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Rider fractures hip, rib in chaotic morning scene
DEL MAR, Calif. - Like the steady lapping of waves only furlongs away, relative calmness returned to Del Mar on Tuesday morning, one day after trainers expressed concern that the track's new Polytrack surface was much harder on Monday than it had been on previous days. But a decision to have a mid-morning renovation break, and a delay in reopening the track for training, resulted in a dangerous situation in the six-furlong chute that played a role in an accident that injured former jockey Alan Patterson, who is now an exercise rider.
Patterson was part of a large gathering of horses and riders who accumulated in the chute waiting for the track to reopen after the surface was groomed shortly before 8 a.m. But several maintenance workers on golf carts who were attempting to remove manure from the surface took longer than expected, and as more horses came to the chute in anticipation of the track opening, the chute became crowded.
Riders, sensing the anxiety of their horses, began to shout and whistle for the maintenance workers to leave the remaining manure and move along. Patterson's horse was one of several who appeared to become anxious in the congested quarters, and eventually reared and fell. The track quickly reopened for training, alleviating the congestion. Patterson, who was lying near the outside fence, was taken away in an ambulance after being attended to by paramedics.
He was taken to Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, where X-rays revealed a fractured hip and a fractured rib, according to a hospital spokeswoman, Lisa Ohmstede. Patterson was released from the hospital Tuesday afternoon, Ohmstede said.
The decision to have a renovation break had been requested by Martin Collins, the company that manufactures Polytrack. But trainers were hopeful that the break would be eliminated.
"I love the track," trainer Mike Mitchell said Tuesday morning, after Patterson's accident. "I just wish they would let us train on it all morning. We're done by 10, and then they've got more than three hours to get the track ready for the races." Del Mar's first post is at 2 p.m.
At Keeneland, another track that has Polytrack, there is no renovation break during the morning, which results in an even flow of horses to the track during the morning.
Part of Tuesday's problem was that trainers, accustomed to the deterioration of Del Mar's old surface in the minutes following a renovation break, used to prefer to have their horses on the track as soon as it reopened. In theory, that should not be necessary with Polytrack.
"There's no reason for people to rush out there," trainer Vladimir Cerin said as the renovation break ended. "The track will be as good an hour from now."
The surface on Tuesday, trainers agreed, was much kinder than it had been Monday.
"It's perfect today," Mitchell said. "I really love this track. Horses just glide over it."
"You can't hear them going over it," said trainer Ron McAnally. "It's slower, but safer, which is the most important thing."
Talamo seeking apprenticeship extension
Joe Talamo, the nation's leading apprentice jockey, is petitioning to have his apprenticeship extended. It is scheduled to expire on Saturday, but Talamo and his agent, Ronnie Ebanks, are requesting an additional 18 days from the Louisiana Racing Commission.
"He stopped riding last fall to catch up on his home-schooling," Ebanks said Tuesday morning. "Louisiana law says an apprentice rider can have an extension if he misses more than 14 days for school. He missed 18 days.
"The racing commission sent the request to the stewards at Louisiana Downs, but they turned us down on Monday. We are going to petition the commission to overrule the stewards. We've got the documentation to show the schooling and the tests he took. He just needed to stop and get caught up on his schooling."
Talamo, 17, began his career in Louisiana before coming to California this spring. At Hollywood Park, he finished second to Michael Baze.
Small field seen for Eddie Read
As few as four runners are expected to run in the meet's first Grade 1 race, the $400,000 Eddie Read Handicap for older turf horses on Sunday. After Market, who won the Whittingham Handicap at Hollywood Park in his last start, was assigned top weight of 120 pounds and is scheduled to run with jockey Alex Solis aboard.
His rivals in the 1 1/8-mile race are expected to include Fast and Furious (Victor Espinoza the rider), Out of Control (Baze), and Rob Roy (David Flores), who will get three pounds from After Market.
Both Sweet Return and Zann, who were among the 10 nominees to the Eddie Read, are expected to await the $85,000 Wickerr Handicap at one mile on turf on July 27.
Romance Is Diane set to return
Sunday's supporting feature, the $100,000 Fleet Treat Stakes at seven furlongs for California-bred 3-year-old fillies, will have a larger field, headed by Romance Is Diane, last year's Hollywood Starlet winner.
Romance Is Diane has not raced since finishing eighth in the Melair Stakes at Hollywood Park on April 29.
"She needed time off," said Mitchell, her trainer. "I turned her out for 30 or 45 days. She's come back really good. She's a better filly than her last three races."
Romance Is Diane tuned up for the Fleet Treat by working five furlongs in 1:01.40 on Tuesday morning.
In addition to Romance Is Diane (Baze), others expected for the Fleet Treat are Cathrine's Hope (Jon Court), Double Major (Flores), Itsallgreektou (Richard Migliore), Spenditallbaby (Talamo), Sure Speed (Corey Nakatani), and Swiss Diva (Solis).
Cathrine's Hope worked a half-mile in 51.60 seconds on Tuesday for trainer Lewis Cenicola. Double Major worked five furlongs in 1:01.80 for trainer Cliff Sise.
Arson Squad (Solis) and Buzzards Bay (Jose Valdivia Jr.) were assigned co-high weight of 120 pounds for Saturday's main event, the Grade 2, $300,000 San Diego Handicap for older horses at 1 1/16 miles on the main track, and both are scheduled to run.
Others expected for the San Diego are Awesome Gem (Flores), C'Mon Tiger (Espinoza), Sun Boat (Baze), and possibly Salty Humor (Court).
The $85,000 Osunitas Handicap at 1 1/16 miles for older female turf runners Saturday is expected to include Arm Candy (Espinoza), Grecian (Migliore), Kris' Sis (Baze), Musical High (Solis), Private Banking (Aaron Gryder), and possibly Sweet Belle.
* The Tin Man worked five furlongs in 1:01.80 for trainer Richard Mandella. He is scheduled to make his next start in the Arlington Million, which he won last year.
* Valdivia will be absent from Del Mar on Sunday in order to ride Arravale in the Gradeo2, $300,000 Dance Smartly Stakes at Woodbine.