Updated on 09/17/2011 11:11AM

Silks that Seabiscuit made famous reappear


SAN MATEO, Calif. - Seabiscuit mania has been a recurring theme throughout the northern California fair season this year, as each stop on the circuit has done a promotion based on the recently released film and its namesake.

Last Sunday, fans at Bay Meadows had a chance to see Charles S. Howard's famed Triangle-H silks return to the racetrack with the debut of 2-year-old colt Chief Truckee.

Chief Truckee, owned in part by Kittridge Collins, the great-grandson of Howard, the owner of Seabiscuit, ran second to Dianas Welcome in a $32,000 claimer at five furlongs. The effort pleased trainer Doug Utley and jockey Joe Castro, who said, "I'm disappointed he didn't win, but he would have made Seabiscuit proud. He tried hard."

Collins and longtime friend Dane Skutt bred Chief Truckee. They own the colt with another long-time friend, John Corda.

Collins was nervous before the race.

"I hope the Seabiscuit hoopla doesn't get people looking too closely at the colt and claiming him," he said. "I'm a little concerned about this publicity."

Collins, 55, is the son of Howard's granddaughter MyMy Howard, a longtime breeder.

"She had a limited budget, but she knew bloodlines as well as anybody," Collins said. "She raced in the Triangle H silks and later allowed her trainer, Jack Utley, to run under the Triangle-H as well."

Collins was involved in racing with his late mother and had a 50-percent interest in her foals when she died in 1957, but Chief Truckee is the first horse he has run in the Triangle-H silks since 1993 when Makaleha, the sire of Chief Truckee, retired.

Jack Utley, who died last year, gave Makaleha to Doug Utley - no relation despite the same surname - after the horse retired. A winner of six stakes and $234,135, Makaleha still stands at Doug Utley's ranch.

"We own the mare," Collins said. "Jack Utley pawned her off on us. She was a mean mare. She was so difficult with her first foal they had to keep them apart."

Chief Truckee has an older 5-year-old full brother that Utley said is being turned into a show horse. Collins also has yearling and weanling full brothers to Chief Truckee.

"I will not say I had the same passion about racing that mother did," Collins said. "But I grew up around the racetrack, and it's in my blood."

Collins says the interest in Seabiscuit and his great-grandfather, who also raced Noor, is "absolutely amazing."

"All of us in the family are honored my great-grandfather is being remembered," he said. "I was intimately involved in the story growing up. I spent a lot of time with Marcela [Howard's second wife] as a child, and sometimes she'd talk about Seabiscuit. I do think the movie captured Marcela beautifully."

Santa Rosa handle rises slightly

As it has at all of the fair meets this year, account wagering led to an increase in handle at the Sonoma County Fair at Santa Rosa.

Attendance at Santa Rosa was flat. Ontrack handle was $5,970,978, which was down 1 percent. Handle at the northern California hub, which includes satellite facilities, was $26,184,503, down 3 percent. Northern California and out-of-state wagering was down 4 percent at $35,304,489.

Adding $2,501,677 in account wagering bets gave Santa Rosa a 3 percent increase over last year.

Black Ruby ends losing streak

It's been a tough year for Black Ruby, the reigning queen of the fairs. The world champion mule had lost four straight races to precocious 4-year-olds Sarah Nelson and Smoking Joe.

But Black Ruby got her nose to the line just ahead of Smoking Joe in a thrilling 660-yard allowance race at Ferndale last Saturday in a prep for Sunday's Cream City Mule Handicap, also at 660 yards. The races are the only ones on the circuit where mules go around a turn.

Smoking Joe, who had a tendency to veer out in winning races at Vallejo and Santa Rosa, handled the turn all right and built up a big lead but couldn't hold off the resolute Black Ruby.

Last Thursday, Ruby's longtime rival Taz won a 220-yard allowance race when he nailed Utah at the wire. Taz's twin sister, Evelyn Nelson, was third.

Boeagle, the king of the Arabian circuit, who, like Black Ruby, had fallen on hard times of late, also rebounded after three straight losses to capture the seven-furlong Ferndale Arabian Stakes by a length over Wiktor LS on Saturday.

Nominations plentiful

While stakes have had trouble filling of late on the fair circuit, there are plenty of nominations for the closing weekend's Don Harmon Memorial Les Mademoiselle Stakes and the C.J. Hindley Humboldt County Marathon at Ferndale.

Saturday's 1 1/16-mile Les Mademoiselle for fillies and mares drew 10 nominations, including Triviality, an eight-length winner in last Saturday's Charlie Palmer Handicap.

Sunday's closing-day feature, the 1 5/8-mile Marathon, where horses cross the finish line four times, drew 18 nominations, including last year's winner, Roger Roger.