03/30/2016 2:00PM

Hovdey: Minds on vacation, mouths working overtime


In tribute to that fine celebration of all things April foolish, let us acknowledge a collection of unintentional hilarity that has made the rounds recently. I will try to keep a straight face while I type so as not to telegraph the jokes. But sometimes it is hard when you hear …

Richard Mandella declare that Beholder might return to the races in early May on the grass at Santa Anita.

“It would be there or the Adoration Stakes, one of the two,” Mandella said. “She’s never run on turf, but the Royal Heroine is worth $100,000 more.”

Mandella could be thinking that the one-mile Royal Heroine will be the first stakes race run over the course after a break of two weeks for the Los Alamitos spring meet. Still, this is the same beleaguered turf course that management will be ripping out and replacing in time for the Breeders’ Cup.

Mandella might be taking into account that the Adoration is at 1 1/16 miles, and his primary target, the $400,000 Vanity on June 5, has been inexplicably reduced to one mile from its long-running 1 1/8 miles. But how could that matter to a cruising front-runner like Beholder?

As far as the purse difference goes, I would like to think that Mandella is making a statement about how racetracks in California have gone dirt cheap in funding many of their graded events at the rock-bottom level. Then again, he could be trying to make sure the race is run at all. Without his Royal Heroine name drop, the Adoration figured to get about three nominations.

At least Mandella seems happy with his job. Dale Romans, fresh from Keen Ice’s thumping in the World Cup, was quoted by Alan Aitken in the South China Morning Post as being mad as hell and not willing to take it anymore. Or something like that:

“I’m ready for an adventure, and I’m so sick of what’s happened to the sport in the U.S. I’m done with it,” Romans said. “I’m a horseman, and I think races should be won by the better horseman, not something else. I was very impressed with what I saw in Hong Kong when I was there, and I know that, because the vet side of racing is so tightly controlled there, it’s the superior horseman who will succeed. They’ve never had an American trainer, but if they want me, I’d love to train there.”

Hong Kong is a closed system with only 24 training licenses available, and its exotic temptations always have been strong. More power to Big D, although I’m not sure if bad-mouthing your current gig is the way to impress a new employer. We’ll keep the light on.

Tom Amoss wasn’t leaving the country, but he did go into orbit over the ride Mo Tom got from Corey Lanerie in the Louisiana Derby last weekend. The trainer took it out on the jock, offered an apology, then doubled down on the depths of his disappointment.

“I was not at my professional best with Corey afterward, and I apologize for that,” Amoss told Jeff Duncan of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “It’s all the work we put into the horse. To watch that unfold is – the only thing I can compare it to is being present to watch your son get beat up on the playground. It’s hard to watch.”

A bit of a reach, unless the horse had been hurt. Amoss would have been the winner of the Steve Coburn Inappropriate Analogy Award (“Would it be fair if I played basketball with a child in a wheelchair?”) had it not been for James McIngvale, who descended from the top bunk to deliver his 10-point plan for responsible racehorse ownership to the Association of Racing Commissioners International last week in New Orleans, as shared by Natalie Voss of The Paulick Report.

How many of McIngvale’s 10 commandments will be taken seriously is up for grabs. But No. 2 sounds like it was hatched by a truly ticked-off god:

“Drug-free racing is the only way to go. Being a member of WHOA (Water, Hay, Oats Alliance) and running your horses on Lasix is like telling your kids not to do drugs while you’re mainlining heroin.”

There’s how you win an argument: Play the smack card.

But the blue ribbon goes to Perry Martin, the majority owner of Dubai World Cup hero California Chrome, who benefited greatly in the past from being the bland Dean Martin to Steve Coburn’s wacky Jerry Lewis. Now that Coburn is no longer part of the Chrome ownership, Martin (Perry, not Dean) let his freak flag fly in a post-race interview with Scott Hazelton on the World Cup’s international feed that included the following:

◗ A berating of Victor Espinoza for California Chrome’s wide trip.

◗ Regret that his horse did not break the track record by more than he did.

◗ A hope that California Chrome could win a Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In race to avoid BC Classic entry fees, having just won $6 million.

◗ A reference to possible participation in The Stronach Group’s pie-in-the-sky $12 million race next January, with a possible prep for the 5-year-old California Chrome in the Hollywood Derby.

Just a simple thank you to trainers Art and Alan Sherman would have been sufficient. California Chrome can speak for himself.

DavidM9999 More than 1 year ago
What is wrong with Dale Romans throwing a punch at American horse racing instead of Indian Charlie. I would have preferred a haymaker with specifics rather than a soft jab but at least he spoke.  The DRF certainly won't write anything of substance about the state of the game.
Kristopher Marshall More than 1 year ago
Perry Martin makes me long for Steve Coburn's mostly innocent (and ignorant) diatribes.  But, as the majority owner he probably gets the credit for sending Chrome to Art Sherman.  For that the entire racing world owes him a debt or gratitude.
Juan Sandoval More than 1 year ago
Hahaha" let his freak flag fly".....and is Dale Romans insinuating that the Chrome was on some kind PED?
Fred Reardon More than 1 year ago
Can we just get a,""I didn't do anything wrong, and I won't do it again" and be done with it!
Or have we all gone to far?
Paula Higgins More than 1 year ago
Perry Martin was joking.
slewofdamascus More than 1 year ago
You have to admit that Lanerie blew it. He has a habit of turning trouble-free rides into double-trouble. There's little doubt that Mo Tom would have been right there - I think he would have won - as Gun Runner switched off his correct lead for the final 1/16th of another slow 3yo race. I can't see how GR figures into the KD with his slow Beyers? I know a 3yo can improve dramatically on a dime,  but it rarely happens in the KD itself. The fact he broke off his correct lead does not bode well for the  extra eighth in the KD. 
slewofdamascus More than 1 year ago
Nevermind Chrome's best races are outside the competition or that Espinoza's saddle-slipped. Where do these people come from? Perry Martin speaks like a true know-nothing about the sport's intricacies. This, of course, is the bain of trainers everywhere, but Martin takes it to lengths that should make every owner cringe, particularly those who do have a background in the game, who do have horse-knowledge and most of all appreciation for how rare it is to have the kind of success that Chrome is enjoying. I can't help but wonder how good Chrome would have been without these stooges masquerading as knowledgeable owners? All I know is that Art Sherman deserves some kind of Eclipse for suffering through these nattering nabobs of negativism.
TIMSON More than 1 year ago
I agree with you about Perry Martin and his comments immediately after the race.  I'm surprised no one else has mentioned it.  If we thought that Steve Coburn was boorish and a poor sport at times, Martin came across as an arrogant, pompous, ungrateful, cheap know-it-all.  Would anyone even care about this guy if he didn't co-own a champion?  Good thing Chrome can't read lips or he might have kicked Martin into the infield after his remarks.  This is the same guy who decided to ship Chrome to England after last year's DWC.  That worked out well, didn't it.  He's lucky the Shermans have managed to get Chrome back to the highest level again.  But you certainly wouldn't have known it listening to his post-race blather.
John OHara More than 1 year ago
Glad to see you brought up what probably most of us were thinking as these things unfolded.

True ambassadors of our game like Trudy McCaffery, John Toffan and Bob and Beverly Lewis are gone from the front lines They exuded class and were always gracious in winning and losing.   

Now we are having to watch success benefit people who have no idea what their significant wins represent in our industry.
Kenny Black More than 1 year ago
well said john,and great great job by art and alan ,the shermans are fantastic horsemen and obviously have the paitience and understanding 0f jobe!!!!