One of the fun things about hanging at the race track is seeing a familiar face make a return after a prolonged absence. Last week, many track goers were thrilled to say hello to a very popular and well respected visitor.
Billie Klokstad, who together with her trainer husband Bud, was a staple of thoroughbred racing from Washington to the bay area for well over 50 years, made her return to Golden Gate Fields last Friday, almost one year after the passing of her husband.
Bud passed away March 28th 2012, after a prolonged illness. During the end, Billie was doing most of the training duties that previously Bud had mastered in. Over his 57 years as a trainer, Bud Klokstad was a perennial top trainer at Longacres and Emerald Downs in Washington, where he and Billie resided. The two made many trips to Nor Cal over the years, keeping a barn here as well. However, after Bud’s death, Billie found the need to keep the rest of her life going.
“Bud told me that when he was gone, I should sell off the horses and just enjoy myself, and that’s what I did,” Klokstad said. “I went from having five broodmares to two and just relaxed."
Her main mare was Summer Sails, and she was here to watch the third and final of her babies, Special Summer, run in her debut race.
The first two, Summer Excess and I’m Tops, have done quite well for themselves. Excess won 4 of 6 races in his short career and I’m Tops, who just ran in the Camillo Urso Stakes, has won 3-of-8 career races. Buzz around the track was that Special Summer (above) could be something “special” and she ran like it.
The three-year-old led from start to finish in winning the $32,000 maiden race by 6 ½ lengths. On her first trip back the GGF since her husband’s death, Billie was back in the winners circle with the same smile she always possessed.
“That was a thrill,” she said after the race. “I’m glad I came down. Tim (trainer Tim McCanna) said she had been working well and should run good. And she sure did.”
Trainer Martin Leads the Nation
Trainer John F. Martin has had a meet to remember so far. Martin has started 61 horses in the meet that is just over two months old, and has had 27 winners. His win percentage of 44% is tops in the nation of any trainer that has over 15 starts.
In most places, Martin would be running away with the trainers title with numbers like that, but at Golden Gate it’s only good enough for second place. That’s because of a guy named Jerry Hollendorfer. The Dorf is 3rd in the nation in wins (54) behind Steve Asmussen (74) and Jamie Ness (59). In fact, Hollendorfer is also having the best meet of his career at Santa Anita with 24 wins, two behind leader Bob Baffert.
Russell Baze, the 54-year-old win machine that recently rode in his 50,000 race, has amassed 67 wins so far in 2013 and his second in the nation. He trails only Rosie Napravnik, who leads with 72 victories.Dennis Carr (right), who is second to Baze in the standings, is on pace to possibly have one of the the best years of his 27-year career. Through 40 racing days, Carr has 50 wins. His career high in wins came in 1998 when he had 228. He may not get that total this year but his 50 wins in 2013 so far have him half way to his highest of the past four years when he had 94 wins last year.