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Jackson drops Headley as trainer
INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Jess Jackson, the owner of Kendall-Jackson winery who has invested heavily in Thoroughbred racing in the last two years, said on Sunday that he has dissolved his relationship with trainer Bruce Headley and will begin employing several trainers.
Jackson's racehorses have been dispersed to Steve Asmussen, Mike Machowsky, Richard Mandella, John Sadler, and John Shirreffs, according to Tom Bachman, Jackson's racing advisor. All but Asmussen are based in Southern California.
"I'd like to have multiple trainers," Jackson said.
According to Bachman, 18 horses were taken from Headley.
Jackson, speaking on Sunday at Hollywood Park, declined to reveal the cause for the split, saying, "That's confidential."
Headley and Bachman said the split was caused by a difference in goals.
Headley typically takes a very patient approach with horses, sometimes waiting until they are late 3-year-olds or 4-year-olds before sending them to the racetrack. He said he was taking that approach with Jackson's horses until Bachman became involved as a racing advisor.
"It seemed all my work and plans weren't very satisfying to him," Headley said. "Our philosophies were extremely far apart."
Bachman said Jackson wants to develop a breeding operation, and wants his runners to start earlier in their careers.
"There were two different agendas," Bachman said. "Jess Jackson's agenda is to use racing to prove breeding stock. To do that you need to find out what you have, and cull if needed. If you don't race, you can't do that.
"[Bruce's] philosophy is to wait and wait. We're not on the same page."
According to Bachman, Jackson had 11 horses with Headley at Santa Anita, including Ramatuelle, who is nominated for Saturday's Hawthorne Handicap at Hollywood Park. She is now trained by Sadler. There were seven 2-year-olds based at Fairplex Park in Pomona.
On Sunday, Headley started Donna's Doll for Jackson in the Railbird Stakes at Hollywood Park. Immediately after the race, Jackson said, "This is the last time we race together."
Donna's Doll, who finished seventh of eight as the 2-1 second choice in the Railbird, has been transferred to Shirreffs.
El Roblar, a promising 3-year-old maiden winner, has been transferred to Mandella.
Headley expects Jackson's horses to have a major impact in coming months.
"I bought 30 beautifully conformed horses instead of claiming 30," Headley said. "I had a lot of nice horses. This was going to be an onslaught."
Jackson races as Stonestreet Stable. In the last year, Jackson has bought Buckram Oak Farm, near Lexington, Ky., and a majority interest in the stallion Saarland, and has been an active buyer at major sales.
Jackson campaigned Rhythm Mad, the winner of the 2004 Jim Murray Memorial Handicap at Hollywood Park. Rhythm Mad later suffered an injury and is not in training.
Rock Hard Ten to resume training
Rock Hard Ten, the top older horse in California, will return to training this week after suffering a minor back injury in late April.
But the nearly two weeks of missed training is likely to prevent Rock Hard Ten, 4, from starting during the Hollywood Park meeting, said Mandella, who trains him.
Rock Hard Ten will be pointed for the $1 million Pacific Classic at Del Mar on Aug. 21, Mandella said, with a likely prep race in the $250,000 San Diego Handicap on July 24.
Mandella was away from his stable for two days last week to travel to Kentucky to inspect yearlings. He returned on Saturday and said that Rock Hard Ten seemed to have recovered from a back problem that Mandella thinks was caused when he became cast in his stall.
"He looks great," Mandella said. "I think everything looks fine."
Mandella had considered the Met Mile at Belmont Park on May 30 and the Hollywood Gold Cup on July 10 for Rock Hard Ten, but now is likely to wait until Del Mar to start the horse.
Owned by Ernie Moody and Madeleine Paulson, Rock Hard Ten has not started since winning the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap on March 5, the last of his three stakes wins at Santa Anita. He also won the Malibu and Strub stakes.
Everybody loves Razik
The hottest claiming horse in Southern California is Razik, a 10-year-old gelding on a seven-race winning streak.
Razik kept his winning streak alive with an easy win in Saturday's second race, for $16,000 claimers. Of course, he switched barns afterward. Owner Juan Quinones and trainer Ted H. West claimed Razik in a two-way shake.
"Why not claim him?" West said. "He won under a pull. If I run him back for $20,000, he's 3-5."
Considering his record over the last few years, Razik seemed unlikely to be enjoying such a winning streak.
Razik won just 3 of his first 30 starts before he romped by eight lengths in a $10,000 claimer over 6 1/2 furlongs at Hollywood Park in December 2003. At the time, he was trained by Thomas Blincoe. Over the next 15 months, Razik made three starts for Blincoe, winning for claiming prices of $25,000, $32,000, and $12,500.
On April 3, Razik won a $10,000 claimer by five lengths, and was claimed by Mike Mitchell for G Racing and Carl Van Burger. Five days later, Razik beat $12,500 claimers.
Mitchell said he was surprised that a claim was submitted for Razik on Saturday. He admits the old horse has his problems. "I have to give credit to Blincoe to get him to the races," he said. "He's got these big suspensories."
Mitchell said that when he claimed Razik on April 3 he thought Blincoe was "bluffing" when he saw the bandages on Razik's legs. It was not until he got back to the barn that he realized the gelding's condition.
"I thought there was cotton underneath there," Mitchell said. "I called my owner and said, 'He wasn't bluffing.'"
Mitchell was not the only trainer scouting Razik during those starts. West said he was on the verge of claiming Razik during the Santa Anita meeting.
"I was kicking myself for not claiming him before," West said. "I thought about it three times, especially two [races] back when he ran for $10,000."
West said he knows Razik is an old horse who is suited to less training than usual.
"I'll probably not do much with him and run him," he said. "I'll just get him feeling good and happy."