RACING MOURNS PASSING OF BELOVED TRAINER
GALILEAN SHORTENS UP FOR CALIFORNIA FLAG
APPRENTICE JESSICA PYFER WINS FIRST RACE
HERNANDEZ SCORES A TRIPLE AT SANTA ANITA
TRAINER BARRY ABRAMS DIES AT AGE 66
Racing hasn’t lost its greatest trainer, but arguably its greatest fan.
Barry Abrams died peacefully last night at Huntington Memorial Hospital after he was taken off a ventilator following a recent fall at home that injured his back. He was 66. Services are pending.
Abrams had courageously battled throat cancer for 15 years. A bear of a man at 6-4, 315 pounds before he was stricken, Abrams bared his soul in a story I authored about his ordeal that appeared in the October-November 2015 issue of North American Trainer Magazine, excerpts of which follow in this item.
Barry Abrams never smoked. He got cancer anyway. Side effects from the treatment over a 10-year period caused him to lose his taste buds, prevented him from swallowing (he used a feeding tube), he couldn’t eat, run, go in the ocean or a swimming pool.
“I’m just functioning and happy to be alive,” he said. “I can eat cookies as long as they’re liquified and made pudding-like. I can’t swallow anything else because I have no salivary glands that create saliva.”
He lost half his voice box during surgeries, reducing his speech to a whisper, but he never complained.
“Ordinarily, you talk about things like saving for the future and making plans for this and that, but facing this, you realize that there could be no future,” he said in the 2015 article.
One of Barry’s dearest friends was trainer Richard Baltas, who assisted in the barn operation during Abrams’ five-month recovery in 2011. “He’s very kind with a good heart,” Baltas said. “Years ago, I wanted to leave Louisiana and come home to California, but I needed a job.
“Barry didn’t quibble. He simply asked me, ‘How much do you want to make?’ and that was it. He came to my wedding on Feb. 26, 2011, when he was sick with cancer. He’s done many kind and generous things for me.”
Said Abrams’ wife, Dyan: “Barry is so kind and helpful. If you needed the shirt off his back, he’d give it to you . . . He’s one of the good ones. He’s got a good heart and a good soul.”
Trainer Peter Miller was looking forward to winning the Breeders’ Cup Mile with a horse Abrams owns in part, Mo Forza. “Barry and I have known each other probably 25, 30 years,” Miller said several days ago. “Barry’s a great guy. Everyone loves him, and this horse really helped keep him going.”
A highly accomplished conditioner of both standardbreds and Thoroughbreds, Barry Abrams will forever be associated with Unusual Heat, a horse he claimed for $80,000 on June 10, 1996. The son of Nureyev would go on to become one of the greatest stallions in California racing history.
With Barry’s passing, two questions will forever remain unresolved: did racing love Barry more, or did Barry love racing more?
Call it a dead-heat.
GALILEAN BACK WITH STATEBREDS ON SUNDAY
After three straight races at a mile or longer, Galilean returns to a sprint in Sunday’s $100,000 California Flag Handicap for three-year-olds and up at 5 /2 furlongs on turf.
The race is one in the lucrative Golden State Series for California-bred or sired runners.
“The key here is he’s coming out of a much tougher race and is back in with state-breds, so he should be pretty tough,” pointed out John Sadler, who trains the four-year-old son of Uncle Mo for owners West Point Thoroughbreds, Denise Barker, William Sandbrook, John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith.
The consistent bay was fourth behind mile turf monster Mo Forza in the Grade II Del Mar Mile last out but was bumped in that race. Prior to that Galilean won two stakes versus Cal-bred competition, the Soi Phet at Los Alamitos and the California Dreamin’ at Del Mar.
Umberto Rispoli, who was aboard in the Del Mar Mile, retains the mount in the California Flag. The race is named for the gray son of the Seattle Slew stallion Avenue of Flags who was trained by Brian Koriner.
California Flag holds the unique distinction of running in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint four times, winning the race in 2009 at Santa Anita under Joe Talamo.
Bred in California by Hi Card Ranch, California Flag had a career record of 11-0-2 from 27 starts with earnings of $1,288,825.
The California Flag, race seven of nine with a 12:30 p.m. first post time: Grinning Tiger, Tyler Baze, 10-1; Mikes Tiznow, Ricardo Gonzalez, 2-1; Rookie Mistake, Mario Gutierrez, 15-1; Baja Sur, Juan Hernandez, 2-1; Ultimate Bango, Abel Cedillo, 10-1; and Galilean, Umberto Rispoli, 8-5.
PYFER RIDES TO PERFECTION FOR FIRST VICTORY
Jessica Pyfer won the first race of her budding career Friday in only her sixth mount and looked like a seasoned veteran doing so.
The 10-pound apprentice jockey piloted Indy Jones to victory by a length and a quarter in the ninth race for owner Bobby Grayson Jr. and trainer Val Brinkerhoff.
It was only a 6 ½ furlong sprint for claiming horses running at the $14,000-$16,000 level, but it seemed like the Kentucky Derby to Jessica.
“I knew at the top of the stretch when I was in front that I had to stay in front,” she said after the victory.
“I just told her before the race the horse probably would break a step slow but he’d be right up on the front end if not on the lead, and that he didn’t like to be on the inside of horses or on the rail,” said Brinkerhoff, who celebrates his 64th birthday Oct. 19.
“Just keep him forwardly placed, sit on him till the quarter pole and turning for home she did just as I told her. It worked out perfect and it usually doesn’t work out that way.
“I needed a win and this was fun to be a part of it.”
Pyfer, a 22-year-old native of Denver, is a 2016 graduate of South Pasadena High School, studied constitutional law and political science at Azusa Pacific University and enhanced her early horsemanship resume exercising Richard Mandella’s major stakes winners, including Omaha Beach, United and Jolie Olimpica.
She is represented by 33-year-old Brandon O’Bryan, a third-generation jockey’s agent, following in the footsteps of his still-active father, Craig (Juan Hernandez), and grandfather, George. Brandon and Jessica have been a team for some two months.
Her father Roger is a former jockey and Jessica is the stepdaughter of top trainer Phil D’Amato, who is married to her mother, Sherrie, an assistant in D’Amato’s stable.
NEW $1 GOLDEN HOUR PICK 4
Santa Anita offers a comprehensive betting menu including the new $1 Golden Hour Pick 4. The wager, which features a low 15% takeout popular with players, links the last two races from Santa Anita and the last two races from Golden Gate Fields each racing day. It complements the popular $5 Golden Hour Double, which premiered earlier this year during Santa Anita’s winter-spring season.
While Santa Anita remains closed to the public due to Los Angeles County’s COVID-19 restrictions, fans can watch the live races streaming in HD free of charge on santaanita.com. There are several on-line wagering options available, including 1stBet.com, Santa Anita’s official wagering platform, which can be downloaded for free at the App Store. All of Santa Anita’s races also will be shown live on TVG.
The heart of Santa Anita’s player friendly program belongs to the early Pick 5, linking the first five races offered each day. At 14%, the popular wager features one of the lowest takeout rates in the country on a multi-race wager. Bookending the card is a late Pick 5, featuring the last five races each day.
Santa Anita’s 20 cent Rainbow Pick Six Jackpot returns, consisting of the final six races each day. The 20 cent Rainbow Pick Six has developed a following as it has the propensity to grow into a massive jackpot pool of millions of dollars, paid only to a single ticket with all six winners.
All bets, including the Rainbow Pick Six Jackpot, have mandatory payouts on closing day, Oct. 25.
Santa Anita’s betting menu is rounded out by numerous wagering opportunities that players have come to expect from The Great Race Place, including $2 Win, Place and Show wagering featuring the lowest takeout of any major racetrack in North America, plus $1 Exactas, $2 rolling Daily Doubles, 50 cent rolling Pick 3s, early and late 50 cent Pick 4s, early and late 50 cent Pick 5s, the $1 Super High 5 and 10 cent Superfectas on all races with a minimum of six runners.
RUNHAPPY WINNER’S CIRCLE FAN CUT OUTS
If you love horses and jockeys, Santa Anita’s new Virtual Runhappy Winner’s Circle Fan Cut Out is a great way to show your appreciation and benefit retired racehorses and injured riders.
Fans can have their cut-out images appear in Santa Anita’s Runhappy Winner’s Circle with the San Gabriel Mountains serving as a backdrop.
For a donation of $200, one hundred percent of which will go to support the California Retirement Management Account (CARMA) and the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF), a personalized fan cut out will be displayed throughout the Autumn Meet.
Once a donation is received, Santa Anita will assist in submitting individual pictures within 48 hours.
Headquartered at Santa Anita, CARMA, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that is dedicated to providing funding for rehabilitation, re-training, and/or retirement of California-raced Thoroughbreds.
Based in Lexington, KY, the PDJF is also a 501(c)(3) public charity that provides financial assistance to jockeys that have suffered catastrophic injuries on the track.
For more information on how to participate in Santa Anita’s Virtual Winner’s Circle Fan Cut Out, please visit santaanita.com.
FINISH LINES: After 18 lifetime races on turf, Pubilius Syrus made his first start on the main track Friday a winning one, coming from fifth in the one mile second race on dirt under Juan Hernandez to capture the $12,500 claimer by 3 3/4 lengths for trainer Vladimir Cerin and his longtime clients, David and Holly Wilson. A full horse at age five, the bay son of Candy Ride paid $9. Pubilius Syrus was a Syrian Latin writer who lived eons ago, from 85-43 B.C. Hernandez won the first race on favored Carmelita’s Man for trainer Dean Pederson, giving the jockey an early double that paid $49.80. Hernandez registered a triple by taking the fourth on 4-1 shot After Midnight in front-running fashion for trainer Carla Gaines . . . Trainer Craig Lewis has a busy weekend coming up, with Warren’s Showtime scheduled to run in the Grade III Autumn Miss Stakes on Oct. 17 and Margot’s Boy ticketed for the Grade II Twilight Derby the next day . . . There is holiday racing through this Monday, Oct. 12, Columbus Day. First post time Sunday and Monday is 1 p.m.
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