By Craig Harzmann -- Business is carrying on as usual these days at the Santa Anita stable of Tim Pinfield. The tears have long been wept. The smiles are starting to return again. There are now only subtle hints that the barn has lost its hero, that a pal is gone forever.
Top sprinter and world-traveling stakes winner Big Jag was euthanized Sept. 24 after a training injury last March developed into a severe case of laminitis.
Millionaire sprinter Big Jag remains in the Dubai Equine Clinic following a March training accident that left the gelding with a fractured left sesamoid. Big Jag was in Dubai preparing for the Dubai Golden Shaheen, a race he won in 2000, when the career ending injury occurred.
When Kona Gold was scratched by trainer Bruce Headley, the Palos Verdes became a showdown between 8-year-olds Big Jag and Men's Exclusive.
Champion sprinter Kona Cold was among the seven horses entered for Sunday's 49th running of the Palos Verdes Handicap, but was scratched out of the race due to his weight assignment. The 7-year-old gelded son of Java Gold started last year's championship campaign with a win in the Palos Verdes and was assigned top weight of 126 pounds for Sunday's renewal.
The unanimous choice for champion sprinter of 2000 would have faced last year's second- and third-place Palos Verdes finishers -- Big Jag and Freespool, respectively. Big Jag has been assigned 120 pounds and Freespool 116.
Horse of the Year nominee Kona Gold is scheduled to breeze Monday or Tuesday in advance of his first start of the year in next Sunday's grade II Palos Verdes, according to trainer Bruce Headley. Nine older sprinters have been nominated to the Jan. 28 grade II, $200,000 Palos Verdes Handicap, including Breeders' Cup Sprint champion and Horse of the Year finalist Kona Gold.
A different kind of post position draw entertained attendees at Wednesday's Hong Kong International Races barrier draw ceremony. The first three races, the group III Sprint, and the group I Mile and Vase followed a format where a chosen guest, usually a steward from the Hong Kong Jockey Club, drew random pills to indicate order of receiving the posts. The gate numbers were then handed to the horses' connections in a sealed envelope; however, no one could open their envelope until the entire field had representation on stage. Then they displayed their numbers all at once.
Most of the nine-horse American contingent for the Dec. 17 Hong Kong International Races have settled into Sha Tin Racecourse after traveling this week. Sprinters Big Jag and Morluc were the first to arrive on Monday, with the Christophe Clement trainees, Craigsteel, Charge d'Affaires, and Forbidden Apple scheduled in on Friday afternoon.
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