Fairplex Chugging Along
FAIRPLEX KEEPS CHUGGING ALONG
The Ralph M. Hinds Pomona Invitational Handicap wraps up the stakes action at the Fairplex Park meet Sunday with an entertaining bunch of older runners. But with its purse of only $75,000 for the second straight year, the message is clear: Racing at the county fair has reverted to its bullring, third-tier roots, and its 13 exclusive days of sport at a prime time of year are becoming a luxury the major players on the Southern California circuit have a right to question.
Two years ago the Hinds was worth $125,000. Now it offers mid-1980’s money, going back to a time when a $75,000 pot at the fair made rightful headlines and the winner had to run hard to cash. Stakes purses have been slashed at the major meets as well, but at the fair it was the presence of at least a token hundred-grander or two maintaining the myth that good horses would be rewarded for dropping by.
The field on Sunday includes such relentless warriors as Norvsky, who has become more than simply Acclamation’s stablemate; Chocolate Candy, who once tried the Derby and Belmont; and El Gato Malo, the horse David Flores picked to ride instead of Zenyatta lo these many years ago. Yes, Flores rides him Sunday.
Doing his part, Craig Lewis will send out the distance loving Quindici Man. He was beaten a neck in the race last year, and this time gets the rail and leading man Martin Pedroza. Sounds like a recipe for success, as long as no cobwebs linger from two Del Mar losses, including a fifth-place finish in the Pacific Classic.
“I thought he ran deceptively well that day,” Lewis said. “When you’ve got a horse with his style running against some of the best horses in the country you need a little help on the pace. Then when they go the opening quarter in close to 25 seconds you’re pretty much eliminated, but he passed a lot of horses and ran his race. We’ve had him since he was 2, and he’s still tough as a night in jail.”
Lewis is a four-time Fairplex training champ and sixth on the all-time local list. He has never won the Hinds, but that might not matter, given the fact that his barn seems blessed at the current meet, winning 8 of 17 starts through Thursday. Understandably, Lewis was not receptive to thoughts that the Fairplex meet might be shunted aside at some point in favor of dates at a major track.
“The rumors have circulated the past three or four years about Hollywood Park as well,” Lewis said. “But they keep running at these places we can only hope we have horses we can take there and run well. I guess we’re just pawns in the big game.”
At 6, limitless possibilities
About this time six years ago my wife went into labor. Depending on when you ask, she’ll tell you her ordeal lasted anywhere from 24 hours to 17 days. Such experiences, I’m told, have a way of bending time, but it is a documented fact that however long it took our daughter finally issued forth at 5:33 on the afternoon of Monday, Sept. 27, 2005, in a hospital located barely two blocks from the somewhat older facility in which her father and grandmother were born in a previous century.
No sense in wasting a parking space.
A father can’t dwell on these things too long or else he’ll go nuts, but a child’s 6th birthday is as good a time as any to begin seriously brooding about the world in which his daughter will flower. As if he can do anything about it. She’s already figured out that in life there is strife and sorrow, great achievements and small victories, and in time she will come to understand that the evolution of the human condition is on a cyclical rotation of feast and famine, and that the best she can do is help nudge the cycle upward as it tumbles.
She might do it on horseback, on the stage, in an operating theater, or a courtroom. At some point, if she is lucky and heeds her own stars, she will discover the one thing she does best and do it until her heart soars and her fingers bleed.
Her mother, whose plaque hangs in a certain horse racing Hall of Fame, is regularly asked to share what advice she’d give a young boy or girl who is thinking about becoming a jockey, of all things. The answer can be disappointing for those not paying close attention.
“I have no advice,” Julie Krone will say. “If they truly are meant to do something like riding Thoroughbred racehorses then they can’t help themselves. They’ll do it no matter what, and do it until they can’t any longer. Nothing anyone can say will make any difference.”
This describes, to a great degree, the ethic of the artist, compelled beyond logic, often against all odds, to answer a call from within. You pity the fools sometimes and consider them stuck in a rut, unimaginative, stubborn, selfish. Then they go and write a fifth symphony, or paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, and all is forgiven.
So I will stand back in awe as my daughter posts along on her pony, drops names at the races, or dangles from a starting gate as if it were her own private jungle gym. A dear friend calls her “The Clone,” and you can bet good money the reference is not to old dad when it comes to dominant DNA. The best I can do is keep the doors unlocked and the windows open when it comes to opportunities. Once inspired, I’ve got a feeling she’ll do the rest.
by Jay Hovdey
On the California worktab
Multiple Grade 1 heroine SWITCH (Quiet American) worked seven furlongs in 1:24 3/5 over Santa Anita's fast main track on Saturday. Third in the Clement L. Hirsch S. (G1) in her latest, the John Sadler trainee has a few options for her upcoming start, including next Saturday's Lady's Secret S. (G1).
Multiple Grade 1 queen CHAMPAGNE D'ORO (Medaglia d'Oro), sixth in the Molly Pitcher S. (G2), zipped six panels in 1:12 1/5 for the Lady's Secret.
Grade 1 veteran SQUARE EDDIE (Smart Strike) reeled off five-eighths in :59 2/5, breezing, ahead of his likely comeback in the October 8 Ancient Title S. (G1). The Doug O'Neill charge is returning from his second season at stud.
Multiple Grade 2 victor CROWN OF THORNS (Repent), third in the Pat O'Brien S. (G1) last out, traveled seven furlongs in 1:26 3/5. The Richard Mandella runner could stick to sprinting in the Ancient Title, but he is also nominated to next Saturday's Goodwood S. (G1) at 1 1/8 miles. The versatile but fragile six-year-old finished second in both the 2009 Ancient Title and the 2010 Goodwood.
Unbeaten Del Mar Debutante S. (G1) star WEEMISSFRANKIE (Sunriver) negotiated five panels in 1:00 in advance of next Sunday's Oak Leaf S. (G1).
Oak Leaf nominee SISTER MOON (Dixie Union), who set a new track record at Del Mar when taking her debut by 9 3/4 lengths on August 21, went six furlongs in 1:13 2/5.
Best Pal S. (G2) runner-up I'LL HAVE ANOTHER (Flower Alley), expected to contest next Saturday's Norfolk S. (G1), clocked 1:13 4/5. The O'Neill juvenile aims to rebound from a too-bad-to-be-true sixth in the sloppy Hopeful S. (G1).
Gamely S. (G1) victress DUBAWI HEIGHTS (GB) (Dubawi), exiting a fine second in the Beverly D. S. (G1), exercised five-eighths in 1:01. Next Saturday's Yellow Ribbon S. (G1) is on her agenda.
Multiple Grade 2 winner CARACORTADO (Cat Dreams), up at the wire in the Del Mar Mile H. (G2), toured four furlongs in :49 4/5. Co-owner/breeder/trainer Mike Machowsky has penciled in the October 29 Cal Cup Classic, which has moved to the turf this year.
Multiple Grade 2 scorer JERANIMO (Congaree), second in the Eddie Read S. (G1) two back, smoked in :46 4/5. Next Sunday's Clement L. Hirsch Turf Championship (G2) is a potential spot, as is the Goodwood.
Del Mar H. (G2) hero CELTIC NEW YEAR (North Light [Ire]), likely for the Clement L. Hirsch Turf Championship, strode five panels in :59 4/5.
Torrey Pines S. diva GREAT HOT (Brz) (Orientate), in the mix for the Lady's Secret, scorched three panels in a bullet :34. The A.C. Avila filly's time was easily the best of 17 moves at the distance.
Grade 3 veteran TURNING TOP (Ire) (Pivotal), unplaced in four straight since her runner-up effort in the March 19 Santa Ana S. (G2), took a half-mile spin in :49. She could attempt to turn things around in the Yellow Ribbon, in which she was second last year.
A Gleam H. (G2) queen IRISH GYPSY (Hennessy), third in the Rancho Bernardo H. (G3), breezed in :49 3/5.
Santa Ynez S. (G2) heroine CALIFORNIA NECTAR (Stormy Atlantic), exiting a good-looking score in the Beverly J. Lewis S., was caught in :49.
Fleet Treat S. and Manhattan Beach S. star SUGARINTHEMORNING (Candy Ride [Arg]), second in the Torrey Pines last out, finished up in :52 4/5.
Berkeley S. (G3) winner UH OH BANGO (Top Hit), fourth in the Triple Bend two back, traveled five furlongs in 1:01 3/5.
Multiple Grade 1-placed RIVETING REASON (Fusaichi Pegasus), unraced since missing by a nose in the February 12 Robert B. Lewis S. (G2), posted 1:00 4/5.
Grade 2-placed QUALITY COUNCIL (Elusive Quality), a sharp allowance winner at Saratoga, blazed in :58 3/5.
Multiple Grade 3-placed RUNFLATOUT (Flatter), seventh in the King's Bishop S. (G1) last out, ripped in :59 1/5.
On the firm turf, American Oaks (G1) dead-heat winner CAMBINA (Ire) (Hawk Wing) sped five-eighths in 1:02 4/5 for the Yellow Ribbon. The pocket dynamo was most recently fourth in the Del Mar Oaks (G1).
Swaps S. (G2) hero DREAMY KID (Lemon Drop Kid), coming off a sixth in the Del Mar Derby (G2), negotiated seven panels on the lawn in 1:32 1/5. The October 15 Oak Tree Derby (G2) is the next port of call for the circuit's turf sophomores.
Last year's Oak Tree Derby victor FANTASTIC PICK (GB) (Fantastic Light), sidelined since his fifth in the Hollywood Derby (G1), covered four grassy furlongs in :50 3/5.
Grade 3 veteran LEROY'S DYNAMEAUX (Leroidesanimaux [Brz]), fifth in the Eddie Read and Harry F. Brubaker in his past two, skimmed the weeds in :49 4/5.
Cal Cup Classic scorer SOUL CANDY (Birdonthewire), fifth in the Del Mar 'Cap, strode five panels in 1:04 2/5 on the green.
At Hollywood Park, multiple Grade 1 vixen TURBULENT DESCENT (Congrats) drilled five furlongs in a bullet :59, posting the fastest of 41 works at the distance on the Cushion Track. A 3 3/4-length winner of the Test S. (G1) most recently, the Mike Puype filly is training up to the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1).
COZI ROSIE (Pleasantly Perfect), queen of the John C. Mabee and Buena Vista H. (G2) this season, motored one mile in 1:39 1/5 in her tune-up for the Yellow Ribbon.
Multiple Grade 1 star HARMONIOUS (Dynaformer), along for fourth in the Mabee, worked six panels in 1:12 4/5 as she mulls Yellow Ribbon revenge.
Senorita S. (G3) scorer STAR BILLING (Dynaformer), third by a head in the American Oaks and second in the Del Mar Oaks, went in 1:13 2/5. The October 15 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) at Keeneland could be on her radar screen, considering that trainer John Shirreffs won it last year with stablemate Harmonious.
Santa Margarita Invitational (G1) upsetter MISS MATCH (Arg) (Indygo Shiner), a close third in the Vanity H. (G1) two back, covered seven furlongs in 1:26 2/5.
Group 3 scorer PRIVATE AFFAIR (Per) (Privately Held), winner of her stateside debut in the C.T.T. & Thoroughbred Owners of California H., completed her trial in 1:28 4/5 for the Yellow Ribbon.
Multiple Grade 2 winner TRES BORRACHOS (Ecton Park), sixth in the Pacific Classic (G1), worked five-eighths in 1:01 2/5. The Marty Jones veteran is listed as probable for the Goodwood.
Grade 2 heroine ST TRINIANS (GB) (Piccolo), triumphant by a half-length in the Adoration S. last out, stopped the watch in 1:02 4/5.
Los Angeles H. (G3) scorer CAMP VICTORY (Forest Camp), runner-up in the Pat O'Brien and Triple Bend in his past two, zipped four panels in :48 1/5.
Up north at Golden Gate Fields, San Francisco Mile (G3) victor OUR NAUTIQUE (NZ) (Pins) traveled a half-mile in :48 4/5 on the Tapeta. The six-year-old recently defeated Bold Chieftain (Chief Seattle) in a solid turf allowance.
Multiple stakes winner AIN'T NO OTHER (Old Topper), a close third in the Pirate's Bounty S., went five furlongs in 1:01 4/5.
GOGGLES MCCOY (In Excess [Ire]), awarded the victory upon the disqualification of Ain't No Other in the Jess Jackson Owners' H., toured four panels in :49 3/5.