If it seems like the Santa Anita meet is already a month old, it’s just your imagination. Sort of. With the holidays falling on funny days (New Year’s Day on a Tuesday, for God’s sake), racetrackers have been thrown all out of sorts. In Southern California we have become accustomed to a Wednesday through Sunday race week, and we don’t particularly care for any deviation. How Santa Anita’s new Thursday through Monday schedule is going to work out is anybody’s guess. But this meet opened on a Wednesday, took Thursday off, then ran Friday-Tuesday, making for six racing dates in seven calendar days. And with 10-race cards on the weekend and New Year’s Day, there were a total of 55 races (compared to 52 during the same time frame last year) carded over those six days. Is Santa Anita loading up on more 10-race cards because they are anticipating losing races/dates when the rain hits and Cushion Track doesn’t drain properly?

Speaking of weather and Cushion Track, did you see the press release sent out by the maker of Santa Anita’s new surface. If not, it starts out like this: “With record rainfall predicted for later this week, Cushion Track experts have thus far failed to come up with a solution for the failure of the synthetic surface at Santa Anita Park to drain properly.” For the entire text, click Cushion Track Press Release. If the predicted storm materializes, do not be surprised if Santa Anita is forced to cancel parts or entire racing cards.

P.Val Saga: It’s old news by now but the Patrick Valenzuela saga took another turn when it was announced Friday that P.Val on Dec. 20 had been arrested for a DUI in Upland. Apparently, Valenzuela crashed his car at a fast food restaurant, then attempted to drive away with two flat tires. At 2:48 a.m. Treading on thin ice with his most recent provisional license, the 45-year-old rider probably will not be able to reapply until his current license runs out at the end of ’08. Rumor has it that even P.Val’s long-time attorney Neil Papiano is ready to wash his hands of the troubled rider.

Perhaps I’m not too sympathetic to the whole “disease” aspect of addiction (who truly knows how much of addiction is beyond the individual’s control and how much is a matter of personal willpower). But I’m a big believer in personal choice and responsibility for one’s actions. I believe we make a choice in what we inhale, ingest and imbibe. So excuse me if I don’t feel sympathy for Pat Valenzuela. He’s obviously got personal demons he’s unable to control, while squandering a career (suspended for eight years at last count) that might have put him at the top of the record books. But instead he became the Steve Howe of our sport, and it appears time has finally run out.

NOTES: David Flores got off to a flying start, winning four races and all three stakes on opening day. He is one winner behind leading rider Rafael Bejarano and tied with Garrett Gomez for second-place in the jockey standings..on the other end of the spectrum, Joe Talamo has not yet won a race at the meet, going oh-fer since switching agents…Doug O’Neill appears to have broken out of his funk, winning four races opening week to be tied with Mike Mitchell in the trainer’s race…tip of the cap to owners Alan Aidekman, Gaylord Ailshie, Tom Harris and trainer Dave Bernstein for retiring TRULY A JUDGE. The 9-year-old gelding earned over $750,000 for those connections and will now enjoy the good life at CERF…despite drawing over 30,000 on opening day, Santa Anita was relegated to a one-column story on page 4 of the L.A. Times sports section. Contrast that anemic coverage to what the Great Race Place received in the Pasadena Star-News. Not just because my graded handicap appears in these papers, but if you live in the Los Angeles metropolitan area and are looking for good horse racing coverage, you need to check out LANG newspapers like the Star-News, L.A. Daily News, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Daily Breeze, etc. Weekly columns and stories by Art Wilson, my graded handicap, a consensus box that features top handicappers Jerry Antonucci, Ray Nelson and Terry Turrell, and FULL CHARTS! You won’t find that in the Times….through Tuesday, I’ve picked 20 top choice winners (36%) for $152.60 in mutuel totals, way over the flat-bet mark of $110 (55 races).

My Eclipse Award Ballot: Submitted yesterday, here’s the way I voted: 2-year-old colt or gelding–WAR PASS; 2-year-old filly–INDIAN BLESSING; 3-year-old colt or gelding–CURLIN; 3-year-old filly–RAGS TO RICHES; older horse–LAWYER RON; older filly or mare–GINGER PUNCH; male sprinter–MIDNIGHT LUTE; female sprinter–MARYFIELD; male turf–ENGLISH CHANNEL; female turf–LAHUDOOD; Horse of the Year–CURLIN; breeder–ADENA SPRINGS; owner–SHADWELL STABLES; trainer–TODD PLETCHER; jockey–GARRETT GOMEZ; apprentice–JOE TALAMO.

To View Free Samples of last week’s Premium Plays, click on the links below: Dec. 26Â Â Dec. 28Â Â Dec. 29Â Â Dec. 30Â Â Dec. 31Â Â Jan. 1


Leave a Reply

best online casino payouts australia | online casino slots us | no download online casino | how to win money in casino | nj online casinos websites | $5 deposit online casino nz