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Turfdom News and Notes May 12

•    As I write this on Monday afternoon, Santa Anita still doesn’t have the green light to start racing this Friday as they plan to do. And it’s a damn shame, because track management has gone above and beyond in meeting all the requirements to operate safe racing at Santa Anita. The shelter at home order does expire this Friday, and many other businesses throughout the state are opening, even many casinos, which is far from being safe under the Covid 19 protocols. However, the L.A. County district has been hit the hardest in the state with regards to the number of Covid cases and deaths, five times more than any other county, so there certainly are two sides to the coin. I still believe the PETA people are behind this and they have the county’s ear. The Stronach Group can be as brazen as any in the business, but I don’t think even they are brazen enough to open without the County’s blessing. But come tomorrow, they are going to take entries for Friday’s card. And if you think this isn’t an “essential” business in California, just ask the 750 people living on the back side who depend on Santa Anita running for their very livelihood.

•    SELECTIONS: If Santa Anita does not get the green light to run this Friday, we are going to go with Golden Gate Fields, as they do have the green light from Alameda County and they will open this Thursday. They will get a lot of “shippers” up from Southern California and they will have FULL FIELDS, as they are locked and loaded with race ready horses. And the quality of their racing is very close to par with the Florida tracks. Their turf course is green and lush and their racing surface is one of the safest in the country. Plus one never has to guess about the weather as you do with the Florida tracks. Handicapping the weather there is harder than handicapping the horses. We will incorporate some stakes races from around the country as well. Churchill Downs does open this week as well, but they have no stakes until the following Saturday.

•    As I mentioned earlier, if Santa Anita doesn’t get the chance to open this week it will be a damn shame, as they have an outstanding stakes lineup for the last five weeks of their meet, which will end on June 21. They have two Cal bred sprints lined up for this Saturday, the Echo Eddie and the Evening Jewel, and each is worth $150,000. With 18 nominations in the former and 17 in the latter, they will have no trouble with full fields. And then on Sunday, Grade 1 winner Bellafina heads up the Desert Stormer stakes, a Grade 3 sprint on the main track, of which they had 12 nominations. The following week is a three day weekend with Memorial Day and they have two good turf races for Saturday, the Grade 2 Whittingham stakes at 10 furlongs for older runners and the Grade 3 Daytona, a sprint for older runners at five and a half. On Memorial Day, they have the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile with an outstanding cast and the Grade 1 Gamely, 9 furlongs on the grass for older fillies and mares. They also have the Grade 2 Monrovia on Monday for older fillies and mares at five and a half on the turf. Then the following week they will have the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby and the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks. Authentic, who is undefeated in three starts, will head up the Derby and if you think Nadal and Charalatan are good, Authentic is every bit their equal. It will be a crying shame if Santa Anita doesn’t get to run these races.

•     One of the better riders in California during the decade of the 70’s was Darrell McHargue. He rode for 16 years, retired in 1988, and then became a steward in California for the last 30 years. He was voted into the Hall of Fame this past week and for a rider who rode pretty much under the radar, he competed against the very best of his generation. He won the Eclipse award in 1978 when he set the single season earnings record of over six million dollars. He won all of the major stakes races on the west coast along with the Preakness in 1975. I was amongst the 65,000 in attendance at Santa Anita in March of 78 when he won the Big Cap with the White Tornado named Vigors. He beat a stellar field that day and Mr. Redoy had five lengths on the field at the top of the stretch. He was not stopping either, but the Big White Milk Truck ran him down under McHargue out in the middle of the track. Darrell won six races that day. A very deserving member of the Hall of Fame.

By Rod Young (Turfdom)

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