Eddie Delahoussaye is not only excited to have a stakes race named for him by Santa Anita on opening day next Friday, more importantly, he’s thrilled to be here in person to see history unfold.
The popular Hall of Fame rider, who retired due to injuries in 2003, is looking forward to the inaugural running of the Grade III Eddie D Stakes, formerly run as the Morvich Stakes, at about 6 ½ furlongs on the turf.
I was deserving. Like I told (Santa Anita Publicity Director) Mike Willman, ‘Usually they do this stuff when people die.’ I said, ‘I hope I make it. Maybe you know something I don’t know.’ We were laughing about it.
“But I think they’ve done the right thing. More things like this should be done while people are alive so they can still enjoy it. I thank everyone who was instrumental in naming this race, and for the new names of other stakes at Santa Anita this meet.
“I thank Mr. Stronach (Frank Stronach, Founder and Chairman of The Stronach Group which owns Santa Anita). People can say what they want about him, but he bought Santa Anita and other tracks, and if he hadn’t bought them, who would have?
“You have to give him credit. He’s trying to keep racing going. Some people have been critical about his methods, but he’s been successful.”
Delahoussaye is himself trying to maintain a degree of success, plying his trade as a bloodstock agent. His most recent venture came at the Keeneland September Yearling Sales.
“We did well there,” said Delahoussaye, who hasn’t lost the down home accent or sense of humor from his native Louisiana.
“We bought four and tried to get two more but either they didn’t pass the vet or we got outbid. Otherwise, sales were strong. For the economy the way it is, I think they did real well.”
Testimonials are unanimous in support of Delahoussaye as person and a rider, as noted in the following from Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert:
“Eddie Delahoussaye gave me my first biggest thrill in horse racing when he won the Breeders’ Cup for me with Thirty Slews down at Gulfstream Park (in 1992). I’ll never forget it. I was so nervous. I kept giving him instructions, and he told me not to be so nervous and to relax.
“I said, ‘No, the reason I’m this way is because I know I’ve got a shot to win.’ When I won that race that day, I thought that was it and that it can’t get any better than that. I’ll always be grateful to Eddie for that one big day. And I think it’s great that Santa Anita is honoring him.”
BAFFERT SEEKS TO ADD TO RECORD IN INAUGURAL FRONTRUNNER STAKES
Bob Baffert has won a record five of the 43 runnings of the Norfolk Stakes, which will be contested for the first time as the FrontRunner Stakes this year at Santa Anita, on Saturday, Sept. 29.
The 59-year-old Hall of Fame trainer could add to that mark in the “Win for You’re In” race for 2-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles. He has 10 horses nominated to the race, and said Thursday he could enter as many as four: Carving, owned by his wife, Jill; Code West, owned by Gary and Mary West; Den’s Legacy of the Westrock Stables, LLC; and Title Contender, also owned by the Wests.
Baffert’s previous Norfolk winners were Souvenir Copy (1997), Flame Thrower (2000), Kafwain (2002), Roman Ruler (2004) and Lookin At Lucky (2009).
KNAPP EXPECTS WAKE UP CALL FOR STRONG WIND IN CAL CUP JUVENILE
Steve Knapp has high hopes that Strong Wind can successfully negotiate two turns when he runs in the $250,000 guaranteed Bob Benoit California Cup Juvenile for 2-year-old colts and geldings at 1 1/16 miles on Oct. 13.
“I think he’ll run good,” said the 55-year-old trainer of Strong Wind, who won the $100,000 Graduation Stakes for Cal-breds at Del Mar by 4 ¼ lengths on Aug. 1. “He’s by Tribal Rule and I trained his full brother, Tribal Face, and that’s why I bought him.
“He gallops long every day and his body’s developing like a router, not a sprinter. He ran third last out in the I’m Smokin’ and the rider dropped his stick at the eighth pole.”
Knapp has more than one rooting interest these days. His daughter, 18-year-old Stevie Jo, is on a scholarship as a power-hitting third baseman for the Oregon Ducks’ women’s softball team, which was ranked No. 5 nationally last year.
Stevie Jo attended Ayala High School in Chino Hills, where Knapp resides.
FINISH LINES: Crystal Water winner Holladay Road worked four furlongs on Santa Anita’s main track in a bullet 48 seconds Thursday for the $175,000 Lava Man California Cup Classic presented by City National Bank at 1 1/16 miles on Oct. 13. Joe Talamo was up for trainer Julio Canani . . . Grade I Triple Bend winner Smiling Tiger worked four furlongs for trainer Jeff Bonde in 48.60, while 2009 Malibu winner M One Rifle went three furlongs in a bullet 35 flat for Bruce Headley . . . Kevin Meyocks is on loan from Gulfstream Park to help in Santa Anita’s racing office during the Breeders’ Cup meet. “This is my first time at Santa Anita,” said the 30-year-old Meyocks (pronounced “Meeks”). “I was an agent for six years and I’ve been in racing since I was 16.” Asked about the pronunciation of his last name, Dennis admitted the spelling doesn’t jive with how it’s verbalized. “In fact,” he said, “when I make a reservation at a restaurant, I just spell out Meeks. It’s easier that way.” . . . Trainer Armando Lage was a visitor at Clockers’ Corner Thursday. It wasn’t too many years back that the 55-year-old native of Mexico City was out of stock, and during race days at Santa Anita would sit in the grandstand seats wondering where his next horse was coming from. Now based in the Bay Area where he has resurrected his career, Lage said he plans to run horses at Santa Anita when the opportunity arises. “I ran four horses at Del Mar,” he said. “One was second, another finished third, and the other is still running.”