News and notes from around the Thoroughbred racing world, compiled by NTRA Communications.
FULL FIELD TO CONTEST SATURDAY’S REBEL STAKES
A large field of 13 Kentucky Derby hopefuls was drawn today for Saturday’s Grade II, $300,000 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark. The 1 1/16-miles race for three-year-olds is the main prep race for the $1 million Arkansas Derby on April 16.
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert will look for a repeat winning performance in the Rebel. Last year he shipped Lookin At Lucky from California to capture the Rebel en route to the 3-year-old championship. This year, Baffert is bringing in The Factor, who will leave from post position 6. A son of War Front, The Factor is two races removed from setting a track record for six furlongs at Santa Anita in his maiden win on December 26. Last time out, he outfinished Sway Away by less than a length in the seven-furlong San Vicente Stakes at Santa Anita. The Rebel will be The Factor’s first race around two turns, and the same can be said for Sway Away (post 9), who will also be venturing from California to Arkansas for the Rebel.
Upset winner of the one-mile Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn on Febraury 21, Archarcharch will be among the top local hopes in the Rebel for Arkansas racing fans. Jon Court is again named to ride the son of Arch for his father-in-law, trainer Jinks Fires. Archarcharch will break from the rail.
Meanwhile, hype has been significant for Elite Alex due to the 3-year-old son of Alfeet Alex’s breeding and connections. Owned by the Elite Alex LLC, there are shades of 2005 at Oaklawn with principals Chuck Zacney and trainer Tim Ritchey making it easy to recall the run the sire made through Arkansas that year en route to win the Arkansas Derby, Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes. Throw in jockey Calvin Borel, the winner of three of the last four runnings of the Kentucky Derby and the hype becomes even more understandable. Last time out, Elite Alex finished a wide third in the Southwest Stakes behind Archarcharch. Elite Alex will start from post 10.
The complete Rebel Stakes field, in post position order, is: Archarcharch (jockey: Jon Court); Alternation (Luis Quinonez); Dreaminofthewin (Cliff Berry); Picko’s Pride (Israel Ocampo); J P’s Gusto (Ramon Dominguez); The Factor (Martin Garcia); Caleb’s Posse (Eddie Razo); Saratoga Red (Terry Thompson); Sway Away (Garrett Gomez); Elite Alex (Calvin Borel); Glint (Gabriel Saez); Bluegrass Jam (Michael Baze); and J W Blue (Joe Rocco Jr.).
Also at Oaklawn on Saturday, 2010 3-year-old filly Champion Blind Luck is scheduled to see action when she breaks from the far outside in the Grade III Azeri Stakes, which drew a field of seven.
ÉCLAIR DE LUNE GETS NEW RIDER IN THE SANTA ANA THIS SATURDAY
German-bred Éclair de Lune, winner of the prestigious Grade I Beverly D last year at Arlington Park, will attempt to atone for a recent setback in the Megahertz Stakes on Saturday when facing seven older fillies and mares in the 44th running of the Grade II, $150,000 Santa Ana Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on the turf at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif.
Richard Duchossois’s 6-year-old mare wound up fourth as the 11-10 favorite in Santa Anita’s Megahertz Stakes at one mile on January 23. The Megahertz was Éclair de Lune’s first start since dead-heating for sixth at 23-1 odds in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Churchill Downs on November 5. She finished but two lengths behind the winner, Shared Account.
The added distance [in the Santa Ana] will be better for her,” said Éclair de Lune’s trainer Ron McAnally. “She’ll be fit enough for it. First time back, the mile race was a little short for her, and the kid [jockey Rafael Bejarano] had too much hold of her.”
This time around, Chantal Sutherland, who rode Game On Dude to a $31.60 upset in the Santa Anita Handicap on March 5, will take the reins of Éclair de Lune, who enters the Santa Ana with winnings of $552,592 and a 3-2-1 record in 12 career starts.
The complete field for the Santa Ana Stakes, in post position order, is: Malibu Pier (jockey: Rafael Bejarano, weight: 118; Church Camp (Brice Blanc, 118); Turning Top (Joel Rosario, 118); Blue Maiden (Joe Talamo, 118); Washington Bridge (Mike Smith, 123); It Tiz (David Flores, 118); Éclair de Lune (Chantal Sutherland, 120), and Lilly Fa Pootz (Corey Nakatani, 118).
INJURED 90-YEAR-OLD PADDOCK GUARD RECOVERING NICELY AFTER HEROIC DEED
The condition of injured 90-year-old paddock guard John Shear continues to improve after suffering injuries while shielding a 6-year-old girl from a runaway loose horse. Shear was hospitalized Saturday afternoon following the accident that occurred prior to Santa Anita’s third race.
The paddock guard suffered multiple fractures, including one to his pelvic area. But Shear’s spirits remain good, and his family is appreciative of the many kind thoughts sent John’s way.
“I’m completely blown away and humbled by the response from fans at the track and from those on all the social media sites,” said Shear’s 44-year-old son Mike. It’s amazing how many people that don’t even know my dad have expressed their well wishes,” said Shear. “My dad does about 35 pushups a day and he eats well and stays fit. I think that’s the biggest reason he’s recovering so quickly.”
The elder Shear has been employed at Santa Anita Park since 1961.
EVERYTHING COMING UP ROSIE FOR ROSIE
With two weeks remaining in the current Fair Grounds meeting, jockey A. R. “Rosie” Napravnik has a very good chance to become the first female to win the jockey title at the New Orleans racetrack.
The 2010-2011 winter meet, which ends March 27, marks Napravnik’s first full season riding at the nation’s third oldest Thoroughbred race course. The 23-year-old native of Morristown, N.J., has 94 wins to her credit thus far — 25 more wins than her closest rival, Shaun Bridgmohan.
Napravnik has already won several meet titles on Maryland’s Laurel Park and Pimlico circuit since she started riding in 2005.
Should lady luck continue for Napravnik, she could also become the first Fair Grounds jockey to win more than 100 races during a Fair Grounds meeting since Joe Talamo rode 118 winners there four years ago.
NTRA BOARD APPROVES UPDATED 2011 CODE OF STANDARDS FOR NTRA SAFETY AND INTEGRITY ALLIANCE
The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) Safety and Integrity Alliance announced today that the Alliance’s 2011 Code of Standards have been approved by the NTRA Board of Directors. The compliance standards will serve as the basis for future racetrack Alliance accreditation, including the re-accreditation of tracks originally accredited by the Alliance in 2009. Among the changes to the Alliance’s Code of Standards for 2011 is the addition of guidelines to promote jockey health and safety. In addition, the code has been made even more rigorous in a number of other areas, including injury reporting, pre-and post-race veterinary inspections; and safety training and continuing education.
The complete 2011 Code of Standards for the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance can be found at: http://www.ntra.com/safetyalliance/Final_2011_Code.pdf
The NTRA Board also approved a request of the Alliance’s Advisory Committee that would permit the insertion of additional changes to the Code in 2011 as circumstances warrant.
“This latest version of the Code represents the work of multiple stakeholders in our industry and addresses some of the most pressing issues facing jockeys especially. As we have said many times, the Alliance Code of Standards is a work in progress designed to evolve with scientific advancements and consensus recommendations for change over time. To that end, we continue to closely monitor the Life at Ten investigation,” said Mike Ziegler, Executive Director of the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance. “If and when needed changes are identified and recommended by the Alliance Advisory Committee, the Alliance will not hesitate to implement those changes by further updating the Code.”
GOLDEN GATE FIELDS PROVIDES SETTING FOR GIRL’S WISH TO COME TRUE
A wish came true at Golden Gate Fields in Berkeley, Calif., last Saturday when Sierra Olson, a 14-year-old girl suffering from Evan’s Syndrome (an autoimmune disease), accompanied veterinarian Dr. Ken Alison on his rounds through the barn of trainer Terry Knight.
Anna Ortiz of The Greater Bay Area Make-A-Wish Foundation; Robert Rowell and Shari Knight of the Golden State Warriors; Terry Knight; and Dr. Alison, and Kristin Finkel of Golden Gate Fields helped organize the morning that gave Olson the opportunity to get up close and personal with her favorite things – horses.
Olson, who resides in Lafayette, Calif., aspires to be a veterinarian. The visit to Golden Gate Fields, which included a tour of the stable area and a visit to the track’s equine hospital, was Part 1 of Olson’s two-part wish.
Part 2 will take place in Clements, CA, at the Legacy Ranch of Pete and Evelyn Parella on April 3-4. In addition to hosting Olson for an overnight stay at the ranch, the Parellas are hoping to fulfill Sierra’s dream of witnessing a live equine birth at their state-of-the-art facility.
Olson, who arrived at Golden Gate Fields in a limousine, shadowed Dr. Alison and even assisted the veterinarian by removing stitches from a horse’s head. She also observed a surgery in Golden Gate Fields’ equine hospital and was given a fun homework assignment from trainer Knight – to name one of his young horses.
“Just being around all the horses,” responded Olson when asked what she liked most about her visit. And what about removing staples from a horse’s head? “I thought it was really cool.” So did Dr. Alison, who said Olson performed the procedure “great, perfect.”Olson was accompanied on her trip to Golden Gate Fields by her parents Darci and Dylan, her brother Eli, and her sister Annika.
Rowell, team president of the Golden State Warriors and a racehorse owner who employs Knight as his trainer, came up with idea of sending Olson to Golden Gate Fields after meeting her at a holiday party that the Warriors hosted for Make-A-Wish. Once Rowell learned of Olson’s love of horses and desire to become a veterinarian, he contacted Knight, who contacted Dr. Alison.