Gary Young is a quick study with a quicker opinion, remindful of this Woody Allen quip: “I took a course in speed reading and read War and Peace in 20 minutes. It’s about Russia.”

Actually, private clocker and bloodstock agent Young can be more expansive than that, although when asked his thoughts on Saturday’s Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs where he has been a keen observer all week, he was concise yet on point as usual.

Twenty three-year-olds were entered Wednesday in the 143rd Run for the Roses at a mile and a quarter. Reflective of how wide open the race is, the morning line favorite at a tepid 4-1 is Classic Empire.

“I think it’s as wide open as they say,” Young said.

“Of the major contenders, no one really got helped or hurt that much in the draw although I did kind of like Lookin At Lee a little. His post (one) won’t help him, but he’s a downtown horse anyway.

“Of the leading contenders, the horse I give a slight edge to is Irish War Cry. He’s only been here a couple days, and the first day, Tuesday, he was a bit head strong and flipped his head a little, but nothing like Always Dreaming had done earlier in the week.

“Wednesday, he galloped like he owned the place. I don’t know what happened to him in the Fountain of Youth (seventh by nearly 22 lengths). If that race never took place, he’d be about a 3-1 favorite for the Derby. I like the way he’s trained. He would be my top choice.

“McCracken would be my second choice, although they have totally different body types. Irish War Cry is very tall with an average body, as far as how much weight he carries.

“McCracken is smaller, medium at best, but he’s very, very well-balanced and his gallop outs after his workouts here were terrific. He’s also three for three over this track.

“A longshot I think is going to run well would be Tapwrit. Much like Irish War Cry, he’s had a race that was too bad to believe, only his was in his last race (fifth by 11 ½ lengths in the Blue Grass April 8); Irish War Cry’s was two races back (March 4).

“Everything Tapwrit has done at Churchill Downs this week–working, galloping, body language–everything he’s done has made you think he’s going to run like he did winning the Tampa Bay Derby (by 4 ½ lengths March 11) and not like he did in the Blue Grass.

“It is concerning that he ran such a bad race right before the Derby, but it also makes his price more attractive. He’s trained OK.

“The top two California horses, Gormley and Battle of Midway, have trained OK. But for those who are rooting for California to continue its winning streak in the Derby (following victories by Nyquist last year, American Pharoah in 2015 and California Chrome in 2014), California’s chances are not what they were the last three years, but we’ll see what happens.

“I could definitely see Gormley and Battle of Midway hitting the board, and if all the major players don’t bring their ‘A’ game, it could set up for one of them or Tapwrit.”

Approximate post time for the Derby is 3:46 p.m. Pacific Time.

To accommodate fans on Kentucky Derby Day, Santa Anita will offer extended hours on the Gold Line Shuttle Service in Arcadia, operating between 12 noon and 2 p.m. to handle peak attendance hours.

Fans at Santa Anita Saturday can enjoy the biggest Derby party west of Kentucky and watch and wager on the Run for the Roses. Derby Day highlights include a Kentucky Derby Trackside event; a KROQ Super Games and Craft Beer Festival; a Chandelier Room Derby Party; a Kentucky Derby Hat Contest; the Bud Light Lounge; and a guaranteed Late Pick 4 pool of $500,000 and Pick 6 pool of $100,000.

The Derby Day Hat Contest presented by Southern California Life Magazine is free to enter and boasts three grand prizes including $1,000 cash and a year’s subscription to the publication for each winner. The three categories (Most Creative, Most Glamorous and Fascinators and Fedoras) will be judged by a panel of fashion industry experts just west of the winner’s circle at 2:30 p.m. Look for the rent tent to enter.



            No telling how good Sircat Sally is. The California-bred daughter of Surf Cat owned and bred by Joe Turner has won sprinting and routing, on dirt and on turf, five races in all by daylight margins.

Ridden in three of those victories by Mike Smith, she’ll have a new pilot in Saturday’s Grade III Senorita Stakes for three-year-old fillies at a mile on turf in Stewart Elliott, as Smith has engagements at Churchill Downs.

“She can do it all,” said Jerry Hollendorfer assistant Dan Ward of Sircat Sally, who has won her five races by a combined margin of nearly 24 lengths, averaging almost five per outing.

“Elliott has worked her twice,” Ward said, “perfect both times.”

The Senorita, race five of 11 with first post time at 12 noon: Spy Ring, Rafael Bejarano, 6-1; Helen Hillary, Tiago Pereira, 10-1; Beau Recall, Joe Talamo, 4-1; Sircat Sally, Stewart Elliott, 4-5; Tiburtina, Corey Nakatani, 20-1; and Pacific Wind, Jamie Theriot, 3-1.



            Phil D’Amato has three horses entered in Saturday’s $75,000 Singletary Stakes for three-year-olds at one mile on turf, but the trainer doesn’t think it’s a first for him.

            “I believe I’ve run three in one stake before,” said D’Amato, who has Bowies Hero, Kenzou’s Rhythm and Fashion Business entered in the race, the 10th on an 11-race card.

“Bowies Hero had kind of hard campaign towards the end of last year, which is why he’s been out since November,” D’Amato said. “It looked like he needed a break, and he had shown some promise at Del Mar (winning his maiden outing by nearly six lengths at 7 ½ furlongs on turf July 16, then coming back to take the Del Mar Juvenile Turf on Sept. 3).

“He had a couple little niggling things, we turned him out and he’s come back as good as ever.

“Fashion Business will be making his first start in the U.S. He’s a neat horse by Frankel who’s trained steadily and showed a lot of grit in the mornings. We’re looking forward to running him on the grass and seeing what he does.” The bay gelding’s only two races were on synthetic surfaces in England.

“Kenzou’s Rhythm has won three races in a row and to me, his last race on the grass was his most impressive. He’s getting good and going up the ladder.”

The Singletary marks the first stakes for Kenzou’s Rhythm, who broke his maiden at the $30,000 level, then won for a $20,000 tag before stepping up to win for $45,000.

            The Singletary, named for the 2004 Breeders’ Cup Mile winner: Ventry Bay, David Flores, 8-1; Double Touch, Israel Ocampo, 12-1; Vending Machine, Norberto Arroyo Jr.,

8-1; Bird Is the Word, Rafael Bejarano, 7-2; Fashion Business, Stewart Elliott, 6-1; Kenzou’s Rhythm, Edwin Maldonado, 12-1; Sharp Samurai, Joe Talamo, 3-1; Bowies Hero, Tiago Pereira, 4-1; Comma Sister, Martin Pedroza, 20-1; and Monster Man, Santiago Gonzalez, 12-1.


FINISH LINES: Programming note: Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and legendary Thoroughbred owner/breeder Jerry Moss will appear live via telephone from Churchill Downs on the “Petros and Money Show” on AM 570 today at 1:30 p.m. PT. Moss will discuss the chances of his Santa Anita Derby winner Gormley in Saturday’s Run for the Roses . . . Two-time Eclipse Award winner Songbird worked five furlongs at 6:45 Thursday morning in a leisurely 1:03.80 from the gate under exercise rider Freddie Rodriguez, whose brother, Edgar, the filly’s regular exercise rider, is at Churchill Downs with Jerry Hollendorfer and Kentucky Derby contender Battle of Midway. Hollendorfer assistant Dan Ward was on hand at Santa Anita supervising the drill, and was not unduly concerned with Songbird’s relatively slow time, confident she’ll strut her stuff when it counts. Said Ward: “Do you think LeBron James has to go nuts and dunk 20 times before the game starts?”. . . John Sadler has champion Stellar Wind scheduled to work four furlongs Friday for the Grade I Beholder Mile on June 3 . . . Effective today, agent Caesar Dominguez now represents journeyman Martin Garcia as well as apprentice Austin Solis . . . Chantal Sutherland has three mounts today in pursuit of career victory No. 1,000, with her best chance on 2-1 morning line favorite Passion for Papa and trainer Hector Palma in the sixth race . . . Royal F J makes his 97th career start in today’s fourth race, in which the 10-year-old Royal Academy gelding trained by Jack Carava is second morning line choice at 5-2 . . . Trainer Kenny Black will ride Grade I winner What a View when he works “an easy half” on the training track Friday in preparation for the Grade I Shoemaker Mile June 3 . . . Apprentice Laura (Midge) Werner, set to make her U.S. debut this month, won four official races in New Zealand, not “trial races,” as previously noted by her agent, Carolyn Conley.

(Current Through Sunday, April 30)
Jockey Mts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% ITM% Money Won
Rafael Bejarano 43 12 6 8 28% 60% $515,465
Flavien Prat 40 10 6 9 25% 63% $389,630
Joseph Talamo 46 7 6 5 15% 39% $268,156
Martin Pedroza 30 7 3 2 23% 40% $194,335
Tyler Baze 36 6 5 8 17% 53% $275,793
Stewart Elliott 38 5 4 6 13% 39% $150,555
Santiago Gonzalez 34 4 7 3 12% 41% $168,640
Norberto Arroyo, Jr. 30 4 3 7 13% 47% $230,388
Tiago Pereira 32 3 5 6 9% 44% $158,645
Kent Desormeaux 17 3 4 4 18% 65% $194,203
Corey Nakatani 19 3 3 2 16% 42% $188,345
Gary Stevens 13 3 2 2 23% 54% $160,825
Martin Garcia 20 3 0 3 15% 30% $236,260
Trainer Mts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% ITM% Money Won
Peter Miller 21 6 4 4 29% 67% $222,850
Richard Baltas 22 6 2 4 27% 55% $255,670
Philip D’Amato 27 5 5 3 19% 48% $291,025
Bob Baffert 13 5 1 2 38% 62% $308,610
Doug O’Neill 24 4 7 3 17% 58% $187,570
Jerry Hollendorfer 20 4 3 4 20% 55% $149,380
Steven Miyadi 14 3 3 4 21% 71% $93,309
William Morey 6 3 1 1 50% 83% $92,884
John Brocklebank 8 3 1 1 38% 63% $74,225
Jack Carava 10 3 1 1 30% 50% $58,445
Eddie Truman 5 3 0 1 60% 80% $76,320
Simon Callaghan 9 3 0 1 33% 44% $100,140