Peter Miller got out of the gate quickly at Betfair Hollywood Park. The 45-year-old conditioner started 16 horses in the first 12 days and recorded five wins, one second and one third, placing him second in the standings behind Bob Baffert. The trainer hopes to keep up the momentum with several of his stable stars returning in upcoming weeks.
Arguably the best horse in Miller’s barn is Reneesgotzip, winner of the Grade II Santa Ynez and beaten a nose in the Grade I Santa Anita Oaks last winter. The City Zip filly is 2-for-2 on Cushion Track, including an impressive allowance score May 4th. “She’s doing great,” said the trainer Thursday morning. “She’s leaving here on May 25th to run in the (Grade I) Acorn (May 28th at Belmont Park). Garrett Gomez will ride.”
“He’s a few weeks away from a race, but he’s training super,’’ said Miller. “He had a little flake in his ankle, nothing serious. I’ll discuss it with Mr. (owner Jeffrey) Bloom to see where he’ll run.” The Kentucky bred worked a half-mile in 47 3/5 here May 3rd.
Comma to the Top, another who loves the Inglewood oval, is “about a month away,” according to the trainer. “He’s back up to a half-mile in his works. We gave him a little break after a minor setback. I think his best distance is between a mile and a mile and one-sixteenth.” Comma to the Top has won three of four on Cushion Track, with his biggest victory coming in the 2010 CashCall Futurity. The Florida-bred son of Bwana Charlie is 7-for-17 overall with earnings of $812,200.
“You never expect to start out fast, but you always hope to,” said Miller. “Let’s keep it going.”
LEAP OF FAITH HAS KEN GOLDBERG “ALL IN”
The question Ken Goldberg, agent for apprentice Vinnie Bednar, is asked most frequently is why he gave up job security to become a jockey agent.
Goldberg, who will turn 49 in July, is used to the question. “I don’t want to get all philosophical, but you only live once and this is what I want to do,’’ he said. “You have to be happy with what you’re doing and enjoy life, so I decided to go for broke, Goldberg, who spent 26 years in various racing departments, was the Paddock Judge at Betfair Hollywood Park until he left the post last year to handle the book of Tyler Kaplan in New York.
“This time I wanted to take on an apprentice and start from the ground up,” said Goldberg.. “Vinnie showed a lot of potential at the Frank Garza Jockey School and when
he asked me to help him, I agreed.” Bednar, who tacks 108, took out his license in February and traveled to Turf Paradise to get his feet wet. The 20-year-old, who is a great nephew of the late, longtime Southern California trainer Lou Carno, won eight races in Phoenix and headed back to Southern California after the meet ended.
“I think it’s easier to break into an established jockey colony when you have the bug,” said Goldberg. “It’s going to take some time, but the kid is a hard-worker. We don’t have a regular clientele yet, so we’re grabbing any worker we can, trying to get a shot.”
“He started riding motocross at four, which accounts for his agility,” Goldberg said of Bednar. “He’ll still have a seven-pound weight allowance for another 19 to 21 wins. I’m hoping he develops into something special.”
CLOSING STRIDES—From Doug O’Neill’s blog: Top 5 Perks of Winning the Kentucky Derby-- 5. No one questions you about wearing your lucky Derby underwear for weeks on end. 4. If I buy a 6 inch sub at Subway, I get the second one free. 3. The girl at the White Castle drive-thru throws in a couple extra ketchups now. 2. Free entrance to the Trainer's Lounge at Hollywood Park. 1. The horse and jockey in front of the Galt House will be painted in our winning colors for all of the world to see.………..Through the first three weeks of the Spring/Summer meet, favorites are clicking at 40 per cent on Cushion Track and 35 per cent on turf. Overall, the public choice has won 34 of 89 races, or 38 per cent……Patty and Hal Earnhardt’s Ranchero became the first two-time winner of the season with a 5 ¼ length victory against $25,000 claimers Sunday. There were no claims, so the Closing Argument horse returned to the barn of leading trainer Bob Baffert………Apprentice Eswan Flores, currently fourth in the rider standings, will be graduating from Fernando Ledesma High School in El Monte June 14th. The 18-year-old has been asked to give the commencement speech at the graduation ceremonies…….On Saturday, gates open at 8 a.m. and the first simulcast event from Pimlico is scheduled for 8:30. Post time for the first of 11 live races is 11 a.m. In addition to the Preakness simulcast, Betfair Hollywood Park will present the $100,000 Railbird Stakes for 3-year-old fillies and the $150,000 Marjorie L. Everett handicap for older females. There also will be an I’ll Have Another baseball cap giveaway, one per paid admission while supplies last…..Patrons are invited to enter the free Dream Preakness Contest, where one fan will be selected for every horse in the Preakness. The fan with the winning horse receives the $1,000 prize. The Dream Derby Contest – which also had a $1,000 prize - was won by Joseph Cunard of Los Angeles, who correctly picked the first five finishers in the Kentucky Derby. ………..Because of the early post, there will be no Inside Scoop Saturday…….Entering Thursday’s card, there were 177 players still alive in the Show Me the Money Contest.