Friday, October 30, 2009



With eight racing days remaining in the Oak Tree meet and the eyes of the racing world zeroing in on 14 Breeders’ Cup World Championship races next Friday and Saturday, Bob Baffert and John Sadler not only are neck and neck for the training title, more importantly they are focusing on $25.5 million in Breeders’ Cup prize money.

Through Thursday, Baffert held a 15-13 lead over Sadler and had four prime candidates for the Cup events: Zensational in the $2 million Sprint at six furlongs; Lookin At Lucky in the $2 million Juvenile at 1 1/16 miles; Always a Princess in the $2 million Juvenile Fillies at 1 1/16 miles; and Richard’s Kid in the $5 million Classic at 1 1/4 miles.

Sadler, who won Oak Tree’s training crown last year with 12 wins, could have as many as six lesser lights running in Cup races, depending on who draws in from the also-eligible list.

Still, Sadler described this meet as “disappointing,” to date. “We’re doing good, but we’ve had a lot of seconds (12, with 10 thirds),” Sadler said. “We’re doing good, but not as good as we should be. We’ve got several days to turn it around, and we’re working every day.”

Surprisingly, the 53-year-old Sadler has yet to win a Breeders’ Cup race from 14 starts, although he remains optimistic. “The Breeders’ Cup’s going to be big,” he said. “We could have five or six starters. Get Funky’s on the alsos (for the Turf Sprint), but others are cross-entering, so I think he’s got a shot to get in. I would say we’ll have five starters for sure.

“If we could win a Breeders’ Cup, it would be great. The thing that people should realize is, these are really tough to win, because the horses are really good, so you need everything to go your way. You need a great trip, a great ride, and so on. You think just because you have a good horse, you’ve got to win. But when you get to this level, there are eight or nine in there that are very, very good.”

The 56-year-old Baffert, inducted into racing’s Hall of Fame last Aug. 14 and Oak Tree’s training king from 1997 through 1999, exercised a more succinct philosophy, perhaps because he already has seven Breeders’ Cup wins on his glossy resume.

“My meet will be next Friday and Saturday,” Baffert said. “As far as the Classic, it’s all about Zenyatta. Richard’s Kid is coming into the race as good as he was at Del Mar (prior to his 24-1 upset in the Pacific Classic). He’s as ready as I can get him, and I’m hoping for the best. We need luck.”

In other Breeders’ Cup news:

HRTV will televise Zenyatta’s final Breeders’ Cup workout live from her Hollywood Park headquarters Saturday during the premiere of its daily version of “Pursuit of the Cup, presented by OCD Pellets” show.

“She’ll probably go out around 9 o’clock and go six furlongs,” trainer John Shirreffs said of the champion mare, who is unbeaten in 13 races. Zenyatta stablemate Life Is Sweet (Ladies’ Classic) worked six furlongs at Hollywood Friday in a bullet 1:11.80.

On Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride Friday, Godolphin’s duo of Sara Louise (four furlongs in :47.40, breezing) and Seventh Street (five furlongs in 1:02.40) worked towards the Filly & Mare Sprint for trainer Saeed bin Suroor, while Bickersons (Juvenile Fillies) went four furlongs in :47 for trainer Kelly Breen. Also, Rainbow View (Filly & Mare Turf) went five furlongs in 1:00.80 for trainer John Gosden, while Sir Dave (Marathon) went the same distance in 1:01.20 for trainer Jack Carava. On turf, Ferneley (Mile) went five furlongs in :58.60 for trainer Ben Cecil.

Oak Tree clocker John Malone recorded the following fractional times: Seventh Street, :24 4/5, :37 1/5 and :50, with a gallop out of 1:16 1/5; Sara Louise, :12 2/5, :24 4/5, :36 3/5, with a gallop out of 1:01 1/5; and Bickersons going the final three-eighths in :34.

Proviso (Ladies’ Classic), Visit (Filly & Mare Turf) and Ventura (defending Filly & Mare Sprint winner) each worked on Hollywood Park’s Cushion Track Friday. Proviso went four furlongs in :48.80; Visit the same distance in :48, and Ventura five furlongs in :59.80, breezing. Jose Dominguez was aboard each for trainer Bobby Frankel.

“Ventura went fast, but she did it easy,” said Frankel assistant Humberto Ascanio. “Bobby wanted her to go a little slower, but she’s pretty quick.”

Also at Hollywood Friday, Delta Storm (Turf Sprint) went five furlongs in 1:01.40, and Monzante (Turf) went seven furlongs in 1:28.80, breezing, for Mike Mitchell, while Hawthorne Gold Cup winner Awesome Gem (Classic) went six furlongs in 1:13 for trainer Craig Dollase.

“I’m real pleased with the work,” Dollase said. “He came home in :11 and change and galloped out seven furlongs in (one) :26 and change. He’s right on target.”

Summer Bird galloped a mile and a half on Pro-Ride Friday and is scheduled to work five furlongs tomorrow with jockey Alonso Quinonez aboard, trainer Tim Ice said.

Trainer Chip Woolley Jr. said Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird will have his final breeze Monday for the Classic, going five furlongs under Joe Talamo.

Trainer Paddy Gallagher said Yellow Ribbon Stakes winner Musical Fantasy (Filly & Mare Turf) will work five furlongs on Santa Anita’s grass course tomorrow.

Baffert plans to give Zensational, Lookin At Lucky, Always a Princess and Richard’s Kid their final major workouts on Monday.

Norfolk Stakes runner-up Pulsion is scheduled to work Sunday for the Juvenile, trainer Patrick Biancone said.

Jerry Hollendorfer feels Blind Luck’s victory in the Grade I Oak Leaf Stakes on Pro-Ride Oct. 4 will benefit the daughter of Pollard’s Vision in the Juvenile Fillies. “I look at it as a slight advantage, having a race over the track,” said the trainer of more than 5,000 winners. “Or, it could even be a big advantage. At least we know she likes this track well enough to run a good race over it.”

Told that five Oak Leaf winners went on to capture the Juvenile Fillies (Stardom Bound, 2008; Sweet Catomine, 2004; Halfbridled, 2003; Phone Chatter, 1993 and Pleasant Stage, 1991), a somewhat surprised Hollendorfer said, “I’d like to keep the tradition alive.”

Agent Scotty McClellan has two mounts lined up for Talamo, Morvich Handicap winner California Flag for trainer Brian Koriner in the Turf Sprint, and Allicansayis Wow in the Filly & Mare Sprint.


Racing announcer Frank Mirahmadi, renowned for his spot-on impersonations of racing personalities and celebrities the world over, will do his thing as only he can next Wednesday and Thursday mornings at Clockers’ Corner, describing the horses as they make final preparations for their Breeders' Cup races.

Mirahmadi, a 42-year-old Los Angeles native who will be working on the TVG set at Oak Tree in the week leading up the Breeders' Cup, has been given the green light to use his many impressions while making the announcements. "I am grateful for the opportunity," said

Mirahmadi. "It will be a lot of fun to introduce the best horses in the world using many voices."

Mirahmadi, the voice of the Northern California Fairs, recently concluded the 2009 circuit. He was the Santa Anita track announcer in the film "Seabiscuit" and Monmouth Park’s announcer in the documentary "Ruffian.” Earlier this year, he used 23 voices while calling the Hasta La Vista Handicap at Turf Paradise.

"I will most certainly use the voices of Trevor Denman and Marv Albert," he said. "It wouldn't be appropriate if D. Wayne Lukas wasn't in the repertoire, and since I will be making my first visit into Bill Garr's old (KIEV) radio booth, I think a quick mention of the cool, crisp taste of Canada Dry in Garr's voice will be heard."

Mirahmadi also noted he will include the voices of Dave Johnson and Alan Buchdahl at least once, since they were calling races at Santa Anita when he was first attending “The Great Race Place” as a youngster.

Mirahmadi left no doubt as to his favorite announcer. “It was, is and always will be Trevor Denman,” he said. “He’s the best. He can follow a race like no other. He has an incredible voice, and an unmatched delivery.”


The Oak Tree Racing Association and Breeders’ Cup Limited will express their gratitude and recognize thousands of firefighters and emergency personnel whose hard work and sacrifice helped save hundreds of homes in the nearby San Gabriel Mountains by hosting a “Heroes and Horses” party in the Santa Anita infield on Breeders’ Cup Classic Day, Saturday, Nov. 7.

It is expected that some 2,000 firefighters, emergency personnel and their families will attend, along with an impressive array of emergency equipment.

“The Station Fire has been categorized as the worst fire in the history of Los Angeles County and those of us at Oak Tree are sincerely grateful for the job the firefighters and all emergency personnel did on this and other fires this past month,” said Oak Tree Director and Executive Vice President Sherwood Chillingworth. “Many of us live in close proximity to the burn areas and Santa Anita itself is situated at the foot of these magnificent mountains.

“We were all affected in some way by the magnitude of the Station Fire and we want to express our gratitude to these brave men and women and their families by inviting them to come and enjoy the races on the biggest day of the year here in our infield. We want them to know their hard work and dedication to our safety has not gone unnoticed. They truly are heroes and they and their families will be treated as such here on Nov. 7,” Chillingworth added.

All firefighters and emergency personnel, along with their families, will be admitted free and their all-day party will begin in the infield at 10 a.m. Farmer John and Pepsi will provide complimentary beverages and food to all attendees throughout the day. A complimentary luncheon buffet will be served from 12 noon to 2 p.m.

ESPN and ABC will combine to televise the day’s races, and plans are underway for a special on-air salute that will include an eight-person color guard and an official Breeders’ Cup welcome from announcer Larry Colmus.

FINISH LINES: Rafael Bejarano, recovering from the flu, took off his mounts for the second straight day Friday. Agent Joe Ferrer said he expects Oak Tree’s second-leading rider to resume riding Saturday. Joel Rosario and Alonso Quinonez also took off Friday due to illness, steward Tom Ward reported . . . HRTV will broadcast the prestigious Melbourne Cup from Australia at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 2. The Melbourne Cup is Australia's major annual Thoroughbred race and has been contested at Flemington Racecourse since 1861. One of the world's richest turf races, it carries a $5 million purse for 3-year-olds and up at two miles on the grass . . . Steve Schwartz, a prominent trial lawyer specializing in equine veterinary and medical issues, has been named president of the Thoroughbred Owners of California and will assume his duties effective Nov. 15. A long-time horse owner, Schwartz currently has six Thoroughbreds . . .The Race Track Chaplaincy of America selected Steve Hiatt, a horse van operator in Northern California, for its seventh annual White Horse Award recognizing racing-related heroic acts. Hiatt was cited for answering distress calls for transporting critically ill horses for veterinary care and helping other transporters who had breakdowns. The award will be made at a luncheon at Santa Anita on Nov. 5. . . . Rudy Alvarado, author of “The Untold Story of Joe Hernandez: The Voice of Santa Anita,” has a book signing scheduled next weekend at Borders Bookstore in Arcadia at the mall adjacent to Santa Anita Park from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Alvarado will sign copies of the special new edition which features a foreword by the son of Joe Hernandez, Father Frank Hernandez, S. J., and an expanded audio CD of Joe's most famous race calls . . . On Halloween tomorrow, Oak Tree will host the inaugural 93.1 FM Jackoberfest in Santa Anita’s infield. Activities will feature three live sets by Terri Nunn and Berlin starting after the sixth race. In addition, Jack FM will host a sticker event in the Colorado parking lot beginning at 9 a.m. Limited to the first 1,000 cars, the sticker provides free parking, two free event passes and a Jack FM T-shirt . . . Participants alive in Oak Tree’s online handicapping contest ShowVivor were reduced to 24 prior to Friday’s races . . . Daylight Saving Time begins Sunday. Set your clocks back one hour Saturday night . . .At Clockers’ Corner Friday morning, Los Angeles-born trainer Dan Hendricks told Bronx-born trainer Jim Cassidy that his favorite baseball team is the Dodgers, quickly adding that, “My second-favorite team is whoever is playing the Yankees.”

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