Tasman (video), recovered from recent illness attributed to her lackluster fifth-place finish in the Zenyatta Stakes Sept. 30, worked six furlongs Friday in company with Zenyatta winner and stablemate Vale Dori, each clocked in 1:00.20. Joe Talamo was aboard Abel Tasman, while Drayden Van Dyke rode Vale Dori. “Both went very well,” said Bob Baffert, pointing each to the Breeders’ Cup Distaff on Nov. 3. “Whatever Abel had, she’s over it. She’s back and I’m very happy with her.” Baffert also sent Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint contender Dream Tree (video) five furlongs in a bullet 59.40, fastest of 48 drills at the distance, while Doug O’Neill had Classic outsider Pavel (video) work six furlongs in 1:14.80 and Paddy Gallagher supervised a three furlong blowout for Distaff longshot La Force (video) in 37 flat . . . Agent Mike Ciani has Kent Desormeaux booked to ride Del Mar Oaks winner Fatale Bere for Leonard Powell in Saturday’s Grade I Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup for three-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles on turf at Keeneland. The French-bred bay drew post three in a field of eight in the invitational event . . . Richard Mandella reports multiple Grade I winner Paradise Woods “is still turned out but probably will start back in a few weeks.” . . . Agent Matt Nakatani will represent Laurel invader Angel Cruz who will begin riding at Santa Anita shortly . . . Toby Turrell, clocker and publisher Winners Card, will be Tom Quigley‘s handicapping guest Saturday, 11:20 a.m., in the East Paddock Gardens.


Caribou Club

Game Winner

Splashy Kisses


Doug O’Neill talks Sold It, in on Sunday

Phil D’Amato talks Thalia, in on Saturday

Bob Baffert on Chasing Yesterday, in Sunday’s Anoakia Stakes

Bob Baffert on Cruel Intention, in on Saturday

(Current Through Monday, Oct. 8)
Jockey Mts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% ITM% Money Won
Flavien Prat 48 11 12 6 23% 60% $940,426
Drayden Van Dyke 30 6 6 5 20% 57% $473,475
Assael Espinoza 46 6 5 0 13% 24% $162,880
Mike Smith 13 5 3 1 38% 69% $253,415
Tiago Pereira 30 5 1 6 17% 40% $221,769
Rafael Bejarano 35 4 5 6 11% 43% $219,388
Gary Stevens 19 4 2 4 21% 53% $322,466
Heriberto Figueroa 19 4 0 3 21% 37% $87,385
Tyler Baze 42 3 4 7 7% 33% $247,275
Joseph Talamo 28 3 3 6 11% 43% $342,245
Kent Desormeaux 24 3 3 1 13% 29% $143,335
Joel Rosario 9 3 2 0 33% 56% $514,695
Geovanni Franco 32 3 1 7 9% 34% $171,976
Alonso Quinonez 18 3 1 1 17% 28% $54,095
Trainer Mts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% ITM% Money Won
Jerry Hollendorfer 33 7 3 3 21% 39% $520,215
Peter Miller 27 6 8 4 22% 67% $532,626
Doug O’Neill 26 4 4 4 15% 46% $251,523
Michael McCarthy 17 4 4 2 24% 59% $350,590
Bob Baffert 14 4 2 1 29% 50% $540,710
Richard Baltas 29 3 6 3 10% 41% $218,285
Philip D’Amato 21 3 1 3 14% 33% $200,605
Simon Callaghan 9 3 1 0 33% 44% $268,825
J. Keith Desormeaux 13 3 1 0 23% 31% $87,725
Peter Eurton 10 2 3 1 20% 60% $102,590
Mike Puype 10 2 2 0 20% 40% $47,100
George Papaprodromou 7 2 1 1 29% 57% $38,205
Jack Carava 11 2 1 1 18% 36% $57,540
Brian Koriner 8 2 0 2 25% 50% $100,710
Neil Drysdale 5 2 0 1 40% 60% $55,125