OMAHA BEACH FIRES BULLET FOR SPRINT CHAMPIONSHIP
SECRET SPICE IS SET FOR SUNDAY’S ZENYATTA STAKES
NBC SPORTS BROADCASTS GRADED STAKES SATURDAY
FOX SPORTS SHOW TO INCLUDE THE ZENYATTA STAKES
ODDS ARE JON WHITE’S IS BACK FOR THE MORNING LINE
McKINZIE’S FULL SISTER WORKS TOWARDS HER DEBUT
OMAHA BEACH ‘COULDN’T LOOK BETTER’ IN COMEBACK BREEZE
Omaha Beach, who has had more false starts in his comeback bid than an Olympic
sprinter, worked four furlongs at 7:45 Friday morning for his much-anticipated return to the races in the Grade I, Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Santa Anita Sprint Championship at six furlongs next Saturday, Oct. 5.
With regular rider Mike Smith up, Omaha Beach went four furlongs in company in a bullet 46.80 “in hand,” according to clockers, while stablemate Magic Rate was timed in 48.60.
It was the fastest of 32 drills at the distance by almost three seconds, as the average time was 49.66.
“Real sharp” is how Richard Mandella described the move. “I had him going the half in 46 flat. He went five-eighths but it was more of a sharp half and kind of out in five-eighths. He went in company, but he caught four others that were in front of him.
“When he broke off, there was a bunch of them quite a ways in front of him and he caught all of them. He couldn’t look better in my eyes.”
Omaha Beach, a three-year-old son of War Front owned by Rick Porter’s Fox Hill Farm, was the pre-race favorite for the May 4 Kentucky Derby but missed the first jewel of the Triple Crown when an entrapped epiglottis the week of the race required surgery.
He had been scheduled to return in tomorrow’s Grade III Ack Ack at Churchill Downs, but a bollixed workout last Friday caused Mandella to change plans and stay home.
‘RELAXED’ SECRET SPICE SET FOR SUNDAY’S ZENYATTA
Secret Spice is coming off two seconds and a victory in her last three races, all Grade I events, and Richard Baltas is hoping the worthwhile trend continues Sunday in the Grade II Zenyatta Stakes, a $200,000 Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Challenge Race giving the winner a fees-paid berth to the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Longines Distaff on Nov. 2.
“She was a late-developing filly that we got to relax and stretch out; that was key,” Baltas said of the four-year-old daughter of Discreet Cat bred in Kentucky. “That’s why she got really good. She’s out of an A.P. Indy mare (Chimayo).
“She’s continued to train well. She’s run bang-up races and her final breeze was easy (49.20 Monday under Flavien Prat). She’s really relaxed right now and very happy, so we’ll see what happens.”
Baltas, who prides himself in operating a diversified racing stable, has 50 head on hand at Santa Anita.
The field for the Zenyatta, race five of eight: Secret Spice, Flavien Prat, 8-5; Mongolian Humor, Norberto Arroyo Jr., 12-1; Paradise Woods, Abel Cedillo, 5-2; Ollie’s Candy, Kent Desormeaux, 9-5; La Force, Drayden Van Dyke, 5-1; and Kaydetre, Martin Garcia, 20-1.
NBC SPORTS TO BROADCAST ‘BC CHALLENGE SERIES’ ON SATURDAY
NBC Sports’ “Breeders Cup Challenge Series” will include four live Santa Anita races on Saturday, including the Grade II, $200,000 John Henry Turf Championship (3:38 p.m.), the Grade I, $300,000 Rodeo Drive Stakes (4:41 p.m.) and the Grade I, $300,000 Awesome Again (5:13 p.m.). Laffit Pincay, III, Randy Moss, Britney Eurton, Nick Luck and Matt Bernier will serve as on-air talent.
ZENYATTA STAKES TO BE SHOWN LIVE ON FOX SPORTS THIS SUNDAY
This Sunday’s Grade II Zenyatta Stakes will be shown live on Fox Sports as a part of its “America’s Day at the Races” show, which airs from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. PT.
A Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Challenge Race qualifier to the $2 million Distaff, to be contested Nov. 2 at Santa Anita, the Zenyatta will be run at approximately 3:05 p.m. PT.
Michelle Yu will provide on-site analysis and reporting and the broadcast will also feature live coverage of several stakes from Belmont Park, including the Grade I Jockey Club Gold Cup and the Grade I Vosburgh Stakes, as well as closing-day Fall Meet coverage from Churchill Downs.
WHITE RETURNS FOR 11TH SEASON AS SANTA ANITA’S ACE MORNING LINE MAKER
An unmistakable treasure on the American racing landscape, the indefatigable Jon White is back for his 11th year as Santa Anita’s highly respected morning line maker as the track begins its 23-day Autumn Meet today.
A proud native of Spokane, WA, White’s affinity for horse racing traces back to trips with his late father to tracks such as Playfair in Spokane and Yakima Meadows, where his dad worked in their pari-mutuel departments.
Upon graduating from Lewis and Clark High School in Spokane (“ESPN’s Neil Everett went there, too”), White soon set about a career in racing that has seen him cast in a myriad of roles in a number of different states. (White also points out he attended Eastern Washington University, where the LA Rams’ Cooper Kupp and Fox Sports’ Colin Cowherd also attended).
“I’ve been in racing 45 years and involved in many different aspects,” said White, married to popular racing writer Tracy Gantz, whose stories appear in Blood-Horse Magazine and The California Thoroughbred published by the CTBA. “I started in 1974 as a chart-caller and columnist with Daily Racing Form at Northwest tracks and got promoted in 1981 to reporter-columnist at Santa Anita and the other Southern California tracks.
“Racing during that period of time was incredible, as were the jockeys and trainers I dealt with on a daily basis. In 1986, they assigned me to be the DRF chart-caller and I worked on this circuit in that positon until 1993.”
In addition to his print career at Daily Racing Form and as a free-lancer for several industry publications, White has also toiled as a racing steward in various locales–Yakima Meadows (1979), and Les Bois Park in Boise, Idaho (1990s) and has been a licensed CHRB steward since 2010. One of his most recent CHRB assignments put him in the stewards’ stand at this year’s Los Alamitos Summer Thoroughbred meet in July.
Following the 1993 Del Mar meeting, White hired on with the newly created HRTV, working as an on-air racing personality for some 20 years until taking his current position as Santa Anita’s morning line maker.
With a soft-spoken, low-key demeanor that belies an intense passion for racing, White’s historical perspective and broad-based knowledge are legendary in racing circles. Following is a question and answer session with White, who will also be making the official morning line for this year’s two-day Breeders’ Cup World Championships on Nov. 1 and 2.
Q Who’s your all-time favorite horse?
A No question, it’s (Washington-bred) Turbulator.He didn’t race as a two-year-old because he became so ill he very nearly died. He didn’t race as a three-year-old because he severely injured a knee on a farm. His breeder, owner and trainer, Tom Crawford, then tried to trade the horse for two cows. But due to the injured knee, the swap didn’t take place.
Turbulator finally did make it to the races as a four-year-old in 1969. He lost his first three starts, but then won seven straight in just nine weeks, from six furlongs to two miles at Playfair. In 1970, Turbulator broke three track records, one of those a world record. In another of his 1970 victories, he carried 134 pounds. A huge fan favorite, there were Turbulator T-shirts, coffee mugs, campaign buttons and refrigerator magnets, all items I possess to this day, along with two of the shoes he wore when he broke the world record for 6 ½ furlongs.
Q Favorite all-time jockey?
A Laffit Pincay, Jr., although Bill Shoemaker, Gary Stevens, Eddie Delahoussaye and Joe Baze, Russell’s father, certainly rank right up there. I’ve said many times that if I ever needed a horse to win a race or I would die, I would pick Laffit to ride the horse. On the last day I was ever at Longacres, in a prime example of Laffit’s sheer strength on horseback, he won the 1986 Longacres Mile by a neck on Skywalker. I flew back to LA on the plane with Skywalker and his trainer, Michael Whittingham. Skywalker would go on to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic later that year with Pincay aboard.
Q Favorite all-time trainer?
A It’s a dead-heat between Charlie Whittingham and Laz Barrera. I was very lucky to get to know them both quite well. They were incredible horsemen and wonderful people. I miss them a lot.
Q Favorite all-time race?
A It’s another dead-heat, this time Secretariat’s spectacular 31-length Belmont Stakes victory to sweep the Triple Crown in 1973 and Zenyatta’s sensational win in the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita, which I saw in person . . . As I stood in the mass of humanity during Zenyatta’s furious late charge to become the first female Thoroughbred to ever win the Classic, I was so overcome with emotion that I had tears in my eyes.
Q You’ve had so many great moments in racing, I know Justify’s Kentucky Derby win last year ranks way up there.
A As we all know, Justify didn’t make it to the races until Feb. 18 here at Santa Anita. I managed to get a $100 future book wager on him at 100-1 to win the Kentucky Derby, so that was pretty incredible. But my biggest score was hitting a Pick Six at Santa Anita that paid $45,981. It was on Dec. 28, 2003, and I did it on a $120 ticket.
Q If you retired tomorrow, what would you do for kicks?
A I honestly don’t know. My feeling is I will cross that bridge when I get to it.
White, who has also penned a weekly racing column for Xpressbet.com since 2004, will be making the official Breeders’ Cup morning line for the sixth time this Nov. 1 and 2.
FINISH LINES: Saturday’s Late Pick 4 pool will be guaranteed at $500,000 . . . Map Maker, an unraced full sister to multiple Grade I winner McKinzie, breezed six furlongs from the gate Friday morning under Drayden Van Dyke for Bob Baffert. Working in company, Map Maker was clocked in 1:14.40, while stablemate Technicolor was timed in 1:01.60 for five furlongs. Map Maker is a two-year-old gray daughter of Liam’s Map out of Runway Model bred in Kentucky by Summer Wind Equine . . . Toby Turrell, clocker and publisher of The Yellow Sheet, will be Tom Quigley‘s guest Saturday at 11:50 a.m. in the XBTV studios.
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