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Spooky Mulder's vacation plans put on hold
OZONE PARK, N.Y. - After running Spooky Mulder four times in 44 days, trainer Scott Lake was planning to give his gelding some time off. Last Sunday, Lake received a call from the Aqueduct racing office, seeking help to fill a classified allowance race on Wednesday.
Now, Spooky Mulder's vacation will have to wait.
Wednesday, Spooky Mulder rolled to a 3 1/2-length victory in that allowance race under Julian Pimentel, and the effort earned him a spot in the $75,000 Paumonok Handicap on Jan. 24.
"That's where we're going,'' Lake said Thursday. "He's unbelievable, this horse. He came into the paddock and the groom was like, 'I can't hold him.' That's how tough he was. He's like an iron horse. He came out of it like he didn't even run.''
Spooky Mulder ran six furlongs in 1:11.60 and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 98.
Lake claimed Spooky Mulder for $25,000 at Keeneland on Oct. 10. Lake had first taken notice of Spooky Mulder in July when he saw him at Canterbury during the Claiming Crown.
"He was kind of skinny when I saw him but then I saw him at Keeneland and he looked like a different horse, so I had a guy claim him for me,'' Lake said.
In his second start for Lake, Spooky Mulder won a $30,000 claiming race by 13 3/4 lengths at Aqueduct and earned a gaudy Beyer Speed Figure of 116. Lake ran him twice at Philadelphia Park, where he lost a classified allowance by a neck and won a starter handicap by three-quarters of a length in a span of 11 days.
"His two races at Philadelphia were just mediocre races,'' Lake said. "[Wednesday], I was blown away. He was just dragging Pimentel to [Kazoo]. I said, 'Don't let that horse out of your sight because he was the only other speed.' Pimentel said he wanted to run off with him, but he did everything right and came from off the pace.''
Last March, Lake claimed Shake You Down, who turned into a multiple graded stakes winner. Could Spooky Mulder be this year's Shake You Down? "I'm hoping,'' Lake said.
Kazamias tries it on his own
Owner Peter Kazamias is now owner-trainer Peter Kazamias. Kazamias has taken out his trainer's license and has taken about a dozen horses from a trio of trainers to see if he can make it on his own.
Kazamias had seven horses with Peter Bazeos and two each with Dimitrios Synnefias and Peter Chin. Kazamias claimed Valid Acquisition for $25,000 on Wednesday. Kazamias has hired former trainer/jockey agent Anthony Stabile to be his assistant/stable manager.
"I felt we weren't moving along like we should with Bazeos,'' Kazamias said. "Nothing against him, I just felt I could do better. I've been in business since I was 16 and I feel I can run a better business.''
Kazamias, a native of Cypress, said he grew up around horses because his father owned a farm and raised horses. Kazamias recently purchased Treasure Hill Farm, a 205-acre farm in Goshen, N.Y., and plans to get into breeding as well.
As an owner, Kazamias had a 2-3-2 record from 23 starters in New York with earnings of more than $73,000. Kazamias is giving the majority of his horses - including winning claimers Shout and Ann Dear - a brief freshening and probably won't run his first horse until the end of the month.
Kazamias is high on a couple of unstarted horses. Fericini is a 3-year-old filly by Roar and is a full sister to the Grade 1-placed Enjoy. War Decree is an unstarted 3-year-old New York-bred who "shows all the signs of a good horse,'' Stabile said.
Tale of Woe works toward Capossela
Tale of Woe, whose strong rally fell a neck short when second in the Maria's Mon Stakes last month, worked four furlongs in 49.16 seconds Thursday morning. He is being pointed to the $75,000 Fred "Cappy'' Capossela Stakes on Jan. 19.
Tale of Woe, a son of Tale of the Cat, has gotten off slowly in each of his first two starts. On Dec. 10, he got up for 1 1/4-length win. Sixteen days later, Tale of Woe rallied from out of the clouds to be second to Scary Bob.
"We thought the second time he'd be much sharper early,'' trainer Carlos Martin said. "He left there and dropped back and started picking up the bit at the quarter pole. He's definitely a horse on the improve. With any luck at all, we can turn the tables on Scary Bob.''
Popular pony rider dies
Hannah Blumenthal, a popular pony rider on the New York Racing Association circuit, died Wednesday afternoon as a result of head injuries suffered during a training accident on the Belmont Park pony track on Dec. 26. Blumenthal was 52.
Blumenthal suffered severe head injuries as well as broken ribs and a broken sternum after her pony ran off when a horse she was ponying for trainer Colum O'Brien got loose. Blumenthal's pony began galloping after the horse at full speed and the pony unseated Blumenthal, whose head struck the rail.
Blumenthal underwent surgery at Winthrop Hospital, but she never regained consciousness.
NYRA drops pre-pay policy
In response to negative fan reaction, the New York Racing Association will not require patrons to prepay for their admission along with their reserved seat for the Saratoga meet.
However, the increase in prices for reserved seats remains in place. Grandstand reserved seats have gone up by $1 to $7 while clubhouse seats are available from $9-$12, an increase of $1 to $4. Earlier this month, NYRA had announced a policy where admission to the track would be incorporated into the price of the ticket. Many fans who purchase season tickets but do not attend all racing days reacted angrily to the change, prompting Thursday's announcement by NYRA.
"We've listened to our fans," said Cathy Marino, senior vice president of customer services for NYRA. "They did not the like the policy of prepaying for admission along with the seat and we have responded to their input. As in past years, patrons will pay their admission when they arrive at the track.''
To participate in the initial Saratoga reserved seat lottery, seat applications must be postmarked no later than Feb. 15.