Just about the time somebody in Los Angeles thought my resume was finally worthy, Tom and Marilyn Braly were buying their first horses. They were dabblers, if spending as much as $200,000 for a horse is considered dabbling. Braly had left the newspaper game, or maybe it left him, and had done well in the mortgage insurance business. But it wasn't until 2009 that the Bralys bought a horse who mattered. They spent $132,500 for an unraced 2-year-old California-bred who became Evening Jewel. The first time Evening Jewel was sold, as a yearling, she brought only $8,000. This is the Evening Jewel who came as close asthis to beating Blind Luck, the division champion, in a couple of races last year.
Tom Braly wasn't there to see Evening Jewel pad her earnings to almost $1.2 million. A victim of leukemia, Braly, 72, died in September, just a couple of weeks after his filly had won the Del Mar Oaks. "That horse has given me a compelling reason to keep going," he had told the Long Beach Press-Telegram earlier in the summer. Braly ashes were spread at Del Mar and at Keeneland, where Evening Jewel won the Ashland early last year.
Evening Jewel paid $6.40 for $2, and while another of the Sunshine Millions winners, the popular Caracortado, was also chalky, the improbable Amazombie, running in a stakes race for the first time, came home at 11-1 and in 1:07.28 for six furlongs. Time only matters for those behind bars, the sages always say, and fast times over Santa Anita's new dirt track are so routine that this sub-1:08 clocking turned nary a head.
Caracortado, whose name in English means "Scarface" (his mother, Mons Venus, had nothing to do with the naming), was making only his third start since his bubble burst in last year's Preakness. He's a gelding, which assures him of a lengthy career if he can stay sound, and now he's 2 for 2 on grass. His trainer, Mike Machowsky, might have shipped him to Gulfstream Park, where the other Sunshine Millions races were run and where a race $200,000 richer than Santa Anita's was waiting, but Machowsky said there will be time for Caracortado to rack up frequent-flyer miles later in the year. For one thing, a trip to Dubai, more than 8,000 miles away, might be in the offing. His jockey, Joe Talamo, would go along. Talamo did not fare as well in the other two Sunshine Million races, with Cost of Freedom's failure to stay in the Sprint Stakes especially bitter for his backers. Cost of Freedom, who went off at 60 cents on the dollar, turned eight a few weeks ago. He'll have days like that.