“I got him the end of July,” the trainer said. “The owners just made a change, and actually, I’ve never met them. I talked to them on the phone a couple times, but I’ve never met them. The horse has been training super since I got him.”
Previously trained by Gary Mandella, Albertus Maximus is a 4-year-old son of Albert the Great owned and bred by Brandon and Marianne Chase of Los Angeles.
Garrett Gomez rides Albertus Maximus in the 1 1/8-mile Goodwood, the final major local prep for the 1 ¼-mile Classic.
Cerin is among the vast majority of horsemen who are encouraged by Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride main track. “It’s great,” he said. “The track’s in really good condition.”
The Goodwood, for 3-year-olds and up, is one of six Grade I “Win and You’re In” races next Saturday, Sept. 27.The others are the $250,000 Oak Leaf Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at
1 1/16 miles; the $250,000 Clement L. Hirsch Turf Championship for 3-year-olds and up at 1 ¼ miles; the $250,000 Lady’s Secret Stakes for fillies and mares, 3 years old and up at 1 1/16 miles; the $250,000 Ancient Title Stakes for 3-year-olds and up at six furlongs; and the $400,000 Yellow Ribbon Stakes for fillies and mares, 3 years old and up at 1 ¼ miles on turf.
Oak Tree will card a total of 11 races Sept. 27 and offer a $1 million guaranteed pool in the Pick Six. The first 25,000 fans in attendance will receive a freshly designed Oak Tree polo shirt, free with paid admission. First post time Saturday is 12:30 p.m.
Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride surface was installed in mid-July and completed late last month, when horses began galloping over the newly reconstituted surface. Oak Tree will be hosting the Breeders’ Cup for the fourth time and the first time under its two-day format, which features 14 races with total purses of $25.5 million. Oak Tree will also be the first-ever venue to host the Breeders’ Cup in consecutive years. It will present the Championships in 2009 on Nov. 6 and 7.
For the third straight year, ESPN will televise the Breeders’ Cup live.
Oak Tree begins its 40th season next Wednesday, Sept. 24. First post time is 1 p.m.
ZENYATTA, TIAGO EYE BREEDERS’ CUP PREPS
The stars would have to properly align and either Big Brown or Curlin would have to stub their toes in order for the undefeated filly Zenyatta to overtake them and be named Horse of the Year.
Such an honor would be great for her owners, Jerry and Ann Moss, and trainer John Shirreffs, who prefers to leave matters in the hands of those in control. “I can’t go there,” the diffident trainer said when asked what it would take for Zenyatta to be named Horse of the Year. “I think there are a couple horses called Curlin and Big Brown.”
Meanwhile, Shirreffs says the filly is on course as she prepares for next Saturday’s Grade I, $250,000 Lady’s Secret Handicap, which he hopes will lead to her ultimate objective, the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic on Oct. 25. Another Moss trainee, Santa Anita Derby and Swaps Stakes winner Tiago, is expected to defend his title in the Goodwood. He captured the race last year with a thrilling stretch run, defeating Awesome Gem by a nose as the 2-1 favorite, covering the distance in 1:46.93.
“Both my horses are doing well,” Shirreffs said.
POPULAR OAK TREE STEIN GIVEAWAY ON OPENING DAY
All fans in attendance at Santa Anita on opening day, next Wednesday, will receive a free commemorative Oak Tree stein with paid admission while supplies last. This is the 22nd consecutive year of the popular promotion, the longest running and most popular in Oak Tree history.
This year the steins, which have become prized collector’s items, feature the likeness of Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella, who won an unprecedented four Breeders’ Cup races at Oak Tree in 2003. His four winners, Halfbridled, Pleasantly Perfect, Johar and Action This Day, will also be depicted.
In addition to the stein, fans will receive two coupons redeemable for reduced admission on Saturday, Sept. 27. Opening day patrons also will receive two coupons good for free admission on weekdays.
‘LIVING LEGENDS’ AT OAK TREE ON OCT. 18
The “Living Legends Race,” an unprecedented event in which eight retired Hall of Fame jockeys are scheduled to return for a last hurrah in the profession that brought them gold and glory, will take place on Oct. 18 during Oak Tree’s prelude to the Breeders’ Cup World Championships the following weekend. The race will feature live pari-mutuel wagering, which has been approved by the California Horse Racing Board.
Contested at a sprint distance, the race will feature Angel Cordero Jr., 65; Jacinto Vasquez, 64; Sandy Hawley, 59; Pat Day, 55; Chris McCarron, 53; Jerry Bailey, 51; Gary Stevens, 45; and Julie Krone, 45. Each rider’s mount will be a California-bred selected by draw and will be assigned 126 pounds.
The eight legends won an astounding 71,872 races combined and their mounts earned nearly $2 billion.
Retired Hall of Fame jockey Eddie Delahoussaye is looking forward to seeing the “Oak Tree Octet” in action.
“I can’t compete because of my injuries, but I can’t wait to see them in action again,” he said.
ANIMAL PLANET DOCU-SERIES ‘JOCKEYS’ BEING FILMED AT OAK TREE
An unprecedented inside look at the world of race riders, entitled, “Jockeys,” is being filmed during the 26 days of the Oak Tree meet at Santa Anita.
Premiering in early 2009 on the Animal Planet network, which is presenting the series in conjunction with esteemed entertainment producer Go Go Luckey and in association with The Jockeys Guild, “Jockeys” will follow the fortunes of a competitive group of riders in pursuit of success in their profession.
The Oak Tree Racing Association and Santa Anita Park are working with the production company on the compelling 12-episode series.
FINISH LINES: Agent Ron Anderson has the following mounts lined up for Garrett Gomez on Oak Tree’s “Super Saturday,” Sept. 27, when six Grade I stakes races in advance of the Breeders’ Cup on Oct. 24 and 25 will be decided: Idiot Proof in the Ancient Title; Black Mamba in the Yellow Ribbon; Albertus Maximus in the Goodwood; Out of Control in the Hirsch; and Hystericalady in the Lady’s Secret. Gomez is on his way to his third straight year leading the nation in purse money won. “He’s as good as he’s ever been right now,” trainer Cliff Sise Jr. said of Idiot Proof, who won the Ancient Title last year under David Flores. “It seems like he handles this track.” . . . Bob Baffert plans to train Midnight Lute up to the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint on Oct. 25. “He grabbed a quarter a Del Mar, but it’s growing out and I’m dealing with that,” Baffert said of the 2007 Sprint champion . . . Breeders’ Cup Sprint candidate In Summation, who is nominated to the Ancient Title, worked four furlongs at Santa Anita today in :47.40 for Christophe Clement . . . Bob Hess Jr. is hopeful Dave’s Revenge, who won first time out in a maiden special weight race going long at Del Mar, will qualify for either the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf or the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies on Oct. 24. The trainer likes the way horses are responding to Santa Anita’s new synthetic surface. “After the last meet, it was rock-hard,” Hess said, “but since we’ve been back, any foot issues have completely disappeared. It’s exceptionally kinder, but not horribly slow, either.”