09/25/2013 4:49PM

Northern California notes: Nations moves horses to Parx


Trainer Keith Nations enjoyed decent success in Northern California, particularly in 2012 when he got his first stakes victory with Bailouttheminister in the Sam Whiting at Pleasanton and then won the Joseph Grace at Santa Rosa and the Bull Dog at Fresno with Control Seeker. But he has left Northern California and is now stabling horses at Parx Racing in Bensalem, Pa., near Philadelphia.

Being on the virtual racing island that is Northern California, Nations has won at a respectable 19 percent over his career, but he said that opportunities for his horses were becoming fewer.

“Racing’s better on the East Coast,” Nations said. “It’s hard out here. There’s not a lot of guys making money. I don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel to make me optimistic that will change.”

He had trouble finding races for his primary clients, Ed and Theresa DeNike, who had expressed an interest in racing in Southern California. Nations shipped the DeNike horses to Paddy Gallagher in Southern California, and some that might find the going too tough there could end up back with him in Pennsylvania. One of his other top clients, Hank Nothhaft, stands several stallions in Pennsylvania, including Breeders’ Cup Sprint champion Silver Train.

“That’s the big part about going back there,” Nations said. “There’s a number of tracks that you can van to. Originally, I was going to wait until next spring, but why sit here and tread water? I’ll get back there and get situated. It’s good timing right now.”

Nothhaft will have a solid crop of 2-year-olds next spring, Nations said.

“He influenced me to go back there,” Nations said. “Purses are better back there, and Pennsylvania-breds get an extra 40 percent.”

Nations said he will start his Pennsylvania operation with five horses.

“But I do have owners who will be buying horses privately to send there to beef up the barn,” he said. “I have several other potential owners back there.”

Though he’s a West Coast guy who started in Washington before coming to Northern California, Nations is excited about moving to the East Coast. He talks about seeing major races and racetracks such as Belmont, Saratoga and Pimlico, and hopes to develop horses that can race at those venues.

“We’ve got a daughter in Baltimore,” he said, while indicating his wife is retiring from her position at the University of Washington and will move east with him.

Nations said he will return to Northern California, but not necessarily for the horse racing.

“We love the wine country around Napa and have made lots of friends here. We’re already talking about yearly vacations here.”

Rain wreaks havoc at Stockton

Rain hit Northern California on Saturday, and the San Joaquin Fair in Stockton was forced to cancel racing after the fourth race with only one Thoroughbred race having been run.

Some jockeys were concerned about safety, but the primary concern was that the track ambulance did not have four-wheel drive and got stuck on the track after the fourth race.

Larry Swartzlander, the chief operating officer of the California Authority of Racing Fairs, coordinated the decision-making process with the stewards, jockeys and horsemen before coming to the decision to cancel.

He then went to work to get the track ready for Sunday’s races with the help of the maintenance crew and CARF equipment.

“You’ve got to have the equipment and the know-how,” Swartzlander said. “You’ve got to be professional, and when we walked the track the next day, the jockeys were pleased with the condition.”

Swartzlander said CARF has funds to cover losses of purses and would be giving trainers who were not able to run Saturday $300 each. He also said that racing secretary Tom Doutrich was writing some of the lost races back into the condition book.

Stockton closes after Sunday’s card, and is likely to get a boost in offtrack wagering this weekend from the opening of the Santa Anita fall meet.

Familiar names on top at Golden Gate

Russell Baze finished strong with eight victories in the final three days of the recently concluded Golden Gate Fields summer meet to earn his 46th riding championship at the track. Baze beat runner-up Juan Hernandez by four wins, 26-22. The Golden Gate meet ended on Sept. 15.

Jerry Hollendorfer earned his 44th Golden Gate training title with 12 winners. Billy Morey and Steve Sherman tied for second with nine victories.

◗ Reservations and registration for the Northern California annual meeting of the Thoroughbred Owners of California are being taken at (626) 574-6620. The meeting will be held Saturday, Oct. 19, at 10 a.m. in the Bayview Lounge at Golden Gate Fields.