Longshot after longshot must have keep everybody's attention down stairs in the clubhouse and grandstand area on Saturday afternoon but it's just as entertaining in the pressbox when these horses cross the wire first. Just another day of racing you say? Hardly, when you can throw form and common sense right out of the window.
It didn't take long on Saturday for people to take notice. Right from the start pressboxers were greeted with a release stating that jockey Patrick Valenzuela has retired from horse racing. Not again you say? Yup. Only this time it appears that Valenzuela has left the game under his own terms. He simply sent his agent, Tom Knust a text saying "Sorry Tom, I'm not riding any longer. I'm sorry." Valenzuela was winless this meeting with 20 mounts and also did not hit the board with anyone of them.
In Saturday's GII $200,000 Santa Monica Stakes favored Teddy's Promise was suppose to end her career on a winning note and head off to the breeding shed but jock Victor Espinoza didn't get the memo as the mare was given a bit of a puzzling ride and ended up third. Scherzinger took down the winners share of the purse at $10.60 under Mike Smith for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer and stopped the watch in a final time of 1:22.
The fifth race, the $125,000 Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf Sprint was won by Ciao Bella Luna under jock Kent Desormeaux who was making a brief return to Southern California. Desormeaux may return riding to Southern California on a regular basis in the future, but hasn't made a decision on that as of yet. Ciao Bella Luna paid $13 to her backers and stopped the timer in 1:12.81.
Desormeaux came right back in the seventh race, the $200,000 California Cup Oaks ringing the bell aboard 65-1 winner Susans Express at $132.40 for trainer Jorge Periban who fitted the filly again with blinkers and the result was a winning one for the trainer who has been in the game since 1983. This was his first stakes win.
The $125,000 Donald Valpredo California Cup Sprint was won by Big Macher under Rafael Bejarano for trainer Richard Baltas and returned $6.20 for the win. The son of Beau Genius recorded the final time of 1:08.62.
Weewinnin, a gelded son of Comic Strip scored a 21-1 surprise ($44.80) under Joe Talamo in the $250,000 California Cup Turf Classic for trainer Brian Koriner. Talamo gave Weewinning a perfect ride here to get the job done. Race favorite Summer Hit set the pace but had little left for the stretch and faded to ninth under Rafael Bejarano.
Finally on Saturday came California Chrome winning the $250,000 California Cup Derby which brought back some common handicapping skills. California Chrome returned $7.00 and scored nicely under rider Victor Espinoza for trainer Art Sherman. This race was marred by an ugly breakdown inside the eighth pole when Electric Eddie took a bad step and broke down, easing over into the path of Oh Billy Oh who was to his inside. Martin Garcia came off of Oh Billy Oh and the rider of Electric Eddie, Mario Gutierrez was unable to stay aboard the injured 'Eddie and he also came off. Electric Eddie then galloped injured through the stretch only to be caught past the wire. He was fitted with a boot and returned back to the barn area. He was scheduled to have surgery on Sunday morning. Electric Eddie is trained by Ben Cecil.
A beautiful day at Santa Anita on Saturday brought out 11,052 to the track live while another 7,168 viewed the races from inner track wagering sites. The total crowd of 18,200 wasn't a bad day and when you consider how many people watched from their couches at home which wasn't counted of course, perhaps horse racing isn't quite dead yet as many people keep saying it is. A total of $15,151,741.61 was wagered on the Saturday card, $10,069,259.41 which came from out of state.
Race fans that took in the Sunday card out at Santa Anita may want to keep an eye out for Diversy Harbor a three-year-old filly by Curlin who broke her maiden nicely down the hill-side-turf-course under Gary Stevens. Trained by Tom Proctor, Diversy Harbor bears watching when she makes her next start vs. winners.
Sunday's feature race, the $75,000-added Clocker's Corner was taken by the returning Lakerville ($19.60) under Corey Nakatani for trainer Barry Abrams. Lakerville, who has always shown a tad of ability looked sharp in his return win and is sure to be under silks again soon if he came out of this race in good shape.
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