A victory by Charm the Maker in the Paseana Handicap Jan. 13 would be beneficial on several fronts for trainer Ron McAnally, in addition to providing a good story line.
Not only did McAnally condition the champion race mare for which the race is named, he trains Paseana contender Charm the Maker for his wife, Debbie. A win in the $75,000 race would start the New Year off on the right foot on the domestic front.
Perhaps even more important, it would provide a dose of good medicine for the popular 80-year-old Hall of Fame trainer. He has been AWOL from his customary gathering spot at Clockers' Corner for the past three weeks since undergoing partial replacement surgery on the inside portion of his left knee at Glendale Hospital Dec. 17.
"The procedure was something of a new method," McAnally said by phone on the morning of Jan. 11. "I'm coming along and hope to be back at the track soon."
Charm the Maker, a 4-year-old daughter of 2003 Belmont Stakes winner Empire Maker owned and bred by Ron and his wife, has earned her keep to date, finishing worse than fourth only once in 11 career starts. Her last 10 races have been in stakes since winning a maiden allowance race in her debut on Aug. 31, 2011, at Del Mar. Garrett Gomez rides.
Charm the Maker also is nominated to the La Canada Stakes (gr. II) Jan. 20 and could be scratched from the Pasaena.
Dan Landers, who has been with McAnally since 1995, was with Paseana for "a cup of coffee."
"Her last race came the first week I worked for him," said Landers, whose father, Dale, had a brief career as a jockey, winning the second race ever run at Santa Anita when it opened on Christmas Day in 1934.
"My dad was 16 at the time," Landers recalled. "I watched Paseana run a whole bunch before I joined up with McAnally. She was a champion many times over."
Paseana, one of five national champions trained by McAnally, was the Eclipse Award winner as older filly or mare in 1992-93.
The field for the Paseana, which goes as race 3 on the Sunday card, also includes Distracting, Curvy Cat, Snow Fall, Sweetly Peppered, Great Hot, and Candrea.