02/11/2005 12:00AM

Moscow Burning takes prize


Led by California-bred horse of the year Moscow Burning, a majority of the state's champions of 2004 are staying in training this year.

Awards were presented in nine categories at a ceremony in San Diego last Monday. Moscow Burning swept the three categories in which she was eligible: outstanding older female, top grass horse, and horse of the year. Moscow Burning became the first female to win the horse of the year honor since Cat's Cradle in 1995.

The other divisional winners were McCann's Mojave, older male; Cozy Guy, 3-year-old male; Yearly Report, 3-year-old filly; Texcess, 2-year-old male; Memorette, 2-year-old female; and Bear Fan, sprinter.

Yearly Report is the only champion that has been retired. A five-time stakes winner in 2004, she was sent to Kentucky to be bred to Gone West following a sixth-place finish in the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Distaff at Santa Anita on Jan. 29.

Yearly Report raced for and was bred by the Mabee family's Golden Eagle Farm and trained by Bob Baffert.

Moscow Burning is being given a brief vacation, but is scheduled to return to trainer Jim Cassidy's stable on Tuesday. Bred by Harris Farm and the Ken Maddy Trust, Moscow Burning won two stakes in 2004 - the Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay Handicap at Belmont Park and the Fran's Valentine Stakes for statebreds at Hollywood Park.

She races for the partnership of Don Van Kempen, Jeffrey Mariani, and Michael Nentwig, who claimed her for $25,000 in August 2003. In 2004, as a 5-year-old, Moscow Burning won 2 of 11 starts and $627,970. She was second or third in six stakes.

Cassidy said the horse of the year victory surprised the partners, especially Van Kampen.

"The expression on his face when they announced her as horse of the year - that's what this is all for," Cassidy said.

Moscow Burning, by Moscow Ballet, is being pointed for the $200,000 Santa Barbara Handicap on April 17.

Bear Fan was a candidate for outstanding mare and horse of the year. Racing for Peter Fan and trainer Wesley Ward, Bear Fan, who is by Pine Bluff, won 4 of 6 starts and $496,180 in 2004. She won three Grade 2 races - the Barbara Fritchie, Vagrancy, and Genuine Risk handicaps - and the Irish O'Brien Stakes for statebreds.

Bear Fan was second in the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Sprint at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 29.

Top older male McCann's Mojave raced in sprints in 2004, winning the Sensational Star Handicap for statebreds and the Grade 2 Potrero Grande Breeders' Cup Handicap at Santa Anita. He finished second to Speightstown in the Churchill Downs Handicap in May, his final start of last year.

This year, McCann's Mojave, who is by Memo, has been unplaced in two starts. He is in light training, according to Mike Willman, who owns the 5-year-old with Nikki Hunt. Leonard Dorfman trains.

Cozy Guy won 5 of his 10 starts and $324,504, winning races as minor as a $62,500 claimer and as prestigious as the $250,000 California Cup Classic. The California Cup Classic marked the first stakes win for owners Jeff and Lance Hayes and Jerry and Dan Higman.

By Alphabet Soup, Cozy Guy was bred by John Zamora and is trained by Dan Hendricks.

The juvenile champions were best late in the year. Texcess, bred by Ron Gomez and owned by Omar Aldabbagh and trainer Paul Aguirre, won two stakes - the California Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita and the Delta Jackpot in Louisiana. Texcess, by In Excess, is a Triple Crown hopeful. He was entered in Saturday's San Mateo Mile at Bay Meadows.

Memorette, who is by Memo, won her only stakes in the California Breeders Champion Stakes in December. Owned by Betty Currin and trained by her husband, Bill, Memorette was third in the Grade 2 Oak Leaf Stakes in October. She was was expected to run in Saturday's Grade 1 Las Virgenes Stakes at Santa Anita.