Published Wednesday, November 5th, 2014   ( 8 years ago )

Stable Notes
November 5 2014

By Hank Wesch

Friday’s opening day card of the inaugural Bing Crosby Season, drawn Tuesday, was in the books. The final two programs of the opening weekend were to be put together Wednesday.
And from racing secretary David Jerkens’ standpoint, the operative phrase could have been ‘so far, so good.’
“I’m happy about it overall,” Jerkens said early Wednesday morning from the stable area racing office, the central headquarters where entries are taken and fields are drawn.
“We thought certain spots (on the opening day card) would fill a little better. But I’m pleased especially with the way the Kathryn Crosby Stakes filled. Somewhat satisfied is how I’d classify it.
“It’s a good card. You always want it to be a little better. But I think there is some competitive racing for our betting customers.”
For the seven-week, 36-day summer season trainers and their support crews and horses ship in en masse. For the newly-minted 15-day, three-week-plus season that looms, economics and logistics prevent that from happening.
Some trainers, like Mark Casse, Peter Miller, Bob Hess, Jr., and Richard Mandella have reserved stalls in Del Mar’s reduced stable area for 20-40 horses.  The majority of trainers, however, have reserved a handful of permanent stalls and will opt to ship horses in close to or on the day of races and use “ship-in” stalls before returning to their bases at Santa Anita, Los Alamitos, Fairplex or San Luis Rey Downs.
Jerkens said there were 540 stalls allotted for the meeting but expectations are for 350-400 horses on site for the entire month.
Having horsemen spread out across Southern California complicates but doesn’t necessarily impede the process of putting together racing programs.
“It’s different from the summer, but the bottom line is that things went well (Tuesday),” Jerkens said. “We’re in uncharted territory here. We have an employee at Santa Anita taking entries and giving rundowns. Our text alert system gives trainers updates on what races are filling and what extras (in the condition book) we’re going to use.
“And then we communicate with the racing offices at the other facilities where horses are training.
“There are tracks around the country where there aren’t a lot of horses stabled. Kentucky Downs just completed its meeting and that’s mostly a ship-in deal. But it is a bit different (for Southern California) and logistically there are some challenges that you wouldn’t normally face.
“We’re taking it day by day. We’ll have to be flexible and we’re going to learn a lot as we go.”
The opening-day card consists of nine races with a total of 78 horses entered. An “average field size,” the number by which cards and meetings are judged, of 8.67.  
“Our goal for the meeting would probably be 8.4-8.5, somewhere in that ballpark,” Jerkens said.  “I think Hollywood Park’s numbers (for the defunct track’s corresponding meeting in 2013) were about eight. I think matching or slightly bettering those numbers would be a realistic goal.
“Beyond numbers, we hope that the races are competitive. We’re packing in a lot in a short time – 14 stakes in 15 days – and I think those races are going to be competitive.”

Tom Proctor-trained Wishing Gate was established as the 7-2 favorite on track oddsmaker Russ Hudak’s morning line in a capacity field of 12 for Friday’s $75,000 Kathryn Crosby Stakes, the first stakes event of the inaugural Bing Crosby Season.
Wishing Gate, a 4-year-old daughter of Indian Charlie owned by Augustin Stable, has been away since two turf starts at the summer meeting. Under Drayden Van Dyke, who will be in the irons again for the Kathryn Crosby, Wishing Gate was second in the 1 1/8-mile John C. Mabee Stakes on August 10 and sixth in the 1 1/16-mile Yellow Ribbon Handicap on September 1.  The Kathryn Crosby is 1 mile on the Jimmy Durante Turf Course for older fillies and mares.
The field, from the  rail out, with jockeys and odds:
Bee Brave (Tyler Baze, 12-1), Queen of The Sand (Mike Smith, 5-1), Warren’s Veneda  (Kent Desormeaux, 15-1), Burning Arch (Elvis Trujillo, 8-1), Kathleen Rose (Rafael Bejarano, 5-1), Bound for Eden (Tiago Pereira, 30-1), Miss Ellany (Edwin Maldonado, 15-1), Wishing Gate (Drayden Van Dyke, 7-2), Gender Agenda (Kieren Fallon, 6-1), Kitten’s Point (Aaron Gryder, 9-2), Floral Romance (Corey Nakatani, 12-1), Oscar Party (Victor Espinoza, 20-1). The also eligibles are: Dutchessa (Brice Blanc, 15-1) and Zilber (Gary Stevens, 15-1).

Veteran trainer Eddie Truman moved in with 11 horses Tuesday afternoon. Wednesday morning, he was luxuriating in the sun, enthusing about the upcoming meeting and enjoying the drastically reduced volume – compared to the summer – of horses exercising on the track. 
“It’s fantastic, like our own private training center,” said Truman, who started training on his own in 1970 and started coming to Del Mar the following year. “I love it here and I think the reception for the meeting will be very good from the people here. I hope the people of North County will be excited about something different this time of year.
“Just to come out in this beautiful weather, with the horses here again – I think it’ll be a good thing for everyone.”

With a victory on 60-1 long shot Take Charge Brandi in the $2 million Juvenile Fillies and a third-place finish on Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner California Chrome in the $5 million Classic, jockey Victor Espinoza added more polish to a shining 2014 at the Breeders’ Cup last weekend at Santa Anita.
Espinoza ranks eighth nationally for purse earnings, according to Equibase statistics through Wednesday, with $10,918,487 with 86 wins from 502 starts, a 17 percent win rate. Additionally, Espinoza has 72 seconds and 60 third-place results to average $21,750 per start while getting 43 percent of his mounts an on-the-board placing.
“All we could ask for was to win one of the races and have the big horse (California Chrome) back to his old self,” Espinoza’s agent, Brian Beach, said Wednesday morning here.
“Victor worked (Take Charge Brandi) in the week before the race and a filly like that might go on to do some good things.”
Espinoza, who has three mounts on the opening day card, will ride here regularly at the meeting but has committed to participate in an all-star jockey competition in Japan which will conflict with most of the closing weekend, November 28-30.   
CLOSERS – Word has been received of the death of former trainer Jacque Fulton, 60. Fulton saddled Blonde Fever to win the 1992 Fleet Treat Stakes … Jockeys Alex Solis and Joe Steiner and trainer Jack Carava are within striking distance of career milestones. Solis has 4,993 career wins, Steiner 998 and Carava 994.  

Wednesday, November 5, 2014 Contact: Dan Smith 858-792-4226/Hank Wesch 858-755-1141 ext. 3793