STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN & MIKE WILLMAN – THURSDAY, JANUARY 17, 2019

  • TOUCHED BY AUTISM IS ALREADY A WINNER
  • HOLLENDORFER HAS TWO STAKES COOKING
  • JOHN SHEAR CELEBRATES BIRTHDAY NO. 98
  • HEAVY RAINS CANCEL THURSDAY’S RACES
  • THREE ON TURF FOR FRIDAY’S STRONACH 5
  • FORMER TRAINER MARIKIAN PASSES AT 79

PALOS VERDES A FEEL-GOOD STORY WIN OR LOSE

If Touched by Autism wins Saturday’s Grade II Palos Verdes Stakes, there will be more than one feel-good storyline.

First, even though only seven horses were entered, it would be the upset of upsets, since Touched by Autism will be the longest shot in the field going six furlongs in the Grade II sprint for older horses.

Second, it will draw deserved attention to autism, a pervasive neurodevelopmental condition affecting a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others.

People with autism may have a difficult time understanding “typical” social cues and social behaviors, and they may face challenges engaging with those around them–either by using words or non-verbal behaviors.

Affecting one in every 68 people in the United States, autism is one of the fastest-growing neurological disorders in the world. There is no known cause and no known cure. It infinitely tests the patience and endurance of every family in which it surfaces with an impact that is all-consuming.

It is a life sentence with no possibility of parole.

Picture Dustin Hoffman in Rainman. He can tell you how many toothpicks fell on the floor but he doesn’t know how much a hot dog costs.

Johnny Taboada owns Touched by Autism, a six-year-old California-bred son of Beau’s Gem, who has won eight of 29 career starts, including the restricted Oakland Stakes at Golden Gate Fields last Nov. 24. His odds were 13-1.

“Johnny’s son, Renzo, has autism,” explained Marcia Stolz, trainer of Touched by

Autism, who has earned $270,395. “Even before we had horses for him, he named them for something to do with autism. Renzo is 19 and attends Las Positas Junior College in Livermore.”

As for Touched by Autism, Stolz, 41, a former jockey, says the horse is “feeling good, but we’ve been trying to stay at Golden Gate and run because it is so tough down south.

“However, with a short field and possible scratches because of the rain, who knows? Of course, it’s tough with Peter Miller (Breeders’ Cup Sprint champion Roy H, Conquest Tsunami and Distinctiv B), but it could be worse.”

An off track wouldn’t necessarily hinder Touched by Autism, since he broke his maiden on a good track at Santa Anita going a mile on Jan. 7, 2016.

“It had been pouring rain sometime before that race,” recalled Storz, who was born in North Carolina, raised in Maryland but left when she was 10 when her father came to California to work for NASA circa 1985.

She got her trainer’s license in 2015 and has 25 head currently at Los Alamitos.

Taboada, a native of Peru who has been in the United States for more than 25 years, resides in Pleasanton and is a senior loan officer and a mortgage consultant in addition to currently owning “about 22” horses.

“When I buy them as babies, I have the opportunity to name them, and I use the word autism in order to help raise the awareness of the condition,” he said. “If a source recently reports one in 68 are affected by autism, chances are today it’s now greater, because the numbers are constantly increasing.”

But the 40-something owner has learned to challenge the odds.

“We know we’re over our heads in the Palos Verdes,” he said. “Ideally, we didn’t want to enter, but we wanted to take this opportunity based on how well he ran in his last two sprints.

“If we can be in the mix, it would give us something to look forward to in the future. It’s the old story, ‘You can’t win if you’re not in.’ We know we’re going against the best of the best–the best in the world, really.

“I wasn’t going to run unless the horse was doing well and Marcia says he’s at his best right now, so we’ll see.”

The Palos Verdes is not about winning or losing a race however; not about material success. It’s about love and concern for family.

It will not alter Taboada’s priorities. He will always be “touched by autism,” devoted to the well-being of his own flesh and blood and a malady that in a negative sense afflicts and in a positive sense attracts, as if by a magnet.

Although autism has no template, Renzo is the tie that binds.

“He is,” Taboada says, “the glue of our family.”

HOLLENDORFER HAS BUSY STAKES WEEKEND

With seven wins through 12 racings days, Jerry Hollendorfer is right in the thick of the trainers’ race as usual, and hopes to make gains in this weekend’s stakes.

The Hall of Fame member has Awesome Anywhere and Kanthaka entered in Saturday’s Grade II Palos Verdes Stakes and Vasilika set for Monday’s Martin Luther King Jr. holiday feature, the Grade III Megahertz Stakes for older fillies and mares at a mile on turf.

“Awesome Anywhere and Kanthaka complement each other with different running styles,” Hollendorfer said.

“Awesome Anywhere has speed and Kanthaka comes from off the pace.”

Vasilika, who won eight straight races, including the Grade I Rodeo Drive Stakes after being claimed for $40,000 almost a year ago, on Feb. 11, 2018, had her streak snapped in the Grade I Matriarch at Del Mar Dec. 2, finishing fourth but beaten only two lengths.

“She’s been training well, so we’re looking forward to running her,” Hollendorfer said of the five-year-old Kentucky-bred daughter of Skipshot, who has 13 wins from 28 starts and earnings of $758,595. 

SANTA ANITA’S INDEFATIGABLE JOHN SHEAR CELEBRATES 98TH BIRTHDAY

Arguably the youngest “old” man on earth, Santa Anita’s beloved Paddock Captain John Shear was set to celebrate his 98th birthday Thursday in predictable fashion, by punching his time clock and settling in for yet another day of managing human and equine traffic in Santa Anita’s picturesque Paddock Gardens.

Employed at The Great Race Place for nearly six decades, Shear, who was born in London and originally aspired to be a jockey, immigrated to Vancouver, B.C. following World War II and then came to Southern California in 1954.

“I was exercising horses for a guy in Vancouver and he asked me if I’d like to go with him to Santa Anita that fall,” said Shear. “I said ‘sure,’ and as soon as I stepped off that van in the Stable Area here, I said ‘Lord, this is where I want to be.’ The place was so incredibly beautiful and I’ve never gotten tired of it.”

A diminutive four feet, 11 inches, Shear weighs 104 pounds and attributes lifestyle, attitude and exercise as the primary reasons for his incredibly vigorous life.

“I still do 30 pushups every morning. I do deep breathing exercises and I’ve got a stationary bike for my legs.  I do a lot of walking here at work and at home . . . I walk my dog every day and I love what I do.”

When asked what he thinks of a world in which seemingly everyone is continuously glued to an electronic device of one kind or another, he responded: “The world changes. My wife is on the computer all day, and I can’t say anything about it!”

Shear, who sustained life threatening injuries resulting from an act of heroism eight years ago in which he threw himself between a five-year-old girl and an on-rushing loose horse, has no thoughts of retiring from the job he loves.

“I can’t imagine retirement,” he said. “Every day is a blessing and I love everything about this job . . .The people, horses, jockeys, trainers, everyone I work with. I hope it never ends.”

And wouldn’t that be something.

LIVE RACING CANCELED AT SANTA ANITA DUE TO HEAVY RAIN

Due to heavy overnight rains and a 100 percent likelihood of continued wet weather, Santa Anita Park cancelled Thursday’s eight-race card, which was scheduled to get underway at 1 p.m.

According to Santa Anita Track Superintendent Andy LaRocco, Santa Anita has taken on 3 ½ inches of rain since Monday, and the National Weather Service is predicting an additional two inches of precipitation into this afternoon.

Additionally, flash flood warnings have been issued in the local mountains and widespread flooding has been reported this morning throughout Southern California.

Horsemen are advised that Santa Anita will make every effort to bring back those races that were cancelled today in the immediate future.

Santa Anita was open Thursday for simulcast wagering in the Grandstand Paddock Room with free parking and admission.

As the most recent storm is predicted to move out of the area later this afternoon, live racing will resume as originally scheduled on Friday, with first post time for an eight-race card at 1 p.m. For additional information, please visit santaanita.com or call (626) 574-RACE.

THREE ON TURF FOR FRIDAY’S STRONACH 5

Friday’s Stronach 5 will have a $50,000 guaranteed pool and will feature turf races from Gulfstream Park and Santa Anita Park.

The national pick 5 sequence, with an industry-low 12-percent takeout, begins with a one mile turf event from Gulfstream Park before heading north to Laurel Park for a claiming event. The sequence wraps up with turf races at Gulfstream and Santa Anita.

First race post time for the Stronach 5 is 4:10 p.m.

Past Performances: http://www.laurelpark.com/handicapping/stronach-pick-5.

Friday’s Stronach 5 sequence:

• Leg One – Gulfstream Park 8th race – (16 entries, one mile turf) 4:10 ET, 1:10 PT

• Leg Two -Laurel Park 9th race -(12 entries, seven furlongs) 4:35 ET, 1:35PT

• Leg Three -Gulfstream Park 9th race – (9 horses, 1 1/16 miles) 4:41 ET, 1:41 PT

• Leg Four – Gulfstream Park 10th race – (16 entries, one mile turf) 5:12 ET, 2:12 PT

• Leg Five – Santa Anita Park 4th race – (8 entries, one mile turf) 5:30 ET, 2:30 PT

The minimum wager on the multi-race, multi-track Stronach 5 is $1. If there are no tickets with five winners, the entire pool will be carried over to the next Friday.

For the Stronach 5, if a change in racing surface is made after wagering closes, each selection on any ticket will be considered a winning selection. If a betting interest is scratched, that selection will be substituted with the favorite in the win pool when wagering closes.

The Maryland Jockey Club serves as host of the Stronach 5.

MARIKIAN, TRAINER OF SWING TILL DAWN, PASSES AT 79

Former trainer Chuck Marikian, best known as the conditioner of Swing Till Dawn, winner of Santa Anita’s Grade I Strub Stakes in 1983, passed away on Sunday due to complications from a fall this past August.

Marikian, 79, was born in East Los Angeles and played football at Cal State LA in the early 1960s. Gregarious by nature and an imposing physical presence, he was the life of any party and is survived by his wife of 56 years, Isabella, three daughters, Stacy (married to Bob Baffert assistant, Mike Marlow), Holly and Kelly. The Marikians also have three grandchildren, Dustin, Max and Isabella.

Services for Chuck Marikian will be held 10 a.m. Friday at St. Therese Church in Alhambra, located at 1100 Alhambra Road, 91801.

FINISH LINES: Trainer Peter Eurton has multiple graded stakes winner Giant Expectations ticketed for the Grade II San Pasqual Stakes on Feb. 2 with Joel Rosarioto ride . . . There’s a new chef (not sheriff) in town and he’s Isaac Coleman, cooking up fabulous fare at Clockers’ Corner. A 35-year-old native of Boyle Heights, Coleman formerly managed the menu at the DC 3 Gourmet in Compton.

SANTA ANITA STATISTICS

(Current Through Sunday, Jan. 13)

Jockey

Mts

1st

2nd

3rd

Win%

ITM%

Money Won

Flavien Prat

74

17

14

11

23%

57%

$1,143,616

Heriberto Figueroa

61

13

5

9

21%

44%

$409,325

Joel Rosario

69

11

12

11

16%

49%

$844,869

Mike Smith

24

9

4

4

38%

71%

$599,609

Drayden Van Dyke

56

8

9

9

14%

46%

$450,713

Geovanni Franco

51

8

4

6

16%

35%

$416,464

Trainer

Mts

1st

2nd

3rd

Win%

ITM%

Money Won

Doug O’Neill

45

11

3

4

24%

40%

$382,251

Richard Baltas

41

8

11

5

20%

59%

$547,250

Peter Miller

41

7

7

6

17%

49%

$379,700

Jerry Hollendorfer

32

7

4

5

22%

50%

$354,938

J. Keith Desormeaux

25

6

4

4

24%

56%

$240,829

John Sadler

29

4

7

5

14%

55%

$366,457

William E. Morey

21

4

2

5

19%

52%

$129,559

Steve Knapp

17

4

0

3

24%

41%

$80,803