When Mary Hartmann saddles Presious Passion for Saturday’s $500,000 Sunshine Millions Turf, she doesn’t expect the race to turn into a soap opera.
The trainer probably has heard all the wisecracks about her name, and its nearly identical spelling to that of the 1976 syndicated soap opera parody, “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman.”
“I had the horse from his third start,” said Hartmann, who arrived in California Wednesday and who has been training for about a dozen years. “He just doesn’t like wet turf, yielding turf,” although he did win the United Nations Handicap at Monmouth last July on a yielding course.
Presious Passion is owned by Patricia Generazio. “She’s great and has a lot of horses,” said Hartmann, who didn’t elaborate on Patricia’s vocation, only to say she’s “just rich,” with a laugh.
Hartmann is a New Jersey resident who came up under trainer J.J. (Jim) Crupi. He is now “in Ocala, pinhooking,” Hartmann said. “When he retired, he gave me everything. I have horses at Monmouth, the Meadowlands, and Florida, and about 10 in Florida and 35 in New Jersey.
“This is my first time at Santa Anita. It’s beautiful.”
In other Sunshine Millions Turf news:
Lucky J.H. will try to successfully negotiate 1 1/8 miles on turf for the first time when the 7-year-old horse runs in the Sunshine Millions Turf. The California-bred son of Cee’s Tizzy owned by John Harris and trained by Carla Gaines won his last race, the restricted Impressive Luck Handicap at about 6 ½ furlongs on turf, on Dec. 29. It was his first start since April 4, 2008.
“He was coming off a long layoff, so the 6 ½ made sense for his first start (back),” Gaines said. “He’s had that race, and a nice, two-turn work on the main track, so he’s ready to go.”
Lucky J.H. was second at 1 1/8 miles on Hollywood Park’s main track in the Snow Chief Stakes in 2005. He has an 8-3-4 record from 18 starts, with earnings of $630,065.
The field for the Turf: Jack’s Wild, Joel Rosario, 12-1; Epic Power, Corey Nakatani, 15-1; Presious Passion, Elvis Trujillo, 6-1; Swift Winds, Alonso Quinonez, 8-1; Liberian Freighter, David Flores, 20-1; Victory Pete, Mike Smith, 30-1; Icy Atlantic, Eibar Coa, 9-2; Soldier’s Dancer, Rafael Bejarano, 5-2; Pistol Pete Afleet, Jesus Rios, 30-1; Lucky J.H., Victor Espinoza, 5-1; Unusual Suspect, Joe Talamo, 10-1; Mr. Chairman, Michael Baze, 15-1; Seminole Native, Jose Valdivia Jr., 20-1; and Screen to Screen, Garrett Gomez, 20-1.
In other Sunshine Millions news:
Lady Railrider is getting acclimated to Santa Anita as she prepares for the $500,000 Distaff. The 4-year-old California-bred daughter of Ride the Rails began her career in Idaho and had her last 10 starts in the Bay Area.
“She shipped here good and she’s been training good,” trainer Steve Specht said Friday morning. “She’s been looking around, taking in her new surroundings, and hasn’t been quite as aggressive as she normally is up north during her two days of galloping down here, but hopefully she’s just checking out the scenery.
“Physically, she’s healthy and sound and hasn’t missed an oat since she’s been here, so I’m hoping she’ll continue to move up. She tries hard every time, but this is a pretty tough bunch. She’s never run with these kind before . . . she’s had a couple route races under her belt (both victories) . . . She actually should have won the day she ran second (last Oct. 13) first time back (after an eight-month absence due to a quarter crack in her coronet band). She got dead-stopped halfway down the backside and went back to last. She came rolling down the lane but got there too late.”
Lady Railrider is 20-1 on the morning line, but that’s no deterrent for Specht. He saddled McCann’s Mojave to win the 2007 Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream Park at odds of 33-1.
Lady Railrider has a 4-4-1 record from 12 starts, with earnings of $134,700 for owners Mr. and Mrs. Larry Williams of Boise, Idaho.
The field for the Distaff, which goes as race No. 9 on an 11-race program: Waveline, Rafael Bejarano, 20-1; Briecat, Jon Court, 9-2; Leah’s Secret, Eibar Coa, 7-2; Eclatante, Jose Valdivia Jr., 30-1; Lady Railrider, Frank Alvarado, 20-1; Spenditallbaby, Victor Espinoza, 10-1; Unforgotten, Shaun Bridgmohan, 6-1; Bai and Bai, Corey Nakatani, 8-1; Dawn After Dawn, Garrett Gomez, 10-1; Annabill, Joel Rosario, 5-1; Tiz A Blend, Tyler Baze, 12-1; Amazing, Elvis Trujillo, 15-1; and Perfect Hostess, Alonso Quinonez, 30-1.
Bejarano is named on three morning line favorites in the Sunshine Millions races at Santa Anita: Soldier’s Dancer, Emmy Darling and In Summation. His lone outsider is 20-1 shot Waveline in the Distaff.
First post time Sunshine Millions Day is 11:45 a.m. Gates open at 10 a.m. All THOROUGHBREDS members in attendance will receive free the official Sunshine Millions AM/FM Beach radio with paid admission while supplies last.
Saturday marks the grand opening of Lucky B’s hot dog stand in the Tower Concession stand adjacent to the East Paddock Gardens, featuring four kinds of delicious hot dogs and showcasing celebrity look-alikes and hostesses.
Lucky B’s is scheduled to remain open each weekend through the Santa Anita meet, offering the Lucky B’s hot dog; the classic Foot-Long; the spicy Chili Cheese; and the classic Chicago-style. Other goodies such as sodas and chips will be available.
The popular Miss Sunshine Millions Pageant and the Santa Anita Handicapping Contest also will take place Saturday at Santa Anita.
CLAIMER TURNED STAKES WINNER ON THE ACORN RETIRED
On the Acorn, a rags-to-riches gelding who rose from the claiming ranks to become a graded stakes winner, was retired Thursday after suffering a ligament tear while preparing for a return to the races in the San Luis Rey Handicap on March 21, according to trainer Mike Mitchell.
Claimed for $40,000 on Nov. 25, 2006, British-bred On the Acorn went on to win five of 10 starts and earn $581,400 for the Indizguys Stable’s partnership that includes Santa Anita publicist Jack Disney, his brother, Doug, former Angels baseball manager Buck Rodgers, former Los Angeles Times Hall of Fame baseball writer Ross Newhan, former USC and San Francisco 49ers receiver Paul Salata and insurance executive Fred Krueger.
On the Acorn, a son of Inchinor, retired with an overall record of 8-3-4 in 32 lifetime starts for career earnings of $743,812. His victories included the 2007 San Juan Capistrano Handicap and Hollywood Park's Jim Murray Memorial Handicap twice.
“If he wasn't going to be the same horse at 8, we're just so grateful for the excitement and comraderie he provided our group, and will continue to savor his last race when he nipped Champs Elysees on the money to win his second Jim Murray,” Disney said. “Mike is going to give him to Sherry, the gallop girl who became so very devoted to Acorn, and maybe she will eventually make a jumper out of him, but the proviso is that he never show up on a racetrack again for anybody.
"While On the Acorn's performance far exceeded our wildest expectations, a most satisfying bi-product was the exciting comraderie he brought to our ownership group, many of whom entered the venture as little more than casual acquaintances."
“He’s been a real good horse and he’s retiring sound,” Mitchell said. “We wanted him to have a good life in retirement. That was our plan from the beginning.”
FINISH LINES: Sunny skies are forecast this weekend in the Arcadia area . . . The popular Magna 5, an exotic wager consisting of five races in about an hour, resumes at Santa Anita Saturday starting with the ninth race at Laurel at approximately 1:42 p.m. Races completing the bet are the fifth from Gulfstream Park (2:05 p.m.), the sixth at Santa Anita (2:23), the fifth at Golden Gate (2:35) and the 10th from Gulfstream, the Sunshine Millions Classic (2:45) . . . Peter Eurton, winning at a 43 percent clip with six victories from 14 starters, including the 3-year-old filly Bettyboomboom ($11) in yesterday’s eighth race, is taking success in stride. “A year ago at Hollywood Park I think we started as leading trainer with four for nine, but this is much more fun,” Eurton said on a drizzly Friday morning at Clockers’ Corner. “It’s all about timing. The filly yesterday just trained so well over this track.” Eurton had 20-1 morning line selection Moonshine Molly entered in today’s eighth race, and two more horses on Saturday . . . Delahoosee, second by 1 ½ lengths as the even-money favorite in Thursday’s second race, is named after retired Hall of Fame jockey Eddie Delahoussaye, but not with his blessing. “A couple of the owners named the horse after me,” said Delahoussaye, who owns a share of the son of 1997 Belmont Stakes winner Touch Gold, “but I didn’t want them to. I didn’t know they did it until after it was done. I was surprised.” . . . Brad Free of Daily Racing Form and Jason Levine of “Inside Racing,” on radio station XTRA, 570 AM, Los Angeles, 8 a.m., weekends, will be Jack Disney’s guests at Sunday’s Fans’ Forum, 11:15 a.m., in the East Paddock Gardens, weather permitting.