Edited Release — Phil D’Amato had four horses nominated to Saturday’s Grade II San Gabriel Stakes but entered two in the 1 1/8-mile turf test for four-year-olds and up.
They are Bowies Hero and Count Again.
The latter is far from the proverbial empty stall, a two-time graded stakes winner since D’Amato began training the son of the late Awesome Again five races back in the summer of last year, but Bowies Hero has a more intriguing story line.
The seven-year-old bay has a most remarkable record, a tale straight out of racing fiction.
After winning a maiden special weight race by 5 ¾ lengths in his first start, going 7 ½ furlongs on turf at Lone Star Park on July 16, 2016, the son of outstanding turf miler Artie Schiller has run only in stakes, 26 in a row.
Artie Schiller defeated Leroidesanimaux in the 2005 Breeders’ Cup Mile under the late Garrett Gomez, who would have turned 49 today.
However, Leroidesanimaux won the Eclipse Award that year as top turf horse by three votes over Artie Schiller, a 2001 foal who in 2007 was retired to stud in Kentucky but stood last year in Australia for $11,000.
The Brazilian-bred Leroidesanimaux (king of animals in French) died as a stallion at Newmarket, England in 2016 at the age of 16.
Bowies Hero has won seven races since his debut victory, including two Grade I’s, the Kilroe Mile in 2018 and the Shadwell Turf Mile in 2019. He worked five furlongs on the training track last Sunday in 1:02.
Add to his remarkable achievement the fact that the Kentucky-bred owned by a partnership that includes Agave Racing Stable, ERJ Racing LLC and Madaket Stables LLC remains a full horse, meaning he still could one day serve at stud.
“Bowies Hero gives his best pretty much every time,” said D’Amato, who fell one victory shy (11-10) of tying Richard Baltas for the training title at the recent Del Mar meet.
Fans should enjoy Bowies Hero while they can because 2021 will probably be the unsung campaigner’s final season of racing.
“He’s a neat horse to have around the barn but this will probably be his last year of racing,” said D’Amato, who has trained Bowies Hero since just after his first race.
Bowies Hero fancies a stalking style, but has rallied from well off the pace to close with a rush, all save his first race coming at a mile or longer.
He has run in 17 races at a mile, winning six, compiling an enviable overall 8-2-3 record from 27 starts for earnings of $1,588,720.
“Who knows, maybe we can find a stud career for him, but he’s doing really well and just a cool horse to train,” D’Amato continued. ”Right after his maiden victory he was bought privately and I’ve had him ever since.”
And it’s been a match made in heaven.
The San Gabriel, race seven: Cleopatra’s Strike, Kent Desormeaux, 15-1; Next Shares, Jose Valdivia Jr., 4-1; Bob and Jackie, Heriberto Figueroa, 4-1; Multiplier, Abel Cedillo, 12-1; Count Again, Juan Hernandez, 2-1; Anothertwistafate, Joel Rosario, 5-2; and Bowies Hero, Flavien Prat, 6-1.
HONEYMOON ON HOLD FOR NEW HUSBAND LERNER
Andrew Lerner didn’t go on a honeymoon after he got married last Sunday. The 31-year-old trainer will celebrate later, but he could get an early start if longshot Uncle Boogie wins Saturday’s Grade III Sham Stakes.
It will take some doing, however. Uncle Boogie, at 12-1 on Jon White’s morning line, is the longest shot in the one-mile Kentucky Derby prep. He faces two promising colts trained by John Shirreffs and two by Bob Baffert, including 2-5 morning line favorite Life Is Good, already earmarked for the Hall of Fame in the opinion of some insiders, although he has had only one race.
Lerner and his bride, Katie, will have a “mini-honeymoon” at Cabo San Lucas in a couple weeks, since training requires a 24/7 commitment and “it’s really tough to get away,” Lerner noted.
“Uncle Boogie is a longshot, but he’s done nothing wrong so far and he definitely deserves a chance. He broke his maiden first out (by 6 ¼ lengths in a $32,000 claimer at Santa Anita last Oct. 12), then ran two seconds. He had trouble at the start in the (Grade III) Bob Hope and was too far back . . . so we’re not in the Sham just to fill the race.”
Uncle Boogie is owned by Eric Homme, who “got into the game two years ago taking fractional percentages of horses. Uncle Boogie is the first horse he owns solely,” Lerner said.
Lerner already has had one winner this meet but it came while he was getting married, so he didn’t have a chance to enjoy it. Octopus, of which Lerner owns a share along with Alydom Racing LLC, won Sunday’s sixth race by a length and a quarter as the 4-5 favorite under Joel Rosario.
“I didn’t get to watch it,” Lerner said, “My best man was giving his speech but my Dad (Ross) was behind him watching it on his phone simultaneously, and no one knew. But he gave me a signal that we won, so I knew what was going on.
“I was under the chuppah at the time but we were in the reception area kind of doing dinner and speeches with the best man and the bridesmaids. I didn’t have my phone. I lost my phone privileges for the day, but my Dad came through like he always does.”
Shalom and Happy New Year.
The field for the Sham, race eight of nine with a 12:30 p.m. first post time: Medina Spirit, Abel Cedillo, 6-1; Waspirant, Umberto Rispoli, 15-1; Parnelli, Drayden Van Dyke, 5-2; Uncle Boogie, Flavien Prat, 12-1; and Life Is Good, Mike Smith, 2-5.
BAFFERT ENTERS QUARTET IN GRADE II SANTA YNEZ
(Trivia question: what trainer won the Santa Ynez Stakes nearly 45 years ago in 1976? Hint: he’s still active).
Of the 15 fillies nominated to Sunday’s Grade II Santa Ynez Stakes, Bob Baffert had six of them and entered four in the 71st running of the race, which has been won in the past by stalwarts such as Midnight Bisou (2018), Serena’s Song (1995), Very Subtle (1987), Terlingua (1979), Susan’s Girl (1972), Turkish Trousers (1971) and Silver Spoon (1959).
He will be seeking his fifth victory in the Santa Ynez. His previous winners were Queen of Money in 1997 for Mike Pegram, Sharp Lisa in 2005 for Golden Eagle Farm, Indian Blessing in 2008 for Patti and Hal Earnhardt III and Awesome Baby in 2013 for Kaleem Shah.
The Santa Ynez, race seven of nine: Brilliant Cut, Ricardo Gonzalez, 15-1; Nasreddine, Tiago Pereira, 6-1; Exotic West, Abel Cedillo, 3-1; Queengol, Flavien Prat, 4-1; Varda, Drayden Van Dyke, 3-1; Frosteria, Mike Smith, 5-1; and Kalypso, Joel Rosario, 5-2.
Trivia answer: Hector Palma with Daisy Do, ridden by Sandy Hawley. Palma is still going a strong at age 83, having won Thursday’s first race with Silk From Heaven, a 6-1 shot that rallied along the hedge from well back under Juan Hernandez to score by 1 ¼ lengths. Palma missed by a head of winning the fourth race with Winter Star at odds of 11-1 under Ruben Fuentes.
BETTOR STARTS NEW YEAR WITH $323,024 JACKPOT SCORE
One lucky bettor got the New Year off to a very profitable start by hitting Santa Anita’s popular 20-cent Single Ticket Rainbow Pick Six Jackpot Thursday for $323,024 after 14-1 outsider Sir Oliver won the day’s final race by nearly three lengths under Tyler Baze
The winning ticket was purchased for 20 cents through the Maryland-based Hunt Valley wagering hub.
With a Jackpot carryover from Sunday of $167,262, there was $204,142 in new money wagered Thursday, creating a total Rainbow Six Jackpot pool of $371,404.
FINISH LINES: Kent Desormeaux and Bob Hess Jr. enhanced their extraordinary winning percentage together through the years when the Hall of Fame jockey rode Satchel de Ritches to a front-running 2 ¼-length victory for the trainer in Thursday’s eighth race, paying $10.20 to win. Desormeaux, who turns 51 on Feb. 27, had not ridden for three months before this meet started as he rehabilitated in a Pasadena facility for substance abuse. The Louisiana native hasn’t lost his skill in the saddle, as Equibase chart comments on the race substantiate: “ . . . Satchel de Ritches responded to “right-handed urging and strong handling late . . . “ Desormeaux was candid and effusive as is his wont in a post-race interview with TVG, crediting his family, Hess and others for helping him rise yet again in his battle with alcoholism, saying in part, “It started as so much fun partying but then it became addictive . . . Hopefully it’s all in the past.” Amen and Happy New Year . . .Hard Not to Love, winner of the Grade I La Brea Stakes in 2019, worked five furlongs this morning in 1:01 for John Shirreffs. It was one of 112 recorded works at Santa Anita, 23 on the training track . . . Live racing continues at Santa Anita through Sunday, after which there will be no live racing again until Friday, Jan. 8 with first post time 12:30 p.m…Be sure to tune in early to santaanita.com/live for Track Announcer Frank Mirahmadi and Tom Quigley’s handicapping seminar, which starts at 11:20 a.m.