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.
Champion filly Indian Blessing, whose flashy three-race winning streak was ended by Ventura in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint at Santa Anita two months ago, returns to the track for the $250,000 La Brea Stakes (gr. I) Dec. 27.
Gio Ponti, attempting to make amends after a troubled trip as the choice in the Hollywood Derby (gr. IT) a month ago, figures to draw considerable attention in a contentious field for the $100,000 Sir Beaufort Stakes (gr. IIIT) on the Santa Anita opening day program Dec. 26.
WinStar Farms' Colonel John, a multiple grade I winner in 2008, tops the seven-horse field entered for the grade I, $250,000 Malibu Stakes, the traditional opening day feature on the Dec. 26 card at Santa Anita.
Jim Henwood, who serves as president and CEO of the Los Angeles County Fair Association (LACFA), which owns Barretts, recently discussed the future of the sale company with The Blood-Horse.
Fairplex Park offers 16 days of competition in the fall as part of California's fair racing circuit. But with signs pointing to the closure and development of Hollywood Park, Fairplex soon could play a more important role in the Golden State's version of the Sport of Kings.
Odds-on choice Vacare gave trainer Christophe Clement his 1,000th lifetime win in her final career start when she rallied in the homestretch to win the $150,000 Dahlia Handicap (g. IIT) on closing day of the Hollywood Park Autumn Meet Dec. 21.
Jockey Rafael Bejarano, who did not ride closing day, completed a sweep of the five major Southern California meetings by riding 52 winners at Hollywood Park's 40-day Autumn Meet, which concluded Dec. 21.
Merus Miami dropped back to last on the backstretch and then rallied through the final quarter of a mile to win the $75,000 Gold Rush Stakes by one length at Golden Gate Fields Dec. 20.
Heavily favored Pioneerof the Nile, who took over the stall of Midshipman when the Breeder's Cup Juvenile (gr. I) winner departed trainer Bob Baffert's barn for Dubai this fall, proved he earned it when he narrowly held off I Want Revenge in an exhilarating renewal of the $750,000 CashCall Futurity (gr. I) at Hollywood Park Dec. 20.
It's too early to tell if the Oak Tree Racing Association will owe the Breeders' Cup payment as a result of falling short of revenue guarantees for operating the two-day racing extravaganza at Santa Anita Park, according to an executive for the 2008 host.
Multiple graded-stakes winner Vacare will try to add to her impressive resume Dec. 21 when she tops a full field of 12 fillies and mares in the Dahlia Handicap (gr. IIT) on closing day at Hollywood Park.
Bob Baffert will aim for a record-tying fourth CashCall Futurity (gr. I) victory when he saddles Pioneerof the Nile and Ventana in the 28th running of the $750,000 event Dec. 20 at Hollywood Park.
Martin Smith, assistant and exercise rider for English trainer John Best, hopes the stable enjoys as much success in the $750,000 CashCall Futurity (gr. I) Dec. 20 at Hollywood Park with Axel Foley as it did with Square Eddie in the Breeders Futurity (gr. I) at Keeneland in October.
Barretts has cataloged 315 horses for its 2009 January mixed sale. The auction will be held Jan. 26 in the Hinds Pavilion, which is located on the grounds of Fairplex Park in Southern Caliofornia. The sale will begin at 11 a.m. (PST).
With little discussion, the California Horse Racing Board unanimously approved license renewals for four advance deposit wagering companies doing business in the state for a one-year period.
California Horse Racing Board chairman Richard Shapiro announced his resignation Dec. 15 during a meeting of the board at Santa Anita Park.
Undefeated record-holder Peppers Pride saved her most dazzling effort of the year for her 19th and probably last race, surging past the leaders in the stretch run to win the $125,000 New Mexico State Racing Commission Handicap at Sunland Park Dec. 14.
With one week left until the end of Hollywood Park's 2008 fall racing season, jockey Rafael Bejarano is poised to complete a rare riding feat: a sweep of each victory title at every major meet in Southern California in 2008.
Trainer Bob Baffert gave the green light to Pioneerof the Nile and Ventana for the $750,000 CashCall Futurity (gr. I) after the pair worked Dec. 14 at Santa Anita.
Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer has been fined $1,000 in an agreement with the California Horse Racing Board following a finding of scopolamine in a post-race urine sample taken from one of his horses last year.
With Edgar Prado at the controls, Laragh dictated the pace to score a one-length victory Dec. 13 in the $429,500 Hollywood Starlet (gr. I) for 2-year-old fillies.
The stallion Unusual Heat broke the California record for progeny earnings in one year Dec. 11.
The Washington Horse Racing Commission approved a 91-day season of live racing for Emerald Downs in 2009 at its Dec. 11 meeting.
Aubrey Villyard, a long-time Thoroughbred trainer in Washington State, died Dec. 9 after a long battle with leukemia. Mr. Villyard was 67.
In what is probably her final race, unbeaten Peppers Pride puts her modern North American record 18-race winning streak on the line in the $125,000 New Mexico State Racing Commission Handicap at Sunland Park Dec. 14.
A lawsuit aimed at preventing redevelopment of the Bay Meadows race track site has been dropped by a San Mateo preservationist group that agreed to settle the case with the property owner and the city of San Mateo.
Laragh can put a grade I exclamation point on a busy juvenile campaign when she faces six other fillies in the $429,500 Hollywood Starlet Dec. 13.
Charlie Palmer, who spent more than 60 years working in the California horse racing industry, died of an aneurism at his home Dec. 7. He was 80.
Jerry McMahon discussed his decision to leave Barretts, the health of the Thoroughbred auction business in California, his plans for the future, and other topics with The Blood-Horse Dec. 9.
Barretts Equine Ltd., based at Fairplex Park in Southern California, doesn't have an October mixed sale listed on its 2009 auction schedule. The struggling American economy and downturns in the Thoroughbred marketplace contributed to the decision not to hold the sale, according to Barretts president and general manager Jerry McMahon, who recently announced his resignation from the company.
Jerry McMahon, founding president and general manager of Barretts Equine Limited, is resigning from the Southern California-based auction firm effective Jan. 3, 2009.
Upsetter Briecat used her speed to best advantage in Hollywood Park's $150,000 Bayakoa Handicap (gr. II) Dec. 7, turning back a challenge from even-money favorite Model in the homestretch and posting a 2 1/4-length front-running win.
A late change in flight plans played a key role in Joel Rosario connecting for five winners, including a graded stakes win, at Hollywood Park Dec. 6.
Favored Champs Elysees sliced the corner impressively and flew past pacesetter Mr. Chairman in the homestretch to win the $250,000 Hollywood Turf Cup (gr. IT), earning his first grade I win in the United States for Juddmonte Farms and trainer Bobby Frankel.
Odds-on choice Golden Yank overtook Por Que in the homestretch and drew off for a 6 3/4-length romp in the $158,730 Zia Park Derby, giving the 3-year-old son of Yankee Gentleman back-to-back Derby victories for trainer Gary Thomas.
Slew's Tizzy, bounding home from between horses for red-hot jockey Joel Rosario, outfought favored Past the Point and pacesetter Ball Four to win the $108,200 Native Diver Handicap (gr. III) in a 7-1 surprise at Hollywood Park Dec. 6.
Laragh, third-place finisher as the favorite in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (gr. IT), is to be flown west from New York to compete in the $250,000 Hollywood Starlet (gr. I) on Dec. 13, trainer John Terranova said.
The Oregon Racing Commission has approved a schedule change for Portland Meadows that will drop four Sunday programs in January while adding eight Wednesday dates through the end of February, the track announced.
The Irish tandem of trainer Dermot Weld and jockey Patrick Smullen, who combined to win the Matriarch (gr. IT) at Hollywood Park four years ago with Dress to Thrill, have returned with their sights set on the $250,000 Hollywood Turf Cup (gr. IT) Dec. 6.
John C. Alkire has been elected chairman of the board of directors for the California Authority of Racing Fairs.
Baroness Thatcher, reunited with trainer Patrick Biancone following her purchase a month ago for $1.8 million at the Keeneland November breeding stock sale, makes her next start in the $150,000 Bayakoa Handicap (gr. II) at Hollywood Park Dec. 7.
Racketeer, runner-up to Heatseeker in last year's Native Diver Handicap (gr. III), makes a one-week turnaround for trainer Barry Abrams in this year's $100,000-added renewal of the 1 1/8-mile Cushion Track event Dec. 6 at Hollywood Park.
The 5-year-old mare Black Mamba, scratched from the one-mile Matriarch at Hollywood Park this past weekend, instead will run in the $250,000 Hollywood Turf Cup (gr. IT) at 12 furlongs Dec. 6 against males.
A total of 75 stakes, beginning with the $250,000 Malibu Stakes (gr. I) on opening day Dec. 26, will be featured during the 84-day 2008-09 season at Santa Anita Park.
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