Mike Pegram is quick with a joke when his horses win, but the owner said he felt very humbled when the Southern California racing industry turned out to honor him and his wife, Mary Ellen.
CARMA invited representatives from several California rescue organizations to a roundtable April 8 at Santa Anita to discuss ways the groups could work together to save Thoroughbreds and rehabilitate them for second careers.
Harvesting a horse's stem cells at birth through the umbilical cord or as a young horse may give it an advantage later if it develops health problems. Researchers from the University of California-Davis spoke to a group of owners and breeders March 22 at the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association office about stem-cell research they are performing, and the future of stem-cell therapy.
A son of Horse of the Year Tiznow brought $650,000 to top the Barretts sale March 10 at the Hinds Pavilion in Pomona, Calif. Jess Jackson's Stonestreet Stables purchased the colt on a telephone bid from the Wavertree Stables consignment
Barretts is offering a trimmer catalog for its 2009 March select sale of 2-year-olds in training, which is in line with the belt-tightening mood throughout the country. The Southern California auction company has cataloged 124 horses for its March 10 auction, down from 191 in the 2008 book.
A Distant View filly zipped a furlong in :09 4/5 for the fastest time of those cataloged for the Barretts March sale.
Richard Shapiro, former chairman of the California Horse Racing Board, has been hired as a consultant by the newly-formed California Horse Racing Alliance. Craig Fravel, the alliance's president and the executive vice-president of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, confirmed the hiring of Shapiro shortly after the group's formation in recent weeks.
Because of the owners, trainers and jockeys who frequent The Pamplemousse restaurant near Del Mar in Southern California, co-owner and chef Jeffrey Strauss gets more than his share of tips.
Two $50,000 fillies of racing age highlighted the Barretts January mixed sale, which saw the average decline slightly from last year and the median improve. With other sales around the country experiencing double-digit decreases, sales officials expressed pleasure at the final figures.
England's Triple Crown finale, the Ladbrokes St. Leger (Eng-I), isn't considered a normal route to the Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT). But Michael Stoute hasn't ruled England's training ranks for years by playing it safe.
Exercise riders have a special trash talk all their own, usually along the lines of how the horse they are aboard can trounce anything on four legs in this century or last. That's why few people paid any attention in 2007 when Steve Willard, riding a huge unraced filly from John Shirreffs' barn, told a Hollywood Park outrider, "This is the second coming of Ruffian."
With five breakdowns, including three fatalities, in the first five days of racing, Santa Anita's synthetic surface has again come under the microscope.
Santa Anita Park dodged the rain, which hit Southern California Christmas day but left skies sunny for the traditional Dec. 26 opening day. A crowd of 33,112 attended, an increase of 9.8% over the 30,156 fans at the 2007 opener.
The stallion Unusual Heat broke the California record for progeny earnings in one year Dec. 11.
With the economy affecting all aspects of the racing industry, Santa Anita has adjusted its overnight purses downward about 10% for the upcoming winter-spring meeting that begins Dec. 26.
J. Paul Reddam's Square Eddie has returned to trainer Doug O'Neill's Hollywood Park barn following a couple weeks' rest at Magali Farms near Santa Ynez, Calif.
Unbeaten Zenyatta is getting a bit of a break at trainer John Shirreffs' barn before a 2009 campaign, but she may parade at Hollywood Park Nov. 30 as part of a special day in her honor.
A Tapit weanling colt brought a session-topping $60,000 at the second day of the Barretts October mixed sale Oct. 28. Broodmares and weanlings made up most of the sale's second half, which saw 100 horses gross $379,500 and average $3,795.
With no major dispersals in the mix and working against an ailing economy, the two-day 2008 Barretts October mixed sale began Oct. 27 facing an uphill battle. The first day saw 143 horses sell for $536,600, yielding an average of $3,752 that was 69% last year's event.
Dearest Trickski's road to the Sentient Flight Group Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint began late last year, when the Kalookan Queen Stakes at Santa Anita failed to fill. That pushed the filly into the grade I La Brea Stakes Dec. 29, and a victory there gave owner Tom Mankiewicz and trainer John Sadler grander ideas.
Todd Beattie is happy to be in California with Fabulous Strike for the Sentient Flight Group Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I). He had hoped to be at last year's Sprint, but instead had to battle a lung infection that could have ended the gelding's racing career.
Champion Indian Blessing drew post position 5 and was installed the 2-1 morning-line favorite in a full field for the Sentient Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint at Santa Anita Oct. 21. That puts the front-running filly three outside another speedster, 12-1 Indyanne, in the seven-furlong event.
As the media descend daily on barn 27 of the Santa Anita backstretch to get a glimpse of Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) favorite Curlin Oct. 20, trainer Juan Reviriego quietly goes about his business next door at barn 28. He also has a Breeders' Cup contender, though Lady Sprinter doesn't have nearly as high a profile as her neighbor.
Midnight Lute, the defending Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) winner, worked a half-mile at Santa Anita Oct. 20. The official clockers timed him in :46.80 on the Pro-Ride surface, while trainer Bob Baffert clocked him in :47.07.
When it comes to the Sentient Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint, the Oak Tree Racing Association board members can be forgiven a little partisanship. The hosts of the 2008 Breeders' Cup Oct. 24-25 should be impartial, but fellow board member Warren Williamson bred and owns Filly & Mare Sprint contender Tiz Elemental.
Fatal Bullet, the Canadian invader for the Sentient Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I), worked five furlongs in 1:01.40 over the Santa Anita Pro-Ride surface Oct. 19. Trainer Reade Baker and his wife, Janis, watched the work from the grandstand, as regular jockey Eurico Rosa Da Silva was in the saddle.
Sandy Hawley may have won the Living Legends race on Tribal Chief against seven fellow Hall of Fame former riders, but nobody had more fun than Julie Krone and Chris McCarron.
Gary and Cecil Barber arrived at Clocker's Corner Oct. 19 in time to see the sunrise. However, they were paying more attention to Cost of Freedom, their $50,000 claim who has soared into contention for the Oct. 25 Sentient Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I).
As if they had never left the racetrack, 10 Hall of Fame jockeys spoke knowingly of tactics in the Oct. 18 "Living Legends" competition at Santa Anita -- mostly about how Angel Cordero Jr. will be herding the field from his outside post position.
Trainer Bob Baffert will be trying to accomplish something in the Sentient Flight Group Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) never done before-win the race twice with the same horse.
A race still searching for its identity, the Sentient Flight Group Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint has the potential to be many things.
Curlin took another step closer to the Oct. 25 Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) when he executed a flawless workout between races at Santa Anita Oct. 13. With regular exercise rider Carlos Rosas aboard and in company with Hawaii Calls, Curlin traveled five furlongs in :59.11, galloping out in 1:12.14.
Casino Drive, the Japan-based half-brother to two Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winners, cruised to an easy victory in a Santa Anita allowance race Oct. 12 to prepare for the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I).
With trainer Steve Asmussen looking on, Curlin worked over the Pro-Ride synthetic surface at Santa Anita early the morning of Oct. 6. The trainer, who has made no secret of the fact that he prefers dirt over synthetic surfaces, said that he could not make any decision about Santa Anita's new surface on the basis of just one work.
A day after the stock market dropped more than 700 points, California held its major yearling sale of 2008, making a tough market even more difficult.
Curlin, racing's $10 million horse, arrived at Santa Anita on Sunday, Sept. 28, and settled in at Barn 27. Assistant trainer Scott Blasi said that Curlin would probably make his first visit to the Santa Anita track Wednesday, Oct. 1.
Five grade I races at Oak Tree the weekend of Sept. 27-28 gave the Pro-Ride synthetic surface recently installed at Santa Anita a workout.
It didn't take majority owner Jess Jackson and trainer Steve Asmussen long to make plans for Curlin, winner of the Sept. 27 Jockey Club Gold Cup Invitational (gr. I) at Belmont Park.
Tucked between a weekend of Breeders' Cup prep races and the California Cup showcasing the local product, California's fall select yearling sale offers a slimmer but more select catalog than in years past.
Oak Tree's opening day, Sept. 24, brought sweltering temperatures back to Southern California, almost as if by design to test the new Pro-Ride synthetic surface. The surface heated up, but after the day's six races over it (the other three being on turf), reviews were generally optimistic.
Del Mar's traditional seven-week summer meet could undergo some changes in the next few years, as Hollywood Park heads for development and the entire Southern California racing calendar adjusts.
Several horses were out galloping on the renovated Santa Anita track surface Aug. 31. Training stables are just starting to ship in from Del Mar.
Look in the winner's circle after any offspring of Unusual Heat wins a race and you'll likely see a petite, brown-haired woman hugging the jockey, high-fiving the trainer, or congratulating the owner.
The elimination of exclusive account deposit wagering contracts and meeting the challenges of racetrack closures were among the subjects addressed at the Thoroughbred Owners of California's annual membership meeting Aug. 16 at Del Mar.
Large piles of material dot Santa Anita's backside parking lot, as work continues on the overhaul of the track's synthetic surface. Repairs to the drainage system are expected to be finished soon, with the next step being the placement of the base grit layer, according to Ian Pearse, founder and president of Pro-Ride Racing Australia.
Lava Man, a seven-time grade I-winner and earner of $5,268,706, has been retired.
A steroid-free Breeders' Cup took another step forward when the California Horse Racing Board reclassified the four most common anabolic steroids, effectively outlawing the substances for horses in training in the state.
Water, designed to keep Del Mar's Polytrack more consistent from morning to afternoon, also led to three track records opening day, July 16, at the Southern California track. The five races carded over the synthetic surface were run at four different distances, with new marks set at 5 1/2 furlongs, six furlongs and a mile.
The Taste of Arcadia will also be offering a taste of the Breeders' Cup World Championships when more than 1,200 people are expected to attend the Sept. 22 event.
Del Mar fans became used to seeing multi-millionaire Sarafan from 2001 to 2005. This summer they and the rest of the country can see the gelding on television in the new series, "The Cleaner" on the A&E network.
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