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Sunday, January 06, 2008


Go Seahawks!

Gulfstream results from yesterday showed a mix of speed and rallying winners over a sloppy track and not a good day for Canadians. Both Julia Carey trainee KAHANAMOKU and the Reade Baker trainee Notgivinmyluvaway were last in their respective races yesterday. The latter was last in the Hutcheson Stakes won by longshot Smooth Air (Smooth Jazz).

Meanwhile, the exciting Canadian-bred DAAHER (Awesome Again) breezed a half-mile in :49 1/5 over the fast Palm Meadows training oval on Saturday. The Kiaran McLaughlin charge may make his four-year-old bow in the February 2 Donn H. (G1).


Drainage issues cancel full Santa Anita card

Heavy rains Friday and early Saturday cause more problems for the Cushion Track surface on the main track.


Special to the Register

ARCADIA -- Racing at Santa Anita was canceled early Saturday after the first of what is expected to be a series of rainstorms. With more rainfall forecast, today's card also could be in jeopardy.

About 5 inches of rain fell at Santa Anita between Friday afternoon and early Saturday morning. Although there was no rain when the track opened for normal training hours Saturday, the decision was made to cancel the scheduled 10-race card in the interest of safe conditions after Santa Anita president Ron Charles met with track superintendent Richard Tedesco, maintenance personnel, jockeys and trainers.

"We've had crews working around the clock to correct the problem," Charles said. "If it stops raining, we might be OK. But more rain is expected and we have no control over that. We're expecting a tremendous amount of rain over the next four days."

The Cushion Track installed here last summer at a cost of $10 million and first used for the fall Oak Tree meet, is intended to be an all-weather surface. However, it has failed to drain properly since early December despite efforts by surface manufacturers to correct the situation.

Paul Harper, the technical director of the British-based company that produces Cushion Track, acknowledged in a press release Wednesday there had been errors in Santa Anita's surface.

Cushion Track is made of sand, fibers and rubber, all coated in wax, and it has a drainage system that is supposed to remove water from the top layer and send it through pipes that lay below extensive layers of porous material.

"The sand seems to be the area of concern," Harper said in the release.

Cushion Track, which first was installed at Hollywood Park for its fall season in 2006, has conducted three meets without reported drainage problems.

Harper acknowledged that one reason the Cushion Track at Santa Anita has performed differently from the one at Hollywood Park is that the company felt it needed the Arcadia surface to withstand the extreme heat that frequently occurs here during the Oak Tree meet.

"The focus on the high temperatures was in hindsight a mistake," Harper said. "This has almost certainly compromised the drainage characteristics of the surface."

There remains concern about extreme heat at Santa Anita because the 25th Breeders' Cup is scheduled during the 2008 Oak Tree meet.

Saturday's cancellation was the first at Santa Anita since rain washed out all but the first race here Jan. 9, 2005.

The Saturday card included the $150,000 San Pasqual Handicap, a 1 1/16-mile prep for the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap on March 1, and the $100,000 Santa Ysabel Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. Santa Anita publicity director Mike Willman said those races have not been rescheduled.

At the same time Santa Anita is having problems with its synthetic surface, Golden Gate Fields in Albany, near Berkeley, continues to race despite substantial rainfall in Northern California.

Golden Gate Fields which, like Santa Anita, is owned by Magna Entertainment, has installed Tapeta Footings, made by former trainer Michael Dickinson.

"Even with all the rain we've had the past couple of days, we've had a fast track and no problems," Golden Gate Fields spokesman Tom Ferrall said Saturday.

Smooth Air's victory almost a heartbreaker

By Tom Jicha | South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Hallandale Beach - Bennie Stutts won the biggest race of his 40-year career Saturday at Gulfstream. He got so excited, he said, tapping his heart, "I almost had the big one here."

The cause of all this was Smooth Air, who came from just off the pace to capture the $150,000 added Hutcheson Stakes, the first of Gulfstream's preps on the road to the Florida Derby and Kentucky Derby.

Stutts, a Calder veteran, said he trained for 30 years before he won his first stakes. His previous biggest win was with a horse called Predawn Raid in a Grade III at Calder. "This is a Grade II," Stutts said. "I'm going up in the world."

He also might be hitting the road with Smooth Air, who won the seven-furlong race by a length over Silver Edition. Halo Najib, the 2-1 favorite was another three lengths back in third. "We've got a lot of options. "They have that Sunshine Millions. That's a pretty big purse [$250,000] out in California. Then there's that Tampa race [the Sam Davis, another Derby prep] at a mile and a sixteenth. That makes a lot of sense."

The latter would indicate Stutts has caught at least a mild case of Derby fever. Asked how far he thought Smooth Air could go, he hedged, although members of the exuberant winner's circle contingent shouted, "A mile and a quarter," the distance of the Kentucky Derby. "He can be rated, so speed is dangerous," Stutts said.

Rating Smooth Air was the key to the Hutcheson. The race played out just the way Stutts and jockey Manoel Cruz plotted it. Smooth Air had been prominent early in all four of his previous races, but Stutts didn't want him on the lead Saturday. "There was a lot of speed in the race. I told Manny, 'Don't go with that speed. Take him off the pace.'"

Cruz rode to orders. He allowed Tiz it and Silver Edition to duel, sitting a length or two back before making his move as the field straightened for the stretch run.

Tiz It faded but Silver Edition hung in gamely as Smooth Air eased away late.

Despite a couple of victories and having hit the board in four starts at Calder, Smooth Air was allowed to get away at 9-1, as the public zeroed in on contenders from New York and Kentucky. There's a lesson there, Stutts said. "The Calder horse made out well, right? Don't count out Calder anymore."

Calder horses could manage only a second and third in the co-featured Mr. Prospector, as Noonmark drove home inside 2-1 favorite Mach Ride to win the Grade III event by two lengths. Finallymadeit, who dueled Keyed Entry into submission, was no match for the top two but held on for the show.

Elvis Trujillo swung Mach Ride wide around the pace-setters at the top of the stretch, while Rene Douglas on Noonmark bided his time hoping for the rail to open. When Finallymadeit drifted off the fence, Douglas shot Noonmark through the hole and swept past Mach Ride.

Keyed Entry, who had won all three of his previous starts at Gulfstream, faded to last.


From the Washington Post

By John Scheinman

Special to The Washington Post

Sunday, January 6, 2008; Page D16

For the past four months, the speedy New York-based gelding Digger has traveled down to Maryland to feast on the stakes races at Laurel Park. In September, he took the Deputed Testamony Stakes by more than 11 lengths; in November, it was the Northern Dancer by 3 1/4 lengths; in December, the Jennings Handicap by two lengths.

Each of those races, however, were restricted to Maryland-bred runners, and yesterday Digger found out the hard way that horses who race in open company won't just submit to his will.

Todd Pletcher, the leading trainer in the country, sent a bay 5-year-old named Throng to Laurel for the $80,000 Native Dancer, and even though the horse is a second- or third-stringer in his own barn, he ran Digger off his feet to win the one-turn mile race by four widening lengths.

Racing on the lead under jockey Carlos Marquez, Throng galloped comfortably through solid fractions, ran the final eighth of a mile in 12.37 seconds and won the local prep race for the Grade II $300,000 General George Breeders' Cup Handicap next month in a time of 1:34.80, just two-fifths of a second off the track record.

Judiths Wild Rush, who won the Native Dancer last year when first-place finisher Your Bluffing was disqualified, finished second. Long-shot Barracuda Boy placed third.

Digger, sent off as a commanding 3-2 favorite in the field of nine, stalked the pace for six furlongs and looked stunned when unable to get to the front. He appeared to give up in the stretch, staggering across the finish line in last place, nearly 20 lengths behind the winner.

"It didn't feel like anything was wrong; he just did not try to compete," said Horacio Karamanos, Digger's regular jockey at Laurel for trainer Richard Dutrow Jr.

For a jockey, any ride on a horse trained by Pletcher is a good one, and the veteran Marquez took full advantage of his opportunity.

Jockey Ryan Fogelsonger originally had been named to ride, but he failed a random drug test of the entire Laurel Park jockey colony on Thursday, testing positive for marijuana.

To read more…


The Keeneland January Sale starts tomorrow and, judging by the results from the Keeneland November sale and other major autumn sales, Canadians are in the market for horses.

The CANADIAN THOROUGHBRED SIRE BOOK, on sale now, is not only an impressive, glossy, book that is a necessary guide for any local horseperson/fan, has a tabulation of results from the Keeneland Nov. sale and other major US autumn sales, with regards to Canadian buyers.

The stats say this..

Total spent in 2007 in US Funds $13,263,280

2006 - $12,941,800

Ontario led with $7 million of those purchases.

The most notable of the buys was the $2.5 million for Lemons Forever (Ky. Oaks winner) by Russ Bennett (for Charles Fipke).


The big grey mare MONASHEE, British Columbia champion and a Sovereign Award finalist, races at Santa Anita on Monday (maybe, if the rain stops) in the Paseana Handicap.

You can read the report from the DRF’s Jay Privman at


Kentucky-bred FRIVOLETTE, A Woodbine Regular owned bu Woodbine trainer Jim Smith and David Oates, romped in an allowance race at Laurel yesterday – scoring by 6 in the $30,000 allowance.

LAUREL PARK, 8th, January 5, Alw, $30,000, 4yo up, f&m, a8.5f, fast,


1st—FRIVOLETTE, Ch. m. 5, Stephen Got Even iSD—Flintheart, by Grindstone.

O—Smith, James J. and Oates, David; B—J. Lancaster, G. Lancaster, K.

Lancaster, & Hilbert Thoroughbreds Inc. (Ky.); T—Edmond D. Gaudet. 24-

4-2-7, $100,826. $22,000 2003 KEENOV.

Earlier, Stronach Stables’ Ontario bred TOUCH A PRICE won his maiden for $20K claiming for trainer Justin Nixon.

The Touch Gold-Purple Princess gelding won by more than four lengths (and he set a track record for ‘about 1 1/16 miles), 1:46 and change, somewhat bizarre.


I’m just about to crack open DICK FRANCIS’ latest book (co-written with his son Felix), DEAD HEAT and on Youtube today, I found that someone had put one of his most famous rides (because it was bizarre) on there..It’s a 6 minute job but a cool clip of the 1956 Grand National and Dick Francis seemingly on his way to win on the Queen Mother’s DEVON LOCH.


From: samothraki1

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