- BOLT, McKINZIE REMATCH IN SANTA ANITA DERBY
- KTLA MORNING NEWS AT SANTA ANITA THURSDAY
- A HAPPY ENDING FOR OLD GELDING LITTLE JERRY
- APRIL 8 TELETHON TO BENEFIT DISABLED JOCKEYS
LITTLE DEGREE OF SEPARATION BETWEEN BOLT AND McKINZIE
A rematch of mythic proportions could be in the offing next Saturday when Bolt d’Oro and McKinzie are scheduled to do battle in the $1 million, Grade I Santa Anita Derby.
The three-year-old colts, leading contenders for the Kentucky Derby on May 5, ran the gauntlet for nearly a quarter mile in the San Felipe Stakes on March 10, McKinzie crossing the wire a head in front only to be disqualified to second for bumping incidents in the stretch.
Now ranked first and second nationally in two weekly polls of three-year-olds, and owners of identical Beyer Figures of 101 among three-year-olds male or female, there appears to be but a modicum of difference between Bolt d’Oro and McKinzie.
Private clocker Andy Harrington concurs.
“There’s not much that separates these two horses,” said Harrington, 54, now approaching three decades as one of the most respected men in his profession. “McKinzie added blinkers for his most recent work (five furlongs in 59.40 last Monday) and was more into the bit, and really galloped out well. I think he’ll be ridden more aggressively (by Mike Smith in the Santa Anita Derby).
“The last drill by Bolt (four furlongs Monday in 47 flat) was terrific. He did the same thing he was doing going into the San Felipe, which was running down a workmate and drawing clear. He’s bounced back well.
“I can’t imagine those two not running around the track together in the Santa Anita Derby, at least certainly in the lane. They’re far ahead of any other three-year-olds that might be running in the race.”
As to which horse is better, the jury is still out.
“McKinzie was cranked up almost 100 percent for the San Felipe, and Bolt was about 90, and he still almost won on the square,” Harrington said. “Bolt has been underestimated, if you can say that about a horse of his caliber, because Bob Baffert has the top two guys out here in McKinzie and Justify.
“I was stunned that McKinzie didn’t pull away from Bolt in the San Felipe, because I really didn’t think Bolt was 100 percent cranked up for the race . . . I can’t really separate the two, although I think Bolt’s got more fortitude, more in him.
“I was very impressed with McKinzie in the San Felipe after he was hooked and bounced around at the 3/16 pole and then came back on, because sometimes he’s slightly timid, but that didn’t happen in the San Felipe because he had trained so well. I think putting blinkers back on might make him a bit more aggressive.
“That being said, I can’t imagine them being more than a length apart at the wire (in the Santa Anita Derby), although I do think McKinzie will be ridden from the bell and they’ll have to run him down. They’ll have to catch him.
“I don’t expect either horse to have a fast final work, just something easy.
“To me, there’s not a sliver of difference between the two of them.”
Bolt d’ Oro and McKinzie are scheduled to have their final major breezes Monday for the 81st edition of the Santa Anita Derby, a race Baffert has won a record seven times.
Lecomte Stakes winner Instilled Regard, who will be ridden by Joel Rosario in the Santa Anita Derby, will have his last serious drill for the race at 6:45 Saturday morning under exercise rider Edgar Rodriguez, said Dan Ward, assistant to Jerry Hollendorfer.
The Santa Anita Derby at 1 1/8 miles awards 100 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the winner, 40 to the runner-up, 20 for third and 10 for fourth.
KTLA MORNING NEWS AT SANTA ANITA NEXT THURSDAY
With the Grade I, $1 million Santa Anita Derby looming a week from tomorrow, the popular KTLA Morning News will be at Santa Anita next Thursday for a full morning of Derby Doings, including mingling with top jockeys and trainers to cutting edge Derby fare.
Beginning in the 5 a.m. hour and through up until 10 a.m., KTLA will be doing live, remote broadcast segments from Clockers’ Corner and Santa Anita’s Paddock Gardens area.
Among those scheduled to appear on Channel 5 are the Voice of Santa Anita, Michael Wrona, legendary Hall of Fame jockey Laffit Pincay Jr. (winner of the Santa Anita Derby seven times), and Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, winner of a record seven Santa Anita Derbies himself, who will be sending out top contender McKinzie in America’s most important Kentucky Derby steppingstone.
OLD GELDING LITTLE JERRY ENJOYS THE LAST LAUGH
Little Jerry, the horse named for a Seinfeld episode, was thought to be more serious than a sitcom when he began his career six years ago, winning at first asking and fueling visions of the Kentucky Derby.
But 47 races later, at the age of eight, a Run for the Roses long since dashed, the old gelding was rescued from an outpost of mainstream racing by a caring owner with the best interests of the horse at heart.
Little Jerry, a son of Candy Ride, won his debut at two, going a mile and a sixteenth over Hollywood Park’s Cushion Track on Nov. 18, 2012. Forty-six races on nine different race tracks from coast to coast later, one of his original owners claimed him at Finger Lakes in upstate New York, not far from Saratoga where the big boys play, and brought him home to California.
“I love the horses, but the backside game is hard for me sometimes,” said Jerry Fialkowski, one of Little Jerry’s original owners, who has Richard Baltas as his trainer. “I’m very patient, and that’s why I respect Richard so much.
“He takes his time with the horses, he’s an honest trainer and he let’s the horses tell him when they’re ready to run. I don’t push it. The pursuit of money in this game just drives me crazy, and I’m pretty blessed.”
“The Little Jerry,” named for a rooster on the 145th episode of Seinfeld, still running in perpetuity almost three decades after its debut, was pronounced “Yittle Jerry” by a character named Marcelino who had an accent on that particular show, which happened to air again last night on TBS.
“Yittle Jerry” winds up in a cock fight, losing to an undefeated bird from Ecuador who’s 68 and oh.
Kramer, Seinfeld’s wacky neighbor, thought Little Jerry was a chicken when he bought it, but after Jerry explained to him it was a rooster, Kramer said, “That would explain his poor egg production,” while quizzically eyeing the bird’s derriere.
Little Jerry the horse was claimed on four occasions, the last time by Fialkowski for $5,000 at Finger Lakes on Sept. 23, 2017.
“I said when the horse drops down, I’m going to get him out of racing and let him enjoy life,” said the 59-year-old Fialkowski, who made his bones in the aerospace industry and partnered with Jason Tackitt to campaign as Jaam Racing. It was Tackitt who named the Kentucky-bred bay Little Jerry.
“I watched the horse go down the claiming ladder,” Fialkowski said. “I didn’t want to have somebody ruin him. I decided I’d rather take him off the racing circuit and I did.”
The owners turned down an offer well into six figures for Little Jerry early on. Hopes of running in the Kentucky Derby long since but a memory, he would go on to win eight races, with five seconds and two thirds, earning $354,504.
Little Jerry now is winding down at Hunter Hill Farms in Hemet, California.
“He’s resting there and it’s costing me a thousand dollars a month,” Fialkowski said, “but I don’t care if it’s $10,000 a month.
“We’re going to let the horse be a horse.”
TELETHON ON TVG APRIL 8 TO BENEFIT PDJF
On Sunday, April 8, the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF) will air its first telethon live on the TVG Network in association with Betfair. America’s racing community will join together to support the dedicated efforts of the PDJF, which provides benefits each month to nearly 60 former riders who have suffered catastrophic on-track injuries.
Superstar guest jockeys of today and yesterday will field calls from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pacific Time. Viewers can call 1-800-TVG-PDJF to say hello and make a donation to support the PDJF. Expected to participate are active Hall of Fame jockeys Mike Smith, John Velazquez and Javier Castellano, as well as retired Hall of Famers Pat Day, Chris McCarron and Ramon Dominguez. Plus renowned Quarter Horse jockeys Cody Jensen and Eddie Garcia.
The PDJF is a 501(c)(3) public charity that provides financial assistance to former jockeys who have suffered on-track injuries. Since its creation in 2006, nearly $9 million has been distributed for disabled jockeys, most of whom have sustained paralysis or brain injuries. With no guaranteed source of funding, the PDJF is 100% reliant on donations.
“We are excited to be working with the Jockeys’ Guild to raise money and awareness for this important cause,” said Kip Levin, CEO of TVG. “The recent death of Jose Flores is a tragic reminder of risks jockeys take each time someone gives them a leg up. We hope our telethon will help the PDJF continue its critical mission to provide care and resources for injured riders.”
“We appreciate the support of TVG and are excited to help raise funds for the PDJF through the telethon. Many jockeys will take part by answering the phones when fans call in to make a donation. The PDJF has no dedicated funding from the industry, so the telethon will help provide monthly monetary assistance to the riders who have suffered catastrophic on-track injuries,” said Terry Meyocks, National Manager of the Jockeys’ Guild.
“On behalf of the PDJF Board of Directors, we are grateful to have this opportunity to put the needs of the PDJF recipients on a national stage,” said Nancy LaSala, President of the PDJF. “We want to thank those who have supported us in the past and continue to support us today, and we welcome the opportunity to work with all of our industry partners.”
FINISH LINES: Families can enjoy Easter Sunday at Santa Anita with a Turf Terrace Brunch and an Infield Easter egg hunt. Admission gates open at 10 a.m., with first post time at 11:30 a.m. For more info, visit santaanita.com/events . . . A Celebration of Life for Mark North will be held 1 p.m. Saturday in Santa Anita’s Directors’ Room. Former jockey agent North died at the age of 49 March 21 after battling lung disease . . . There is a single ticket Pick Six carryover today of $156,063 . . . Patrons can now enjoy Asian fare featuring Dim Sum in Santa Anita’s Paddock Room Wednesday through Sunday . . . Kudos to Track Superintendent Dennis Moore from trainer David Bernstein, who said, “The main track is in very good shape, and it’s hard to please everybody unless you’re giving away chocolates.” . . . A reminder, undefeated Middleweight Champion Gennady “GGG” Golokovin will be on hand Santa Anita Derby Day. The indefatigable Kazakhstan native, who will turn 36 on Sunday, April 8, will be honored with a birthday cake early in the card and will present the trophy for the Santa Anita Derby later in the day.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Thursday, March 29)|
|Drayden Van Dyke||149||32||18||16||21%||44%||$1,984,752|
|William E. Morey||38||11||2||11||29%||63%||$449,683|