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It should have come as no surprise that the Breeders’ Cup added three more races to its now two-day affair. If a little is good, a lot has to be better, right? Next year at Oak Tree, Friday’s warm-up card will include the $1 million Turf Sprint; the $1 million Juvenile Fillies Turf; and the $500,000 Dirt Marathon. Of these three, I can only get excited about the Turf Sprint, especially since it will be run over Santa Anita’s unique downhill course.

I was ambivalent when BC announced it was adding three races and a second day of racing for this year’s running at Monmouth. Being a die-hard traditionalist, I am always leery of changing something that works. Breeders’ Cup Day has been my favorite event of the year since its inception in 1984. However, I enjoyed this year’s undercard and felt all three races (Filly and Mare Sprint, Dirt Mile and Juvenile Turf) fit into a niche.

But I can’t see the logic in further diluting the juvenile division, now making four of the 14 races for 2-year-olds. As for the Dirt Marathon? Maybe I’m suffering from Adult ADD, but I just don’t find the thrill in marathon racing (sorry, that goes for the San Juan Capistrano and any other turf marathon you want to name). If the point of a horse race is for every runner to gallop along on a false pace to the 1/4-pole, then see who can sprint home the fastest, then I’m missing the boat. Call me unsophisticated, but these races have always bored me to tears. I do like the concept of a race for turf sprinters (which is always an extremely competitive division), so for my money, Breeders’ Cup got one out of three right.

NOTES:Â Four track records fell last week, which means the HP Cushion Track is now playing very much like the Santa Anita version. It wasn’t that way for the first two meets run over this synthetic surface but, for some reason, it sure has gotten quick lately…no Pick Six carryovers but there were only two winning tickets on Thursday and Friday, and single-ticket winners over the weekend. Despite HEATSEEKER ($63.40) winning Saturday’s Native Diver and MIGHTY CLEVER ($110.00) pulling off the shocker on Sunday, someone was able to hit both days. Personally, neither of those two winners was as shocking as 5-year-old professional maiden WILD BEGINNINGS taking the Saturday nightcap in his 29th start…the jockey race is starting to turn into the Garrett Gomez show as he closed out the week with a 29-23 lead over Tyler Baze, whose cousin Michael surged with four winners on Saturday and ended the week at 22…John Sadler holds a 16-11 margin over Mike Mitchell. Both trainers are hitting at a very high percentage and sending out nothing but live runners…honorable mention to perhaps the best value trainer on the circuit, Jorge Periban, who saddled two winners; and Neil Drysdale, who sent out three winners, including longshots CANTEEN ($55.40) and BELAFONTE ($22.60), as well as Hermosa Beach winner SOHGOL…former jockey Kenny Black scored his first win as a trainer with longshot FRANGIPANNI on Saturday…stretch-running TRUE MAN closed about as fast as I’ve ever seen, coming from about 12 lengths back at the 3/16ths (still six lengths behind leader at 1/8th) to run down “sure winner” LUIS’S ESPECIAL in Saturday’s 8th.

It was a breath of fresh air listening to track announcer Frank Mirahmadi pinch hit for Vic Stauffer on Sunday. Mirahmadi’s calls were easy on the ears, measured and accurate. Especially after Stauffer’s glaring mistakes during the week: (“SUNRIVER is going to win the Hollywood Gold Cup…Hollywood Turf Cup”—forcing another re-do on the replay show; and botching the SOHGOL call (proclaiming her “head strong…absolutely rank” and said the second horse “seems to be going more comfortably”) before her handy victory. Mirahmadi didn’t use any of his terrific impersonations for the race calls but had me in stitches as Marv Albert during his radio interview with Mike Willman that morning.

Finally, Hollywood Park announced The Californian will be renamed for Lava Man following his retirement. Seems like a strange gesture considering the track is likely to shut down in the next year or two. What happens if Lava Man outlasts Hollywood Park?

To View Free Samples of Premium Plays from last week, click on the links below:Â Dec. 5Â Â Dec. 6Â Â Â Â Â Dec. 7Â Â Â Â Â Dec. 8Â Â Â Dec. 9


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