Beset by questions of how well its synthetic racetracks are performing, the California Horse Racing Board is conducting a safety standards pilot study.
El Gato Malo makes his third start since winning last year's Lone Star Derby (gr. III) in the $150,000 San Fernando Stakes (gr. II) Jan. 17. The beaten favorite in the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) is part of a wide open field of a dozen 4-year-olds in the 1 1/16-mile test over the Pro-Ride racing surface.
Trainer John Sadler sends out a pair of top 3-year-old filly candidates, including multiple stakes winner Evita Argentina, in the $150,000 Santa Ynez (gr. II) at Santa Anita Jan. 17.
Stakes winners Chocolate Candy, Gallant Son, and undefeated Merus Miami top a group of seven 3-year-old colts entered for the $100,000 California Derby at Golden Gate Fields Jan. 17.
Lane's End Breeders' Futurity (gr. I) winner and Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) runner-up Square Eddie makes his highly-anticipated 3-year-old debut Jan. 17 at Santa Anita when he takes on seven rivals in the $100,000 San Rafael Stakes (gr. III) at Santa Anita.
Graded stakes winner Indyanne, who fractured a sesamoid in her left front ankle while leading in the La Brea Stakes (gr. I) Dec. 27 at Santa Anita, was euthanized Jan. 13.
Siberian Summer, a grade I winner and sire of a grade I winner, will stand at Ellen Jackson's Victory Rose Farm near Vacaville, Calif.
Century Park, the least regarded of three fillies entered by trainer Bob Baffert in the $100,000 Santa Ysabel Stakes (gr. III) at odds of 24-1, made every pole a winning one thanks to a crafty ride by returning jockey Tyler Baze at Santa Anita Jan 11.
Chocolate Candy, who ran third in the CashCall Futurity (gr. I) at Hollywood Park last month, is among the horses already confirmed for the $100,000 California Derby at Golden Gate Fields Jan. 17.
Waquoit's Love, never out of the money in six starts on the Gulfstream Park turf, finally broke through with her first stakes win Jan. 11 when she scored a neck victory in the $100,000 Marshua's River Stakes.
CashCall Futurity (gr. I) winner Pioneerof the Nile remains on target for his 3-year-old debut on Feb. 7 after turning in a bullet five-furlong drill of :57 3/5 over Santa Anita's Pro-Ride track Jan. 11.
Front-running Cowboy Cal, one of the few horses that Robert and Janice McNair kept after they sold Stonerside Stable to Darley last year, nipped 28-1 shot Informed by a nose to win the $150,000 San Pasqual Handicap (gr. II) at Santa Anita Jan. 10.
Malibu Stakes (gr. I) winner Bob Black Jack is undergoing tests to determine the exact nature of an ailment that is expected to keep sidelined for several months.
Surf Cat, who triumphed six times in grade II events and earned $1,045,420, has been retired from racing, according to a Daily Racing Form report. The 7-year-old horse will begin his stallion career at Old English Rancho near Sanger, Calif., his trainer, Bruce Headley, told the publication Jan. 9.
Lane's End Breeders' Futurity (gr. I) winner Square Eddie, prepping for his 3-year-old debut in the San Rafael Stakes (gr. III) at one mile on Jan. 17 at Santa Anita, breezed six furlongs at Hollywood Park Jan. 8.
Return of the King, the last horse owned by James Ortega, one of nine people slain in a Southern California massacre on Christmas Eve, scored a dramatic come-from-behind victory at Santa Anita Jan. 8.
With a talented trio of 3-year-old fillies, trainer Bob Baffert is looking forward to the $100,000 Santa Ysabel Stakes (gr. III) at Santa Anita Jan. 11.
The grade III Sir Beaufort Stakes Dec. 26 was downgraded to ungraded status after being switched to the main track, but after being reviewed by the American Graded Stakes Committee, the original status was reinstated.
At a meeting Jan. 7 at Santa Anita Park, about 40 trainers met to discuss problems with the track's Pro-Ride synthetic surface.
Team Portland Meadows dominated its fellow riders from Golden Gate Fields in winning the first "XpressBet Jockey Challenge" at its home track Jan. 7.
Grade I winner Well Armed will make his first start since a ninth-place finish as the 6-5 choice in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile more than two months ago when he tackles the $150,000 San Pasqual Handicap (gr. II) at Santa Anita Jan. 10.
Horses returned to the Golden Gate Fields main track for gallops on the morning of Jan. 7 after the synthetic course was closed to training for two days for refurbishment.
Gallant Son, the dominant 2-year-old at Emerald Downs last season, continues to train well at Golden Gate Fields and trainer Frank Lucarelli has several options for the promising colt.
The annual California Thoroughbred Breeders Association stallion season auction will be held Tuesday night, Jan. 6.
With five breakdowns, including three fatalities, in the first five days of racing, Santa Anita's synthetic surface has again come under the microscope.
Tizfiz, claimed for $50,000 by trainer Ralph DeLeon last fall, took the San Gorgonio Handicap (gr. IIT) field all the way, outlasting Marzelline by a nose in an upset on the Santa Anita turf course Jan. 4.
Bottled up in the homestretch, favored Jibboom got free with less than a furlong to run and collared Christiana's Heat in the final strides to win the $100,000 Monrovia Handicap (gr. IIIT) by a half-length on the Santa Anita hillside turf course Jan. 3.
Top jockey Garrett Gomez and a group of Southern California based riders will contribute $16,500 to the Winners Foundation Jan. 3 at Santa Anita Park. The Winners Foundation helps individuals and families in the racing industry with alcohol and substance abuse problems and is based at Santa Anita. The foundation is funded primarily by racing associations throughout California.
Stardom Bound, the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile Filly (gr. I) winner and likely the divisional champion, could make her 3-year-old debut in the $300,000 Las Virgenes Stakes (gr. I) at one mile on Feb. 7, new trainer Bobby Frankel said.
The multiple graded stakes winner Valbenny lands in a good spot to try to end an eight-race losing streak in the $150,000 San Gorgonio Handicap (gr. II) on the Santa Anita turf Jan. 4.
Odds-on choice Backbackbackgone earned the third stakes win of his five-race career when he held off a willing Free Action for a one-length victory in the $75,000 Golden Bear Stakes for 3-year-olds at Golden Gate Fields on New Year's Day.
Favored In Summation regained some of the sparkle he lost last season with a sharp one-length win in the $98,000 El Conejo Handicap (gr. III) at Santa Anita on New Year's Day.
Garrett Gomez made a valiant effort to break the record for purse earnings in a year when he won with his first three mounts at Santa Anita Dec. 31. But in the one race he had to win, the $76,400 Kalookan Queen Handicap, the 2007 Eclipse Award-winning jockey finished third aboard Baroness Thatcher.
Lethal Heat, who won six of nine starts in 2008 before going to the sidelines following a third-place finish in the Del Mar Oaks (gr. IT), starts a new year for trainer Barry Abrams in the $100,000 Monrovia Handicap (gr. IIIT) over Santa Anita's hillside turf course Jan. 3.
Thoroughbred racing's all-time winning jockey Russell Baze and three of his colleagues will fly up from Northern California to take on four of the top riders at Portland Meadows Jan. 7 in the first Golden Gate versus Portland Meadows Jockey Challenge sponsored by XpressBet.
Favored Proudinsky, ridden with patience by substitute rider Rafael Bejarano, took command near the eighth pole and held off the outsider Ferneley to win the $150,000 San Gabriel Handicap (gr. IIT) at Santa Anita Park Dec. 28.
In Summation, fourth in the Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I), will be among three grade I winners in a field of five set to contest Santa Anita Park's $100,000 El Conejo Handicap (gr. III) at 5 1/2 furlongs on New Year's Day.
Jockey Garrett Gomez is expected to return to riding on Dec. 29 following a nasty fall on the turf course at Santa Anita Park two days earlier.
Surgery for the brilliant filly Indyanne, who fractured a sesamoid in her left front ankle while leading in the stretch of the La Brea Stakes (gr. I) at Santa Anita Park Dec. 27, has been postponed, trainer Greg Gilchrist said the morning following the accident.
Jockey Garrett Gomez was taken to the Arcadia Methodist Hospital after the 2-year-old colt he was aboard in the Eddie Logan Stakes at Santa Anita Dec. 27 ducked into the rail and threw him onto the turf.
The champion filly Indian Blessing won her fifth grade I race when she inherited the lead from an injured Indyanne in the homestretch and went on to victory in the $250,000 La Brea Stakes (gr. I) at Santa Anita Dec. 27.
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.
Favored Gio Ponti waited for room under a patient Garrett Gomez and blasted through the pack mid-stretch to win the $100,000 Sir Beaufort Stakes going away in a race taken off the Santa Anita Park turf course and transferred to the Pro-Ride main surface Dec. 26.
Bob Black Jack went gate to wire to easily win the $250,000 Malibu Stakes (gr. I) for 3-year-olds on opening day of the 2008-09 season at Santa Anita Park Dec. 26. It was the first graded stakes win for the California-bred Bob Black Jack.
Unusual Suspect, guided by Chantal Sutherland, overtook the leaders in upper stretch en route to a one-length win in the $73,500 Silveyville Stakes on opening day of the 118-day Golden Gate Fields winter/spring meet Dec. 26.
Ruhlmann, the seven-time stakes-winning stallion and winner of the 1990 Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I), died Dec. 24 at the age of 23, Old Friends owner Michael Blowen said.
Jockey Sam Thompson, who was injured during a spill at Los Alamitos Dec. 20, died at 3:30 a.m. on Dec. 25. Since the accident, Thompson was on life support in the coronary care unit at Los Alamitos Medical Center. When he began to fail, the decision was made to remove the life support. He was 36.
As a member of the California Horse Racing Board for four years, Richard Shapiro could hardly be described as a weak bystander in overseeing the sport. But Shapiro said he was "becoming increasingly frustrated by the governmental and bureaucratic limitations imposed by being on the board."
Golden Gate Fields will give horse racing fans a present the day after Christmas when it opens its 118-day winter/spring season Dec. 26. Post time is 12:15 p.m.
Proudinsky, second to Daytona in last year's San Gabriel Handicap (gr. IIT) on Santa Anita's turf course, has an outstanding opportunity to do that effort one better in the $150,000 event Dec. 28.
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