Monday, January 05, 2009



Magnum is scheduled to make his first start in more than five months when the gelding bred in Argentina runs in Saturday’s Grade II, $150,000 San Pasqual Handicap, a major prep for the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap on March 7.

“He had a quarter crack,” trainer Darrell Vienna said in explaining his absence. “This is a logical starting point back for him, because he’s a horse without any conditions, and he’s got some age on him. He’s been a useful horse and he’s paid his way.”

The 8-year-old son of El Compinche has a 5-3-2 record from 24 starts, with earnings of $681,249 for owners William and Donna Herrick of Carlsbad.

Probable for the 72nd running of the San Pasqual: Magnum, Martin Pedroza; Mostacolli Mort, Garrett Gomez; Past the Point, Rafael Bejarano; Racketeer, no rider; Slew’s Tizzy, Joel Rosario; Well Armed, Aaron Gryder; and possibly Ferneley, no rider.


Eddie Logan, who has been at Santa Anita every opening day since the track opened on Christmas Day 1934, was expected to be back at his familiar shoeshine stand next Wednesday after the 98-year-old icon was taken to Arcadia Methodist Hospital Saturday following an apparent seizure.

According to Champions! Gift Shop manager Christine Crocker, the attack was brought on by Logan ingesting a combination of his beloved Hennessy brandy and blood pressure medication.

“Although he knows better, Eddie has done this in the past and has said many times, ‘I’m going to go sometime, so it might as well be by doing something I like.” Logan will be 98 on May 2.

The mishap occurred at approximately 4 p.m. Saturday. “He was sitting outside my window,” said Santa Anita paymaster of purses Cece Connor, “when I noticed him gasping. I called our first aid department, then 911.”

Logan was in Intensive Care overnight, and according to Crocker, “could be released late Sunday, and his family indicated he would be back at work on Wednesday,” she said.

Until his return, Logan’s loyal customers will stand guard against the four biggest enemies of race track leather known to Eddie Logan: “salt, brace, alkali and urine!”


You can’t keep a good man down. Martin Garcia adheres to that adage. He had one win from 23 starts going into Saturday, but the hard-working native of Veracruz, Mexico, ended his skid in style with two generously priced winners, Coastal Souvenir ($31) for trainer Jeff Mullins in the second race, and first-time starter Gotmymojoworkin ($13.40) for John Sadler in the third. Garcia narrowly missed a triple when Slokkie lost the fifth by a neck at 27-1.

“This is a tough circuit, because everyone knows how to ride,” said the 24-year-old former short order cook, who worked in a deli despite not speaking English when he came to this country in 2003. “If they’re on the right horse, any of them can win,” continued Garcia, whose agent is Roger Olguin. “I work hard in the mornings, but everyone else does, too. I just have to keep at it and things will come around, like they did yesterday.

“You can work harder than anyone in the mornings, but that doesn’t guarantee any winners in the afternoon, and the main thing is winning. It can get frustrating, but everyone experiences slow times and can get frustrated, but it’s only temporary.

“The competition is tough, but it’s a great opportunity to learn because you’re riding against the best, like (Garrett) Gomez, who’s won more money than anybody (the last three years). It’s hard not to learn something riding against guys like that, and you never finish learning.”


There are no statues of John Shear at Santa Anita, although he is a fixture at the historic track. Since 1962, he has been a loyal employee, and the paddock supervisor for the past 20 years.

On Jan. 17, the diminutive Shear, known as “Little John” to his friends, celebrates his 88th birthday.

“He loves his job and is very fond of the men and women who work with him, often referring to them as ‘his kids,’” says his wife of 43 years, Diane. They reside in Sierra Madre, a few furlongs from the track.

Shear, a member of Teamsters Local 495 since 1961, has no plans to retire. “As long as he is fit and can do the same good job he has always done, he'll be there in the paddock,” Diane said. “Patrons often come up to him at Santa Anita and Hollywood Park and say, ‘I remember you when I was a little kid coming here with my folks.’”

John’s son, Mike, is a publishing company executive in San Diego. John is an avid poker player (Texas Hold ‘em) and makes several trips to Las Vegas every year, often with press box friends Ellis Davis and “Elevator Gail” McNeil. “Las Vegas is not my cup of tea,” Diane says, “but I don't mind John's frequent trips, because he wins 19 out of 20 times!”

FINISH LINES: CashCall Futurity winner Pioneerof the Nile worked five furlongs on Pro-Ride Sunday in a bullet :58.40 under Garrett Gomez. “He went a little faster than we wanted, but good horses will do that,” trainer Bob Baffert said. “It looked like he was galloping out there.” Baffert said the Triple Crown contender likely will make his 3-year-old debut in the Grade II, $200,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on Feb. 7 . . . Baffert plans to work his three nominees to next Sunday’s Grade III, $100,000 Santa Ysabel Stakes tomorrow, and if all goes well, could start each: Century Park, Jemmealey and Toro Bonito, in the 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-old fillies . . . Champs Elysees, a candidate for the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap on March 7, worked five furlongs for Bobby Frankel in 1:01.80 under Goncalino Almeida. Frankel, with three stakes wins under his belt in the first eight days of the meet, plans to use the Grade II, $200,000 San Antonio Handicap on Feb. 8 as a Big ’Cap prep . . . Ron Ellis plans to go through conditions with Mr. Gruff, an impressive 4 ¼-length maiden winner at about 6 ½ furlongs on turf in yesterday’s fourth race. “He’s always had a lot of ability,” Ellis said of the 5-year-old Mr. Greeley gelding, “but I’ve always had a lot of trouble with his rear end (muscles). He’s kind of bred for the grass. His mom (Ruff) won a Grade III on the grass, but until they do it, you don’t know for sure.” . . . Christiana’s Heat, who outran her odds to finish second by a half-length at 18-1 to favored Jibboom in Saturday’s Grade III Monrovia Handicap, has more downhill turf sprints in her future. “The plan is to run her in the ($70,000) Wishing Well Handicap on Jan. 31, then the ($125,000) Irish O’Brien Stakes (on March 17, St. Patrick’s Day),” trainer Steve Knapp said.

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