Second chances are rare in a game where loyalty is not necessarily a strong suit. Tyler Baze is well aware of that, which is why the 26-year-old jockey is eternally grateful to be riding Mast Track again for Bobby Frankel in the $5-million Breeders’ Cup Classic a week from Saturday, Oct. 25, at Santa Anita.
Baze rode Mast Track to a front-running, 2 1/4-length victory in the $750,000 Hollywood Gold Cup last June 28 in a 10-1 upset. But given a choice between Mast Track and Awesome Gem in the $1-million Pacific Classic two months later, Baze opted for the latter. When Mast Track ran in the Goodwood Handicap on Sept. 27, Baze was on the outside looking in, never figuring that Frankel would give him another opportunity to ride the son of Mizzen Mast after Baze bit the hand that fed him, so to speak.
“The fact that Bobby’s given Mast Track back to me means a lot, because I took off, and that’s his baby (Frankel also owns Mast Track),” Baze said. “The opportunity he’s given me to get back on him means a lot. It’s the biggest race in the world, as far as I’m concerned. The horse has speed, and I don’t really know how much speed is in the race at this point, because I wasn’t even sure I was going to have a mount in it, but I am looking forward to it.”
Mast Track does not have to be in front to run his best, in Baze’s opinion.
“He can relax,” Baze said. “You can really do anything you want with him. He’s a very smooth horse. He’s really push-button. When I won the Gold Cup on him, he just cruised right around there, and at the three-eighths pole he knew it was time to start running. He just picked it up by himself, and then from there on, I just guided him. He’s a nice horse.”
In other Breeders’ Cup news:
Reigning Horse of the Year Curlin attracted a crowd while schooling in the paddock during Wednesday’s fifth race. “He has a fan club everywhere he goes,” said Scott Blasi, assistant to trainer Steve Asmussen. “He takes it all pretty good,” Blasi said of the schooling experience. Curlin galloped a mile Thursday on Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride main track.
Unbeaten Japanese invader Casino Drive, who won his debut race at Santa Anita last Sunday, enjoyed a slow canter on Hollywood Park’s 1 1/8-mile Cushion Track Thursday and is “doing fine” for the Classic, according to Nobutaka Tada, racing manager for owner Hidetoshi Yamamoto.
Victor Espinoza, who rode Casino Drive to his three-quarter length victory on Sunday, anticipates another strong performance in the Classic. “It was good that he had a race over this track,” Espinoza said. “He handled it good, and it was a nice ride for me. It was like a workout, and he probably needed the race.” Casino Drive had not raced since May 10, when he won the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park.
Bob Baffert reported Thursday that Del Conte was declared out of the Juvenile Turf due to filling in a front ankle. “We discovered it yesterday and we weren’t happy,” the trainer said, “but we were hoping for the best. He’ll be fine, but we estimate he will be out 30 to 60 days.”
Dearest Trickski (Filly & Mare Sprint) and Evita Argentina (Juvenile Fillies) worked six furlongs at Hollywood in a bullet 1:12 and 1:12.20, respectively. “They went very well,” trainer John Sadler said. “I’m very happy.” Alex Solis rode Evita Argentina, while Mike Smith was on Dearest Trickski.
Lady Sprinter is scheduled to work a half-mile Friday between the fourth and fifth races at Santa Anita with stablemate Bartley in preparation for the Filly & Mare Sprint.
Bruce Headley reports that Surf Cat (Dirt Mile), Street Boss (Sprint) and Magificience (Filly & Mare Sprint) “are all on schedule. They’ve had their final workouts. All they need are a blowout now next Thursday.”
Daytona (Mile) “couldn’t have worked better,” trainer Dan Hendricks said after the multiple graded stakes winner went five furlongs on Pro-Ride Wednesday in :59.20.
The Weather.Com forecast for Arcadia for Breeders’ Cup is as follows: Friday, Oct. 24 and Saturday, Oct. 25—sunny, high 80 degrees, low 57 degrees.
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 also present the Championships in 2009.
CURLIN, CASINO DRIVE, ZENYATTA HEAD RECORD 180 ENTERED IN BREEDERS’ CUP
Led by reigning Horse of the Year Curlin, Japanese sensation Casino Drive,
undefeated super filly Zenyatta, Irish standout Duke of Marmalade and seven former or defending champions, a record 180 horses, including stars from Ireland, Great Britain, France, United Arab Emirates, Japan and Argentina, have been pre-entered for the 25th Breeders' Cup World Championships, to be held on Friday, Oct. 24, and Saturday, Oct. 25, at Santa Anita Park.
The Breeders' Cup, Thoroughbred racing's most prestigious global event, consists of 14 races held over two days, with purses totaling $25.5 million, making this year's event the richest prize money event in sports worldwide. This year's Championships, held during the Oak Tree Racing Association meeting, features the first ever all-female program of five Breeders' Cup races. The Breeders' Cup will be televised live with an unprecedented nine hours of live coverage on ABC and ESPN, and to more than 130 foreign countries.
The 4-year-old Curlin will try to add to his legacy as one of the greatest horses of this generation by winning his second consecutive $5-million Breeders' Cup Classic, at 1 1/4 miles. He will face some of the world's brightest stars, including Casino Drive from Japan, Duke of Marmalade and Henrythenavigator from Ireland and Raven's Pass from Great Britain.
Owned in partnership by Jess Jackson's Stonestreet Stables and trained by Steve Asmussen, Curlin has won 11 of 15 lifetime starts and is unbeaten this year on the main track, including victories in the Dubai World Cup, Stephen Foster, Woodward and Jockey Club Gold Cup. A Classic victory would make Curlin the first back-to-back Classic winner since Tiznow in 2000-01 and likely the first consecutive Horse of the Year winner since Cigar in 1995 and 1996. Curlin was one of 38 horses to earn an automatic starting position in a Championship race through a victory in the Breeders' Cup Challenge series.
Among Curlin's challengers in this year's Classic is the 3-year-old Casino Drive, who is undefeated in three starts, including the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park; Colonel John, winner of the Santa Anita Derby and the Travers Stakes, and Go Between, winner of the Pacific Classic; from Europe, trainer Aidan O'Brien, who has pre-entered 10 horses to this year's event, has Henrythenavigator, winner of four starts this year in England and Ireland, and Duke of Marmalade, who captured five consecutive Group 1 races in Europe this year, including the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes. The 3-year-old Raven's Pass from Great Britain, owned by Princess Haya of Jordan, defeated Henrythenavigator in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot in his most recent start.
This year's Breeders' Cup also features a record seven defending or former Breeders' Cup Champions: In addition to defending Classic winner Curlin they are Midnight Lute (2007 Sprint), Kip Deville (2007 Mile), Indian Blessing (2007 Juvenile Fillies), Ginger Punch (2007 Distaff, now named Ladies' Classic), Better Talk Now (2004 Turf) and Red Rocks (2006 Turf).
The $2-million Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic at 1 1/8 miles on Championship Friday showcases one of its most talented fields in recent years, headlined by the undefeated Zenyatta, owned by record impresario Jerry Moss and his wife, Ann, and trained by John Shirreffs. The 4-year-old filly has won all eight of her career starts, including three Grade I events, the Apple Blossom, Vanity and Lady's Secret three weeks ago at Santa Anita. She will be challenged by defending Ladies' Classic champion Ginger Punch of Stronach Stables, trained by Bobby Frankel. Ginger Punch has won 5 of 7 starts this year and seeks to become the first back-to-back Ladies' Classic winner since Bayakoa in 1989-90. Among the other standouts in the Ladies' Classic are the Chilean-bred Cocoa Beach, who defeated Ginger Punch in her last start, the Beldame in New York; the 3-year-old Music Note, winner of three Grade I races in 2008, including an 8 1/2-length romp in the Gazelle Stakes at Belmont; and the 5-year-old mare Hystericalady, who has four wins this year and was recently second to Zenyatta in the Lady's Secret.
While Championship Friday is reserved for the female competitors, the 3-year-old French-based Goldikova (IRE) will challenge the males on Championship Saturday in the $2- million Breeders' Cup Mile on turf. Trained by Freddie Head, who rode the brilliant Miesque to consecutive victories in the Mile in 1987-88, Goldikova won the Group 1 Prix du Moulin de Longchamp in open company in September. Her main rival is defending champion Kip Deville of IEAH Stables, who has won twice in three starts this year. The 5-year-old mare Precious Kitten, who won the Grade I Gamely in May for Frankel, has also been pre-entered.
There are 35 horses from overseas pre-entered for this year's Breeders' Cup. The $3-
million Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Turf at 1 1/2 miles is loaded with international talent. In the Turf, Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith and Susan Magnier have the 4-year-old O'Brien-trained Soldier of Fortune (IRE), winner of last year's Irish Derby and this year's Juddmonte Coronation Cup. Soldier of Fortune was recently third in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. The Irish-bred Conduit comes into the Turf off a three-length score in England's oldest Classic, the St. Leger at Doncaster. The 5-year-old Red Rocks defeated Curlin in the Man o' War for trainer Brian Meehan.
Of the Americans, Grand Couturier captured back-to-back wins in the Sword Dancer and the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic in New York. Red Giant took the Clement Hirsch at Santa Anita last month, defeating runner-up Out of Control by a head. The 9-year-old gelding Better Talk Now is the oldest horse pre-entered for this year's Breeders' Cup. The Turf will be Better Talk Now's 48th career start and his fifth consecutive start in this race. He would join Kona Gold (Sprint, 1998-2002) and Perfect Drift (Classic, 2002-2006) as the only horses to start in five consecutive Breeders' Cup events.
The $2-million Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile is led by J. Paul Reddam's Square Eddie, who arrived from Great Britain to win Keeneland's Lane's End Breeders' Futurity by four lengths earlier this month. Street Hero, winner of the Norfolk Stakes at Santa Anita, leads the West Coast contingent, along with Del Mar Futurity winner Midshipman for trainer Bob Baffert.
Charles Cono's Stardom Bound is the early favorite for the $2-million Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at 1 1/16 miles on Championship Friday. Trained by Christopher Paasch, Stardom Bound came from off the pace to win the Del Mar Debutante in September and followed that with a convincing 31/2-length score in the Oak Leaf Stakes at Santa Anita.
The post position draw will be conducted in two sections at Santa Anita on Oct. 21. Ten Breeders’ Cup races will be drawn beginning at 11:15 a.m. in Baldwin Terrace, located on the second floor of the west grandstand: $1-million Sentient Flight Group Filly & Mare Sprint, $1-million Grey Goose Juvenile Fillies Turf, $2-million Bessemer Trust Juvenile Fillies, $500,000 Marathon, $1-million Sentient Flight Group Juvenile Turf, $1-million TVG Dirt Mile, $1-million Turf Sprint, $2-million Bessemer Trust Juvenile, $2-million Mile, and the $2-million Sentient Flight Group Sprint.
At 1 p.m. in the FrontRunner restaurant, the $2-million Emirates Airline Filly & Mare Turf, $2-million Ladies’ Classic, $2-million Emirates Airline Turf and $5-million Classic will be drawn. TVG will televise live the draw for the Filly & Mare Turf, Ladies’ Classic, Turf and Classic.
All other Oak Tree Racing Association races for Friday and Saturday, Oct. 24 and 25, will be drawn on Oct. 21.
MEMORIAL SET FOR BOB BENOIT AT SANTA ANITA TODAY
A memorial tribute to long-time racing executive and publicist Bob Benoit will be held
this evening at Santa Anita. The Oak Tree Racing Association is sponsoring the event, to be held immediately after the races in Santa Anita’s Turf Club Chandelier Room.
“Bob Benoit was a dear friend and an incredibly talented guy,” said Oak Tree Director and Executive Vice President Sherwood Chillingworth. “His mission was to promote our sport, and nobody ever did it better than Bob. He loved the game and the people in it. Here at Oak Tree, we had a wonderful relationship with Bob, and we’re going to miss him. He was truly one of a kind.”
Benoit, who passed away on Aug. 15 at the age of 81, was well known nationally and was regarded as one of the most thorough and highly respected executives in racing history. After graduating from UCLA, Benoit became a seasonal publicity department staffer at Hollywood Park in 1953 and eventually rose to the rank of chief operating officer and general manager in 1977.
In 1980, Benoit formed his own public relations firm, Benoit and Associates, which subsequently took over as the photographer for Oak Tree at Santa Anita in 1991. Benoit and Associates now serves as official track photographer at all major Southern California race meetings, including the Los Angeles Turf Club meet at Santa Anita.
Benoit’s photography business will be continued by his partners, Rayetta Burr and Tom Abahazy. “Bob always paid strict attention to detail, and he loved every aspect of the game,” said Burr. “He was especially close with many of the jockeys over the years, and he had great respect for them.”
For additional information regarding the Benoit Memorial, fans are encouraged to contact the Oak Tree Racing Association at (626) 574-6345.
BAILEY ON MORNING LINE CHOICE IN LIVING LEGENDS EVENT
Jerry Bailey has drawn morning line favorite Dee’s Legacy in this Saturday’s Living Legends race at Santa Anita. Oak Tree morning line oddsmaker Jeff Tufts has made the 3-year-old colt the 5-2 favorite.
The seven-time Eclipse Award-winning jockey arrives in California tomorrow from his Florida home to participate in the unprecedented event. The race has been approved by the California Horse Racing Board for live pari-mutuel wagering.
Eight Hall of Fame riders, Angel Cordero Jr., 65, Jacinto Vasquez, 64, Sandy Hawley, 59, Pat Day, 55, Chris McCarron, 53, Gary Stevens, 45, and Julie Krone, 45, in addition to Bailey, will ride in the race.
The riders will report to the CHRB’s office at Santa Anita tomorrow morning to be licensed for competition. A media briefing with the eight, plus Hall of Fame Living Legends Ambassadors Eddie Delahoussaye, Laffit Pincay Jr. and Jorge Velasquez, will be conducted at Clockers’ Corner at approximately 9 a.m.
The Legends race will be the fourth on the 10-race Saturday card. The race is for California-bred 3-year-olds and up in a first-condition allowance at seven furlongs.
Each horse is assigned 126 pounds. In post position order, with morning line odds, the field is as follows:
Dee Dee’s Legacy, Bailey, 5-2; Tribal Chief, Hawley, 5-1; Swift Demand, Day, 4-1; Kalookan Event, Vasquez, 15-1; Scandalous, Stevens, 6-1; Waafi, McCarron, 3-1; Major Smoke, Krone, 10-1; and Stathy, Cordero, 12-1.
TICKETS AVAILABLE FOR WHITE HORSE LUNCHEON HONORING HEROES
The Race Track Chaplaincy of America will present its sixth White Horse Award presented by Taylor Made at a luncheon at Santa Anita on Friday, Oct. 23. The award is for a racing-related person in any facet of horse racing who is judged to have performed the most heroic act on behalf of human or horse.
The winner receives $5,000, a special edition white bronze statue by Lisa Perry, and other gifts and prizes. Three runners-up receive $1,000, and the final four nominees will receive all-expense-paid trips to the Breeders’ Cup.
Tickets to the luncheon are available online for $100 each and include a clubhouse pass, racing program, seat for the day at the races and free parking. More information is available at http://www.racetrackchaplaincy.org or (310) 419-1640.
The RTCA, founded in 1971, sanctions and oversees 80 chaplains who work at more than 120 racetracks and training/breeding centers.
PRADO TO DONATE SHARE OF CUP WINNINGS TO CHARITIES
Edgar Prado, the Hall of Fame jockey who has more than 5000 races in his career and three at the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, will donate five percent of winnings from his mounts in this month’s World Championships to Breeders’ Cup Charities and the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund.
Prado is dedicating his potential Breeders’ Cup earnings to his mother, Zenaida Prado, who died of breast cancer in February 2006, prior to his victory aboard Barbaro in the Kentucky Derby and subsequent induction into Racing’s Hall of Fame in August.
The primary beneficiaries of Breeders’ Cup Charities are: Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Breeders’ Cup Charities also will support causes in southern California and Thoroughbred industry charities.
“We are grateful for Edgar’s generous pledge in the name of his late mother at this year’s Breeders’ Cup,” said Greg Avioli, president and chief executive officer of the Breeders’ Cup. “Over the years, Edgar has been the epitome of talent and class on and off the racetrack, and we welcome his support to these important causes.”
The pledge by Prado is the fourth commitment from the Thoroughbred industry to Breeders’ Cup Charities, which was established this year to further community outreach efforts in conjunction with the 2008 Breeders’ Cup World Championships. Pamela and Martin Wygod, on behalf of WebMD Health Foundation, made the first contribution to Breeders’ Cup Charities, donating $250,000. Earlier this month, IEAH Stables, owners of Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Big Brown, pledged a portion of its starters’ earnings at the Breeders’ Cup, to Breeders’ Cup Charities. Former Hollywood Park President and current Breeders’ Cup Vice Chairman R.D. Hubbard, on behalf of the R.D. and Joan Dale Hubbard Foundation, last week donated $50,000 to Breeders’ Cup Charities.
“My mom was a great inspiration to me throughout my life,” said Prado. “I hope that my participation in Breeders’ Cup Charities will bring more attention to help find a cure for breast cancer and for others in need.”
Prado, 41, a native of Lima, Peru, is a regular rider on the New York circuit. Now a resident of Miami, Prado won the Eclipse Award for outstanding jockey in 2006.
EARL MITCHELL, FATHER OF TRAINER MIKE MITCHELL, DEAD AT 82
Former trainer Earl Mitchell, the father of conditioner Mike Mitchell, died Wednesday night in Phoenix at the age of 82 following a long illness.
According to his son, Earl Mitchell trained on the Southern California circuit for nearly 40 years. His clients included the Gem State Stable of Thelma Morrison and the Desilu Stable of Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball. His best horse was Fast Fellow, a multiple stakes winner for Gem State whose victories included the 1970 Hollywood Juvenile Championship.
Funeral arrangements are pending, but plans are being made to bury Mitchell in his hometown of Tipton, adjacent to Tulare, Calif.
In addition to Mike Mitchell, survivors include two sisters, Velma and Thelma; three sons, Casey, Earl and Guy, and a daughter, Cheryl.
FINISH LINES: This Saturday, Oct. 18, all THOROUGHBREDS members who scan their cards will receive a coupon good for one free THOROUGHBREDS barbecue set, available on a first come, first served basis, while supplies last. Patrons also will receive two general admission passes good for Sunday, Oct. 26 . . .Three contestants remain alive in Oak Tree’s on-line handicapping contest, ShowVivor, going into Thursday’s races . . . A memorial service for former sportscaster and actor Gil Stratton will be held Nov. 6 at 2 p.m. at First Christian Church, 4390 Colfax Ave., Studio City. Stratton died Saturday at 86 . . . Trainer Jerry Fanning will be Jerry Antonucci’s guest at Saturday’s Today’s Racing Digest seminar, 11 a.m., in the East Paddock Gardens . . . HRTV’s Jeff Siegel and Aaron Hesz of Handicappers’ Report will be Jack Disney’s guests at Sunday’s Fans’ Forum, 11:15 a.m., also in the East Paddock Gardens.