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News and notes from around the Thoroughbred racing world, compiled by NTRA Communications.
The Thoroughbred racing world is still grieving over the untimely death of the winningest trainer in history, Dale Baird, who was killed at age 72 in an automobile accident in Indiana on Sunday.
According to, funeral services for Baird are set for Saturday in his hometown of Martinsville, Ill.
Baird amassed a career total of 9,445 training victories. His closest pursuer on the all-time-wins list is Jack Van Berg with 6,378 triumphs.
They’ve each started more than 2,200 horses in 2007. But entering racing action on Thursday, trainers Steve Asmussen and Scott Lake were exactly even in victories on the year with 474.
Leading the nation in wins is nothing new for either man. Asmussen has done it twice, taking down top honors in 2004 and 2005. In 2004, Asmussen set the all-time record of 555 wins in one year. Lake has led the nation in training wins four times – most recently in 2006.
Asmussen has six starters today, four at Fair Grounds and two at Sam Houston Race Park. Lake will start four today: two at Laurel Park and two at Charles Town.
Asmussen is as close to Lake as he is in large part due to a blockbuster day he had last Saturday. Asmussen set a Fair Grounds record for training wins on a single card that day by sending out six winners, all of which were ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan, who became the ninth jockey in Fair Grounds history to ride six winners in one day. They combined to sweep the four $100,000 stakes races for the track’s inaugural “Santa Sprint Saturday” – Sok Sok in the Sugar Bowl Stakes, Blitzing in the Letellier Memorial Stakes, Tres Dream in the Esplanade Stakes and Stormin Baghdad in the Bonapaw Stakes.
There will be no shortage of competition in the nation’s final Grade I contest of 2007. Saturday’s 35th running of the Grade I, $250,000 La Brea Stakes attracted 14 entrants, largest in the history of Santa Anita’s Grade I event for 3-year-old fillies.
Sindy With an S, one of only two graded stakes winners among the assemblage, will carry high weight of 121 pounds and heads the field in earnings with a career bankroll of $315,959.
But several of her opponents are on upward form trajectories. Dearest Trickski, for instance, has won six of her last seven starts, but the La Brea will be her first try in stakes competition. Dawn After Dawn captured a Hollywood Park allowance sprint in her first West Coast start on Nov. 30 after facing top competition in the East. She ran fourth to Rags to Riches in the Grade I Kentucky Oaks last May.
Lightly-raced Glorified might have a bright future. After decisive victories in her first two starts at Hollywood Park this year, she ran second to Desire to Excel as the 9-10 favorite in the Honest Lady on July 2 before hitting the sidelines.
Trained by Mike Mitchell for Dream Stable, Sindy With an S has posted a 4-2-1 record in eight starts that include a 3 ¼-length victory in the Grade III Safely Kept Breeders’ Cup Stakes at Laurel Park in Maryland on Oct. 6. The field’s only other graded stakes winner is Ashley’s Kitty, a 17-1 upsetter in Hollywood Park’s Grade III Railbird Stakes last May 13. The Oak West Farm filly, trained by Ted West, has won 4 of 9 races for earnings of $190,958.
The largest number of runners to compete in a La Brea to date was 12 when Affluent was victorious in 2001.
The complete field for Saturday’s La Brea Stakes in post position order: Pinata (jockey: Martin Pedroza, weight: 117); Cathrine’s Hope (Jon Court, 119); Ashley’s Kitty (Tyler Baze, 119); Silky Smooth (Aaron Gryder, 114); Dawn After Dawn (Garrett Gomez, 117); Shriek (Richard Migliore, 115); Glorified (Jose Valdivia Jr., 115); Frisk Her (Corey Nakatani, 119); Dearest Trickski (Mike Smith; 117); Sindy With an S (Michael Baze, 121); Look Deep (Victor Espinoza, 117); Macadamia (Julien Leparoux, 115); Swiss Diva (Agapito Delgadillo, 117) and Unspoken Word (Rafael Bejarano, 117).
The La Brea is supported by two other stakes on the 10-race Saturday program at Santa Anita: the $125,000 California Breeders Champion Stakes for 2-year-old statebred fillies at seven furlongs and the $75,000 Eddie Logan Stakes for 2-year-olds at one mile on turf.
Dec. 27, 1982: English trainer Michael Dickinson saddled 12 winners, a record.
Dec. 27, 1987: D. Wayne Lukas set a single-season record for stakes wins by a trainer, 92, when he saddled High Brite to win the Palos Verdes Handicap at Santa Anita Park.
Dec. 27, 2004: Sylvia Bishop, the first African American woman licensed as a Thoroughbred trainer in the U.S., died at age 84.
Dec. 31, 1966: Ogden Phipps’ Buckpasser, trained by Eddie Neloy, won the 13th consecutive race of his three-year-old season after taking the Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita Park. He was voted Horse of the Year and also took top three-year-old and handicap horse honors for 1966.
Dec. 31, 1982: After a year-long battle for leading rider honors, Pat Day edged Angel Cordero Jr. by two races, which he won after chartering a plane to fly to Vinton, La., where he rode Dana’s Woof Woof and Miltons Magic to victory during the evening program at Delta Downs. Day won the title–his first–with 399 wins to Cordero’s 397.
Dec. 31, 1989: Jockey Kent Desormeaux set the world record for most number of wins in a single season, 598, when he rode two-year-old East Royalty, trained by Phil Thomas Jr., to victory in the tenth race, the Inner Harbor Stakes, at Laurel. He surpassed the old record, set by Chris McCarron, by 52 wins.
Jan. 1, 1942: Racing in California was officially canceled. On Dec. 16, the West Coast military authorities had requested that Santa Anita Park postpone its meeting indefinitely due to war conditions.
Jan. 1, 1975: Secretariat was represented by his first Thoroughbred foal, a filly named Miss Secretariat, born in Kentucky to the mare My Card.
Jan. 2, 1945: As the end of World War II approached, racing throughout the U.S. was banned indefinitely at the request of James F. Byrnes, War Mobilization Director. While Thoroughbreds could not be transported in the U.S. for racing purposes, the Office of Defense Transportation subsequently approved the shipment of racehorses to tracks that were more than 300 miles beyond U.S. borders. The ban was not lifted until May, causing the rescheduling of the Triple Crown races.
Jan. 2, 1997: Jockey Laffit Pincay Jr. posted his 8,500th career victory aboard Tacomolly during the seventh race at Santa Anita Park.