News and Notes June 9 – by Rod Young Turfdom
The main track played fair once again this past week. The turf course is also playing “fair” but the
times are very slow and they may have aerated the course once again, as there hasn’t been any rain.
Both tracks have held up very well with a long meet that started way back on December 26 and still
has 3 weeks to go with closing day set for June 28. Then they will race two weeks at Los Alamitos
followed by 8 weeks of terrific racing at Del Mar, with opening day set for Thursday July 16. Then
three more weeks of racing at Los Alamitos before they return to the Great Race Place for their
• Of course the big news of the day is Santa Anita based American Pharoah sweeping all 3 Triple
Crown races, the first horse to accomplish this feat in 37 years since the great Affirmed. “Pharoah”
has to be considered a “great” horse now, as he won in convincing fashion seven consecutive races
on six different tracks, the last five in a 12 week period. It seems like he had “perfect” trips in all 3
Triple Crown races, which he did, but that’s just a testament to his speed, and his ability to be placed
in the right spot at the right time. And remember, this year’s 3 year old crop was one of the strongest
in many years, yet he still dominated in all of his races. Plus he was the only runner to contest all
three Triple Crown events. It’s not often you will see a runner run 12 furlongs in a race and his final
quarter is just about as fast as the first quarter (24.32 vs. 24.06) but Secretariat does come to mind.
Although I don’t consider Victor Espinoza one of the top riders in the Country, he always had his
horse properly placed throughout the series, and he has now won five of the last six Triple Crown
races. The good news is that we will most likely see “Pharoah” run again. Although he is set to retire
at the end of the year, there’s an excellent chance he will try the Breeders Cup Classic vs. older on
the first weekend of November. And in between may come the Travers in New York, or the Pacific
Classic at Del Mar, or the Goodwood at Santa Anita. His trainer, Bob Baffert, love him or hate him,
has done an excellent job of keeping him in top shape through a very tough campaign.
• They ran two stakes at Santa Anita on Sunday and we had both winners on top at Turfdom with
Gaga A capturing the Pleasantly Perfect stakes at $15.80 and Gimme Da Lute winning the Grade 3
Affirmed stakes at $9.20 for that man Baffert again. Gaga A was an overlay in the wagering as she
was 3/1 on the morning line but easily got the money with a “heady” ride by Tyler Baze. She is
headed to Chicago for her next start in the Modesty Handicap on July 11 at Arlington Park.
“Gimme” had to fight tooth and nail with the heavy 2/5 favorite Prospect Park down the lane, but he
prevailed in his normal “game” fashion. His next start will be tougher as he will face Kentuckian in
the Los Al Derby on the 4th of July at Los Alamitos for $350,000.
• This Saturday’s major event is the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile on the turf and they have a strong lineup
headed by Mandella’s Bal a Bali, who was so impressive in winning the American Handicap back on
May 9. Front runner Midnight Storm, who won the Del Mar Derby last year will also be in the
lineup, along with the hard trying Talco and Winning Prize. Also on Saturday we will get to see the
match up between champion Beholder and Warren’s Veneda in the Grade 3 Adoration stakes at a
mile and a sixteenth on the main track. Mandella, who trains Beholder, could very well win both
stakes races on the card.
• Trainer Art Sherman, who did such a fantastic job with California Chrome last year, will be honored
by the Thoroughbred Owners group of California as their Man of the Year, as the recipient of the Ed
Friendly Industry award given out annually. He will be presented with the award at Del Mar on
August 15. Sherman, who is now 78 years young, hopes to get Chrome back at Los Alamitos in 3 or
4 weeks. He is slated to run on June 17 in the Prince of Wales stakes in England and is listed at 12/1
by the “British bookies.”