News and Notes June 2 – by Rod Young Turfdom

The main track played fair this past week. The turf course is starting to play fair once again. About
10 days ago, they aerated the course. This after getting an inch of rainfall overnight, which made the
course slow, tiring, and favoring off the pace runners. Now with warmer weather and no rain in sight,
the course is playing faster and giving speed horses a chance to be around at the finish. With 4
weeks left in the meet, they are using the course more, with 4 turf races scheduled each day on the
weekends.
• They had 2 graded stakes on Saturday and Spanish Queen ($3.40) beat the Eastern invaders to take
down the Grade 1 American Oaks in just her 4th lifetime start. This Cal bred daughter of Tribal Rule
has now won a Grade 2 and a Grade 1 in just 4 career starts. She cost just $6500 for her owners and
has now won over $423,000. Her next starts will be the three year old filly races at Del Mar, the San
Clemente and the Del Mar Oaks. It pays to own a Cal Bred. In a tune up for the Gold Cup on June
27, Richard Mandella’s Catch a Flight took down the Grade 2 Californian on Saturday and returned
$6.60 to win. He won a tough battle down the lane with the good handicap horse Moreno, and
prevailed by a half length. He earned a 105 Beyer for his victory and both horses will tangle again in
the Gold Cup in 4 weeks. Gary Stevens was in the irons.
• The two principle stakes races this week will be the Crystal Water on Saturday, for male runners 3
and up at a flat mile on the grass, and the Grade 3 Affirmed for 3 year olds going a mile and a
sixteenth on Sunday on the main track. Mandella’s Forest Chatter, who has won 4 straight down the
hill, will be the favorite in the Crystal Water and trainer Richard Baltas, who remains hot as a
firecracker, will counter with Lucky J Lane. Baltas won two stakes this past weekend. Prospect Park,
4th in the Santa Anita Derby behind Dortmund, heads the field for the Affirmed. Other contenders
will be Cross the Line and Cyrus Alexander from the Hollendorfer barn, Om for Dan Hendricks, and
Gimme Da Lute for Baffert. Of course Saturday is Belmont Day, and American Pharoah will try the
daunting task of trying to sweep the Triple Crown races. Santa Anita will have an 11 race card with
a first post of 11:30 AM. For good luck, on Friday night, jockey Victor Espinoza went to an Angels
baseball game in Anaheim. The Detroit Tigers were in town so he posed for pictures with Miguel
Cabrera. The superstar outfielder won baseball’s Triple Crown in 2012 and it hadn’t been done in
baseball in 48 years. I don’t think “Pharoah” can win this Saturday in New York, although he will be
a heavy favorite in the wagering. But I would like to see him win for one main reason. So everybody
can stop talking about how difficult it is and wanting to change the current format. The format is
fine just the way it is. It’s supposed to be “tough.” We will have our selections out on Friday night
for both the Belmont and Anita’s 11 race card, but it will be late, as Friday night racing doesn’t end
till 7:30 PM.
• With 4 weeks left of racing at Santa Anita, the jockey/trainer race is very tight. Bejarano won 3 on
Sunday but Tyler Baze came right back with 2 victories and the jockey title is tied at 23 each. Joe
Talamo is a distant third with 17 wins, but it is a two horse battle all the way. The trainer standings
are even tighter. Richard Baltas won two Sunday to grab the lead with 14 wins. Doug O’Neill and
Peter Miller each have 13 and Phil D’Amato, who one day will be better than all of them, has 12
victories.
• On a rather sad note, just after dawn this past Sunday, they demolished the massive grandstands at
Hollywood Park, first erected way back in 1937. The track officially closed back in January of 2014.
The owner of the St. Louis Rams, Stan Kroenke, hopes to build a stadium on the property for an
NFL team, although none of that has been approved. My first venture to Hollywood goes back to
1967 when I watched the great Native Diver beat the 3/5 favorite Pretense in the Gold Cup. Jerry
Lambert was up and he paid $13.40 to win. I was hooked.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.