• ASCANIO HOPES TO PRESENT FRANKEL TROPHY
• SANTA ANITA WILL RESUME RACING THIS FRIDAY
• HOPPERTUNITY SEEKS THIRD SAN ANTONIO WIN
• SANTA ANITA OFFERS UBER DISCOUNT TO FANS
ASCANIO ‘OK’ AFTER ‘TUMBLE’ AT TRACK
Humberto Ascanio, longtime valued assistant to the late Bobby Frankel, hopes to recover from “a tumble” at the track just before Christmas so he can present a trophy to the winning connections of Saturday’s Grade III Robert J. Frankel Stakes.
“I’m OK, and I’ll try to be there,” Ascanio said by phone from his home in Arcadia Tuesday morning. “I’m going to be all right.”
Ascanio, 71, was hospitalized for a couple days but was discharged in time to be home for Christmas. Ascanio suffered a stroke in 2011 limiting mobility to his ride side, forcing him to give up his training career, but has been lending his expertise at trainer David Jacobson’s barn in advance of Santa Anita’s Winter Meet.
“I try to help when I can,” said Ascanio, who was Frankel’s right-hand man for 36 years before the Hall of Fame trainer died on Nov. 16, 2009, at the age of 68. “I try not to do too much at this stage of my life, but I like being around the barn.
“Will I ever train again? You can never say never.”
FINISH LINES: Santa Anita will be dark this Wednesday and Thursday and resume live racing Friday Dec. 29 at 12:30 p.m. through New Year’s Day, Jan. 1. Santa Anita will be dark Jan. 2, 3 and 4, and begin live racing again on Friday, Jan. 5 at 1 p.m. Admission gates open that day at 11 a.m. . . . Hoppertunity seeks to become the first three-time winner of the San Antonio Stakes when the six-year-old full horse faces five rivals today. Hoppertunity won the race on Feb. 4 of this year and on Feb. 6, 2016. Previous two-time winners are Gun Bow (1964 and 1965); Gentlemen (1997 and 1998); and Game On Dude (2012 and 2013) . . .Santa Anita will again offer its fans Uber discounts during the Winter Meet, valid for per cent off each ride to or from the track, up to $20, through June 24. Use discount code SANTAANITA18 for the bargain rate . . . Heartwood, a gray son of Tapit, will be running at the 10th different race track in 12 career starts in today’s Grade I Malibu Stakes . . . Cecily Evans makes her Santa Anita debut Friday aboard Baytown Juliet in the second race for trainer Ken Nettles. Represented by agent Ken Huth, the 29-year-old Evans grew up in the Baltimore area and has ridden on the East Coast since 2013, her stops including Turf Paradise, Canterbury and Delaware Park . . . Prepping for the Grade II La Canada Stakes on Jan. 13, champion Champagne Room worked four furlongs Tuesday in 47.60 for trainer Peter Eurton . . . Retired Hall of Fame jockey Don Pierce will present a trophy to the winning connections of today’s Grade I La Brea Stakes, which Pierce won in 1978 aboard Taisez Vous for trainer Robert Wheeler.