What could have turned into a disaster proved to be a fortunate near-miss prior to the start of Friday’s sixth race at Betfair Hollywood Park.
Just before the start of the mile and one-sixteenth turf race, Ashley’s Bambino lunged and broke through the gate, tossing jockey Alex Bisono and dragging Kyle Lopez, a member of the gate crew, several feet through the air.
Bisono escaped injury, but Lopez was lying on the grass in front of the gate in apparent pain. According to Kyle’s sister, Angel Lopez, a placing judge at Betfair Hollywood Park, her brother suffered minor bruises and was a little sore. Precautionary X-rays were negative and Kyle was back at work Saturday afternoon, much to the relief of his father, John and brother, John E., who also work on the gate crew.
For his part, Ashley’s Bambino took off and kept running, and running, and running. After three complete laps on the turf course, the 5-year-old took a left-hand turn and sped into the infield. He then darted around the rim of the north lake and started zig-zagging while running along the inside of the turf rail.
He finally came to a stop after exhaustion set in and meekly walked up to the outrider.
“People don’t realize how dangerous that situation is,” said Ashley Bambino’s trainer, Pete Eurton. “It was a good day, in my mind, because nobody was seriously injured. The horse came away with only minor scratches, but he must have lost 40 to 50 pounds and was dehydrated.”
Eurton indicated he’ll alter the Unusual Heat gelding’s immediate training schedule. “I probably won’t put a saddle on him for a couple of weeks, said Eurton. “He won’t work again for about six weeks.”
BAFFERT PAIR HEAD SATURDAY’S SHARP CAT STAKES
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert will be represented by a pair of 2-year-old fillies Saturday at Betfair Hollywood Park in the $100,000 Sharp Cat Stakes at 1 1-16 miles on Cushion Track.
Both Peachtree Stable’s Georgia and Patti and Hal Earnhardt’s Be Proud are coming off easy maiden victories going a mile at Santa Anita. Rafael Bejarano has the assignment on Georgia, a daughter of Tiz Wonderful, while regular rider Martin Garcia will ride Be Proud.
Also confirmed for the Sharp Cat is Halo Farms, et al’s Pleasant Miss (Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, jockey Edwin Maldonado), second in the Cinderella Stakes on this track in June.
Possibilities are DeDomenico, et al’s Rever de Vous (Hollendorfer, no rider), a debut winner Nov. 2 at Golden Gate Fields, and Arfansa and Artethusa, a pair of maidens trained by Eoin Harty.
Older fillies and mares take the spotlight Sunday in the $100,000-guaranteed Cat’s Cradle Handicap at 7 1-2 furlongs.
Expected starters include Tommy Town Thoroughbreds’ Curvy Cat (Hollendorfer, Bejarano), winner of the B. Thoughtful Stakes April 27, Curt and Lila Lanning’s Qiaona (Ed Moger, Corey Nakatani), victorious in the California Distaff Handicap Oct. 12 at Santa Anita, and Mr. and Mrs. Larry Williams’ Marks Mine (Steve Specht, no rider), who enters the Cat’s Cradle having won three in a row in Northern California.
Peter Miller, who took over the training of Grade II Beaumont Stakes winner Ciao Bella Luna a week ago, indicated the Tribal Rule filly would likely start, pending the results of a final workout. Now owned by Rockingham Ranch, Ciao Bella Luna was runner-up in the Railbird Stakes May 19 at Betfair Hollywood Park in May.
Benjamin Warren’s Warren’s Veneda (Craig Lewis, Joe Talamo), seven-length winner of an optional claimer October 13, rounds out the list of probable entrants.
EBLOUISSANTE BACK AT BETFAIR HOLLYWOOD PARK
Eblouissante, half-sister to 2010 Horse of the Year Zenyatta, returned to Betfair Hollywood Park this week after being purchased for $2.1 million Tuesday.
The daughter of Bernardini and Vertigineux was placed in the Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale following the death of owner-breeder Eric Kronfield in May. The 4-year-old was acquired by St. George Farms Stable and will remain with trainer John Shirreffs.
Eblouissante broke her maiden first time out by four lengths at Betfair Hollywood Park nearly a year ago. She came back with an allowance victory at Santa Anita two months later. Shipped to Saratoga for the Grade III Shuvee Handicap July 20, The 4-year-old was unruly at the gate, broke awkwardly and finished last.
She was in light training in New York before shipping west.
PEREZ FOLLOWING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF GUTIERREZ
Using the template of Kentucky Derby and Preakness winning jockey Mario Gutierrez, Fernando Perez is hoping to make a fast impression in the Betfair Hollywood Park rider colony.
Like Gutierrez, Perez is Mexican-born and began his career in Canada. Both were leading rider at Hastings Park. Perez, 27, had his best year in 2009, when he topped the Hastings standings with 107 victories.
Perez started with a bang, guiding Full Consent to a front-running victory in the first race of the Autumn meet and his first-ever ride at Betfair Hollywood Park.
Three races later, Perez’ mount, Too Obvious, was nipped on the wire by the favorite, Eddie’s Curl. Eddie Curl’s rider? You guessed it—Mario Gutierrez.
Perez tacks 113 pounds and is represented by veteran jockey agent Jim Pegram.
VETERANS AND ACTIVE MILITARYGET FREE ADMISSION MONDAY
A reminder that Betfair Hollywood Park will be conducting a special Monday racing card Nov. 11 in honor of Veterans Day.
Post time is 12:30 p.m. Veterans and active duty military personnel will be given free grandstand admission with proper identification.
The track will be dark Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, with racing set to resume Friday, Nov. 15. Betfair Hollywood Park will be open for simulcast wagering all three days.
CLOSING STRIDES —Hall of Famer Gary Stevens, arguably the comeback jockey of the century, celebrated his victories astride Beholder in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff and Mucho Macho Man in the Classic by taking his family to Maui. According to agent Craig O’Bryan, Stevens returns Tuesday and will be back riding next week……Radio and television personality Jim Rome will try to capture lightning in a bottle again with Shared Belief in Sunday’s $100,000, Grade III Hollywood Prevue Stakes. Rome who recently sold two-time Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner Mizdirection for $2.7 million, purchased Shared Relief privately after the 2-year-old won his debut by seven lengths at Golden Gate Fields Oct. 19. Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer is also a partner in Shared Belief’s ownership. Rafael Bejarano took his customary spot atop the jockey standings with five victories over the first three days. Joe Talamo and Agapito Delgadillo both have three wins entering Sunday’s action….The victory by Romantic Wish in Thursday’s fifth race produced one of the largest $2 win payoffs in track history. Ridden by Saul Arias and trained by Shaun Morrow, Romantic Wish returned $203.60. The all-time record is $361.80 by Family Flair June 29, 1989………Betfair Hollywood Park will offer free box seats every Thursday and Friday for the remainder of the meeting, which concludes Dec. 22.
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