has been training almost as long as Santa Anita’s been open—65 years, not including a run with Quarter Horses and a tour in Korea when he was drafted back in 1950.
Now 84—Santa Anita is marking its 77th year of operation—Moreno, down to five horses, admits he has been “kind of coasting for a while,” but will “try to make a comeback.”
A good time to start would be Saturday, when the white-thatched conditioner sends out longshot Spud Spivens
in the Grade II San Pasqual Stakes, a forerunner to the Grade I, $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap on March 8.
A 6-year-old California-bred gelding owned by Vincent and Audrey Marchionno and Moreno, Spud Spivens has never won a stakes, but has reaped minor awards in eight of them, including the Grade I Hollywood Gold Cup in his last start, in July of last year.
“He’s training awfully well in the morning, but he might need a race,” Moreno allowed. “I think he’ll make a good showing. I’m not saying he’ll win, but he’ll run pretty good.” The son of Tizbud’s best efforts have been from off the pace. He will be ridden Saturday for the first time by Corey Nakatani, who has never won the San Pasqual, which will have its 77th running.
“I’ve had a little bad luck with riders trying to send this horse to the front,” said Moreno, who counts himself among the oldest active trainers in California. “This horse runs better coming from behind.”
The San Pasqual: Blingo, Victor Espinoza, 7-2; Blueskiesnrainbows, Martin Pedroza, 2-1; Majestic City, Edwin Maldonado, 5-1; Spud Spivens, Corey Nakatani, 12-1; Majestic Harbor, Tyler Baze, 6-1; Rousing Sermon, Rafael Bejarano, 5-2; and Drill, Mike Smith, 6-1.