TRIPLE CROWN TRAIL STARTS WITH THE SHAM STAKES
LOVELY LILIA ELEVATES INTO GRADE II STAKES LEVEL
TRAINER HOPES TRIBALIST AVOIDS ‘HEAP’ OF TROUBLE
MATHIS BROTHERS, CARMA PROVE SUCCESSFUL UNION
TRAINER GARY SHERLOCK PASSES AWAY AT AGE OF 73
OMAHA BEACH ARRIVES AT GULFSTREAM FOR PEGASUS
SHAM STAKES ATTRACTS EARLY DERBY HOPEFULS
The road to the 2020 Triple Crown begins Saturday at Santa Anita with the running of the Grade III Sham Stakes, a mile test for youngsters that just turned three today offering 10 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the winner, four to the runner-up, two to the third-place finisher and one to the fourth.
Richard Baltas has two entered, Stackin Silver and Taishan, each making his stakes debut going for the $60,000 winner’s share from a guaranteed purse of $100,000.
“I’m not concerned that Taishan is stepping up,” Baltas said of the bay son of Twirling Candy, who broke his maiden going a mile at Santa Anita on Nov. 3 for owners Calvin Nguyen and Joey Tran. “It was his first time going long and he won and got a good number (81 Beyer).”
“He’s trained really well since then, he’s had a bunch of time between races and I think he’ll give a good account of himself.”
Stackin Silver comes off a 5 ¼-length maiden win against $50,000 claimers going a mile at Del Mar last Nov. 15. The son of Union Rags owned by Slam Dunk Racing, Jerry McClanahan and Michael Nentwig retains the services of Abel Cedillo, who rode him in his two previous starts.
Honor A.P., who would have been one of the Sham favorites, if not the favorite based on his 5 ¼-length maiden win at a mile here last Oct. 13, will miss the race.
“He galloped well, then when he came back from his schooling he was off in his right front,” trainer John Shirreffs explained. “X-rays were OK so we’ll just have to wait and see.”
LOVELY LILIA CLIMBS THE LADDER INTO STAKES COMPANY
Lovely Lilia, an improving daughter of 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom, makes her stakes debut Sunday in the Grade II, $200,000 Santa Ynez Stakes for three-year-old fillies at seven furlongs.
“She is taking a major step up in company here, but she keeps moving forward in her training, so it’s worth taking a chance,” said Phil D’Amato, who trains the chestnut filly for owner/breeder John Liviakis.
After finishing a distant ninth in her debut, a five furlong turf dash at Del Mar last Aug. 24, Lovely Lilia broke her maiden by 15 ½ lengths running in a $30,000 claimer at Santa Anita last Sept. 27, then returned in an overnight race Nov. 24 and won by a half-length under Abel Cedillo, who is back aboard in the Santa Ynez.
VENERABLE TRIBALIST IN UPGRADED HERNANDEZ
Blake Heap, who sends out Tribalist in today’s recently upgraded Joe Hernandez Stakes, hopes the old warhorse gives the trainer a present as a nine-year-old.
“He’s doing really well,” Heap said of the California-bred son of Tribal Rule. “He got away bad last time (bobbling at the start of the California Flag Handicap on Oct. 19, finishing fifth as the 11-10 favorite but beaten only two lengths).
“He kind of stumbled, and you can’t be behind and let good horses go in :22 and two, be behind by eight (lengths) and think you’re going to beat them going 5 ½ (furlongs).
“He drew the inside in this race so the break is going to mean everything.”
The Joe Hernandez, race eight of 10: Tribalist, Ruben Fuentes; Double Tough, Victor Espinoza; Grinning Tiger, Jose Valdivia Jr.; Texas Wedge, Flavien Prat; True Valour, Drayden Van Dyke; Captain Scotty, Joel Rosario; Legends of War, Abel Cedillo; Blitzkrieg, Rafael Bejarano; Carnivorous, Mario Gutierrez; and Bay Muzik, Tyler Baze.
Oiseau de Guerre was scratched.
NEARLY $13,000 DONATED TO CARMA THROUGH MATHIS BROTHERS
Ask any one of the 35,085 on-track fans and hundreds of thousands watching on television around North America, and one word comes to mind regarding Santa Anita’s Opening Day on Saturday–spectacular. Along with stunning views of the snow-capped San Gabriel Mountains and spectacular world class racing, Santa Anita and its official Thoroughbred aftercare charity, the California Retirement Management Account (CARMA), joined forces with Mathis Brothers Furniture to help raise awareness and money in order to care for racing’s retired Thoroughbreds.
Courtesy of Mathis Brothers, who supplied Santa Anita with 1,000 plush racehorses, nearly $13,000 was raised through the generous donations of racing fans in support of Thoroughbred Aftercare.
“We are so delighted to have been a part of this year’s Opening Day at Santa Anita and to raise money for such a worthy cause,” said Bill Mathis, President, Mathis Brothers Furniture. “There is no greater cause in racing today than Thoroughbred Aftercare and we’d like to thank Santa Anita, CARMA and the many fans who donated on Saturday. We are proud to be a part of this effort and we salute Santa Anita and CARMA for the good work they are doing.”
“We were blown away by the success of this fundraiser,” said CARMA President Candace Coder Chew. “One hundred percent of the funds raised will go directly toward providing care for the horses supported by our programs and we are incredibly thankful to Mathis Brothers, Santa Anita and to the racing fans for their generosity.”
Men, women and children of all ages were lined up from 9:30 am until supplies ran out around 2:00 pm. The large grey super soft plushies were a coveted item around the track – being scooped by multiple Santa Anita jocks to give to their kids and trainers on their way to and from the paddock to saddle horses.
“Once we were out of the plushies, people were emptying their pockets just to support retired racehorses,” said Natalie Rietkerk, CARMA Program Manager. “A good number of attendees knew about CARMA, and what we do, but it was great having face time with those who had no idea programs such as ours exist within the racing industry and all the efforts being made to ensure these horses are retired responsibly and safely.”
While the Mathis Brothers plush horse fundraiser has crossed the finish line, donations to CARMA are gratefully accepted any time online. Please visit CARMA4Horses.org to learn more about the nonprofits mission, safe retirement and the many options available to Thoroughbred horses after they leave the track.
TRAINER GARY SHERLOCK SUCCUMBS TO CANCER AT AGE 73
Veteran trainer Gary Sherlock, who would’ve turned 74 today, passed away at an Arcadia care facility on Sunday following a lengthy bout with cancer. The son of a jockey, William, and racing official, Mary, Sherlock was born at 1:12 a.m. on Jan. 1, 1946 in San Francisco, and was thus celebrated as the first baby born in the City by the Bay that year.
Raised in Pleasanton, CA, Sherlock was destined for a life on the racetrack and in addition to training, he also enjoyed success as an insurance agent, specializing in racetrack workers’ compensation policies for trainers and also as a bloodstock agent.
A top trainer for many years with Quarter Horses at Los Alamitos, routinely finishing in the top five slots in the standings in the 1970s along with the likes of D. Wayne Lukas and Blane Schvaneveldt, Sherlock won high profile races such as the 1977 Los Alamitos Derby with Azure Three and the 1980 Doc Severinsen Handicap with American Jet. Prior to switching to Thoroughbreds full time, he won 353 Quarter Horse races from 1966 to 1980.
Known as a consistent developer of two-year-olds, Sherlock enjoyed his greatest career success in 2008 with the 4-year-old filly Intangaroo, with whom he won three Grade I, seven furlong stakes, the Santa Monica Handicap at Santa Anita on Feb. 2, the Humana Distaff on Kentucky Derby Day, May 3, at Churchill Downs, and the Ballerina Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 24, 2008. (All three wins came in partnership with jockey Alonso Quinonez).
Sherlock would go on to win the Santa Monica a second time, in 2016 with California-bred Lost Bus at 64-1. Owned and bred by Sherlock’s primary client, Terry Lovingier, Lost Bus, a four-year-old daughter of Bring the Heat, paid $131.20 with Fernando Perez aboard.
Sherlock would also experience the Triple Crown trail for the first time in 2016, as his speedy Uncle Lino, who was third in the Grade I Santa Anita Derby and a subsequent winner of the California Chrome Stakes at Los Alamitos, set the early pace prior to fading to seventh in the Grade I Preakness Stakes on May 21.
Sherlock’s most recent “big horse” was Lovingier’s California-bred Show It N Moe It, now a five-year-old mare by Grace Upon Grace who to date has earned $515,541 from an overall mark of 27-6-6-6. A two-time stakes winner, Show It N Moe It’s most recent start came on Nov. 17 at Del Mar, a second-place finish in the Betty Grable Stakes.
A savvy handicapper who loved playing the races, Sherlock had great instincts which enabled him to enjoy a high degree of success over the long haul.
Sherlock is survived by his wife Sharon, sons Brian and Michael (Mikey), who works as an assistant starter at Santa Anita, Del Mar and Los Alamitos, as well as two grandsons, Tanner and Luke.
At Sherlock’s request, there will be no memorial services.
FINISH LINES: Omaha Beach, fresh from his smashing victory in Saturday’s Grade I Runhappy Malibu Stakes, has arrived safely in Florida where he is scheduled to make his final start in the Grade I, $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 25. “Everything went well,” trainer Richard Mandella said of the move yesterday from Santa Anita. “We’re in the barn of an old friend named Mark Hennig. I have no date set for his breezes there. It’ll be a while, but he’s doing good.” . . . Belated Happy Birthday wishes to the legendary Laffit Pincay, Jr., who turned 73 on Sunday . . . Jockey Tiago Pereira has been suspended three days (Jan. 5, 10 and 11) for causing interference on So Much Happy in Saturday’s sixth race . . . Santa Anita will be dark for live racing tomorrow but offers simulcast racing in the Paddock Room starting at 10 a.m. There is free General Admission and free parking. Live racing resumes Friday at 1 p.m. with admission gates opening at 11 a.m.
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