Val Brinkerhoff is one of the faceless trainers who drives the game.

Light years from being in a league with the Bafferts, Browns and Pletchers, pound for pound, the 61-year-old Brinkerhoff nonetheless has one of the most successful mom and pop operations in the land.

Horsemen and horse players alike have taken notice since this lean and lanky version of John Wayne, cowboy hat and all, brought in a dozen horses from his native Utah, winning with two from just 16 starters at Santa Anita’s recently concluded Winter Meet.

“It’s really tough on this circuit,” Brinkerhoff said, “but I came to California because it gives me an opportunity to improve my barn. I’ve got some owners now who are enabling me to get better horses.”

One such gentleman is Bobby Wayne Grayson, a trainer in his own right. “We went to Keeneland and bought some colts,” said Brinkerhoff, a former jockey who rode for 30 years including the hinterlands of Montana and Utah, and who gallops all his own horses.

“I just got back from the Ocala Sales and will go back for the next one there. We’re trying to get a better brand of horses. I’ve got my own training center in St. George, Utah, where we start our babies out.

“It has a three-quarter mile track with an eight-horse starting gate and a certified clocker and everything. We can do a lot better training up there since the traffic is lighter in the mornings than here. We spend more time with them and get them better-schooled.”

By the time his young horses get to Santa Anita, “they know what they’re doing,” Brinkerhoff said. “I’ve got them all gate-schooled and when they come here they’re pretty much ready to run.”



Jockey Jose Ferrer, a mainstay on the eastern seaboard dating back to 1982, will be at Santa Anita tomorrow to receive the 2018 George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award in a Winner’s Circle ceremony after the fourth race.

Ferrer, 54, outpolled fellow riders Alex Birzer, Javier Castellano, Rodney Prescott and Joe Talamo in winning the 69th Woolf Award, which was instituted by Santa Anita in 1950 to honor riders whose careers and personal character bring credit not only to themselves, but to the sport of Thoroughbred racing.

Born March 31, 1964, Ferrer is a proponent of the power of positive thinking and views each day as a God-given opportunity to contribute to a sport that has provided him a magnificent career. With more than 4,200 wins to his credit, Ferrer is currently based at Tampa Bay Downs. Second in the rider standings this past summer at Monmouth Park, Ferrer has rebounded from serious injuries sustained in a spill at Delaware Park last September.

The 2018 Woolf Award Trophy is a replica of the life-sized statue that adorns Santa Anita’s Paddock Gardens area. The Woolf Award memorializes one of the greatest “big money” riders of all time, George Woolf, who died the morning after a spill on Santa Anita’s Club House turn on Jan. 3, 1946.



Santa Anita will present a Pancake Breakfast fundraiser for popular exercise rider Adrian Valenzuela next Thursday, April 19, 10 a.m. at Clockers’ Corner. The 21-year-old son of trainer Martin Valenzuela Jr., Adrian sustained a spinal cord injury during training hours on March 31.

In partnership with the entire Southern California racetrack community, Santa Anita will also be conducting a charity raffle and silent auction, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to support Adrian and his family

Tickets to the breakfast, a $10 donation, are available at Clockers’ Corner, Santa Anita’s track kitchen, the Santa Anita Racing Office, Los Alamitos, and San Luis Rey Downs. Tickets will also be available the morning of the event.

Santa Anita will donate a “VIP Suite Day at the Races” package to be redeemed during the remainder of the 2018 Winter/Spring Meeting (through June 24) or during the 2018 Autumn Meeting. Valued at $3,500, the package will include a private suite for up to 20 guests, Club House admission, complimentary valet parking passes and hosted food throughout the day. (Alcoholic beverages not included). The fulfillment date is based on availability and does not include select premium dates, including May 5 (Kentucky Derby), May 19 (Preakness), June 9 (Belmont) and closing day (June 24). Bidding will begin at $1,000.

Also courtesy of Santa Anita will be a pair of pristine gloves valued at $600 signed by International Boxing Organization Champion Middleweight title holder, Gennady Gennadyevich Golovkin. “Triple G,” or “GGG” as he is better known, was on hand April 7 to present the trophy to the Santa Anita Derby winner and was also proud owner of winning tickets in the same race.

“Triple G” currently holds the International Boxing Organization World Middleweight Title, the World Boxing Association Super World Middleweight Title, the World Boxing Council World Middleweight Title, and the International Boxing Federation World Middleweight Title. Bidding will begin at $250.

Del Mar Thoroughbred Club will offer a “VIP Day at the Races” package valued at $2,000, and include private finish line seating for eight guests in the Directors’ Room (a private dining room located on the fifth floor of the Club House), Turf Club Admission, complimentary valet parking passes and hosted food and beverage during the 2018 Summer Meeting (July 18-Sept. 3). The fulfillment date is based on availability and may not be used on Opening Day (July 18) or Pacific Classic Day (Aug. 18). Bidding will begin at $400.

Raffle tickets, also sold in advance, will be $5 each, with five tickets for $20. Silent auction and raffle ticket items are currently being sought. To donate or for more information, please contact Ami Atkinson in the Santa Anita Racing Office at (626) 574-6471 or visit



            Eclipse Award winning sports journalist William Nack, a native of Chicago and a longtime stalwart with Sports Illustrated, died Friday following a lengthy battle with cancer at age 77.

A tremendously talented writer with a keen intellect, Nack chronicled the career of the immortal Secretariat while employed at Newsday. A man blessed with an incredible power of recall, he could recite Kentucky Derby winners from the turn of the 20th century through the present day, chapter and verse, without breaking a verbal sweat.

A winner of six media Eclipse Awards for outstanding magazine writing, Nack’s resume also included the 1992 Walter Haight Award, presented by the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters for career excellence and in 2017, he received ESPN’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Literary Sports writing.


FINISH LINES: Favorites won at a similar percentage be it on turf or dirt at Santa Anita’s Winter Meet that concluded last Sunday. Overall, favorites won at a 35.69 clip (187 out of 524 races); on the main track at 35.92 percent (125 out of 348); and on turf at 35.23 percent (62 of 176). Odds-on favorites won 67 of 112 races, 59.82 percent . . . Kent Desormeaux, Victor Espinoza and Drayden Van Dyke all have stakes engagements at Keeneland today, while Flavien Prat rides Solomini for Bob Baffert in the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park . . . Male Grass Horse of the Meet Itsinthepost worked five furlongs on the main track Saturday morning in 1:01 for Jeff Mullins, while Skye Diamonds, third in the Grade II Santa Monica Stakes for Bill Spawr, went four furlongs on the training track in a bullet 48.80 . . . Javier Castellano has been suspended three days (April 15, 20 and 21) for causing interference on Accountability in last Saturday’s seventh race . . . Mario Gutierrez has been banned four days (April 15, 20, 21 and 22) for causing interference on Stone Hands in last Saturday’s eighth race.


FINAL SANTA ANITA WINTER MEET STATISTICS Dec. 26, 2017 through April 8, 2018        
Jockey Standings
Jockey Mts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% ITM% Money Won
Evin Roman 321 46 50 52 14% 46% $1,678,114
Flavien Prat 238 45 47 33 19% 53% $2,558,691
Drayden Van Dyke 180 38 23 22 21% 46% $2,304,504
Tyler Baze 299 35 48 43 12% 42% $2,406,474
Kent Desormeaux 167 34 18 22 20% 44% $1,760,816
Joseph Talamo 223 33 26 34 15% 42% $1,572,904
Rafael Bejarano 181 29 20 33 16% 45% $1,254,076
Geovanni Franco 186 28 24 24 15% 41% $1,358,762
Mike Smith 88 21 15 9 24% 51% $2,727,618
Tyler Conner 142 20 10 18 14% 34% $664,809
Stewart Elliott 175 19 16 16 11% 29% $741,557
Rajiv Maragh 171 18 22 18 11% 34% $922,942
Corey Nakatani 112 18 21 13 16% 46% $1,425,648
Tiago Pereira 179 17 26 23 9% 37% $829,945
Trainer Mts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% ITM% Money Won
Bob Baffert 116 37 19 14 32% 60% $2,798,258
Peter Miller 143 30 33 19 21% 57% $1,611,009
Richard Baltas 177 30 27 19 17% 43% $1,645,277
Philip D’Amato 142 21 26 20 15% 47% $1,800,550
Jerry Hollendorfer 137 20 16 20 15% 41% $1,231,568
Vladimir Cerin 76 19 14 7 25% 53% $544,815
Doug O’Neill 149 18 23 19 12% 40% $1,097,777
John Sadler 136 17 17 21 13% 40% $1,570,028
Mark Glatt 91 13 13 13 14% 43% $587,120
William E. Morey 40 11 3 12 28% 65% $464,483
Robert Hess, Jr. 75 10 11 7 13% 37% $367,931
J. Keith Desormeaux 49 10 7 9 20% 53% $357,684