Abrams in “excellent” condition following surgery

Best wishes and a speedy recovery to trainer Barry Abrams, who underwent surgery Tuesday to remove cancerous tissue from his throat.

Here’s a release from the Hollywood Park publicity office on how the 57-year-old Abrams is doing following the five-hour operation:

David Abrams, brother of trainer Barry Abrams, reported Wednesday that the trainer came out of surgery Tuesday at Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena in excellent condition.

“Overall, the operation went as well as can be expected,” said Abrams of his brother, who had surgery for throat cancer six years ago.

“The doctors were able to save his jugular and carotid artery, but they had to cut a little near his voicebox,” said Abrams. “His voice will be a little more raspy, so he won’t be able to yell at the jockeys as much.”

Abrams said his brother was in good spirits shortly after the surgery. “Two hours after, he was joking and had a real good sense of humor,” he said. “When I told him they were able to save his jugular and carotid, he gave me the thumbs-up. When I told him they had to cut into the voicebox, he gave me the finger.

“Later in the afternoon, he wanted to get a bet down at Indiana Downs.”

Abrams said that his brother might be able to return to his Arcadia home this weekend before being re-evaluated in two weeks. “He will need some radiation,” said Abrams. “And he will have to take thyroid medication for life.

“The doctor said the long-range prognosis is that Barry can live as normal a life as anybody who never had the cancer,” said Abrams.

“We’re hoping that Barry can make the last part of Del Mar,” said Abrams, who lives in San Diego. Assistant Richard Baltas is supervising the 32-horse stable.

Triple Bend winner has connections Smiling

If Smiling Tiger continues to produce performances like his gate-to-wire, 3 1/4-length victory in Saturday’s $250,000 Triple Bend Handicap at Hollywood Park, he’s going to be mighty tough to beat in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint on Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs.

“We’re trying to win the Breeders’ Cup (Sprint) with him,” trainer Jeff Bonde said in the winner’s circle Saturday after the 4-year-old Hold That Tiger colt gained millionaire status with his eighth victory in 16 starts. His third victory without defeat over Hollywood Park’s synthetic Cushion Track improved his career earnings to $1,149,353.

What’s so impressive about Smiling Tiger is that he doesn’t need the lead to win. He carved out quick fractions of 22.29 and 44.95 seconds while winning the seven-furlong Triple Bend, but he came from fifth after breaking poorly to win the Grade III Count Fleet Handicap by 2 1/2 lengths at Oaklawn Park on April 14. Before that, he stumbled at the start of the Grade II San Carlos Handicap at Santa Anita on Feb. 19 and closed to win by a head.

Last year he finished third, beaten only 1 3/4 lengths by Big Drama in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Churchill Downs. But he’s a year older and seems to be even better than he was in 2010.

“He’s very athletic and he has the heart of a warrior,” Bonde said. “He comes to fight every time. He had an easy time of it (in the Triple Bend). Every day he seems to be a better animal. He was like a big, skinny teenager as a young horse and the older he’s gotten he’s put on muscle mass and filled out. He’s become a professional where before he was kind of a goof off as a young guy.”

Bonde plans to follow the same path he traveled with Smiling Tiger last summer, which means he’ll most likely run in both the Bing Crosby (July 31) and Pat O’Brien (Aug. 28) during the Del Mar meet that begins July 20. He won the Bing Crosby by 1 1/2 lengths last year before finishing third in the Pat O’Brien behind El Brujo and Crown of Thorns.

A picture of consistency, Smiling Tiger has finished off the board only once in 16 starts. His lone clunker came in his race before the Triple Bend when he finished sixth, beaten only 2 1/4 lengths, in the seven-furlong Churchill Downs Stakes on Derby day.

“In that race … he broke well, but the horse on the outside wanted to go with me so I tried to settle him and get him to relax,” said jockey Joel Rosario, who has ridden Smiling Tiger in his past four races and won three times. “But I got in trouble the whole way and had nowhere to go. It happens sometimes. It’s part of the game.”

Rosario remembers Dec. 26 when he was aboard Twirling Candy, who broke Spectacular Bid’s track record for seven furlongs while winning the opening-day Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita, and Smiling Tiger finished only a nose behind under Russell Baze.

“It took us a long time to get by the horse,” said Rosario, who no doubt is pleased to have the mount on Smiling Tiger now.

Mosses are 2011 winners of Pincay Award

This is a well-deserved honor for owners Jerry and Ann Moss, two of the classiest people in the game.

Here is the announcement released by Hollywood Park this morning:

JERRY & ANN MOSS WINNERS OF 2011 PINCAY AWARD
INGLEWOOD, Calif. (July 1, 2011) — Jerry and Ann Moss will be presented the eighth annual Laffit Pincay Jr. Award during the Hollywood Gold Cup program Saturday, July 9 at Hollywood Park.

Pincay, a member of racing’s Hall of Fame since 1975, will make the presentation between the fifth and sixth races.

The Pincay Award is presented annually to someone who has served the sport with integrity, extraordinary dedication, determination and distinction.

“Racing owes the Mosses a debt of gratitude for keeping Zenyatta in training for an extra year,” said Pincay. “They have been huge supporters of the sport for a long period of time and have continued to promote racing in numerous ways.

“I was fortunate enough to ride some winners for them during my career. They are very nice people, great to be around and well respected by everyone in every way.”

One of Pincay’s victories for the Mosses came aboard Ruhlmann for trainer Charlie Whittingham in the 1989 Mervyn LeRoy Handicap in what remains a stakes record 1:40 1/5 for the 1 1/16 miles.

The co-founder of A&M Records with legendary musician Herb Alpert, Jerry Moss has been involved as a thoroughbred owner since 1970, owning dozens of stakes winners such as the aforementioned Ruhlmann, Fighting Fit, 2005 Kentucky Derby upsetter Giacomo, Kudos, Sardula and Tiago.

However, Zenyatta is undoubtedly the best horse the Mosses have ever campaigned.

Trained masterfully by John Shirreffs, the remarkable mare became the first female to ever win the Breeders’ Cup Classic, rallying furiously in the final quarter of a mile under regular jockey Mike Smith to prevail in 2009 at Santa Anita.

Returned to training after a brief retirement to race as a 6-year-old, Zenyatta nearly repeated in the Classic, missing by a nostril to Blame, but was still voted Horse of the Year. The daughter of Street Cry retired with 19 victories in 20 starts and a female record $7,304,660 in earnings.

The Mosses and Shirreffs were widely lauded for making Zenyatta accessible to the racing public as she was often visited by fans at her Hollywood Park stable. The entire Zenyatta team was given a Special Eclipse Award earlier this year.

In addition to his involvement as an owner, Jerry Moss has served as a member of the California Horse Racing Board since being appointed by former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2003.

Ann Moss is an active environmentalist and founder of the Dolphin Connection.

The Pincay Jr. Award was introduced by Hollywood Park in 2004 with esteemed executive and racing publicist Bob Benoit the initial winner.

Trainer Noble Threewitt was the recipient in 2005, while the Stute brothers — Mel and Warren — shared the award in 2006. Owner/breeder Ellwood W. “Bud” Johnston, whose Old English Rancho is one of the most storied names in California racing, won the award in 2007, while distinguished steward Pete Pedersen was the recipient in 2008. Merlin Volzke, who also had a noteworthy career as a steward, became the first former jockey to win the award in 2009. The Oak Tree Racing Association was honored in 2010.

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