A little less enthusiasm for Oaks winner

The Stardom Bound camp is not quite as gung-ho about facing the boys later this spring after the 3-year-old daugher of Tapit was all out to beat the girls by a nose in Saturday’s Santa Anita Oaks. She needed a powerful performance to warrant a shot at the Santa Anita Derby on April 4, and it just wasn’t there. Give her credit. She showed a lot of heart to win that race, racing seven-wide into the stretch, but she just doesn’t appear to be good enough to beat the boys at this point, especially considering the way I Want Revenge won the Gotham Stakes today by 8 1/2 lengths.

“I expected her to take a leap forward today, and I’m not sure she took a leap forward,” winning owner Michael Iavarone said in the winner’s circle. “I think she did what she had to do to win, but I was expecting a little bit more of a sizzling performance and it just wasn’t there. But sometimes the best ones, they win on heart, and that’s what happened today.”

Iavarone said he has to sit down with trainer Bobby Frankel, who didn’t even want to talk Derby after the race, before making a final decision. But expect Stardom Bound to run in the Ashland Stakes against fillies at Keeneland on April 4 and then, if all goes well, to take on the girls again in the Kentucky Oaks on May 1.

Loading up on stakes at Santa Anita

Ouch … hurts when you get beat a photo on a 25-1 shot, i.e. Pericia Fina in today’s third at Santa Anita. Two more jumps and he gets there. Oh well. Kind of sums up how this meeting has gone for me.

Three great stakes here today, including the $1 million Big ‘Cap, which is wide open by the way. The defection of Colonel John because of a morning fever only makes it tougher to figure.

Here’s who I like:

Santa Anita Oaks — Nobody beats Stardom Bound, who could be pointed toward the Santa Anita Derby with a powerful victory today. I think she needs to win convincingly in order to tackle the boys, and I think she might just do that. I think the filly’s connections want to see what they’ve got, and she’ll be cranked today after being only about 75 or 80 percent for the Las Virgenes on Feb. 7.

Kilroe Mile — Tough race to figure, especially with two of the main speed horses — Mast Track and Monterey Jazz — declared earlier today. I would not be surprised if Ventura wins. She certainly has the class and has beaten the males before, but I have a feeling somebody else is going to jump up and win. I’ll go with Artiste Royal, but he needs a good pace to run at.

Big ‘Cap — I give Champs Elysees a big shot at a price in here. He ran a nice 102 Beyer speed figure in the Breeders’ Cup Classic here in October after closing like a freight train in last year’s Big ‘Cap to finish third. That day, he was 26 lengths back early and lost by only 3 1/2 lengths despite having no pace to run at. If he gets some honest splits today, I think he’ll come flying in the stretch.

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Santa Anita Racing — 3/07/2009

SATURDAY, MARCH 7
3rd — $20 to win on Pericia Fina; $5 exacta box, coupling Pericia Fina with the entry of Cassablanca and Carnival Queen
8th — $20 to win on Soul City Slew
11th — $20 to win on Macduff; $10 exacta boxes, coupling Macduff with Mt. Orient and Macduff with Man to Man

FRIDAY — Minus $29
OVERALL — Minus $1,597
BANKROLL (started with $2,000) — $403

Good luck today!!

Santa Anita Racing — 3/06/2009

FRIDAY, MARCH 6
1st — $1 early pick four, including Defense King in the first, Summertime in the second, Street Car in the third, and Accopela Choir in the fourth; $20 early double, coupling Defense King in the first and Summertime in the second
3rd — $20 to win on Street Car
4th — $20 to win on Accopela Choir
5th — $20 to win on Wiggle and a Wink
6th — $20 to win on Miss Lydia; $5 exacta box, coupling Miss Lydia and Chicks Rule
7th — $20 to win on Sprung

THURSDAY — Minus $200
OVERALL — Minus $1,568
BANKROLL (started with $2,000) — $432

Good luck today!!

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Santa Anita Racing — 3/05/2009

THURSDAY, MARCH 5
1st — $20 to win on White Angel; $5 daily doubles coupling White Angel and Warren’s Walk in the first with Radius, Trevor’s Clever, Pistol Pete Afleet and Soda Pop Kid in the second ($40)
2nd — $20 to win on Radius
3rd — $20 to win on Smokey Beau
7th — $20 to win on North Rodeo
8th — $20 to win on Falstaff Lane; $5 exacta box with Flip the Penny, Armstrong Won, Falstaff Lane and Greedy Way ($60)

WEDNESDAY — Minus $100
OVERALL — Minus $1,368
BANKROLL (started with $2,000) — $632

Good luck today!!

More on Santa Anita’s woes

The California Horse Racing Board has called a special meeting for Friday at 10:30 a.m. at Santa Anita to cover the following subjects regarding Magna Entertainment Corporation’s impending bankruptcy:

1) Discussion and action by the Board regarding the race meet licenses and the Advance Deposit Wagering license granted to Los Angeles Turf Club, Inc., operating at Santa Anita Park and Pacific Racing Association, operating at Golden Gate Fields and XpressBet Inc. respectively, in light of the imminent filing for bankruptcy protection by licensees’ parent company, Magna Entertainment Corporation.

2) Discussion and action by the Board regarding assurances from licensees Los Angeles Turf Club, Inc., Pacific Racing Association and XpressBet Inc. that the wagering public and horse racing industry participants are financially protected in the event the licensees parent company, Magna Entertainment Corporation, files for protection under federal bankruptcy laws.

3) Discussion and action by the Board regarding contingency plans in the event Magna Entertainment Corporation is unable to secure “Debtor in Possession Financing”, including substitute race meet operators should licensees Los Angeles Turf Club, Inc., and Pacific Racing Association cease operations and Advance Deposit Wagering operations of XpressBet Inc. be suspended.

I have gotten e-mails from several readers worried about their XpressBet money if and when Magna files for bankruptcy. I am told it is safe, but I was also told to buy a stock two months ago that has gone down 55 percent since. In other words, who really knows?

Also, the California Thoroughbred Trainers sent out the following memo to their members Wednesday:

DATE: March 4, 2009
TO: All Trainers
FROM: CTT

SUBJECT: Paymaster Fund Withdrawals

If you would like to withdraw Santa Anita Paymaster funds immediately, the Paymaster’s office will be open until 1:00 p.m. today. If you do not withdraw your funds today, you will be unable to withdraw your funds over the next three days while accounts are being transferred to a horsemen’s account to be managed by the TOC.

The three day delay is so that new checks can be printed and paperwork can be completed. Beginning next week, things will return to normal and you will be able to withdraw funds at your request.

The funds will still be handled through the Paymaster’s office, but the account will be managed by the TOC instead of Magna.

Should you have any questions, please contact the CTT office at (626) 447-2145 or the TOC at (626) 574-6620.

Our newspaper sent out a reporter and photographer to the racing office Wednesday morning at 9 and they couldn’t find anyone there who was trying to withdraw money. Maybe fears have been alleviated? It looks like perhaps negotiations between the Thoroughbred Owners of California and local Magna officials have resulted in a settlement and the paymaster account money will now be transferred to a separate TOC account. Whatever, there are still a lot of nervous people at Santa Anita.

Lots of rumblings about Santa Anita’s future

I heard from a very reliable source today that there is more than a good chance Santa Anita might have to shut down in the immediate future because parent company Magna Entertainment Corp. is on the verge of filing for bankruptcy and a bankruptcy judge in Delaware would freeze all of the company’s funds, including paymaster accounts that are used for purses. No purses mean no racing, for either Santa Anita or Magna’s other track in California, Golden Gate Fields.

According to the source, Magna may file for bankruptcy as early as Tuesday, sending a mess of trainers and owners to the paymaster window early Wednesday morning to try to retrieve their money before it’s frozen. There is reportedly $11 million in Santa Anita’s paymaster account and another $4 million in Golden Gate’s.

Santa Anita president Ron Charles had no comment when I contacted him early Monday evening, but there is very little doubt Magna will be filing for bankruptcy soon, probably sometime this week. A source at Santa Anita told me there is little chance that racing would be interrupted before the end of the meet on April 19, although there could be some anxious moments. The source could not guarantee that racing will not be interrupted, but at the same time said there were some ongoing efforts to reorganize and avoid such a dilemma.

Stay tuned. I have a feeling something big is going to come down sometime this week.

Santa Anita Racing — 3/04/2009

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 4
4th — $20 to win on Skippy Due
5th — $20 to win on Con Corazon
6th — $20 to win on Searchforthetruth
8th — $40 to win on You Wood

SUNDAY — Minus $10
OVERALL — Minus $1,268
BANKROLL (started with $2,000) — $732

Good luck today!!

Early peek at Santa Anita Derby

The Pamplemousse turned in the best Kentucky Derby prep race I’ve seen so far this year, setting decent fractions en route to a record-winning time in Saturday’s Sham Stakes at Santa Anita.

A son of Kafwain, The Pamplemousse went gate to wire to win by six lengths, running the 1 1/8 miles — the same distance as the Santa Anita Derby on April 4 — in 1:47.86 after carving out honest fractions of :23.08, :46.51 and 1:10.29. Not sure what his Beyer speed number will be for the race, but he sure is a running sonofagun.

Right now, if I had to pick a winner in the Santa Anita Derby, I’d go with The Pamplemousse. I think Pioneerof the Nile is going to have a very difficult time running the big colt down in the stretch. I’m already looking forward to the race.

How about you? Who do you like in the Santa Anita Derby, and how impressed were you by The Pamplemousse’s effort in the Sham? Granted, there might not have been a lot chasing him, but it’s the way he won that was so impressive to me. He set some swift fractions and then never let any of the other horses come close to him.

Jockey Alex Solis is already sending out signals that he’s one of the best horses he’s ever ridden. I want to see him beat some top-caliber horses before I go that far, but I was very, very impressed with The Pamplemousse’s effort in the Sham.