Dan Blacker saddled the first winner of his fledgling career at Hollywood Park on Dec. 18, little more than one month after getting his start in Southern California.
Having saddled three runners since going out on his own on Nov. 11, the former assistant to Tom Albertrani sent the 5-year-old mare Hameildaeme (Storming Home—Sweet Cando, by Royal Applause) to the fourth race of the day at the Inglewood oval. Closing well under jockey Victor Espinoza, she won the one-mile turf event for $25,000-$22,500 claimers by a head over five older fillies and mares, giving partners Jim Ford, Richard Ansede, Mark Nichols, Phil Dion, and Robert and Wan Maycock the victory.
“I’m hitting at 25% right now,” Blacker said with a grin. “It’s great to get the win right off the mark; that’s what you want to do early on in your training career. I owe it all to Jamie Lloyd (Hameildaeme’s previous trainer), and the owners who gave me a shot and put their horses with me.”
Blacker, 29, is a 2007 graduate of the Darley Flying Start Program. He worked for Richard Mandella on the West Coast before spending the past 2 ½ years with Albertrani in the East. He moved back to California this September and shortly thereafter picked up five runners from Lloyd, who returned to England to focus on his bloodstock business.
“He put in a good word for me with his owners and they were good enough to give me a shot,” Blacker remarked. “He was very instrumental in setting me up, and I really owe it to him.”
Blacker experienced the ups and downs of the training game with his initial score; Hameildaeme was claimed for $25,000 by trainer Dean Greenman for Calabria Stables. The British-bred runner is stakes-placed in the 2009 San Clemente Handicap (gr. IIT) and ran in that year’s Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (gr. IT) and Del Mar Oaks (Gr. IT). She came into the race off a fifth-place finish for Blacker at Hollywood in a 1 1/16-mile claiming event on Dec. 3.
“It’s a shame (to lose her) because she’s a really nice mare and a pleasure to be around, but it’s a good feeling to get her to the winner’s circle,” Blacker said. “She’d been training really well and I have to give credit to Jim Ford because he was the one who wanted to run her in that spot. She was training so good I didn’t see any reason why not to. Victor gave her an excellent ride today.”
Blacker’s next starters may be seen at the upcoming Santa Anita meeting that opens Dec. 26.
“I’d like to continue to expand my stable and we’ll see how the upcoming meet treats us,” he said.