12/23/2005 12:00AM

Minister Eric looks good enough to race


ARCADIA, Calif. - Minister Eric's retirement lasted two months. Winner of the Grade 2 San Fernando last winter at Santa Anita, Minister Eric was retired by trainer Richard Mandella in the fall after nagging injuries and illness precluded him from running since Jan. 15. Mandella now says Minister Eric has done well physically since, leading to a change in plans.

Minister Eric looked good training last week, and Mandella expects the 4-year-old to run during the Santa Anita meet. Owned by Gerald Ford, Minister Eric has won 3 races and $562,771 from 12 starts. He finished second in the 2003 Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

Mandella will try to win the San Fernando a second straight year on Jan. 14 when lightly raced El Roblar returns to dirt. Unraced since a ninth-place finish Sept. 5 in the Del Mar Derby, El Roblar previously won the restricted Oceanside Stakes, and finished third in the Grade 2 La Jolla Handicap. El Roblar is up to five furlongs in his comeback works. He won both previous starts on dirt, and is 3 for 5 lifetime.

Television talks break down

For the past few weeks, representatives of HRTV and Television Games Network have been negotiating over allowing TVG to carry Santa Anita's races when the meet opens Monday, but those talks broke down on Thursday, according to several people involved in the discussions.

One sticking point in the negotiations is over exclusivity that each network has with certain tracks, said Drew Couto, president of the Thoroughbred Owners of California, which is monitoring the talks but must sign off on any contract. Santa Anita is seen exclusively on Magna Entertainment's HRTV, whose betting platform is Xpressbet. Other betting platforms, including Youbet and AmericaTab, accept bets on Santa Anita. TVG televises and takes wagers on many other tracks in the country, but not Santa Anita.

Giacomo works six furlongs

Over at Hollywood Park, Giacomo, the Kentucky Derby winner, made a significant step toward his upcoming return by breezing six furlongs in 1:16.80 on Friday. Although he will miss the Malibu Stakes, the first leg of the three-race Strub Series, on Monday at Santa Anita, Giacomo could make the Grade 2, $200,000 San Fernando Breeders' Cup Stakes on Jan. 14.

"He went well, nice and even," said John Shirreffs, who trains Giacomo. "It's a little early to say if he will make the San Fernando. There could be other options. This was only his first six-furlong work. He had worked four times at a half-mile, so he was ready to go an easy six."

Giacomo has won two races, his first coming against maidens.

Pedroza gets permission to ride

Martin Pedroza, the leading jockey at the Hollywood Park fall meet with 31 wins, can ride at the Santa Anita meet despite a three-day suspension originally scheduled for Dec. 26, 28, and 29. Pedroza was suspended, the ruling said, for "failure to make a proper effort to maintain a straight course" while riding Olympic Experience in the fourth race at Hollywood on Dec. 15. Pedroza's agent, Richie Silverstein, said Los Angeles Superior Court on Thursday issued a temporary stay of the suspension, pending an appeal, that allows Pedroza to ride.

Bordonaro heading to Gulfstream

Bordonaro, who established himself as a premier sprinter with an authoritative Dec. 3 victory in the Grade 3 Vernon Underwood Handicap at Hollywood, is ready to resume training and will aim for the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Sprint on Jan. 28 at Gulfstream Park. Bordonaro won the Underwood with a 115 Beyer, his sixth win from eight career starts.

A 4-year-old gelding, Bordonaro was turned out for 10 days after the Underwood before returning to his stable at Santa Anita. Trainer Bill Spawr said Bordonaro will have his first workout in early January, and train up to the Sunshine Millions. Bordonaro has never shipped, but he has won races on four surfaces - dirt tracks at Hollywood, Santa Anita, and Del Mar, and the turf course at Del Mar.

For now, stability at Santa Anita

Santa Anita has had a revolving door in its executive office since the track was purchased by Frank Stronach's Magna Entertainment seven years ago, but the track now has in place a well-respected group of officials, led by Ron Charles, who has been Santa Anita's president for 14 months.

Charles, a longtime owner, in recent months has made two key hires that boosted Santa Anita's standing among horsemen. He snapped up Allen Gutterman, the track's vice president of marketing, in October after Gutterman was not retained by Hollywood Park's new owners, the Bay Meadows Land Company. Last summer, Charles hired broadcast veteran Mike Willman as director of publicity.

"I just think we've got two guys who really understand the game," Charles said Friday morning at Santa Anita. "Allen has so much enthusiasm and a proven track record. He couldn't be more optimistic about the start of our meet. Mike, I can't imagine anyone with so much energy. He's so enthusiastic. He's getting us into more media in an industry that's getting less and less exposure."

Sweet Catomine lawsuit thrown out

A class-action lawsuit spearheaded by two gamblers seeking compensation in the aftermath of Sweet Catomine's poor performance in the Santa Anita Derby has been thrown out by a Los Angeles Superior Court judge.

The suit - which was filed in April and originally named both Santa Anita and Marty Wygod, the owner of Sweet Catomine, as defendants - claimed that the condition of Sweet Catomine should have been made public before her race, and sought compensation. After Sweet Catomine ran poorly as the favorite, Wygod disclosed that the filly had undergone hyperbaric treatment for bleeding only a week before the race, and had been sent off grounds for that treatment.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Carolyn Kuhl heard a pre-trial motion to dismiss on Sept. 21, and on Friday released a written conclusion that agreed with Santa Anita's position that the track was not liable. Wygod was dropped as a defendant months ago, after he was not held liable following a California Horse Racing Board investigation.

"Santa Anita is extremely pleased," said Frank DeMarco Jr., Santa Anita's attorney. "The judge agreed with our position that under CHRB rules it is the trainer's responsibility, not the track's, to determine if a horse is fit to run."

Pedersen a trackside visitor

Pete Pedersen, who retired as a steward earlier this year, was a trackside visitor during training hours on Friday. Pedersen, who lives just a few minutes from Santa Anita, wryly commented on the reception he received now that he's no longer working.

"I don't have to suffer the slings and arrows," he said, laughing.

Pedersen, 85, won the Eclipse Award of Merit four years ago, and in October was honored with the Joe Palmer Award for meritorious service by the National Turf Writers Association.

* Santa Anita's replays can be seen exclusively on HRTV every racing night at 8:30 Pacific, and are repeated at 8:30 a.m. the following day. They can also be seen online at www.santaanita.com.

- additional reportingby Jay Privman

At a glance: Santa Anita

RACING SCHEDULE: 86 days; Monday through April 23. Dark Mondays and Tuesdays, except Jan. 2, Jan. 16, Feb. 20. No racing Jan. 4, Jan. 18, Feb. 22.

POST TIMES: 1 p.m. Pacific, weekdays; 12:30 p.m. on weekends and Jan. 2, Jan. 16, and Feb. 20; noon on Dec. 26, Jan. 28, March 4 and April 8; 11 a.m. on Feb. 5; 3 p.m., on April 7, April 14, and April 21.

ADMISSIONS: General, $5; clubhouse, $8.50; turf club and John Henry Room, $15. General parking, $4; preferred, $6; valet, $10.

LOCATION: 285 W. Huntington Dr., Arcadia. South of 210 (Foothill Freeway), east of Baldwin Ave.

PHONE: (626) 574-7223.

INTERNET: http://www.santaanita.com

2005-06 stakes schedule

Mon.,Dec. 26Malibu Stakes (G1)3YO7 furlongs$250,000
Mon.,Dec. 26CA. Breeders Champion Stakes2YO*7 furlongs125,000
Mon.,Dec. 26Sir Beaufort Stakes (G3)3YO 1 mile (T)100,000
Wed.,Dec. 28CA. Breeders Champion Stakes2YO F*7 furlongs125,000
Sat.,Dec. 31La Brea Stakes (G1)3YO F7 furlongs250,000
Sat.,Dec. 31Monrovia Handicap (G3)F&M, 3YO & Up6 1/2 furlongs (T)100,000
Sun.,Jan. 1San Gabriel Handicap (G2)4YO & Up1 1/8 miles (T)150,000
Sun.,Jan. 1Blue Norther Stakes3YO F1 mile (T)75,000
Mon.,Jan. 2El Conejo Handicap (G3)4YO & Up5 1/2 furlongs100,000
Mon.,Jan. 2Hill Rise Stakes3YO1 mile (T)75,000
Thu.,Jan. 5Kalookan Queen HandicapF&M, 4YO & Up6 1/2 furlongs75,000
Sat.,Jan. 7San Pasqual Handicap (G2)4YO & Up1 1/16 miles150,000
Sat.,Jan. 7Santa Ysabel Stakes (G3)3YO F1 1/16 miles100,000
Sun.,Jan. 8San Gorgonio Handicap (G2)F&M, 4YO & Up1 1/8 miles (T)150,000
Sun.,Jan. 8San Miguel Stakes3YO6 furlongs75,000
Fri.,Jan. 13Paseana HandicapF&M, 4YO & Up1 1/16 miles75,000
Sat.,Jan. 14San Fernando B.C. Stakes (G2)4YO1 1/16 miles200,000
Sat.,Jan. 14San Rafael Stakes (G2)3YO1 mile150,000
Sun.,Jan. 15El Encino Stakes (G2)4YO F1 1/16 miles150,000
Mon.,Jan. 16Santa Ynez Stakes (G2)3YO F7 furlongs150,000
Sat.,Jan. 21Palos Verdes Handicap (G2)4YO & Up6 furlongs150,000
Sun.,Jan. 22San Marcos Stakes (G2)4YO & Up1 1/4 miles (T)150,000
Thu.,Jan. 26Tuzla HandicapF&M, 4YO & Up1 mile (T)75,000
Sat.,Jan. 28Sunshine Millions Classic4YO & Up*1 1/8 miles 1,000,000
Sat.,Jan. 28Sunshine Millions F&M TurfF&M, 4YO & Up*1 1/8 miles (T)500,000
Sat.,Jan. 28Sunshine Millions F&M SprintF&M, 4YO & Up*6 furlongs300,000
Sat.,Jan. 28Sunshine Millions Dash3YO*6 furlongs250,000
Sun.,Jan. 29Santa Monica Handicap (G1)F&M, 4YO & Up7 furlongs250,000
Sun.,Jan. 29Wishing Well HandicapF&M, 4YO & Up6 1/2 furlongs (T)75,000
Sat.,Feb. 4Strub Stakes (G2)4YO1 1/8 miles300,000
Sat.,Feb. 4Sham Stakes (G3)3YO1 1/8 miles100,000
Sun.,Feb. 5San Antonio Handicap (G2)4YO & Up1 1/8 miles250,000
Wed.,Feb. 8Thunder Road Handicap4YO & Up1 mile (T)75,000
Sat.,Feb. 11Las Virgenes Stakes (G1)3YO F1 mile250,000
Sat.,Feb. 11Santa Maria Handicap (G1)F&M, 4YO & Up1 1/16 miles250,000
Sun.,Feb. 12La Canada Stakes (G2)4YO F1 1/8 miles200,000
Sun.,Feb. 12San Vicente Stakes (G2)3YO7 furlongs150,000
Sat.,Feb. 18San Carlos Handicap (G2)4YO & Up7 furlong150,000
Sun.,Feb. 19Sensational Star Handicap4YO & Up*6 1/2 furlongs (T)125,000
Sun.,Feb. 19Daytona Handicap4YO & Up6 1/2 furlongs (T)75,000
Mon.,Feb. 20Buena Vista Handicap (G2)F&M, 4YO & Up1 mile (T)150,000
Sat.,Feb. 25Las Flores Handicap (G3)F&M, 4YO & Up6 furlongs100,000
Sat.,Feb. 25Pro or Con HandicapF&M, 4YO & Up*1 mile (T)100,000
Sun.,Feb. 26San Luis Obispo Handicap (G2)4YO & Up1 1/2 miles (T)150,000
Sat.,March 4Santa Catalina Stakes (G2)3YO1 1/16 miles200,000
Sat.,March 4Baldwin Stakes (G3)3YO6 1/2 furlongs (T)100,000
Sat.,March 4Santa Anita Handicap (G1)4YO & Up1 1/4 miles1,000,000
Sat.,March 4Frank E. Kilroe Mile (G1)4YO & Up1 mile (T)300,000
Sun.,March 5La Habra Stakes3YO F6 1/2 furlongs (T)100,000
Sat.,March 11Santa Margarita Handicap (G1)F&M, 4YO & Up1 1/8 miles300,000
Sat.,March 11China Doll Stakes3YO F1 mile (T)75,000
Sun.,March 12Santa Anita Oaks (G1)3YO F1 1/16 miles300,000
Sun.,March 12Santana Mile4YO & Up1 mile75,000
Fri.,March 17Irish O'Brien StakesF&M, 4YO & Up*6 1/2 furlongs (T)125,000
Sat.,March 18San Felipe Stakes (G2)3YO1 1/16 miles250,000
Sat.,March 18Pasadena Stakes3YO1 mile (T)75,000
Sun.,March 19Crystal Water Handicap4YO & Up*1 mile (T)100,000
Sat.,March 25San Luis Rey Handicap (G2)4YO & Up1 1/2 miles (T)200,000
Sun.,March 26Santa Ana Handicap (G2)F&M, 4YO & Up1 1/8 miles (T)150,000
Sat.,April 1Santa Paula Stakes (G3)3YO F6 1/2 furlongs75,000
Sat.,April 1Tokyo City Cup (G3)4YO & Up1 1/8 miles100,000
Sun.,April 2Potrero Grande B.C. Handicap (G2)4YO & Up6 1/2 furlongs200,000
Sat.,April 8Arcadia Handicap (G2)4YO & Up1 mile (T)150,000
Sat.,April 8Santa Anita Derby (G1)3YO1 1/8 miles750,000
Sat.,April 8Providencia Stakes (G3)3YO F1 mile (T)100,000
Sun.,April 9San Pedro Stakes3YO6 1/2 furlongs75,000
Sun.,April 9Santa Lucia HandicapF&M, 4YO & Up1 1/16 miles75,000
Sat.,April 15La Puente Stakes3YO1 mile (T)100,000
Sun.,April 16Las Cienegas Handicap (G3)F&M, 4YO & Up6 1/2 furlongs (T)100,000
Sat.,April 22Santa Barbara Handicap (G2)F&M, 4YO & Up1 1/4 miles (T)200,000
Sat.,April 22San Simeon Handicap (G3)4YO & Up6 1/2 furlongs (T)100,000
Sun.,April 23San Juan Capistrano Handicap (G2)4YO & Up1 3/4 miles (T)250,000

*California-bred; *California/Florida-bred