Mandella moves Eastwood up to a Grade II in Kona Gold
May 18, 2017 12:18pm

Eastwood, a solid second in his debut race for Richard Mandella, the Grade III Los Angeles Stakes on April 15, moves up to a Grade II in Saturday’s Kona Gold Stakes, named for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint champion of 2000 trained by Bruce Headley.

A son of 2004 Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Speightstown, Eastwood was trained by Todd Pletcher before Mandella received him several months ago. The Los Angeles Stakes marked his first race since last June 5, a span of more than eight months.

“He ran well in his first start for me and he’s been doing well since,” Mandella said. “We’re hoping for as good an effort or better than he ran before.”

Owned by Town and Country Racing, LLC, Eastwood is a seven-year old full horse bred in Kentucky. He has a 4-2-2 record from 10 starts, with earnings of $263,200. He was fourth in his lone stakes try before the Los Angeles Stakes, that being the Grade II True North at BelmontPark in June of 2015.

Eastwood blew out three furlongs Thursday in 38.80.

The field for the Kona Gold, race nine of 11 with a first post time of 12 noon: Moe Candy, Santiago Gonzalez, 5-1; Calculator, Norberto Arroyo Jr., 7-2; Kobe’s Back, Gary Stevens, 9-2; Kentuckian, Tyler Baze, 12-1; Touched by Autism, Tiago Pereira, 30-1; Ransom the Moon, Flavien Prat, 4-1; Lord Simba, Martin Garcia, 5-2; Eastwood, Joe Talamo, 6-1; and Dr. Dorr, Rafael Bejarano, 15-1.


What a View takes a precipitous drop in class Saturday when he runs in the $100,000 Crystal Water Stakes against California-breds at one mile on turf.

The six-year-old gelded son of Vronsky trained by Kenny Black has raced in graded stakes in eight of his last nine races, five of them Grade I’s, including the Kilroe Mile which he won on March 12 of last year.

He drew the rail Saturday against four rivals including speedy Pee Wee Reese on his outside in the No. three post position. What a View set the pace before finishing sixth by only three lengths in the Grade I Maker’s 46 Mile at Keeneland on April 14.

“I’d rather run him on the grass than have to work him on the dirt,” Black said. “He’s had foot problems his whole life, and this turf course is fabulous. This is the best turf course I’ve ever seen, in my opinion. He has speed, but he doesn’t have to be in front. In fact, I think he’s better sitting second. I just wish I was on the outside (of Pee Wee Reese), but it is what it is.”

The Crystal Water, which goes as the first race: What a View, Tyler Baze, 4-5; Smokey Image, Flavien Prat, 8-1; Pee Wee Reese, Joe Talamo, 8-5; Brandothebartender, Stewart Elliott, 15-1; and Grazen Sky, Edwin Maldonado, 5-1.


Santa Anita will offer a free cooler backpack presented by San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino on Preakness Day Saturday to Thoroughbred members only at Santa Anita while supplies last, one per paid admission.

Fans at Santa Anita can watch and wager on the second leg of the Triple Crown from the Preakness Trackside Event, or camp out in the Infield for the Californian Motorcycle Show. Event admission is $10.

Shuttle service to and from the Metro Gold Line Arcadia Station on Saturday will be from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. to accommodate extended hours for the Preakness.


Quick with a joke and always willing to share an opinion, Bobby Markus, an exercise rider and Jockeys’ Room valet on the Southern California circuit for parts of four decades, passed away Tuesday at his home in Murrieta following a lengthy bout with throat cancer at the age of 77.

Markus, who retired from the Santa Anita Jockeys’ Room 10 years ago, was employed over the years by a number of local riders, including Corey Nakatani, Garrett Gomez, Fernando Toro, Corey Black, Brice Blanc, Emile Ramsammy and Patrick Valenzuela, and was also the “go-to” valet for international stars such as France’s Yves Saint-Martin, Italy’s Frankie Dettori and Japan’s Yutaka Take.

A native of Australia, Markus was a jockey in his homeland and rode briefly in America prior to becoming a full time exercise rider in New York for Woody Stephens in the early 1970s.

“Bobby worked for Woody for about nine or 10 years and he was always the first guy to the barn in the morning,” said good friend and trainer, Ray Bell, from his Santa Anita stable office Thursday morning. “He told me that one day, after he was there about four years, he was in Woody’s office and was making coffee for the crew when an old man showed up. He looked disheveled and had about four-day’s growth on his face.

“Bobby asked him if he’d like a cup of coffee and he said he would. Later that morning, Bobby asked Stephens, ‘Who’s that?’ Woody told him, “Son, that’s J. Paul Getty, the richest man in the world!”

Corey Nakatani, whom Markus assisted in getting started first as an exercise boy and then as a jockey at Santa Anita during the winter of 1989-90, remembered Markus as more than his first valet, but a close friend and confidant.

“When I first met Bobby, I was 16 and he was working for (Willard) Proctor,” said Nakatani, 46. “He loved this game. He loved the horses, the people and even though he retired quite a while ago, he never left the game. He always had a smile on his face and I don’t think he ever had a bad day, even when he was so sick with the cancer.

“He meant so much to me and a lot of other riders. He was always a part of my family and we’d have him over at Thanksgiving and Christmas. He beat the cancer 10 years ago, but it came back on him.I just wish he was still with us, but at least he’s not suffering anymore; hopefully, he’s in a better place.”

Santa Anita will honor the memory of Bobby Markus by naming a race in his honor this Sunday, May 21.


Barry Abrams, former trainer of the remarkable stallion Unusual Heat, understandably had nothing but fond memories of the six-time leading stallion in California who was euthanized Wednesday at the age of 27 due to complications of arthritis-induced laminitis.

Pensioned from stallion duty last October where he stood at Harris Farms in Coalinga, Unusual Heat was active as a stallion in 2016 and had approximately 25 mares in foal last year. He was California’s top stallion by progeny earnings every year from 2008 to 2013.

“There are a lot of things you could say about him,” said Abrams of the son of Nureyev.

“He was one of a kind. Nobody knew he was going to be a stallion like that. Now that he’s gone, we’re going to miss him, but all his offspring will keep reproducing and breeding, and the name of Unusual Heat, especially in California, will remain alive for a long, long time.”

Fittingly, the winner of Thursday’s first race, Starlite Style, trained by Hector Palma for owner Robert Riggio, was sired by Unusual Heat.

FINISH LINES: J.R. Pegram, agent for Hall of Fame rider Kent Desormeaux, as of Wednesday also represents recent George Woolf winner Stewart Elliott . . . Under Flavien Prat, who rode the colt to a third-place finish at 40-1 in the Kentucky Derby, Battle of Midway worked four furlongs Thursday in 49.40 for the Grade III Affirmed Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on June 24, a race trainer Jerry Hollendorfer hopes could lead to the $1 million Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park on July 30, if all goes well . . . Champion Stellar Wind, prepping for the Grade I, $400,000 Beholder Mile on June 3, is scheduled to work Friday morning at 6:30 for John Sadler . . . Keeping his options open, trainer Ian Kruljac says champion female sprinter of 2016 Finest City, second in the Grade I Humana Distaff at seven furlongs May 6 at Churchill Downs, could run in either the Beholder, the Ogden Phipps at Belmont, or neither . . . The races for leading rider and trainer at the Spring portion of the current meet were in a flat-footed tie through 18 racing days. Rafael Bejarano and Prat shared the lead with 16 wins, one more than Joe Talamo, while Richard Baltas and Peter Miller were knotted among trainers with 14 victories each, two more than Phil D’Amato . . . Daily Racing Form Tournament Editor Peter Fornatale and Steve Pollack, correspondent for the Racing Jason Radio Show, will be Tom Quigley’s guests, Saturday and Sunday, 10:50 a.m. and 11:50 a.m., respectively, in the East Paddock Gardens . . . Santa Anita’s jockeys are featured in the newest edition of Los Angeles Magazine, due to hit newsstands next week . . . The six horses in Sunday’s first race at 1 1/8 miles on turf finished in exacta order of their post position and saddle cloth numbers: (one) Kenjisstorm, (two) Royal Albert Hall, (three) Curlin Road, (four) Editore, (five) Excessive Kid and (six) Belisarius.

Source: Santa Anita Park


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