06/19/2012 3:10PM

Hollywood Park: Wagner finding success on track, at the sales

Benoit & Associates
Starlight Magic will try to give owner Cory Wagner his first graded stakes win in the Grade 2 Hollywood Oaks.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Cory Wagner has gotten to know his California racing stable largely by staring at his television.

“I’ve only been in the winner’s circle in Southern California once in the flesh,” he said earlier this week. “I’d like to do it again.”

With business and family commitments in Edmonton, Wagner, 32, does not travel south as often as he would like. He is making an exception this weekend.

Wagner has starters in two stakes at Betfair Hollywood Park – Canuletmedowneasy in Friday’s $68,000 Tsunami Slew Stakes for 3-year-olds on turf and Starlight Magic in Saturday’s $150,000 Hollywood Oaks. Starlight Magic won the California Cup Juvenile Fillies last fall and can give Wagner his first graded stakes win in the Grade 2 Hollywood Oaks.

Wagner has an overnight trip planned to catch both races. Getting away from Edmonton these days is difficult; his wife had the couple’s third child last month. But the stakes are hard to miss as they represent the sporting side of Wagner’s practical approach to racing.

With trainer Mark Glatt serving as an adviser, Wagner has bought yearlings in recent years to offer at 2-year-olds in training sales. Some of those yearlings not sold at 2 are kept for racing, sometimes Wagner and Glatt go to juvenile sales with the intent to buy.

Starlight Magic, who has earned $209,900, was purchased for $75,000 at the 2011 Barretts May sale of 2-year-olds in training by Wagner.

Earlier this year, Wagner and a partner sold the sale-topper at the Barretts March sale of 2-year-olds in training, an Empire Maker filly bought privately as a yearling who sold for $435,000 to a buyer in Japan.

“I never got into it to make tons of money,” Wagner said. “Some people get in thinking they’re going to win the Derby. I’m trying to keep it a self-sustaining thing. I’ve done okay in the business world. I’ve always been a racing fan and a handicapper. There has to be a price in your mind of what a horse is worth.”

Some horses, however, are not on the market.

Starlight Magic, who has won 3 of 7 starts, has become a family favorite for the Wagners, particularly with the couple’s two older children. The Hollywood Oaks will be her graded stakes debut after starts in four stakes for California-breds since last August.

“It will be interesting to see how she does in open company,” he said. “I’m not set on breeding to race or buying to race. Yeah, you get attached to horses. My kids are in love with Starlight Magic.

“I’d be out on the curb if I did anything with her.”

Wagner has been involved in racing ownership for five years, after selling a website that he co-founded, investopedia.com, in 2007. More recently, Wagner has led a team developing sportingcharts.com, which offers a statistical analysis of sports teams and players for a variety of enthusiasts, from fantasy players to gamblers to fans. The site is in its infancy, he said.

“It’s only been live for six months, and we’ve got a lot of work to do,” he said.

Wagner has been allied with Glatt for most of his years in racing. Their best result in a graded stakes was a second by Big Tiz in the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet Stakes in 2010. Wagner co-owns the filly with Allen and Susan Branch.

While Starlight Magic is running in the more prestigious race this weekend, there is optimism surrounding Canuletmedowneasy’s chances in the Tsunami Slew. Though a minor race, it is a prep for the $100,000 Oceanside Stakes over a mile on turf for 3-year-olds at Del Mar on July 18.

By With Distinction, Canuletmedowneasy won consecutive races over six furlongs on turf in May – a maiden race May 5 and an optional claimer May 20.

“I don’t want to say I’m more excited to watch him run, but he’s come into his own in the last couple of months,” Wagner said.

Later this summer, Glatt is high on a Candy Ride colt named Caesar Sunday, whom Wagner bought for $30,000 as a yearling last fall. The colt is expected to start during the Del Mar meeting.

It is that sort of horse that Wagner hopes will keep him involved in racing for decades.

“I probably don’t have the bank account to compete with the high-end guys at the sales that have the Bafferts as their trainer,” he said. “I’m 32 and I want to be in the game for another 30 years.”