Yes, that was the life-sustaining star known as the sun breaking through rain

clouds at Santa Anita Saturday morning after the biggest storm of the Winter Meet took respite.

After the storm that hit the Arcadia area with just over three inches of rain Friday, forcing cancellation of that day’s races, it’s game on for Saturday and that’s good news for everyone, including local horsemen.

“We’re all going through the same thing,” said trainer Eric Kruljac, who turns 64 next

Saturday. “Some of us are more willing to run on an off track than others, but I’m not real keen on it. I’ve never been a mudder.

“I’ve got my share of grass horses, so the weather’s slowed us way down, but I’m optimistic and looking to the future. I started training at 38 and owned horses when I was 23. I claimed my first two horses in 1976 and bought my first two yearlings in 1977.”

Kruljac comes from a family of horsemen. His grandfather, Walter S. (for Stele) Markham was a horse owner, cattle rancher and produce broker. Some of his horses were trained by Hall of Famer Buster Millerick.

Born in San Jose, Kruljac “kind of split my childhood in Carmel Valley and Phoenix. When Mr. Markham died, he was the longest tenured member of the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association (CTBA).”

Eric’s 28-year-old son, Ian, is an accomplished trainer in his own right, having developed Finest City into an Eclipse Award champion as best female sprinter of 2016, mainly by virtue of her victory in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at Santa Anita last Nov. 4.

Since mid-December, Santa Anita’s Winter Meet that began Dec. 26 has been hit with more than 23 inches of rain, according to ever-diligent Track Superintendent Dennis Moore.

But if you think it’s been rough at Santa Anita, it could be worse.

You could own a car wash.



The 50th annual Santa Anita Jockeys vs. Holy Angels Elementary School game will be

played on Thursday, Feb. 23, at La Salle High School in Pasadena, with proceeds to benefit the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF), Holy Angels athletic program and the Eye on Jacob Foundation.

Given the historic nature of the game, individual jockey sponsors, representing a wide array of racing industry stakeholders, will lend financial support to this worthy cause. Tip off is scheduled for 7:15 p.m., with admission doors opening at 6:15 p.m.

Hall of Fame jockeys Kent Desormeaux, Laffit Pincay, Jr., Mike Smith, Alex Solis and Gary Stevens will all be available at center court for an autograph session at 6:30 p.m.

TVG’s Kurt Hoover will be back for his 16th consecutive season as Santa Anita Jockeys’ Coach.  Tickets are $5 per person, and for every two tickets purchased, individuals receive one free admission ticket to Santa Anita.



California State Assemblyman Adam Gray has been honored as recipient of the prestigious Sen. Kenneth L. Maddy Award, presented by the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association at its annual awards banquet.

“Adam has been a great supporter of racing and agriculture in the state and CTBA is honored to present him with such a prestigious award,” said Doug Burge, president of CTBA.

Gray, a Democrat representing the 21st District that includes his native Merced, is only the second legislator to receive the award, which is named for the late California senator who was a great friend of the California Thoroughbred industry and a force behind a bill that brought licensing relief to tracks. The only other recipient of the award was Sen. Andy Vidak in 2014.

“It is an honor to receive the Senator Kenneth L. Maddy Award,” Gray said. “California horse racing and the breeding of quality California-bred Thoroughbreds are synonymous with Senator Maddy.

“California is at the forefront of producing top-quality Thoroughbred racehorses, which are able to compete and win races throughout the country and the world. Two words – California Chrome.”

Gray authored a bill in 2016 that will save $1 billion in worker’s compensation costs and he worked tirelessly on an Internet poker bill that would have boosted race purses by $60 million. Gray also has been committed to preserving and protecting agricultural water rights.

Gray, first elected in 2012, is chairman of the Assembly’s Governmental Organization Committee and serves on committees for aging and long-term care, agriculture and appropriations.

The CTBA works diligently at all governmental levels to create the optimum legislative climate to maximize the profitability of California breeders and the overall popularity and growth of Thoroughbred racing.


FINISH LINES: There is a Pick Six carryover into Saturday of $32,114 . . . Richard Baltas and Peter Miller are tied for the training lead with 15 victories each, with Jerry Hollendorfer one back at 14 and Phil D’Amato three behind with 12. D’Amato has Lily Pod entered in today’s Buena Vista Stakes and he didn’t mind that rain forced it to be moved from turf to dirt. “I really entered based on the chance it would come off the grass and be run on dirt,” he said. “She loved that off track when she won last time (romping by 4 ½ lengths on a wet/fast surface at seven furlongs Jan. 21), so we’ll see.” . . . Congratulations to trainer and all-around good guy Art Sherman on the occasion of his 80th birthday yesterday . . . Mario Gutierrez and Israel Ocampo ride in the Grade III El Camino Real Derby today at Golden Gate Fields, the former on 2-1 morning line chance Ann Arbor Eddie for Doug O’Neill and the latter aboard 10-1 Kona Dreams for George Papaprodromou . . . Dan Ward, assistant to Jerry Hollendorfer, and’s Aaron Vercruysse, will be Tom Quigley‘s guests Sunday and Monday, respectively, in the East Pack Gardens at 11:20 a.m. Sunday and 10:50 a.m. Monday, when first post time is 12 noon . . . The California Horse Racing Board will conduct a regular monthly meeting Thursday, Feb. 23, 9:30 a.m. at Santa Anita. An audio-only webcast of the Board meeting can be heard through a link on the CHRB website (webcast).The Medication, Safety and Welfare Committee will meet 11 a.m. Wednesday at the same location. The public is encouraged to attend. The Board agenda and supporting package of materials are available on the CHRB website, as are those for the Medication Committee (agenda and package) . . . Apprentice jockey Evin Roman is suspended three days (Feb. 26, March 2 and 3) for causing interference aboard Avaudrey in last Sunday’s second race resulting in a disqualification of his mount from fifth to seventh

(Current Through Thursday, Feb. 16)        
Jockey Mts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% ITM% Money Won  
Flavien Prat 134 33 19 23 25% 56% $2,152,593  
Tyler Baze 144 27 31 14 19% 50% $1,314,706  
Rafael Bejarano 99 18 15 17 18% 51% $983,493  
Kent Desormeaux 86 18 11 9 21% 44% $1,165,831  
Stewart Elliott 91 11 10 16 12% 41% $506,082  
Mike Smith 35 11 3 9 31% 66% $1,152,445  
Joseph Talamo 88 10 6 16 11% 36% $375,653  
Martin Pedroza 71 9 13 13 13% 49% $395,063  
Luis Contreras 81 9 10 21 11% 49% $448,347  
Tiago Pereira 64 9 6 7 14% 34% $272,820  
Norberto Arroyo, Jr. 64 9 5 4 14% 28% $458,830  
Trainer Mts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% ITM% Money Won  
Richard Baltas 79 15 14 12 19% 52% $762,154  
Peter Miller 61 15 13 6 25% 56% $885,045  
Jerry Hollendorfer 78 14 9 17 18% 51% $1,173,049  
Philip D’Amato 50 12 5 9 24% 52% $728,970  
Doug O’Neill 92 10 21 17 11% 52% $966,061  
Mark Glatt 46 9 8 5 20% 48% $366,510  
William Spawr 20 9 1 2 45% 60% $261,071  
Bob Baffert 35 8 4 5 23% 49% $816,061  
John Sadler 40 7 8 10 18% 63% $461,824  
Peter Eurton 34 7 3 3 21% 38% $382,399  
J. Keith Desormeaux 29 7 2 5 24% 48% $434,225