STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN – SATURDAY, MAY 4, 2019

  • OMAHA BEACH WILL RETURN TO SANTA ANITA
  • MUCHOS BESOS ADDS TO MUCHO VICTORIES
  • SCOTT STEVENS GETS WOOLF AWARD MAY 19

SURGERY WENT WELL ON OMAHA BEACH, MANDELLA SAYS

This morning, Richard Mandella was back at the last place he expected to be four days ago–his home base of Santa Anita.

It was late Wednesday afternoon in Kentucky when it was announced that the three-year-old he trains, Omaha Beach, who happened to be the favorite to win today’s 145thKentucky Derby at Churchill Downs, would miss the race because of an entrapped epiglottis.

After dealing with the physical and emotional aftermath in the Blue Grass State, the 68-year-old Hall of Fame trainer was back on the beat at The Great Race Place Saturday, having returned to California Friday.

“They did the procedure to treat the epiglottis yesterday and it was a very simple deal, so it’s done,” Mandella said. “He’ll probably get two weeks off, something like that. He’ll stay in Kentucky, then return here and go back in training.

“It isn’t that big of a deal. The big deal is the timing (which cost him a start in the Kentucky Derby).”

Mandella, winless with six previous starters in the Run for the Roses, was somewhat overwhelmed with the support he and his horse received after the heart-breaking news.

“They had a press conference after the announcement and it was standing room only in this big room,” he said, “and I thanked everybody for being so concerned . . . It was emotional but we got through it.”

Suggested that Omaha Beach’s defection was somewhat traumatizing for all involved, Mandella deflected such thoughts by turning on his self-deprecating sense of humor.

“I suspect Baffert had something to do with it,” he said, laughing heartily. “He was seen in my barn late that night. Seriously, these opportunities don’t come along very often.

“Omaha Beach is a special horse.”

MUCHOS BESOS MUY BUENO AT AGE 10

There will be no statue of Muchos Besos at Santa Anita, as there are of Seabiscuit, John Henry and Zenyatta, but perhaps there should be, certainly not based on the company he keeps, but because he epitomizes the qualities that make racing great–devotion, dedication and durability.

When the dappled gray gelding rolled to a front-running 1 ¼-length victory against

$16,000 claimers in last Sunday’s second race under 52-year-old Agapito Delgadillo, it marked his 10th win from 44 races at Santa Anita, where he also has six seconds, 10 thirds and earnings of $235,856.

Overall, the 10-year-old son of Macho Uno bred in Kentucky by Hermitage Farm has 12 wins, nine seconds and 13 thirds from 76 starts with earnings of $325,936. The old boy favors an unwavering strategy: go to the front and stay there.

Appropriately, track announcer Frank Mirahmadi rendered impromptu praise upon

Muchos Besos during the winner’s circle ceremony.

“He came out of the race like he’s ready for another one next week,” said 66-year-old El Paso native Javier Jose Sierra, who trains Muchos Besos for property and rental entrepreneur Hugo Catalan.

Muchos Besos is among 10 horses in training with Sierra, who is one of 12 children. He earned a degree in electrical engineering at the University of Texas El Paso, worked three summers under D. Wayne Lukas when he trained quarter horses in New Mexico and also was mentored one year at Sunland Park by J.J. Pletcher, father of Todd Pletcher.

But today Muchos Besos (“many kisses” in Spanish) is Sierra’s heart-warming story that has caught the fancy of devotees at Santa Anita.

“At the barn with us he is a very calm horse, very gentle,” Sierra said. “But when they

bring him to the race track, he acts like a two-year-old and he’s not easy to hold.”

Sierra has had Muchos Besos “four to five years” and gave him two months off before

his latest victory. “We felt he needed a little time after his last race (when he finished fifth of seven, showing minimal interest), and we were going to send him to the farm,” Sierra said.

“Instead, we rested him and took care of him at the barn, began training him, and he felt good so we kept going. His first two works before he raced again were bullets (59.80 on March 12, best of 66 at five furlongs, and 48 flat on March 20, fastest of 16 at four furlongs), so he showed us that he wanted to come back.

“But he really surprised me the way he ran on Sunday, and if all goes well, you’ll see

him again before the meet’s over.”

SCOTT STEVENS TO RECEIVE WOOLF AWARD ON MAY 19

In what will surely be an intensely emotional moment, veteran jockey Scott Stevens will be presented with the 2019 George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award in a Winner’s Circle ceremony at Santa Anita on Sunday, May 19.

A winner of more than 4,800 races in a career that has spanned 43 years, Stevens will be joined on May 19 by family, friends and colleagues, including the 1996 Woolf Award winner, retired Hall of Famer Gary Stevens, as the pair thus become the first brotherly tandem to win the prestigious award in its 70-year history.

The winner via a vote of jockeys nationwide, Stevens placed first among a list of five finalists that included Joe Bravo, Kerwin Clark, John Davila, Jr. and Julien Leparoux.

“I know I was there when Gary won, but honestly, it’s been so long ago, I don’t remember,” said Stevens from his base at Turf Paradise in Phoenix. “This award is so special and I was honored just to be nominated. When you think about all the great riders and people who have won it and to be selected by a vote of your peers . . . It’s more than I can describe.”

Born Oct. 6, 1960 in Caldwell, Idaho, Stevens is the son of a former trainer, Ron, and rodeo queen, Barbara.  Steeped in the ways of the horse-world from infancy, Stevens, who has more than 32,400 career mounts, broke his maiden on May 30, 1976 at Les Bois Park in Boise, at the age of 15.

A member of both the Idaho and Canterbury Park (MN) Halls of Fame, Stevens has been a helpful, guiding influence to scores of young jockeys for decades.

A nine-time leading rider at Turf Paradise, Stevens, who resides in Phoenix with his longtime partner Pam Isles, has two grown children, a daughter Jessica and a son, Jake, as well as five grandchildren, four of whom will join him on May 19.

Named for the legendary Hall of Fame jockey George Woolf, who died at age 35 following a spill on Santa Anita’s Club House turn on Jan. 3, 1946, the Woolf Award can only be won once, and it is intended to recognize those riders whose careers and personal character earn esteem for the individual and the sport of Thoroughbred horse racing.

The Woolf trophy is a replica of the life-size statue of George Woolf which adorns Santa Anita’s Paddock Gardens Area.

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SANTA ANITA STATISTICS
(Current Through Friday, May 3)
Jockey

Mts

1st

2nd

3rd

Win%

ITM%

Money Won

Flavien Prat

26

9

7

1

35%

65%

$384,362

Rafael Bejarano

43

8

8

9

19%

58%

$393,264

Tiago Pereira

39

8

4

6

21%

46%

$339,112

Drayden Van Dyke

30

7

7

4

23%

60%

$426,177

Ruben Fuentes

40

6

7

5

15%

45%

$231,960

Edwin Maldonado

20

6

3

6

30%

75%

$185,682

Victor Espinoza

15

6

1

1

40%

53%

$335,253

Joseph Talamo

31

5

4

8

16%

55%

$286,646

Trainer

Mts

1st

2nd

3rd

Win%

ITM%

Money Won

Richard Baltas

20

7

5

0

35%

60%

$376,913

Doug O’Neill

22

7

1

6

32%

64%

$239,575

Mark Glatt

25

4

7

2

16%

52%

$224,850

John Sadler

18

4

3

5

22%

67%

$336,242

Philip D’Amato

13

4

2

0

31%

46%

$177,264

Jerry Hollendorfer

15

3

5

1

20%

60%

$164,967

John Shirreffs

9

3

1

0

33%

44%

$216,271

George Papaprodromou

9

3

0

2

33%

56%

$63,891

Andrew Lerner

6

3

0

0

50%

50%

$69,620