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Blinker changes: File under 'public's right to know'
INGLEWOOD, Calif. - All blinker changes, regardless of how long a horse has been away from the races, must be conveyed to the public, according to a memo recently sent from California Horse Racing Board executive director Roy Wood to the state's stewards.
Trainers must denote any blinker change at the time of entry, Wood's memo said. Wood ordered this policy to take effect on Dec. 26, the opening day of Santa Anita's winter meeting, but many tracks already are in compliance.
Wood's directive was issued as a result of controversy that arose last summer regarding the reporting of blinker changes. At the start of Del Mar's meeting, horses who had been away from the races for at least six months were not required to have a blinker change listed in the official program. That policy was changed, per a steward's request, but Wood wanted to go a step further and not leave this issue to the discretion of each track, which had been the policy in the past.
"There is no reference in any CHRB rule to a cutoff date for reporting blinker changes," Wood's memo said. "The arbitrary cutoff time of six months falls into the gray area of racing custom, the common belief being that after such a length of time, blinker changes lose their relevance. However, some patrons do desire this information. Therefore, all blinker changes will be permitted after six months, and this information must be communicated to the public, leaving bettors free to place whatever value they want on the information."
Super Quercus points to McKnight at Calder
Super Quercus, who gave trainer Bobby Frankel his 17th Grade 1 race victory of the year in Saturday's Hollywood Turf Cup, came out of the race in good shape and will race again before the year is out.
Frankel on Monday said he would send Super Quercus to Florida for the Grade 2, $150,000 McKnight Handicap on Dec. 29 at Calder Race Course. He said he also will send The Seven Seas there for the Grade 2, $150,000 La Prevoyante Handicap for older fillies and mares on the same day. Both races are at 1 1/2 miles on turf. Both of Frankel's horses are owned by the 3 Plus U Stable of Charles Kenis and Audrey Skirball-Kenis.
"He's a nice horse," Frankel said of Super Quercus, who was off from January to July because of an ankle chip. "He's going to race next year, too." Super Quercus won the Hollywood Derby here in 1999, but did not win a race again until taking the Bay Meadows Breeders' Cup Handicap on Sept. 22.
Frankel has two more chances in Grade 1 races this year. He is scheduled to run Labamta Babe in the Hollywood Futurity on Dec. 15, and You in the Hollywood Starlet on Dec. 16.
Pelirrojo is one to watch
Pelirrojo, a first-time starter, made an impressive debut on Sunday when he won the third race with a powerful closing kick to beat maiden 2-year-olds going six furlongs. Pelirrojo, a gelding by Flying Continental, won by 3 1/2 lengths in 1:10.57.
Pelirrojo's coat is nearly pure white, undoubtedly tracing to his damsire, Cozzene. Although he had a good series of workouts, and was the top selection of a well-respected clocker who sells an ontrack tip sheet, Pelirrojo went off the fourth choice in a field of six and paid $12.80. He was less of a surprise to his trainer, John Sadler.
"He had trained great," Sadler said. "When he first came in, we were giggling at him. He looks like an Arabian horse. Then he started training, and he looked decent. I pulled up the papers on him, saw he was by Flying Continental, and thought he'd make a good Cal-bred. Then I looked again, and saw he was bred in Kentucky.
"We call him Vigors," Sadler added, referring to the popular Santa Anita Handicap winner of 1978 who was a ghostly white.
Sadler said he would look to run Pelirrojo at a longer distance in his next start.
Breakdown on turf
The 4-year-old filly Sweet Defense suffered a breakdown in the sixth race, on a turf course that has been pelted by rain in recent weeks. Her injuries were so catastrophic that she had to be euthanized, as was the top older stakes mare Spook Express after she broke down on the turf course one week earlier.
Alex Solis, who rode Sweet Defense, injured his ankle when he fell from the filly. He took one race off, then rode Lake William in the featured Underwood Handicap.
Another runner in the turf race, the 56-1 shot Justine, pulled up lame after the race and had to be removed from the course in a horse ambulance.
Catcalls from railbirds
The boos were heard in force after Sunday's fourth race, when the stewards chose to leave Seinne in the top spot even though he crashed sharply into Lonesome Dude in the final 50 yards of the race.
The winning margin was only a neck, but the stewards, while acknowledging the incident, said that it would not have affected the outcome of the race. Brice Blanc, who rode Lonesome Dude, flung his arms into the air, exasperated, when the decision was announced. Chris McCarron rode Seinne.
Jockeys can now be billboards
Advertising will be permitted to appear on saddle towels, owners' silks, and jockey attire following approval by the California Horse Racing Board at their monthly meeting in Davis, Calif., on Friday.
The board revised regulatory language that previously prohibited the advertising of "tobacco, weapons, and products that are detrimental to the best interest of horse racing as determined by the board." Following a decision by the state Office of Administrative Law that such terms were unconstitutional, the board amended language to state that advertising must be approved by track stewards.
Similar programs have reached maturity overseas, particularly in the United Kingdom, where advertising appears in a variety of places such as jockeys' silks and pant legs, saddle towels, horse coolers, and the windbreakers worn by stable staff in the walking ring.
* In other action, the CHRB approved a regulatory amendment that will allow clenbuterol to appear in postrace tests up to the level of five nanograms per milliliter of urine. A bronchial dilator that has been approved for use in racehorses in the United States since 1998, clenbuterol was previously not permitted to appear in post-race tests at any level and was the subject of several fines and suspensions for trainers. The regulation is subject to the approval of the Office of Administrative Law and will not take effect until early 2002.
* Vic Stauffer, the track announcer here, claimed runner-up Caliban from Sunday's fifth race for $10,000 with trainer Susan Perry, his girlfriend.
* Beaumes de Venise, who was scratched from Sunday's Underwood Handicap, worked four furlongs in 48.40 seconds Monday morning at Hollywood Park.
- additional reporting by Steve Andersen