12/09/2009 6:28PM

Sourdough Sam, 1951 Eclipse Controversy? Questions


What we've learned from recent Kentucky Derby results is that a good horse can emerge from just about anywhere in North America, in all shapes and sizes.

- Mine That Bird was two-year-old champion in Canada, and was dismissed at long, long odds in the 2009 Derby after taking the Sunland Park route to Louisville. 

- Big Brown, the 2008 Derby winner, and Barbaro, the 2006 kingpin, made their career debuts in turf races at Saratoga and Laurel, respectively. 

- Smarty Jones, hero of the 2004 Derby, won his first two starts at Philadelphia Park.

- Funny Cide, a gelding, made his career debut at two in a maiden race restricted to New York-breds

- War Emblem blossomed at Sportsman's Park before earning his spot in history by prevailing in the 2002 Derby. 

Will Sourdough Sam follow in their footsteps?  Who's Sourdough Sam, you ask?  It's an excellent question, and I don't blame you if you've never heard of him.  The 2-year-old gelding has never competed in a graded stakes race, actually lost his only start in stakes competition, has yet to stretch out around two turns, and has yet to earn a Beyer Speed Figure over 90.  He's also marooned on an island unto itself out in Northern California. 
But, boy has he been impressive in his first three starts. 

Conditioned by Dean Pederson, a trainer that has won between 20-30% of his starts in eight of the last nine years, Sourdough Sam made his career debut in a 5 1/2 furlong maiden special weight at Golden Gate Fields on September 19. 

He broke a half-length slow from the intimidating inside post position, and soon settled in midpack while saving ground.  Jockey Inoel Beato had to check off heels at the quarter-pole while down inside, and Sourdough Sam was forced to alter course sharply in upper stretch to get off the rail.  Once clear, the gelding put his head down, and drew away from the field to win going away. His gallop-out had him ahead by about ten lengths. Other than Sourdough Sam, eight horses came out of that race to race again.  Four graduated, two finished second, and one rounded out the trifecta. 

Pederson took a conservative route with his talented runner as he placed Sourdough Sam in an entry-level optional claimer at six furlongs for his second start on October 31 at Golden Gate.  Sourdough Sam was outsprinted for the first quarter-mile, but began to pick up steam entering the turn.  Beato easily could have sent the 7-10 favorite four wide and around horses while clear of traffic turning for home, but he curiously stayed in to split rivals three wide in upper stretch.  With a furlong remaining, Sourdough Sam was five lengths behind pacesetter Shudacudawudya, and looked to be in deep water, but he absolutely exploded over the Tapeta surface to prevail by three-quarters of a length with a final eighth in 11.76 (according to FormulatorWeb). 

Pederson decided it was time to get some blacktype, and Sourdough Sam was sent off as the 3-2 favorite in the six-furlong Golden Nugget Stakes at Golden Gate on November 21.  After breaking nicely, he settled into midpack while in and among horses, and was shuffled to the back of the pack late on the backstretch.  Beato then had to put on the brakes again on the turn before angling sharply to the rail at the quarter-pole.  In midstretch, he altered course twice to find a clear path four off the fence, and commenced a strong late kick only to fall short to Shudacudawudya.  A few strides after the race, Sourdough Sam was clearly in front, but his 11.73 final eighth couldn't overcome the trouble he encountered in the race. 

Sourdough Sam is a California-bred son of Decarchy, the winner of the Grade 2 Frank Kilroe at one mile on turf in 2002. Decarchy is a daughter of blue-hen producer Toussaud, making him kin to such Grade 1 winners as Chester House (Arlington Million), Honest Lady (Santa Monica Handicap), Chiselling (Secretariat Stakes), and Empire Maker (Florida Derby, Belmont Stakes, Wood Memorial Stakes).  Toussaud herself won the Grade 1 Gamely Handicap during her racing career.

Sourdough Sam's dam, General Luster (by General Meeting), has already foaled Tizwar, an unlisted stakes winner at 1 5/16 miles at the Elko County Fair.  The second dam, by Judger, was multiple stakes-placed while the third dam, by Hitting Away, won the 1968 Astarita Stakes in New York.  The fifth dam, by Bull Lea, was multiple stakes-placed, and is a half-sister to Belmont Stakes winner Bounding Home.

We'll find out more about John Nicoletti's homebred, Sourdough Sam, this Saturday as he is scheduled to compete in the Gold Rush Stakes over one mile at Golden Gate. 

You can watch his replays for free at the following site:


One negative.  You'll note that he paddles badly with his left foreleg.  It will be interesting to see if that adversely affects him when he faces tougher runners.

Here are his lifetime past performances:

Download Sourdough Sam


With Zardana's win in the Bayakoa, did Sherrifs sweep the Grades stakes on the main track for older F & M for the calendar year at Hollywood Park? There are only four, and i know Zen won the first two. Zardana won this one. Did LIS win the other?

Nope.  Evita Argentina won the Grade 2 A Gleam Handicap at seven furlongs on July 18 for John Sadler.  Instead of turning Life Is Sweet back in distance, Mr. Shirreffs decided to try males a week earlier in the Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup at 1 1/4 miles. 


Other than Althea (who won the 1983 2yo filly Eclipse while racing only in SoCal), do you know of any "SoCal race only" horses either before or after the Breeders' Cup era who won an Eclipse at any level without racing elsewhere or winning a BC race?
Ack Ack (1971) - Sprinter and HOTY
Can you please post his PPs??
BTW, Citation raced two years in "SoCal/NoCal races only" with nary an award given to him.  Compare Citation 1951 vs the Handicap Horse Award Winner for that year, Hill Prince (Dan, another favor, can you please supply the PPs.)  Who do you think should have won the award in 1951?

These horses raced exclusively in Southern California during their championship campaigns (there have been others that raced in Northern California as well as Southern California...Brown Bess comes to mind):

Declan's Moon (2004, 2-Year-Old Male)
Fiji (1998, Female Turf Horse)
Wandesta (1996, Female Turf Horse)
Flawlessly (1992, Female Turf Horse)
Althea (1983, 2-Year-Old Female)
Landaluce (1982, 2-Year-Old Female)
Roving Boy (1982, 2-Year-Old Colt)
Cougar II (1972, Male Turf Horse)
Ack Ack (1971, Older Male; Sprinter, Horse of the Year)
Turkish Trousers (1971, 3-Year-Old Filly)
Painted Veil (1941, 3-Year-Old Filly)

Here are Ack Ack's past performances:

Download AckAck

Let's compare Citation with Hill Prince:

Download Citation

Download Hill Prince


I probably would have voted for Citation based on his big win in the Hollywood Gold Cup, a "hundred grander."  Hill Prince had an up-and-down year.

Here's how the legendary Charles Hatton saw the 1951 Handicap Division from his "Part I.  Review of 1951 Races" column from the 1952 American Racing Manual:

"It is doubtful, to be perfectly candid about it, if 1951 will be recorded in the annals of the American turf as a particularly brilliant season in the handicap division, except for two developments.  In the Hollywood Gold Cup, mighty Citation finally reached his goal of $1,000,000, while his stablemate Bewitch became the world's leading money winner of her sex, supplanting Gallorette when she finished second to him.  The affable H. A. "Mayor Jimmy" Jones saddled them for this event, and his father, Ben Jones, observed "that was about the biggest day in Jim's life."

"It was the late Warren Wright's hope that Citation ultimately would earn $1,000,000 and he achieved this objective, not alone because of his extreme class, but also with the help of considerable skill and patience on the part of his handlers.  'Big Cy's' gracious owner, Mrs. Warren Wright, announced his retirement to the stud at Calumet Farm immediately after the Gold Cup and the successful culmination of his long struggle against adversities to attain his goal.  Trainer Jones sent him home with mixed feelings, and we can say with some confidence they were not without a certain content of relief, for Citation's bow meant there was some possibility he would break down tragically in the course of a race..."

"...Each year the handicap ranks are thinned by what are called the vicissitudes of training, and this generation was no exception.  Hill Prince and Bed o' Roses were in enforced idleness for much of the season, emerging in the fall to lay claim to the handicap title and handicap mare honors.  Curandero, one of the best milers of recent years, went to the stud.  Sunglow won the Widener and went wrong a few yards beyond the finish."

"It was a handicap division in which Hill Prince was accorded the honors, though he won only two races.  And the sprinters class was fully as confused, for Sheila's Reward gained the title, while he spent most of the year racing middle distances."

"There is a champion every year, of course, but in no other season has a horse concluded such a career as Citation's, at least not when measured in dollars and cents, so we shall review his 1951 activities first.  This was his second 'comeback.'  His first temporary retirement was occasioned by osselets, and at the time many questioned whether he would race again.  As a five-year-old in 1950, he bowed during the summer and was on the farm for many months.  When it was stated that he would be trained, many questioned if he would stand it.  But H. A. Jones brought him along by easy stages to the point where he was ready to run in an allowance race at Bay Meadows on April 18.  The race was at six fulrongs and the large crowd attracted by his presence in the entries made him a 1 to 2 favorite in the machines.  The weight was not excessive, 120 pounds, and the familiar Steve Brooks was in the saddle.  The competition was soft, but Citation could only be third, beaten a length by his former stablemate, A Lark, and the plater, Pancho Supreme.  The time for the race was 1:09 4/5, but then California tracks are remarkably speed-conducive, and horsemen elsewhere refer to the sensational runs recorded over these strips as 'Pacific Coast time.'  When Citation bowed to these two mediocrities, many of the turfgoing public were critical of the whole venture of returning him to the racing wars, referring to it as a dream of avarice, and an indignity to a great horse.  Trainer Jones said only that he was pleased Citation came out of the race satisfactorily, and doubtless felt it would be beneficial to him.  But on April 26 Citation appeared again over the same track and distance, at the same weight and at 3 to 5, and once again was third, with Pancho Supreme winning from A Lark.  The time also coincided with that of their initial encounter.  Certain quarters of the press urged, in strong language, that Citation be forthwith permanently retired.  Instead, he shipped to Hollywood Park."

"Having failed in two allowance races, Citation now was pointed for stakes.  In his first engagement he met nine others in the Hollywood Premiere Handicap of $10,000 value, at six furlongs on May 11.  The public installed him the favorite at $1.15 to $1 and he got in with 120, but was fifth at the end of the six furlongs, the winner turning up in the filly, Special Touch, who was burdened with 122."

"The Premiere was a fast race, timed in 1:10, with the first five furlongs in the smart time of :57 3/5, and Citation had dropped back to ninth place at the half, then picked up some tired horses through the stretch, just missing fourth money.  On analysis, it was not a bad showing for a horse whose appearance suggested he still was not at racing weight, and perhaps had not quite the same zest for the whole business which marked his earlier campaigns.  As stallions age, they often lose some of their competitive instinct, and trainer Jones often has told us that, in his comeback, Citation occasionally showed a disinclination to snap into his work and that not only had he to be kept sound as possible, but also trained psychologically."

"The handsome 16-hand bay stallion's next public appearance came on Decoration Day at Hollywood Park, in the Argonaut Handicap of $25,000 added at a mile and a sixteenth.  In this engagement he was ridden by F. A. Smith, and showed a bit of his old sparkle.  He ran coupled with Bewitch and Coaltown, and it is interesting that Coaltown had top weight of 125 and was giving 'Big Cy' four pounds.  The field of ten also included Be Fleet at 118, Last Round 110, Sturdy One 111 and Old Rockport at 108.  The track was fast and another tremendous throng, one of more than 58,000, turned out to see Citation's performance.  The Calumet trio went away at 45 cents to the dollar."

"At the break, Coaltown, who was to be sacrificed on the altar of pacemaking, if need be, went into the lead and reeled off the fractions in :45 and 1:10 1/5, bowling along several lengths in front of Be Fleet, to the final turn.  During this interval, Citation was sandwiched between horses.  Smith roused him on the curve for home, swinging to the outside at considerable loss of ground as Coaltown faded and left Be Fleet in front.  Citation ran at Be Fleet with a steady thrust through the stretch, but the Crevolin four-year-old won by three lengths in a flat 1:42, only two-fifths behind Artillery's track record.  The Calumet strategy had failed, but Citation came out of the race well and his showing was most encouraging."

"Jones selected the mile Century Handicap, which had a purse of $15,000 and was presented on Thursday, June 14 at the Hollywood Park course for his charge's next appearance.  His name was magic at the box-office and more than 20,000 came out to the ultra-modern Inglewood Park for an otherwise routine card.  Only four chose to oppose Citation, and possibly the field would have been shorter, except for the $1,500 fourth money. They were:  Be Fleet under 123, Sturdy One 110, Sir Butch 108 and Belin 105.  Citation had 120, and his revenge on the Crevolin horse.  Brooks had him under a steady tug, while racing third to Sir Butch and Be Fleet to the last turn, permitting his mount to move along well out from the rail.  When given his head, the Calumet horse went to Sir Butch and pumped him out straightening for the run home, then held Be Fleet safe by a half-length in the drive.  The track was fast and Citation, world record miler, hung out a lively 1:35 4/5, time two-fifths behind Please Me's course standard.  He received a tremendous ovation in this, the first success of his comeback campaign, and those who had backed him were rewarded with 95 cents to the dollar."

"Citation now was pointed for the $50,000 added American Handicap of a mile and a furlong on the Fourth of July at Hollywood.  This event drew a crack field of nine and, presented in wonderful weather, a crowd of 54,700.  Topweight of the group was Moonrush under 125 pounds, with Citation carrying 123, Be Fleet 122, All Blue 112 and Bewitch 106.  The three-horse Calumet entry was 75 cents to the dollar.  Be Fleet was the aggressor from the outset, dashing out of the gate in spirited style and into a narrow lead, as All Blue went up to be sure he had no opportunity of loafing in front.  Brooks dropped Citation into fifth position, but within easy striking distance of about four lengths.  They swung for home with Moonrush just ahead and Be Fleet and All Blue in the lead, still at one another's throat.  Brooks drove Citation on through between them and, in the final furlong, got to the front.  Bewitch had followed him into contention and he led the mare by a half-length in 1:48 2/5, again coming within two-fifths of a track record, this one established by his old rival, Noor."

"Citation added $33,050 to his earnings and was within striking distance of his goal.  But he gave trainer Jones some anxious moments after the American, when it was discovered he had what the Missourian called 'a hickey' on one hind leg.  Apparently he had rapped himself.  Of course every precaution was taken to avoid complications and the possibility he would have to miss his engagement in the $100,000 guaranteed Hollywood Gold Cup at a mile and a quarter on July 14.  Fortunately Citation responded to treatment."

"Gold Cup day found another throng of 50,000 on hand, and Citation, carrying 120 again, was accompanied to the post by Bewitch and All Blue.  The topweight was Be Fleet under 1221, and the field also included Alderman at 104, Sturdy One 109, Sudan 104, Lotowhite 117, Akimbo 104 and Tantamount at 102.  In all his previous engagements of the season, Citation had been raced well bandaged, Jones wishing to afford his battle-scarred running gear all the protection possible.  In the paddock before the Gold Cup, which would place him beyond the $1,000,000 mark, if he could win it, Jones deliberated with himself for a time and finally whipped off the bandages."

"There was little delay at the post and Citation, breaking from the extreme outside, came out of there running more like the Citation of old, than in any previous race of the season.  Brooks permitted him to drift toward the rail going to the first turn, while All Blue was on the lead, prompted by Be Fleet.  So full of run was the Calumet champion that Brooks let him move into a clear advantage a half-mile from home.  Continuing boldly he opened up three lengths on the last turn and increased this to four, without pressure, in the run home.  Bewitch, under 108, came from well off the pace for the place, a nose before Be Fleet, who had been a forward factor from the outset under his top impost.  The time was 2:01, a fifth off Noor's track record."

"This race netted Citation $100,000, and Bewitch $20,000.  He now had brought his total to $1,085,760, and Bewitch simultaneously brought her total to $462,605.  Nearest Citation among the world's leading money winning horses is Stymie with $918,485, and in placing in the Gold Cup, Bewitch supplanted Gallorette as the richest of her sex, Gallorette having retired with gleanings of $445,535."

"The Gold Cup proved a fitting climax to a great horse's career.  It was hailed by the sporting press of all the racing countries over the world, and Mrs. Wright and the Joneses received congratulatory wires and cablegrams from England to Australia.  Citation now is at Calumet Farm, where this spring he begins his stud duties, at a fee of $5,000.  Most breeders consider that sum quite reasonable in view of the horse's capabilities, the current purse distribution and yearling prices.  H. A. Jones once observed that a Bull Lea foal is 'worth $10,000 as soon as it hits the ground.'  We think it may be said with some confidence that the first Citations will prove at least as desirable."

"Citation made the 1951 Hollywood Gold Cup especially historic, but in a more competitive sense the season produced many handicap races that were more memorable as spectacles, even if they were not won by quite so remarkable a horse..."

"...One of the most powerful performances, if not the outstanding effort shown by a handicap horse all season, was that Hill Prince gave in the $25,000 New York Handicap at a mile and a furlong, at Belmont Park on September 29.  In fact, it was probably this race which clinched the handicap title for Chris Chenery's magnficient big bay four-year-old."

"Hill Prince had recovered from his fissure fracture of the previous winter, at least significanly to train, though morning work-watchers reported that occasionally he gimped a bit behind.  Trainer 'Casey' Hayes brought him along to racing fettle by easy stages and gave him a couple of prep races on Long Island in advance of the New York.  He qualified impressively in winning the last of these tighteners, so impressively that the public made him odds-on at 4 to 5, though he had 128 pounds and was required to concede from 9 to 21 pounds to Sheilas Reward, One Hitter, Sudan, Moonrush, Alderman, Busanda and Picador."

"Arcaro had the mount on the huge son of Princquillo and Hildene, and the colt stripped for the race looking extremely well bodily.  He had furnished out a great deal over his three-year-old form and was a deep-bodied round-barreled strong-quartered animal.  'Scares you to death just to look at him when you have to run a horse against him," trainer Veitch of Counterpoint commented."

"To be perfectly candid about it, Hill Prince made the lot he met in the New York Handicap, accompished as they were, appear so many "Grade B" horses.  Arcaro rode him with much confidence permitting him to drop back to last place in the run down the backstretch after having broken in front.  Going to the long home turn, Sheilas Reward, Moonrush and Picador were engaged in a brush for the lead when Arcaro turned loose Hill Prince's head, and 'that was all he wrote.'"

"In a breathtaking furlong Hill Prince bounded through the entire field, moving between horses with gigantic strides, and was in front at the top of the stretch.  He must have run that eighth in approximately 11 seconds, and it completely exhausted his rivals.  Thereafter he sauntered majestically up the stretch winner by five lengths in a flat 1:49.  It was a tremendous showing, and Ted Atkinson, who rode the runner-up, One Hitter, commented:  'That horse (Hill Prince) doesn't just beat you.  He insults you.'"

"Hill Prince might have beaten any horse that afternoon, but there were no more afternoons like it for him during 1951.  He encountered Counterpoint at the scale in the Gold Cup and Empire Cup, and was fairly beaten in consecutive starts."

"Following hs game but unsuccessful attempts to defeat The Horse of the Year, Hill Prince was shipped to New Jersey for the mile and a furlong of the $50,000 Trenton Handicap on November 3 at Garden State Park, and was odds-on despite topweight of 130 pounds and a sloppy track.  It was a sad thing to contemplate, for he broke last and, when Arcaro moved on him, could only pick up tired horses, and finished fourth, five lengths off the successful Call Over.  This four-year-old son of Devil Diver, racing for Bedford Stable and carrying only 116, ran perhaps the best race of his career, beating Inseparable and Post Card in a blanket finish while conceding them weight."

"Hill Prince obviously was 'cooked,' and did not reappear during the late fall in the East.  The New York Handicap was an easy race for him, but there is no question his two hard races over big distances against Counterpoint had taken the edge off his condition.  After the two miles of the Jockey Club Gold Cup, Arcaro ventured that he was a trifle short, and Hayes countered by censuring Arcaro for making much use of Hill Prince setting the pace.  However, when he met Counterpoint again in the Empire Cup on the same terms and Counterpoint won even more decisively, any shortcomings had to be charged on the horse."

"What future turf historians will make of Hill Prince, we hesitate to guess, but he has been a champion each season he raced.  There is a theory in some quarters that only for his headstrong desire to run his own kind of race instead of responding to his rider's wishes, Hill Prince would have been as formidable as Citation.  But those who rate him 'Big Cy's' equal are in the minority.  Hill Prince, on the verge of bowing in March '52, retired to the stud.  You are not to infer, from our reference to Hill Prince as 'headstrong,' that he is either high-strung and excitable or ill-tempered.  But he is difficult in the sense that if he chooses to set his own pace, there is not much else his rider can do but let him run.  This can be rather costly."

The final vote for Best Handicap Horse was very close.  Hill Prince received 87 points (4 for first, 2 for second and 1 for third) while Citation earned 82.


BTW, does anyone know who WAS the last horse who ran on consecutive days?

I'm not sure if he was the last horse to try it, but Golden Man, trained by Richard Dutrow Jr., finished third in the Grade 3 Long Branch at Monmouth on July 16, 2005 before finishing second the very next day in the Grade 3 Leonard Richards at Delaware.


Strike the Tiger was Wes Ward's winner this summer at Royal Ascot.  TVG made a pretty big deal of it, Strike the Tiger being the first American-trained American horse to win at Royal Ascot.  I remember he came back and ran in a 50K stakes at Colonial Downs, and then I believe he ran in Indiana in another minor money-added stakes race.  But since then, he hasn't popped up in my race alerts.  Where's this talented turfer??
David H.

Strike the Tiger has three recent workouts at Gulfstream Park so should be back in action within the next month or two.


Could you post her pp's

Here's what I have for Teriyaki Stake

Download Teriyaki Stake


It is great to hear that Fernando Jara is back in New York.  I cashed a pick four when he rode Schemer to victory at Saratoga in 2004.  There was a thunder storm but they ran the race on the turf anyways.  By the way, would you post Schemer's past performances. Thanks.
robert ginnerty

Here's what I have for Schemer:

Download Schemer.


3-Rule looms heads above this field if he doesn't bounce, which is unlikely for only four races.
2-UhOhBango will be underbet because of the AZ breeding and the fact he ran a 102 Beyer at PrM.
5-Litigation Risk has two good races and his maiden win was solid.  TGrainer knows his stuff.
7-Oak Motte -should be in the mix at the end.
The bet:$15 Trifecta 3/2,5,7/2,5,7 for $90
$10 Exacta 3 with 2.
I have no confidence in 4 Grand Slam Andre
Thanks to sharpies Van Savant and Annie I am adjusting my $90 trifecta bet in HG162 as follows:  3/2,5,8/2,5,8.  The $10 exacta 3/2 is the same.
Thanks again.  Ray

Congrats to Ray Flack for finishing first in last week's HandiGambling exercise.  He selects the fifth race at Calder on Friday for this week's race.  Here are the past performances:

Download HG 163

Remember that you have a mythical $100 with which to wager on the race, and the entrant with the highest money total will receive a "Monthly Enhanced 60-Card Past Performance Plan."  Anyone going over the $100 limit will be disqualfied.  In the event of a tie, the earliest post gets first preference.

I know that there is a time issue for some of you, but let's rememember why we began the HandiGambling races in the first place.  The goal was to share ideas on why we like these horses, and why we're betting on them the way we are.  I'm not asking for a novel, but if you could spare a sentence or two outlining your handicapping angles, and thought processes about wagering, it would be appreciated.

Best of luck