BOOGER BACK IN THE SADDLE AGAIN!
It’s time for your weekly roundup of local horses and horsemen in the news:
Emerald Down’s all-time leading jockey resumed his riding career last weekend at Los Alamitos Race Course in Cypress, Calif.
Riding in his first race in over 13 months, 54-year-old Gallyn Mitchell rode Gambler’s Wish to a second-place finish in a $3,500 maiden claiming race for 3-year-olds and up.
Mitchell’s named to ride two more horses Friday and one Saturday at Los Alamitos and has an agent, Mike Christian, arriving next week from Washington.
“I’ve got my weight back down to 115 (lbs.) and feeling really good,” Mitchell said. “I started getting on horses three months ago, and took my time getting ready. I’ll to keep (riding) as long as I’m having fun.”
Mitchell, who lives near Fontana east of Los Angeles, said a return to Emerald Downs is “never out of the question.” For now, though, he gets on several horses each morning for trainers like Art Sherman, Phil D’Amato and Keith Craigmyle, and hopes to pick up some rides on the major circuit at Santa Anita and Del Mar.
Mitchell said he retired last year to spend time with his ailing daughter, Samantha Jo, who died June 25 from heart and kidney failure. The bravery she exhibited during the ordeal was inspiring to Mitchell.
“Sami Jo was amazing, the strength and courage she showed,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell is the only jockey to ride the first 20 seasons at Emerald Downs, piling up 1,419 wins, almost $15 million in earnings and a record 80 stakes wins.
KAABRAAJ KEEPS RIGHT ON WINNING
In perhaps his sharpest race yet, Washington-bred Kaabraaj scored by 6¼ lengths in the $30,000 Luke Kruytbosch Stakes for 3-year-olds and up Saturday at Turf Paradise.
Ridden by Eswan Flores, Kaabraaj ($4.20) ran 6 furlongs in 1:08.58 and earned a career-high 96 Beyer—three points higher than his previous best earned in his track record 1:06.86 at Emerald Downs last April.
A 4-year-old gelding by Abraaj-Kaaaching, Kaabraaj is making a bid for WTBOA Top Sprinter of 2016. His record is 3-1-1 in 10 starts with earnings of $79,600 for trainer Jeff Metz and owners Warlock Stables and Horseplayers Racing Club 240. The resume includes two stakes wins, a fourth in a Grade 1, and a track record at 6 furlongs.
B C Z Middleton, also trained by Metz, is another Emerald Downs’ shipper thriving at Turf Paradise. The 3-year-old Nobiz Like Shobiz finished runner-up to Aqueduct shipper Constellation ($2.60) in Saturday’s $30,000 City of Phoenix Stakes for fillies and mares, and is 3-5-2 in 14 starts this year with earnings of $92,760 for owners William Burns and Rebecca Turcott.
Incidentally, Constellation is an $800,000 Bellamy Road filly conditioned by Jerry Hollendorfer for LNJ Foxwoods. She’s a triple stakes winner and finished runner-up in a Grade 2 and third in a Grade 1.
STRYKER PHD GEARING UP FOR BERKELEY
Stryker Phd remains on course for the $100,000 Berkeley Stakes (G3) on Saturday, November 26, at Golden Gate Fields. The 7-year-old gelding turned in a bullet 6 furlongs in 1:13 last Sunday for trainer Larry Ross, fastest of 18 works at the distance.
Nominations for the Berkeley, to be run at 1 1/16 miles on Tapeta, close Thursday evening. Stryker Phd, 10-5-6 in 26 starts, ranks seventh in all-time earnings for Washington-breds with $559,148, and a Berkeley victory would leapfrog is over Wasserman, Atta Boy Roy and Rings a Chime into fourth place.
MISCELLANEOUS . . .
2015 WTBOA Sales graduate California Diamond is 8-5 second choice in Saturday’s $100,000 Bob Hope (G3) for 2-year-olds Saturday at Del Mar. A California-bred by Harbor the Gold–Carrie’s a Jewel, California Diamond already has four stakes wins and over $370,000 in earnings this year. The Bob Hope figures to be a showdown between California Diamond and the Bob Baffert-trained Mastery, a $425,000 son of Candy Ride coming off a 93 Beyer in his debut last month. . .Trainer Jeff Metz is currently in the top 10 at two tracks; tied for second at Turf Paradise with a 4-for-7 mark and tied for eighth at Portland Meadows with a 5-for-30 record. After just missing a fourth consecutive training title at Emerald Downs in 2016, Metz said he’s “looking forward” to making another title run here in 2017. . .Keller’s Gold is dominating the 2-year-old colts and geldings division at Portland Meadows. The Liberty Gold gelding cruised to a 6-length win in Sunday’s $10,000 Detroit Lake Handicap, running six furlongs in 1:11.80 and earning a career-best 60 Beyer, and is 4-2-0 in seven starts with over $42,000 in earnings for Keith Swagerty. . .Also at Portland Meadows, Its Allabout Jerry ($9) rallied from seventh for a 1 ¾-length triumph in the $10,000 Crater Lake Handicap for 3-year-olds and up, running one mile in 1:38.77. It was the first win in 10 starts this year for the 2015 Oregon Horse of the Year, a campaign that includes a third to O B Harbor and Dedicated to You in the Mt. Rainier Stakes at Emerald Downs. . .Rigoberto Velasquez, conditioner of Its Allabout Jerry, tops the PM trainers’ standings with a 13-for-62 mark. . .Saturday’s $50,000 Oakland Stakes at Golden Gate Fields features Star Student (4-1) and Indian Brut (15-1) from the 2016 Longacres Mile. Trainer Tim McCanna has two starters in the 6 furlong Oakland: Indian Brut and Spirit Rules (12-1). The latter is 2-for-3 since being claimed for $20,000 at Del Mar in August, earning 86 and 89 Beyers in recent wins at Golden Gate. . .Rocco Bowen, who rides Spirit Rules, is beginning to click in the Bay Area. The Emerald Downs’ champ is 7-for-64 and tied for eighth at Golden Gate.