Opinion Columns

Hovdey: For Moss, the hits just keep on coming

Barbara D. Livingston
Jerry Moss will try for for his second Kentucky Derby trophy with Gormley, and possibly Royal Mo, who is currently just outside the points cutoff.

In May 1983, the flashy chestnut Fighting Fit gave Jerry Moss his first big hit in the racing business, winning the Mervyn LeRoy Handicap at Hollywood Park. Two months later, “Every Breath You Take” by The Police reached No. 1 on the pop music top 20 for the A&M record company founded by Moss and Herb Alpert and stayed there through the rest of the summer.

Hovdey: Say hey, Bay Area Hall now has Mays and Baze

Question: Which name in the following list does not belong? Willie Mays, Bill Russell, Joe DiMaggio, Russell Baze.

Answer: They all belong, right there in the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame.

Hovdey: Hall's call came too late for Gomez

Rudy Alvarado recalls talking to Garrett Gomez for the last time during the summer of 2016. He said Gomez sounded cautiously upbeat, that he was feeling good and living in Arizona. When Alvarado asked if Gomez was contemplating a return to riding, the former four-time national champion said he was not.

Watchmaker: Let's not forget the Kentucky Oaks

Every year, in the run-up to the first weekend in May, the Kentucky Derby overshadows everything in its orbit including, unfortunately, the Kentucky Oaks. It doesn’t even matter how good (or not good), the Derby promises to be; the Derby dwarfs the Oaks simply because it is the Kentucky freakin’ Derby.

And every year, people, sometimes with justification but always with misplaced hope, lament how the Kentucky Oaks gets short shrift. It’s an endless cycle. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

Hovdey: Tepin's sum greater than her numbers

Michael Burns
Tepin's last victory came last September in the Woodbine Mile.

In a stretch of 13 races beginning with an allowance March 21, 2015, and ending with a flourish last Sept. 17, the Thoroughbred racehorse known as Tepin finished first 11 times and second twice. In one of those seconds, she was beaten a head; in the other, a nose.

Seven of those 13 races were rated Grade 1 or Group 1, four Grade 2, and one Grade 3. Three times in that stretch, Tepin ran against the best males purse money could buy.

Hovdey: Four years on, it's still the Age of Imperative

Coady Photography
Imperative wins the 2014 Charles Town Classic. Now 7, he will make his fourth straight appearance in the race on Saturday.

Even without a calendar, the signs of April are obvious. The Cubbies are losing games again. The calla lilies have been in glorious bloom. And Imperative is heading to West Virginia for the Charles Town Classic.

It is hard to imagine a world without both Imperative and the Classic. The race was inaugurated in the spring of 2009, shortly before he was conceived in Kentucky through the breeding of champion Bernardini to the 15-year-old Call Her, a daughter of Caller I.D.

Hovdey: Casse's Canadian connections put him in good company

Coady Photography
Mark Casse trains Classic Empire, who won the Arkansas Derby (above) and is the likely favorite for the Kentucky Derby.

Mark Casse is not Canadian. It only looks that way.

It looks that way because he is a member of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame, having been inducted in 2016. He has been Woodbine’s leading trainer 11 times, trained four horses to be Canadian Horse of the Year, and just last week received his ninth consecutive Sovereign Award as Canada’s outstanding trainer.

Watchmaker: Never underestimate a champion

Coady Photography
Classic Empire rebounded from a poor performance in the Holy Bull with a victory Saturday in the Arkansas Derby.

In a Kentucky Derby prep-race season that has taken some weird and uninspiring turns even by Kentucky Derby prep-season standards – which says a lot – Saturday’s Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn was an entirely fitting coda.

At the top, it was good for the Derby and good for the game that Classic Empire won the Arkansas Derby. Classic Empire was last year’s unanimous 2-year-old male champion, and a 3-year-old with credentials like that should absolutely be in the Kentucky Derby field, as long as he is ambulatory.

Hovdey: Ambush of talent awaits Baltas in Wiley

Benoit & Associates
Goodyearforroses takes on a world-class field, which includes Grade 1 winners Lady Eli, Catch a Glimpse, and Time and Motion, in the Jenny Wiley.

The best Thoroughbred race in the nation on Saturday is named for an 18th century kidnapping victim who staged a brave escape in the face of harsh elements and savage captors. At least, that’s how the legend goes.

In such cases, this reporter tends to lean on the advice handed down from “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,” to wit, “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”

Hovdey: For Blanc, No. 1,000 was glaze on the crème brulée

Benoit & Associates
Brice Blanc boots home his 1,000th winner aboard Union Strike in the Santa Paula Stakes at Santa Anita.

There have been 136 professional golfers good enough and lucky enough to have won a single major tournament, which hardly sounds like an exclusive club.

There also have been scores upon scores of professional jockeys to reach the milestone of 1,000 winners, which might not seem like a lot in the broader scheme of things.

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