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C O N T E N T S
Many Eclipse Award champions and Breeders’ Cup winners since 1969 developed into stars during the Oak Tree race meeting.
BARR BECOMES OAK TREE’S THIRD PRESIDENT
GREGSON FOUNDATION HONORS OAK TREE
CTHF CARES FOR THE CARETAKERS
The annual Gregson Foundation dinner raises funds for college scholarships, and this year it recognized the Oak Tree Racing Association’s many good works.
The California Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Foundation can offer inexpensive and/or free medical services to backstretch workers due in part to the Oak Tree Racing Association.
EQUINE HEALTH AN OAK TREE MAINSTAY
ZENYATTA AND JOHN HENRY’S TRIPLES
OAK TREE: HOME OF CHAMPIONS
The Center for Equine Health, Southern California Equine Hospital, and racetrack equine ambulances owe their existence to the Oak Tree Racing Association.
In the 40-plus years of the Oak Tree Racing Association, John Barr follows founders Clement L. Hirsch and Dr. Jack Robbins as its third President.
Only two horses have won the same stakes three times at Oak Tree—the incomparable legends Zenyatta in the Lady’s Secret and John Henry in the Oak Tree Invitational.
14 OAK TREE RACING ASSOCIATION
Officers and Directors Dr. Jack K. Robbins Chairman John H. Barr President Sherwood C. Chillingworth Executive Vice-President Dr. Rick Arthur Vice-President Thomas R. Capehart Vice-President Richard Mandella Vice-President Warren B. Williamson Vice-President Robert W. Zamarripa, Sr. Vice-President
HARPER GOT HIS START AT OAK TREE
WHERE WINNERS THRIVE
SIX WINS IN ONE DAY
Martin Pedroza, Patrick Valenzuela, Darrel McHargue, and Steve Valdez are the only jockeys to have ridden six winners in one day at Oak Tree.
HOLLENDORFER ENTERS HALL OF FAME
Jerry Hollendorfer, trainer of such horses as Blind Luck and King Glorious, is the latest inductee in the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame.
Associate Editor Jane Goldstein Creative Director/Art Production Jerri Hemsworth Newman Grace Inc. Editorial Contribution
The Winners Foundation, with financial aid from the Oak Tree Racing Association, helps racetrack and backstretch employees turn their lives around.
Publisher Benoit & Associates, Inc. Editor Tracy Gantz
Del Mar’s Joe Harper began his career in racetrack management when working for the Oak Tree Racing Association during the 1970s.
Oak Tree Racing Association 285 W. Huntington Drive Arcadia, California 91007 (626) 574-6345
Steve Andersen Tracy Gantz Jane Goldstein Steve Schuelein Jack Shinar Hank Wesch Art Wilson Photo Coordination Rayetta Burr Photography T.J. Abahazy Tom Abahazy Rayetta Burr Rick Fernandez Trevor Jones Bill Mochon Editorial Consultant Sherwood C. Chillingworth
PADDOCK is published annually by Benoit & Associates, Inc., with offices at 285 W. Huntington Drive, Arcadia, CA 91007-3439, telephone (626) 574-6463. Copyright ©2011 Oak Tree Racing Association. No part of PADDOCK may be reprinted in any form without written consent of the publisher. Send change of address to the Editorial Offices. COVER—The strength, heart, and courage of Oak Tree racing action. Benoit Photo. PADDOCK 2011
Begin at Oak
Azeri (center) is one of several to win Horse of the Year after an Oak Tree campaign.
OAK TREE RACING ASSOCIATION
o n s h i ps
Many Eclipse Award and Breeders’ Cup winners earned their stripes through victory in Oak Tree’s graded stakes. BY STEVE ANDERSEN
he list begins at the start of a new era, back in 1984, when racing was tip-toeing toward an event that would revolutionize the way horses are raced and how their campaigns are judged. When Chief’s Crown won the inaugural Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Hollywood Park on Nov. 10, 1984, the very first race in the history of that series, the champion colt started a trend that continues strongly to this day. Chief’s Crown became the first horse to use a prep race at an Oak Tree meeting—the Norfolk Stakes—as a springboard to
Chief’s Crown won the 1984 Norfolk Stakes (top), and Julie Krone and Halfbridled won the 2003 Oak Leaf Stakes (right) prior to Breeders’ Cup triumphs.
Four Footed Fotos
success in a Breeders’ Cup race. He was later named champion 2-year-old male of 1984. In almost every subsequent year, that milestone has been duplicated, sometimes by several horses in the same year. Last fall at Churchill Downs, when Dakota Phone came roaring down the stretch to post a 37-1 upset in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, the gelding became the 42nd horse to run in an Oak Tree race and go on to win a Breeders’ Cup race. He had finished third in the Goodwood Stakes at Hollywood Park the preceding month. Typically run four weeks before the Breeders’ Cup, an Oak Tree stakes exists for essentially every category of horse. The Oak Tree meeting has been a proving ground for generations of top-class Southern California Thoroughbreds whose owners have Breeders’ Cup aspirations. Two-year-olds compete in such Grade I races as the Norfolk or Oak Leaf Stakes for fillies. Sprinters have the Ancient Title Stakes on the main track and the Morvich Handicap on turf. Older runners can try the Goodwood on the main track or, if they are turf specialists, the Oak Tree Mile or Clement L. Hirsch Turf Championship. Older females are featured in the Lady’s Secret Stakes on the main track and the Yellow Ribbon Stakes on the turf. OAK TREE RACING ASSOCIATION
Santa Anita photo
“You find out what you’ve got,” said Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella, an Oak Tree board member. “The timing is good for the Breeders’ Cup.” Many famous names appear on that list of 42 Oak Tree horses who won Breeders’ Cup races, but none more than Zenyatta, who won three consecutive runnings of the Lady’s Secret Stakes—at Santa Anita in 2008 and 2009 and at Hollywood Park in 2010. They were the eighth, 13th, and 19th wins of her 20-race career. In all those years, she was the champion older female. Twice she won Breeders’ Cup races at an Oak Tree meeting—the 2008 Ladies’ Classic, an occasion when her popularity truly began to soar, and the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Classic, the finest moment in Oak Tree history. The energy at Santa Anita on that afternoon in 2009, the passion her fans showed in support both before and after the race, and the heartstopping way Zenyatta rallied from the back of the field to beat the boys will never be forgotten. Zenyatta was voted the 2010 Horse of the Year after a game second to Blame in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs. She became the first horse to win that award and race at an Oak Tree meeting since Curlin, who finished fourth in the 2008 Breeders’ Cup Classic and had won www.oaktreeracing.com
four Grade I races earlier that year. Two other Horses of the Year in the 2000s before Curlin—Tiznow in 2000 and Azeri in 2002—were campaigned at the Oak Tree meeting in those seasons. Tiznow won the 2000 Goodwood Handicap and traveled to Churchill Downs, where he won the Breeders’ Cup Classic, clinching his title. Two years later, Azeri won the Lady’s Secret Handicap and then the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (later renamed the Ladies’ Classic) at Arlington Park. The 2000 Goodwood was trainer Jay Robbins’ favorite race of Tiznow’s—at least until that point of the colt’s career. The main competition that day included the multiple stakes-winning 3-year-old Captain Steve, who could only manage second. “When he beat Captain Steve, it was a good race,” Robbins recalled over the summer. As the game evolved, with the late-season emphasis on the Breeders’ Cup, the number of horses who raced at Oak Tree and subsequently won divisional championships soared. The prep races at Oak Tree have become part of a national playoff of sorts that horsemen and racing fans follow for Breeders’ Cup clues. The Oak Tree stakes are perfectly situated to give leading horses, particularly those based in Southern California, an important race.
Ack Ack won the Autumn Days Handicap in 1970 before going on to a Horse of the Year title in 1971.
Kotashaan (above) and Tiznow (center, right) used Oak Tree as springboards to Horse of the Year titles in 1993 and 2000, respectively.
“We are in a great position because we could provide races four to five weeks out in graded stakes,” said Oak Tree’s longtime Executive VicePresident Sherwood C. Chillingworth. “It is an advantage to us. “We’ve done extremely well. We’ve had a lot of horses come out of races and do well, not just winners. It’s been some of the best racing around the country.” The Norfolk, Oak Leaf, Ancient Title, Goodwood, and Hirsch have helped horses such as Lookin At Lucky, Stardom Bound, Kona Gold, Tiznow, and Kotashaan to year-end championships in the season they won those races. Kotashaan won the Breeders’ Cup Turf in 1993, the year he won the Oak Tree Invitational Stakes. (The Invitational was renamed in 2000 to honor Clement Hirsch, co-founder of Oak Tree and its first President. Hirsch died in March 2000.). Mandella trained Kotashaan and turned two Breeders’ Cup days at Oak Tree into showcase events for his stable. He has won six Breeders’ Cup races in his career, and all of those winners ran at Oak Tree in prep races before capturing Breeders’ Cup races that were run during those same meetings. In 1993, Mandella won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies with eventual champion 2-year-
old filly Phone Chatter, who had won the Oak Leaf Stakes. He also won with Kotashaan. A decade later, in 2003, Mandella doubled his win haul. He won four Breeders’ Cup races, with Halfbridled in the Juvenile Fillies, Action This Day in the Juvenile, Johar in the Turf (in a dead heat with High Chaparral), and Pleasantly Perfect in the Classic. The 2-year-olds were later named champions. Halfbridled had won the Oak Leaf, Action This Day a maiden race at Oak Tree. Johar had finished second in the Hirsch, and Pleasantly Perfect had defended his title in the Goodwood. But the major stakes at the Oak Tree meeting have even more history behind them. Back in the early 1970s, when Oak Tree was in its infancy, the meeting quickly filled a void of top-class racing between the conclusion of Del Mar and the start of the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting. As a result, opportunity developed for major stakes competition in California in the autumn for leading horses, and others being prepared for the forthcoming season. Ack Ack won the 1970 Autumn Days Handicap at Oak Tree, and he was named the 1971 Horse of the Year. Typecast won the 1971 Las Palmas Handicap at Oak Tree and won six stakes in 1972, the year she was honored as champion OAK TREE RACING ASSOCIATION
older female. Cougar II won the 1971 Oak Tree Invitational and repeated the following year, the season he was named champion turf horse. Trillion became the first champion turf female in 1979 on the strength of a campaign that included runner-up finishes to males in the Canadian International at Woodbine, Turf Classic at Aqueduct, and a second to Balzac in the Oak Tree Invitational. The list of champions from that era does not include such notable near champions as Ancient Title, who won the 1972 Sunny Slope Stakes at Oak Tree, the second of 20 stakes wins in a 57-race career, or Exceller, who won the Oak Tree Invitational in 1978 in his first start after beating eventual champion older male Seattle Slew in the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park. With that New York race on the top line of his past performances, it’s no wonder that Exceller was sent off at odds of 3-10 in the Oak Tree Invitational. By the early 1980s, the Oak Tree races were further established on the national stage. One name stood out year by year in those seasons. John Henry won seven championships from 1980 to 1984, including the Horse of the Year award in 1981 and 1984. From 1978, at the age of 3, to 1983, the year before his final start, he www.oaktreeracing.com
started at Oak Tree at least once a year. Over the years, the highlights were three consecutive wins from 1980-82 in the Oak Tree Invitational, a race that greatly influenced the balloting for the turf championship before the Breeders’ Cup. John Henry’s 1981 Horse of the Year title was the first of three in that decade for Oak Tree runners. In 1986, Lady’s Secret capped a remarkable 15-race campaign with a win in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Oak Tree, clinching the Horse of the Year title. A year later, Ferdinand, the 1986 Kentucky Derby winner, won the Goodwood on a muddy track and two weeks later at Hollywood Park won the Breeders’ Cup Classic against Alysheba, securing the Horse of the Year award. It would be no surprise if the list of champions with Oak Tree stakes experience grows this fall. For 2011, Oak Tree is not hosting a fall meeting, but Santa Anita Park has been licensed to run the Oak Tree stakes at its autumn meeting, which means the races with familiar names will continue. So will the top-class racing in major stakes, as it has for more than four decades.
Zenyatta became the first female ever to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic when she stormed home at Oak Tree in 2009.
Steve Andersen is the Southern California correspondent for Daily Racing Form. PADDOCK 2011
Investing in the Future The Gregson Foundation honored the Oak Tree Racing Association at its annual dinner that raises funds for scholarships.
Sherwood C. Chillingworth, Warren B. Williamson, Richard Mandella, Dr. Rick Arthur, Thomas R. Capehart, and John H. Barr represented Oak Tree at the Gregson dinner.
The dinner took place at the Grand Del Mar, and Oak Tree President John Barr spoke during the festivities, which were emceed by Joe Harper.
hildren of Southern California backstretch workers are heading into just about every field of study that higher education offers, whether itâ€™s law, biology, criminology, nursing, veterinary medicine, linguistics, or architecture. The Gregson Foundation sees to it that these kids get a leg up on their education with scholarship help, and no entity has supported the foundation in its mission more than the Oak Tree Racing Association. A consistent supporter of the Gregson Founda-
tion, named for the late trainer Edwin Gregson, Oak Tree and its directors believe in these kidsâ€™ future. When the Gregson Foundation began its annual dinner to raise funds for these scholarships, Oak Tree was front and center with whatever was needed. Past dinners have honored worthy individuals, but for 2011 the Gregson Foundation chose to spotlight Oak Tree as an association. It was an opportunity to recognize the many charitable contributions Oak Tree has made, not just to the backstretch workers through the Gregson FounOAK TREE RACING ASSOCIATION
Molly Robbins, Mace Siegel.
Karen and Thomas Capehart, Shirley Kimball.
Jenine Sahadi, James Ellet, Mary Rose Ellet, Angie Carmona. dation, but through many other organizations such as the Winners Foundation and the California Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Foundation. Oak Tree’s support of equine health and research was also lauded at the Aug. 8 dinner held at the Grand Del Mar. Those in attendance honored the organization as well as the men who serve on the board—Chairman Jack Robbins, Executive Vice-President Sherwood C. Chillingworth, President John H. Barr, and Directors Rick Arthur, Thomas R. Capehart, Richard Mandella, Warren B. Williamson, and Robert W. Zamarripa Sr. Joe Harper, president of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club and an early executive vice president of Oak Tree, emceed the festivities. “Oak Tree was founded by leaders of the industry in California,” said Harper. “They did it for no money. They decided to start a racing association www.oaktreeracing.com
Sherwood C. Chillingworth, Bo Hirsch.
Dr. Joe Cannon, Esme Gregson, Mark McCreary. PADDOCK 2011
Jay Hovdey, Julie Krone.
Richard Mandella, Jim Cassidy, Guy Lamothe.
Betty and John Barr, Sherry and John Fordham.
Warren Williamson, Carla Gaines, Alyce Williamson, grandson Warren Williamson, Jake Vacek. 12
Dr. Todd Borkken, Tescha Von Bluecher, Charlene and Helmuth Von Bluecher. and give all the money to the industry where it’s needed. They’ve done an incredible job.” In a video produced by Amy Zimmerman and Stephen Nagler of HRTV shown at the dinner, many people spoke eloquently about the importance of Oak Tree. “If I actually took the time to mention all of the things that Oak Tree has supported with funds from their meet, we wouldn’t have time to do this interview,” said former trainer Gary Jones. “Without Oak Tree, the Southern California Equine Foundation would not be in existence,” said Dr. Jeff Blea. “Due to their benevolence and generosity, they provide three ambulances to the racetracks of Southern California, and they provide funds for a lot of equipment that we use in the hospital.” Thoroughbred owner Mace Siegel, who was OAK TREE RACING ASSOCIATION
Samantha Siegel, Fran and Lou Raffetto.
Dr. Rick Arthur, Sherwood Chillingworth, Jenine Sahadi, Thomas Capehart, Warren Williamson.
Eddie Delahoussaye, Elizabeth Ellis, Joe Talamo, Juanita Delahoussaye. honored at the Gregson dinner in 2008, spoke this year, commending Oak Tree for its support of the industry. He singled out Chillingworth and Harper as “the kind of people who make this game great. These are people who give of themselves, who do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do.” Jay Hovdey, executive columnist for Daily Racing Form, noted several of the young people who have benefited from Gregson scholarships. “You can reach out and touch a lot of the things that the Oak Tree Racing Association has been responsible for,” Hovdey said, “state-ofthe-art equine ambulances, landmark veterinary studies, five successful Southern California Breeders’ Cups, a fully funded backstretch cafeteria and recreation center.” Oak Tree is the largest single supporter of the Gregson Foundation, Hovdey noted. In the Foundation’s 10 years, more than 300 grants www.oaktreeracing.com
Steve Sahadi, Kerrie Cargill Sahadi.
have been awarded to help young people further their education. “Of all the things horse racing can do, this has got to be one of the best,” said Hovdey. “And for that, the Oak Tree Racing Association deserves our thanks, and the Edwin J. Gregson Foundation deserves our applause.” Chillingworth in his remarks thanked trainer Jenine Sahadi, president of the Gregson Foundation and organizer of the dinner along with Angie Carmona, the Gregson secretary. “I’ve had three prior careers, and my career with Oak Tree has been the most satisfying,” said Chillingworth, “because you’re not competing with anybody. You’re not trying to get the upper hand. You’re just trying to help people. For many years we have taken the greatest pleasure in being able to assist not only individuals, but institutions that do things for the horse racing business.”
“These are people who give of themselves, who do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do.” —Mace Siegel
horse High on
Through its contributions to the Southern California Equine Foundation and the University of California at Davis, Oak Tree has made a difference in equine health. BY JACK SHINAR
OAK TREE RACING ASSOCIATION
Oak Tree Agenda t
rainer Jenine Sahadi was sitting in her customary spot in the grandstand overlooking the finish line at Santa Anita early on the morning of May 28, 2004, when it happened. Annabelly, a 4-year-old filly she was preparing for a stakes race in Northern California, had just completed a blazing six-furlong drill in 1:10 2/5. Sahadi was fuming at jockey Alex Solis, who was aboard Annabelly, muttering to an associate seated next to her as she watched. “She worked unbelievably, but I was [miffed] because I don’t like to work my horses fast,” she said. Annabelly had finished her jog afterward and was making her way back to the barn near the seven-eighths pole when she suddenly went wrong. Sahadi knew immediately something was amiss. “It was a horrible, horrible breakdown, just an awful thing to watch,” she recalled. Rushing toward the scene, she used her cell phone to call her veterinarian, who phoned for the track ambulance. By the time Sahadi got to the injured horse, Solis had dismounted and was holding Annabelly up, keeping her off the injured left front leg. Using the specialized horse ambulance that arrived a few minutes later, they were able to load Annabelly aboard without further stressing the damaged
limb. Sahadi and her assistant trainer held the filly in place, and they returned to the trainer’s barn to evaluate the damage. Annabelly, her vet said, had suffered a displaced condylar fracture of the cannon bone and a broken sesamoid bone. It was decision time. Annabelly’s racing career was done, but there was a slight chance she could be saved as a broodmare. With surgical facilities available right at Santa Anita through the Southern California Equine Foundation (SCEF), a major beneficiary from Oak Tree Racing Association donations, Annabelly had a better prognosis than most in that situation. Sahadi noted that while veterinarians felt Annabelly would likely come through the surgery fine, they were concerned about the recovery period, when dangers such as laminitis loom. But Annabelly, a barn favorite, held a special place in Sahadi’s heart. Not only was she owned by a top client, Richard and Sue Masson’s Green Lantern Stables, she was out of the dam Crissy Aya, a good sprinter during her racing career. Crissy Aya, Sahadi said, was the smartest horse she ever trained. Sahadi had purchased Annabelly, who was by Royal Academy, for Green Lantern for $150,000 at Barretts as a select 2-year-old. “I couldn’t believe it when I saw her for the first time,” Sahadi said. “She was like a carbon copy of Crissy Aya.” Although reasonably well bred and a stakesplaced winner of four of seven starts, “it was not a slam dunk” to try to save Annabelly, Sahadi said. “It wasn’t like she was going to be a $2 million broodmare.”
Owners Richard and Sue Masson (center) and trainer Jenine Sahadi (glasses) were able to save Annabelly because of Oak Tree’s donations.
Oak Tree provided most of the funding for the Santa Anita and Hollywood Park equine hospitals, much of the hospitalâ€™s specialized equipment, and three equine ambulances.
OAK TREE RACING ASSOCIATION
But she made the call to the Massons, who agreed to the surgery. The following day, Annabelly was moved to the racetrack hospital on the backstretch operated by the SCEF. Dr. Rick Arthur, now the California Horse Racing Board’s equine medical director, performed surgery to repair the breaks. Under the watchful care of Sahadi, Annabelly was a good patient and completed her recovery, despite a few close calls during a 10-month recuperation period, when the filly nearly developed laminitis. Annabelly, accompanied by Sahadi, soon boarded a plane for Kentucky to begin her new life. Annabelly now lives near Keeneland Race Course at the Massons’ Golden Age Farm. She has delivered five foals to date, including two starters who are both winners. It’s a dramatic story, one with a happy ending. And quietly in the background, Oak Tree has played an important role. The not-for-profit charitable organization provided most of the funding for the hospital dedicated at Santa Anita in 1981 and for the
building of a similar facility a few years later at Hollywood Park. Oak Tree is responsible for much of the specialized equipment needed to furnish a surgical suite and X-ray room. And it paid for three ambulances, at a cost of nearly $80,000 apiece, that include a hydraulic system that lowers the loading ramp to ground level, a laterally moving wall that can hold an injured horse upright, and a winch that can assist loading a horse that cannot rise on its own into the trailer. Dr. Jack Robbins, one of Oak Tree’s founders, and Dr. Greg Ferraro, among others in the equine medical fraternity, saw that an onsite equine hospital could be instrumental in saving lives, said Karen Klawitter, the administrator for the SCEF. They approached Oak Tree and the California Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association. Santa Anita management gave the go-ahead to build the hospital on the backstretch, and “Oak Tree stepped up with the promissory note,” said Klawitter, who started as a technician and has been associated with the facility almost since it began. Arthur, who is a member of the Oak Tree board of directors, said he got his start as an equine surgeon at the Santa Anita hospital and that veterinarians there have done hundreds of condylar surgeries such as the one he performed on Annabelly. “The hospital was originally intended for emergency purposes,” Arthur said. Oak Tree’s involvement in equine health did not begin with the SCEF. It has provided close to $5 million for the Center for Equine Health (CEH) at the University of California at Davis. The university and Oak Tree initiated a partnership in 1973 aimed at solving the racing industry’s equine medical problems through research and development. The SCEF, which was founded in 1976, has been a longtime collaborator. “Simply put, there would be no Center for Equine Health if not for Oak Tree,” said Ferraro, who is the director of the CEH. “They were our sole support at the time.” Like Annabelly and her offspring, thousands of horses likely owe their lives to advances in equine health and safety supported by
Oak Tree’s Hal Ramser and Herman Smith flank Dr. Greg Ferraro in front of the Santa Anita equine hospital (far left). Dedicating one of the equine ambulances paid for by Oak Tree are Smith, Oak Tree cofounder B.J. Ridder, Mary Jones Bradley, Ferraro, Ramser, and Oak Tree cofounder Lou Rowan.
Dr. Sarah Puchalski reads a CT scan, one of the many specialized diagnostic tools at the U.C. Davis Center for Equine Health that were made possible by grants from Oak Tree.
Oak Tree donations. That funding has led to better care of injured racehorses as well as the prevention of major problems and a reduction in illness. Oak Tree’s support has played a huge role not only in the treatment of injured horses at the track, but it also helps shape day-to-day care. For example, the CEH produced the first study on the incidence of exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage (bleeding) in racehorses. The radiographic portion of that study was done at the SCEF equine hospital. The landmark work by U. C. Davis’ Dr. John Pascoe from a 1978 research project informs the debate over the role of Lasix (furosemide) in controlling bleeding to this day. Ferraro said Oak Tree provided unrestricted support of the center until the mid-1990s. As the program became more self-sufficient through other funding sources—for instance, through legislatively mandated funding as part of the satellite-wagering bill of 1987—Oak Tree asked
to fund research and development projects that were directly related to racing issues. Further studies in orthopedic research led to drastic reductions in the number of knee slab fractures, uncovering the inherent dangers of longer toe grabs, and the use of nuclear scintigraphy to diagnose tiny stress fractures in bones that often lead to serious breakdowns when not given proper time to heal. Working with the SCEF, the CEH also called to attention the need for trainers and veterinarians to recognize and treat suspensory ligament inflammation, Ferraro said. Oak Tree also has provided U. C. Davis with funds for the Dr. Jack Robbins Endowment, which allows faculty members to acquire specific training in specialized areas such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs) and acupuncture. Ferraro and Dr. Roy Dillon, a track veterinarian, were responsible for developing the improved horse ambulance, which was built by Kimzey Inc. The same company built the Kimzey Leg Saver Splint, a simple device that has proved to be
OAK TREE RACING ASSOCIATION
“Simply put, there would be no Center for Equine Health if not for Oak Tree.”
instrumental in stabilizing shattered limbs to prevent damage to delicate blood vessels. Both inventions are now in widespread use around American racetracks. “It certainly has withstood the test of time,” Arthur said of the splint. Arthur notes that Oak Tree was one of the original supporters of the Racing Medication Testing Consortium in its pursuit of drug research, model testing rules, effective withdrawal times, and rule uniformity. “Oak Tree has always been there for us,” said Dr. Scott Stanley, who directs the Kenneth L. Maddy Equine Analytical Chemistry Laboratory, the CHRB’s official drug-testing facility at U. C. Davis. “They have been a staunch supporter of the laboratory and have supported various projects. They were very proactive in pushing the legislation [which made the Maddy Lab the state’s official drug-testing facility] forward initially.” In addition, Oak Tree has been a longtime
Courtesy Center for Equine Health
Courtesy Center for Equine Health
—Dr. Greg Ferraro
steady supporter of the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation, according to Ed Bowen, Grayson’s president. Oak Tree has provided funds that have supported laminitis and equine herpes studies, as well as the work at U. C. Davis on racetrack surfaces and California’s wellregarded equine necropsy program. Ongoing studies at Davis on hoof impact are expected to achieve a safer horseshoe and better racing surfaces as well. Dr. Jeff Blea, president of the SCEF, says he hopes people in the industry understand the benevolent role Oak Tree plays. “Obviously, I’m a big proponent of Oak Tree,” he said. “People in racing have taken it for granted. I don’t think they realize the scope of Oak Tree’s contributions, both to racing and to the community.”
The Kimzey splint helps stabilize a horse’s injured leg.
Jack Shinar is a turf writer and website editor for The Blood-Horse and bloodhorse.com. He lives in Sacramento, Calif.
ohn Barr knew he was stepping into big shoes when he became President of the Oak Tree Racing Association earlier this year. In Oak Tree’s 43-year history, only two men had served in that position—co-founders Clement L. Hirsch and Dr. Jack Robbins. “I was very honored that the rest of the board saw fit to give me this job,” said Barr. It was a long way from the little town of Hynes (now Paramount), Calif., where Barr grew up and placed 10-cent bets with a bookie at the age of 12. “The bookie would take those bets from me if I promised not to tell his wife, who ran a local restaurant,” recalled Barr. “I was fascinated with horses as a kid. I used to bet jockeys whose names were Johnny—Johnny Longden, Johnny Adams—because that’s what my name was.” After he married, began raising a family, and
variety of racing industry organizations. A former president of the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association, he continues as a member of the CTBA’s board. He is a past steward of The Jockey Club and past director of Breeders’ Cup Ltd., and he currently serves on The Jockey Club Thoroughbred Safety Committee. The Oak Tree board named Barr as President when Robbins decided earlier this year—at age 90—to step down. Robbins had served as President since Hirsch’s death in 2000. Robbins, Hirsch, and the late Lou Rowan first put together the idea of the Oak Tree Racing Association in 1968 as a race meet run by horsemen to benefit horsemen. Not that the Oak Tree board would actually let Robbins leave. As one of the most respected veterinarians in the country as well as a major owner of such horses as Nostalgia’s Star and Most Host,
BARR established his real estate business, Barr had the wherewithal to enter the industry as an owner. He raced a few Quarter Horses before he purchased his first Thoroughbred in 1971. Today, he and his wife, Betty, live in Orange, Calif., and campaign runners in the name of their Oakcrest Stable. Barr believes in giving back—he is treasurer of the Richard Nixon Foundation and has served a www.oaktreeracing.com
John Barr, as Oak Tree’s third President, leads a board dedicated to the health and welfare of the equine industry. BY TRACY GANTZ
Robbins brings a wealth of knowledge to the Oak Tree board, something no one wanted to lose. “We insisted that he stay on as Chairman,” said Barr. The position of Chairman was newly created for Robbins. As has been the case throughout Oak Tree’s history, Barr leads a board filled with knowledgeable businessmen and horsemen. Barr, Thomas
John Barr, Oak Tree’s new President, with his predecessor, Dr. Jack Robbins (above left), and Executive VicePresident Sherwood C. Chillingworth (above right). PADDOCK 2011
Barr’s business and equine experience fit right in.
Oak Tree board present and past— Barr, Warren B. Williamson, Thomas R. Capehart, Dr. Jack Robbins, Richard Mandella, Dr. Rick Arthur, Sherwood C. Chillingworth, and Robert W. Zamarripa Sr. (top) and Louis R. Rowan, B.J. Ridder, Clement L. Hirsch, William T. Pascoe III, Robbins, and Harold C. Ramser Sr. (above).
R. Capehart, Warren B. Williamson, and Robert W. Zamarripa Sr. are all major horse owners with successful outside business interests. Sherwood C. Chillingworth, Oak Tree’s Executive Vice-President since 1993, joined the board in 1988 after owning a Pasadena real estate development company for 15 years. He owned or was the majority owner of horses that won 12 graded stakes, of which five were Grade I events, including the Metropolitan Mile, Coaching Club American Oaks, and Oak Tree Invitational. Richard Mandella is a Hall of Fame trainer who has won six Breeders’ Cup races, all of them when Oak Tree hosted the championship series. Dr. Rick Arthur is the equine medical director of the California Horse Racing Board and brings 30 years of racetrack veterinary practice to the table. Robbins and Arthur are past presidents of the American Association of Equine Practitioners. They and the other board members see to it that equine health and welfare are at the forefront of Oak Tree’s mission.
“When John joined the Oak Tree Board in 1997, it was obvious from the first meeting that he was a valued addition,” said Chillingworth. “He was not only knowledgeable about industry matters, but had a financial background that was extremely useful. Perhaps most importantly, he could express his opinions with regard to controversial issues in a reasonable manner that did not result in hurt feelings.” Barr enjoyed the experience from the very beginning. “Oak Tree is all about having a great race meet, having good horses, having fun, making as much money as we can, and then we get to give it all away,” said Barr. “We try to give the lion’s share back to the industry.” All of the Oak Tree board members have contributed ideas on the best way to use the money to benefit the horses and the people who care for them. Barr was the one who suggested paying for backstretch workers’ flu vaccinations. “I was wandering around the backstretch of Churchill Downs, and I heard an announcement, ‘Come get your free flu shots,’ ” said Barr. “I came back and convinced this board we ought to do that.” Not many people showed up the first year Oak Tree funded the flu shots. But word soon got around, and now the program is extremely popular and helps reduce the incidence of illness on the backstretch. Barr is proud of the strides in equine health that have occurred because of Oak Tree’s involvement, as well as the contributions Oak Tree has made to help the people in the industry. “We’ve made life better for a lot of people and horses,” said Barr. “That’s what we’re about— that’s our mission.” OAK TREE RACING ASSOCIATION
Caring for the Caretakers The California Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Foundation, with big support from Oak Tree, sees that backstretch workers receive quality health care. BY JANE GOLDSTEIN
anta Anita Park, with its distinctive architecture and blue green façade, is an Arcadia landmark and an icon of the international Thoroughbred racing world. Most people know about the exciting sport it showcases, but few realize that a whole world exists behind the scenes of this, or any, racetrack. Horses, of course, but also people live in the stable area. They have the same needs as those living outside the fences of a racetrack—housing, food, entertainment, health care. The health and welfare of backstretch workers are the focus of the California Thoroughbred
Horsemen’s Foundation, which has benefited from donations by Oak Tree Racing Association totaling more than $300,000 through the years. It wasn’t racetrack executives or the California Horse Racing Board that spearheaded this solution to a real need for stable workers. Rather it was one man, someone who worked among them—the late trainer Noble Threewitt. “Noble should get all the credit in the world for having the vision to start the foundation,” said Oak Tree Executive Vice-President Sherwood Chillingworth. “He didn’t quit—he stayed with it all his life. “It’s one of the best resources the industry has
The CTHF team includes Veronica Nolasco, Angela Valverde, Aracely Cedeno, Kevin Bolling, Dr. Tri Vo, Brian Martinez (back row); Monica Inda, Sister Soledad Hernandez, Grace Vera (front row).
“It’s one of the best resources the industry has created anywhere for the benefit of backstretch employees.” —Sherwood C. Chillingworth
Welfare assistant Sister Soledad Hernandez helps in a variety of capacities, and Kevin Bolling oversees the CTHF as its executive director.
created anywhere for the benefit of backstretch employees. It’s not an offsite agency, but a place they can walk to.” Kevin Bolling, the CTHF executive director, explained that the CTHF extends services to backstretch workers and their immediate families at California racetracks, racing fairs, and official training centers like San Luis Rey Downs. About 65% of care is for workers. That care ranges from
attending to scrapes and bruises to hip surgery, knee replacement, even brain surgery. “We feel we’re a partner in their health care and provide the best quality that we can,” Bolling said. “We’re constantly looking for ways to assist.” The CTHF accounts for 10,000 patient visits a year at clinics and via referrals. Services are arranged around work hours, usually starting
when workers finish their morning duties. By and large, backstretch workers have limited incomes. They might ignore symptoms of illness or injury if the cost were prohibitive, and so the CTHF takes that into consideration. Co-pays include $5 for an office visit, $5 for an EKG, and $5 and $10 for lab fees. There are four medical clinics, and two of those—at Santa Anita and Golden Gate Fields— also have dental care. Santa Anita’s is the largest facility and serves all of Southern California, but a smaller one at Hollywood Park is staffed with a doctor twice a week. The stable area is a small world. That can be good, Bolling said. “Fortunately, the backstretch is a closed society. We educate them about flu and vaccines, and we’ve had no flu outbreak. If we did, it would spread rapidly.” Oak Tree has paid for all inoculation programs. It also means that staff gets to know many of OAK TREE RACING ASSOCIATION
the people who entrust their care to the CTHF. “Dr. [Linda] Rosette, the dentist, has been there almost from the start and has seen three generations,” Bolling noted. They have also seen children they helped with mental health problems overcome their situations. One just started college. Bolling makes an interesting observation about the stable workers—“These people are
completed rehab through Winners returned to the CTHF seeking a way to stop smoking because he wanted to continue to improve his health. The overall welfare the CTHF encompasses goes beyond health. Projects include holiday celebrations, where the staff volunteers. “The staff has an attachment” to the people, Bolling says. Sister Soledad Hernandez, who is the CTHF welfare assistant, presents English classes, coor-
“These people are hard workers and would rather take care of their horses than themselves.”
hard workers and would rather take care of their horses than themselves.” He relates the story of one man who had been an exercise rider, pony boy, and groom. The CTHF arranged for a necessary knee replacement. “Afterwards, he checked himself out of the hospital,” Bolling said, but they found him and got him back to finish his recuperation. In the end, the fellow felt it was so successful that he’s going to do the other knee. “He can’t wait to get the other one done,” Bolling said. For services not provided by the on-track facilities, the CTHF negotiates favorably priced contracts with health providers and makes referrals. The CTHF also works with other groups, including the California Thoroughbred Trainers and the Winners Foundation, the latter dealing with substance and alcohol abuse. “We work with Winners to decide when someone needs in-house rehab and then pay the majority of cost,” Bolling said. One person who
dinates an annual recognition program for those who have become U.S. citizens, and started a community vegetable garden at Santa Anita for stable workers. A specialist lawyer helps with immigration problems. A social worker gives support with Medicare and Medicaid procedures. There is even a thrift shop, which receives donations of goods such as clothing and books from organizations and individuals. Everything at the thrift shop is free. The Santa Anita facility now bears the name of Noble Threewitt, who started the CTHF in 1983 and was its longtime president. He died in 2010 at the age of 99. Threewitt’s intention was to help the people who work with the horses and their families. The CTHF adds another benefit, Bolling points out. “We save the state a lot of money by serving as an urgent care facility and keeping [patients] out of emergency rooms.”
Medical assistant Veronica Nolasco gives one of the many free flu shots, and dental hygienist Grace Vera assists in teeth care.
John Henry and Zenyatta are the most popular horses ever to compete at Oak Tree and the only ones to have captured the same Oak Tree stakes three consecutive times. BY TRACY GANTZ
ÂŠ Bill Mochon
eparated by nearly three decades, John Henry and Zenyatta have plenty in common. Two of the most crowd-pleasing horses ever to step on a racetrack, the gelding and mare each gave their fans a show, from interacting with the crowd in the paddock to complete domination at the finish line. They also starred each fall at Oak Tree, and they are the only two horses ever to win the same stakes there three consecutive years. John Henry owned the Oak Tree Invitational (now (continued on page 28)
George Andrus Photography
the Clement L. Hirsch Turf Championship) from 1980–82, while Zenyatta destroyed her competition every year in the Lady’s Secret Stakes from 2008–10.
© Bill Mochon
1980 Oak Tree Invitational
Four Footed Fotos
1981 Oak Tree Invitational
1982 Oak Tree Invitational 28
Both strutted, posed, and enjoyed the adulation of the crowd. Both won multiple Eclipse Awards and were named Horse of the Year, in John Henry’s case twice. They differed greatly in personality, though. Zenyatta is sweet and gentle, always eager to pose for photos and receive a carrot or a pat. John Henry was cantankerous from his early days on the racetrack into old age in retirement at the Kentucky Horse Park. Their Oak Tree exploits were just part of phenomenal careers, but their return year after year made them Oak Tree legends. When Jerry and Ann Moss’ Zenyatta attempted her first Lady’s Secret Stakes in 2008, her undefeated winning streak stood at seven, enough to bring her national recognition, but nothing compared with what she later accomplished. Only three challenged her, which meant front-running Hystericalady could set a pace advantageous to her and potentially lethal to Zenyatta’s last-to-first style. Despite Garrett Gomez slowing the pace down with Hystericalady, Mike Smith unleashed the Zenyatta freight train for a 3 1/2length triumph in the 1 1/16-mile race on the main track. It would be the biggest winning margin of her Oak Tree triple. In 2009, Zenyatta had run her streak up to 12, including a Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic win. With her second Lady’s Secret, this time 1 1/4 lengths ahead of Lethal Heat, Zenyatta matched champion Personal Ensign’s record of 13 wins without a loss. “She’s like a ship when she’s coming down the stretch,” said her trainer, John Shirreffs. “Thirteen in a row; Personal Ensign—it’s historic.” Zenyatta’s third Lady’s Secret in 2010 turned out to be even more historic. Switch, a gallant 3-year-old, had the lead in the stretch, and for a moment it looked as if Zenyatta’s charge would come too late. But she swooshed past Switch to win by a half-length, and she received her trophy from none other than Penny Chenery, owner of Triple Crown winner Secretariat. That put Zenyatta’s streak at an amazing 19 and was the final victory of her career. She lost her last start, in the Breeders’ Cup Classic by a head to Blame, but finally earned her Horse of the Year trophy. Zenyatta’s third Lady’s Secret also sent her lifetime earnings past that of Ouija Board to $6,404,580, more than any other female to race in North America. Zenyatta retired with earnings of $7,304,580. Oak Tree purses also added considerably to OAK TREE RACING ASSOCIATION
John Henry’s lifetime bankroll of $6,591,860, at the time a record for a North American horse of either sex. Owners Sam and Dorothy Rubin made Oak Tree an annual stop as trainer Ron McAnally had John
2008 Lady’s Secret Stakes
2009 Lady’s Secret Stakes
2010 Lady’s Secret Stakes www.oaktreeracing.com
Henry at the top of his game three years running. The Oak Tree Invitational of 1980 was truly an international race, with South African Bold Tropic, New Zealander Caterman, Italian Garrido, and Polish Pawiment in the field. But it was all USA at the wire, as John Henry and jockey Laffit Pincay Jr. defeated Balzac by 1 1/2 lengths at the end of 1 1/2 miles on the turf. Two years later, with Bill Shoemaker in the saddle, John Henry returned to the winner’s circle in just his second start after a sevenmonth layoff. He defeated Craelius by 2 1/2 lengths to prove that at age 7 he was far from over the hill. “He ran like his old self,” said Shoemaker. “This is the comeback of the year.” But neither the 1980 nor 1982 Oak Tree Invitational could compare to the one in the middle. In 1981, John Henry put on a performance for the ages, one that any racing fan present that day would never forget. John Henry led throughout the race and into the stretch, when Spence Bay, ranging up from sixth, collared the champ from the outside. John Henry took one look at the upstart and said, “Not today,” re-rallying to wrest back the lead and the victory by a neck. After the race, Shoemaker said he knew John Henry would fight back. McAnally and the Rubins weren’t so sure, prompting Sam Rubin to quip, “Bill, do me a favor? Next time, when you know you have it won, will you wave?” Shoemaker pointed to his heart and said, “You know, that horse has got it in here.” Nearly 30 years later, Zenyatta showed the same kind of courage as John Henry—two unforgettable champions.
Watch the Videos
f you want to watch videos of Zenyatta’s three Lady’s Secret Stakes and John Henry’s three Oak Tree Invitationals, you can view them on YouTube.
From your computer: Go to www.youtube.com and in the search bar type in “OakTreeRaces Paddock magazine.”
From your smartphone: If you have a tag reader app on your smartphone, scan the QR code (quick response code) next to each photo in this article. These square black and white codes will take you right to the YouTube video of that race, and you can watch it on your phone. You can find several tag reader apps—many for free—at Apple’s App store, the Android Market, or your smartphone equivalent. Search for “tag reader” or “QR code reader.” •
Growing Up at Oak Tree Del Mar’s Joe Harper learned racetrack management skills from Oak Tree’s founders when he served as assistant to President Clement L. Hirsch. BY HANK WESCH
ummertime is Joe Harper’s time for managing a racetrack. As the man in charge of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, with titles to include president, CEO, and general manager, Harper has been for the past 32 years the face of what has become the premier meeting, in terms of prestige and business, on the Southern California Thoroughbred racing circuit. He can seem to be omnipresent there from mid-July to early September: on the backstretch in the mornings, sometimes on horseback, facing the music from critical owners or trainers, or taking bows from those who were pleased with the last show; in the Turf Club or Directors’ Room in the afternoon, chatting up or calming down and seeing to the needs of the VIPs; in the jockeys’ room or boardroom when needed; in the press box to deliver state-of-the-meet addresses at the beginning and end of the summer session or when called upon for an interview or comment. Harper is widely considered to be one of the most liked and respected individuals in the field of racetrack management. But the man of summer at Del Mar since 1978 got his start, and on-the-job training, when the Oak Tree Racing Association board of directors chose him for the position of Executive VicePresident—although he remembers the title being assistant to the board president Clement L. Hirsch—in 1971. Harper, the grandson of legendary Hollywood film producer-director Cecil B. DeMille, had observed racetrack life through the lens of a camera as an assistant to cinematographer Joe Burnham. Dr. Jack Robbins, among the Oak Tree founders, took part in the proceedings that led to Harper’s hiring. “We were getting a used photographer, and we knew it,” Robbins said last summer. “But we knew Joe was a good, sharp young guy, and we thought he could handle it and would grow into it. “We didn’t give him a helluva lot of money. No car. I think we gave him an Arco card for gas
OAK TREE RACING ASSOCIATION
but told him not to use it too much. Now, I don’t know anybody who has done more for racing than Joe has, so he was sure worth every penny we paid him.” About that compensation package. . . “I always kid Jack Robbins,” Harper said. “I say, ‘I know where you saved a lot of money, and that was on the administrative assistant to the president’s salary.’
and the concept of Oak Tree was interesting,” Harper said. “Here were these guys—seven successful businessmen and horse owners, sort of the cream of the crop of the state of California—and they decided to run it on a not-for-profit basis, to take the money and put it back into the industry where the industry might need it. They had to pay Santa Anita rent, but that was okay and they did. It was a labor of love for all of them.
“We knew Joe was a good, sharp young guy, and we thought he could handle the job and would grow into it.” —Dr. Jack Robbins
Now head of Del Mar, Joe Harper learned from men such as Oak Tree Racing Association President and co-founder Clement L. Hirsch. “I think I started out at $14,000 a year. With that in mind and three children by then, I decided it was best to spend some time working with Joe Burnham as well. I did double duty for a while.” Harper was no stranger to the men he’d be working for—Oak Tree founders Clement Hirsch, Ben Ridder, Lou Rowan, and the rest. But he said he had “no idea” what he was supposed to do when named to the position. His office was a storeroom without a window in the accounting department. He was told he needed to hire a secretary. “I didn’t know what I was going to do, much less what a secretary was going to do, but I said okay,” Harper said. “The first one I hired my wife made me get rid of for some obvious reasons. “Then I hired a friend of mine’s girlfriend, who had graduated from U.C. Santa Barbara, whose name was Molly McGinnis and who later became Molly Robbins. She is still working in the executive offices at Santa Anita. “Oak Tree was billed as the horsemen’s meet, www.oaktreeracing.com
“That was uncharted territory for racetrack management or ownership, and of course it helped that they were all independently wealthy. But they loved the game, and looking back it was a perfect marriage. “They had a stake, obviously, in every aspect of racing. They were well connected politically, which certainly helped. With Ronald Reagan as governor, any one of those guys could pick up the phone and say, ‘Hey Ronnie, what do you think?’ And good things got done.” In time, Harper realized that since Santa Anita personnel took charge of the operational management, his job focus was more an administrative management of the Oak Tree company. “My major duties included writing the minutes of board meetings and making sure that everybody had tables in the Directors’ Room that they liked,” Harper said. “So I worked on my spelling and my maitre d’ skills. “Fortunately, my office being in the accounting department, I became good friends with the PADDOCK 2011
“Seven successful businessmen and horse owners decided to run Oak Tree on a not-for-profit basis, to take the money and put it back into the industry where the industry might need it.”
Harper worked as a cinematographer before signing up with Oak Tree.
accounting staff, who told me what things Santa Anita was charging Oak Tree for. So I found out my real purpose in life was to make sure that Oak Tree wasn’t buying too many things for Santa Anita’s racing season as well as represent them at California Horse Racing Board meetings and other meetings and things.” Harper’s road to management with Oak Tree began with his previous job. “When I went to work with Joe Burnham, one of the guys I worked with was Frank Tours, who was one of those unforgettable characters,” Harper recalled. “He was a writer. But he was also an entrepreneurial do-all kind of guy who had worked in the Hollywood Park publicity department off and on and had also gone back east for a while to work as the general manager at Latonia [now Turfway Park] in Kentucky and then in New York. “When Oak Tree started, Frank was picked as the head guy. He had a couple of seasons with Oak Tree, then went back to New York when Alfred Vanderbilt asked him to come back to work for the New York Racing Association as a liaison between the backstretch and the press box. “When he was going back, he approached me about taking over his job. I didn’t know anything about it, but he said, ‘Joe, don’t worry about a thing, I’m going to recommend ya.’ ” Second thoughts or apprehensions about whether he was cut out for track management never entered his head. “I always felt comfortable there,” Harper said.
“The directors were great to work with. I learned a lot about business from them, especially from Clement Hirsch. The original job title was assistant to the president, and anyone who knew Clement will tell you first off that he was a character, but a great guy. “He always liked to look at both sides of any issue. And even if he were inclined to agree with you, he would purposely take the opposite side in a discussion to see what people had to say to support or justify their position. He taught me a great lesson in looking at problems and issues from both sides in deciding how best to solve them. I’m not a contrarian, but I do like to look at all sides.” The Oak Tree Racing Association and meeting actually came about because Del Mar abandoned fall racing dates after a 1967 season that was a financial disaster. Harper worked that meeting, and the first two for Oak Tree when it commenced in 1969, as a cameraman. “The horses came down and the horsemen came down, but the people didn’t come down [for the Del Mar fall meet],” Harper recalled. “In those days, most of the patrons came down from the L.A. and Orange county areas, and when they were back in school and at work, there weren’t enough San Diego patrons to make it work. “In those days there wasn’t any off-track wagering, and what you got through the gate was it. With 2,000 people a day or so, I think the word was they lost $1 million, so they decided not to do that again.” OAK TREE RACING ASSOCIATION
“Clement Hirsch always liked to look at both sides of any issue. He taught me a great lesson in looking at problems and issues from both sides in deciding how best to solve them.”
Santa Anita photo
A few short years later, Harper was in a high management position for Oak Tree. In one of his first years on the job, in 1973, the mutuel clerks, who had a signed contract, walked out on opening day in dispute over rejection of three union members’ work permits. Normal procedure was for a grievance to be filed and the matter to be settled by arbitration. But aggressive union leaders fomented a walkout that came as 10,000 people arrived for the races. The dispute was settled a few days later and racing resumed. As with any race meeting, controversy and confrontation occurred, but Harper looks back on his time at Oak Tree fondly. “Working for Oak Tree gave me a business experience I otherwise never would have developed. I was pretty naive when it came to reading a balance sheet—remember, this is a guy who got kicked out of three or four different colleges. But when I went to work for Oak Tree, there were three or four guys sitting on the board who were among the most successful businessmen in the country who kind of took me under their wing. I owe them a lot.” After Harper moved to Del Mar, Herman Smith took over as Oak Tree’s Executive VicePresident. Ray Rogers succeeded Smith, and Sherwood C. Chillingworth, who joined the Oak Tree board in 1989, has served as Executive Vice-President since January 1993 and continues in that position today. At Del Mar, Harper in turn mentored Craig Fravel. A former lawyer, Fravel was a Del Mar www.oaktreeracing.com
Thoroughbred Club vice-president starting in 1990, and he took over the titles of president and general manager from Harper early in 2010. In May of 2011, Fravel was named president and CEO of Breeders’ Cup Ltd., the group in charge of racing’s fall championship series, which was staged at Oak Tree five times, most recently backto-back in 2008-09. Fravel’s reflections on Harper: “When I first started and people asked, ‘What’s his job?’ Joe would say, ‘Do everything I don’t want to do.’ But in reality, he let me spend time learning the people and the business and then sprout wings and do the things I wanted to do.” Likewise, Oak Tree is sprouting wings, leaving its longtime home at Santa Anita. After a 2010 meeting at Hollywood Park, Oak Tree may ultimately alight at Del Mar, another not-for-profit race meeting. The marriage could prove a natural. “Times have changed drastically since I started at Oak Tree, and it’s hard to keep the dance going when the band’s changing,” Harper said. “You hate to throw out the concept after all the millions of dollars Oak Tree has poured into equine research and other things.” Said Fravel: “The racing meets run on a not-forprofit basis, where the emphasis is on fan experience and racing, have largely been successful.”
Joe Burnham took the young Harper on as his assistant cinematographer (left). Sherwood C. Chillingworth is currently Oak Tree’s Executive VicePresident.
Hank Wesch is a freelance writer, retired after a 36-year career of sports writing with the San Diego Union-Tribune, and author of the recently released book Del Mar, Where The Turf Meets The Surf. PADDOCK 2011
Up by Their Bootstraps The Winners Foundation, begun by Lou Rowan of Oak Tree, gives people in trouble a leg up on rebuilding their lives. BY ART WILSON
Jo Ann Lopez (talking with jockey David Flores) and Clyde Higgins turned their lives around with help from the Winners Foundation. 34
f the walls on the Winners Foundation’s trailers and offices throughout California could talk, they’d spin a tale or two that might look something like a scene out of the television series “Cops.” Those men and women you see leading the horses in the paddock at Santa Anita? Some of them have problems they can’t deal with and turn to alcohol for relief every chance they get. They don’t think they have a drinking problem, but their numerous DUIs say otherwise. That usher who helped you find your seat last time you sat in the grandstand? She may have gone home later that night and used cocaine or heroin in an effort to forget life’s problems. She might even have drug paraphernalia in her car. Oh, and the mutuel clerk who sold you that winning Daily Double ticket last week? He could have a gambling problem and be placing wagers
with money from the till. If so, chances are he’s three or four months behind in his mortgage payment, waiting for that one big score that will make everything right again. Depressing? The late owner-breeder Lou Rowan, a recovering alcoholic himself, sure thought so. He started the Winners Foundation in 1984 with the help of a generous donation from the not-for-profit Oak Tree Racing Association. Rowan and Herman Smith of Oak Tree were among the organization’s first board members. The Winners Foundation has gradually grown the past two-plus decades with continued financial aid from Oak Tree, the Thoroughbred Owners of California, the California Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Foundation, and the Jockeys’ Guild. It has helped hundreds of people in the industry each year battle substance abuse, gambling problems, marital woes, and anything else OAK TREE RACING ASSOCIATION
“You have to go to meetings, meetings, meetings until you’re sick of them. But I wanted to do it; I wanted to change my life.” —Jo Ann Lopez
Bob Fletcher is the executive director of the Winners Foundation. that adversely affects people’s lives. Bob Fletcher, one of the Winners Foundation’s earliest success stories, is now its executive director. He and his staff see that people in trouble have a welcoming place to come. They set up support meetings, aid in arranging any needed treatment, and work hard to help people help themselves. One problem that has just recently crept up, according to Fletcher, is a fear over horse racing’s future. “We have found a slight increase in people who are just frustrated, sad, afraid because of the downturn in the industry,” Fletcher said. “Will we have a job? Is this track going to close? Where are we going to go? What are we going to do? There’s a lot more fear than there used to be.” But the majority of the hot walkers, trainers, jockeys, mutuel clerks, and management types www.oaktreeracing.com
who visit the Winners Foundation for help are there for much more serious problems. Many are on the fast road to ruin or even death if they don’t change their lifestyles. Jo Ann Lopez, a barn foreman for trainer Jennie Green the past four years, admits she could be dead today if not for the Winners Foundation. She remembers blacking out while driving from Sierra Madre to Arcadia one day, running a stop sign and crashing into another car. “I was probably on my way to get beer or dope or whatever,” she said. Faced with jail time or rehab after more than 30 years of substance abuse, she chose the latter after meeting with Fletcher. She has been sober for close to five years. “Finally, I just said to myself, ‘I’m not going to do it today. No matter what happens, I’m not going to do it today,’ ” Lopez said. “You have to PADDOCK 2011
“Bob Fletcher goes all out. Winners Foundation will go the extra mile for people if they want to be helped.” —Clyde Higgins
Senior case manager LeRoy Martinez and administrative assistant Yolanda Pina help Fletcher at the Winners Foundation.
have an attitude like that, a willpower. And you’ve got to go to meetings, meetings, and [more] meetings until you’re sick of them, but you have to go. But I wanted to do it; I wanted to change my life.” Lopez, 58, lives on the Santa Anita backside, stops by the Winners Foundation office virtually every day, and has turned her life around. She says she’s happy now and knows her life will con-
tinue to improve if she stays on the Winners Foundation’s 12-step program. She knows her story could have had a far different ending. “Everybody has stories; we’ve all been there and we all know them,” she said. “Some did things worse than I did probably. There was a girl one time when I was in rehab whose husband beat her up all the time, and finally one day she just pulled a gun on him. When there are drugs and alcohol involved, there’s always a lot of violence. If you don’t pay that person you get stuff from, then they come after you. There are a lot of bad areas you [normally] wouldn’t go in, but when you’re loaded and drinking, you don’t care.” Clyde Higgins, a 61-year-old San Gabriel resident who has worked the main horsemen’s gate at Santa Anita for the past 3 1/2 years, had been drinking since he was 19. He said alcohol abuse helped destroy his 12-year marriage in 1988 and cost him the two sons he had legally adopted when the couple was married in 1976. “I know now I just wasn’t taking care of
business, keeping the house in order, not paying this or that,” Higgins said. “My wife had a good job with Pacific Bell. I had a great job with Arco, and money was no issue. But she let me take control, and one thing led to another. I got behind on things, and she got tired of that. Drinking was the problem.” It became an even bigger issue after the divorce. Higgins blacked out at a park one day while behind the wheel of his car. Luckily, his foot was on the brakes. He also had four DUIs in one year. “When we got divorced, I kind of lost everything,” Higgins said. “I gave her custody of the two boys. We had two cars, and I gave her both cars. The house was just about paid for, and I put that in her name. I gave her everything, gave her the whole thing, and I had to start over.” Higgins credits Fletcher and the Winners Foundation for his ability to regroup. “If it wasn’t for Bob, I wouldn’t be here right now,” Higgins said. “He’s been very instrumental in my life. It’s a great foundation. I’ve seen it help a lot of people, and it really did help me. I was just really, really down, but Bob told me things like that happen in life and you have to be strong. I had to pull myself back up and get back on track. “One day the light hit me. Once you get so low, you just start coming back up. I had a lot of support around the racetrack, which was one good thing. I just didn’t give up.” Higgins said he hasn’t talked to his two sons in more than 20 years. The youngest joined the Marines, and he doesn’t know what became of the oldest. He said losing them hurt deeply for many years. “I don’t even know where they’re living,” he said. “Later, I fell in love with another woman and that didn’t work out. That hurt too.” But Higgins, who had met Fletcher previously while working with him at Santa Anita in the parking department, had someone he could fall back on for help and has been sober for 18 1/2 years. “The ones that didn’t make it, they didn’t help themselves, because Bob provides good footsteps to go there,” Higgins said. “He goes all out. Winners Foundation will go the extra mile for them if they want to be helped.” Then there’s the story of 59-year-old Bill Beavers, a recovering alcoholic from Arcadia who has been in charge of the liquor at Santa Anita for about 25 years. He stocks all the track’s bars, receives the trucks that deliver all the beer, liquor, OAK TREE RACING ASSOCIATION
and wine, and also does all the ordering. “It’s kind of ironic, but it’s funny too,” said Beavers, who was abusing one substance or another for 45 years until a personal tragedy pushed him over the edge and almost led to his demise. “The truth is, even before I quit drinking, it wasn’t a problem at work. My problem was when I left work.” Beavers’ wife of 16 years died of cancer in 2002, and he lost custody of his son. Suddenly, he didn’t care anymore. He had stopped using drugs in 1979 and stuck to alcohol so “I could be legal.” But when the drinking intensified and his life became a bigger mess, his wife’s brother intervened and had his son taken away. “My son was only 11 at the time, and everything was fine at that point—we got along great,” Beavers said. “But it was afterward that I just went to hell. My drinking and my attitude, even when my son was with me, was what prompted her family to step in and say this isn’t working out. I lost custody of the boy, and I didn’t see him for like a year or two. It was very strained and www.oaktreeracing.com
awkward when we talked on the phone.” After he’d piled up three DUIs in about a three-year span and was spiraling out of control, a co-worker from Clockers’ Corner took him to see Fletcher at the Winners Foundation in 2006. One relapse later, Beavers has reconciled with his son, who is now 20 and a student at Louisiana State University. Beavers has been sober since New Year’s Eve in 2006. His is one of the many feel-good stories that began at Winners Foundation, which helps lead to improved lives. “Besides the fact it’s given me a lot of new friends, it turned my life around,” Beavers said. “It changed it around without any pressure, without any fear, without any reprisals, without anything. It just turned my life around, and I’ve seen these people do this for other people just as well.”
The Winners Foundation conducts English classes as part of its mission to help people.
Art Wilson is a horse-racing writer for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group. PADDOCK 2011
PICKSIX yle t s y e k joc
Martin Pedroza, Patrick Valenzuela, Darrel McHargue, and Steve Valdez each rode six winners in a day at Oak Tree. BY STEVE SCHUELEIN
ockey Martin Pedroza vividly remembers Breedersâ€™ Cup Day 1992, but not for the same reason as the connections of the winners that afternoon at Gulfstream Park. Pedroza rode six winners that day, Oct. 31, to join three other riders to accomplish that feat in the history of the Oak Tree Racing Association race meeting.
Martin Pedroza and Patrick Valenzuela are still riding on the Southern California circuit.
“I was thinking if I rode a tree that day, I could have made it move.” —Martin Pedroza
“I was in a zone that day; I felt like I could do no wrong,” said Pedroza recently as he recalled that dream day 19 years ago. “I was thinking if I rode a tree that day, I could have made it move.” The absence of several leading rivals, who were at the Breeders’ Cup in Florida, facilitated business for longtime agent Richie Silverstein, who put Pedroza aboard three favorites, two second choices, and a third choice that comprised the sextet. Pedroza rode six straight winners that muddy day and had the unusual experience of a fourhour break at the midpoint while seven Breeders’ Cup races were simulcast to the track. “I went home during the break, covered myself
vich with Regal Groom around a maiden score with Cut to Run. The only race that was close was the Commissary, for fillies and mares on a turf course listed “good.” Now Showing, the 3-1 second choice, rallied from fifth along the rail on a day the Red Sea would have parted for Pedroza and got up to win by a head in a three-way photo. Silverstein recalled the role of fate in Pedroza’s big day. “It had rained a couple days before,” said Silverstein. “Crystaltransmitter was not supposed to run, but he was by a good sire on an off track, and I talked [trainer] Brian Mayberry into entering. That was a late audible. “In the Commissary, I had given a call to Jude Feld on Slip With Me, who finished third. Ann Priddy, who trained Now Showing and who I had never ridden for before, came to me, and Jude was kind enough to let me off. “Cut to Run was a 2-year-old trained by Bill McMeans and would have been ridden by Gary Stevens if he had not been at the Breeders’ Cup. Ray Kravagna, Stevens’ agent, recommended Martin to replace him. “I don’t think I ever rode for Ann Priddy or Bill McMeans before or after that day,” said Silverstein of the stars aligning. The Morvich was taken off the soggy hillside turf course and transferred to the main track. “Regal Groom had just won the Pomona Handicap for Caesar Dominguez with a different rider,” said Silverstein, who was in the mix for a Pomona call decided at the last minute. “I kept after Caesar, and he gave me the call for the Morvich.” Pedroza had a chance for a seven-race sweep in the last race of the day, but finished sixth on a 10-1 shot named Forlock. “I thought I had a good chance to win with a horse for Julio Canani, but he decided not to enter,” said Silverstein. “My second choice was a horse for Marcus Murphy who drew the rail and was scratched. Forlock, who was trained by Dave Bernstein, was my third choice.” Pedroza’s achievement was overshadowed by the Breeders’ Cup, but it remains a day the 46year-old veteran will never forget.
pedroza Pedroza completed his sixth win in 1992 aboard Regal Groom.
with a little blanket, and watched the Breeders’ Cup races on television,” said Pedroza of the short commute to nearby Duarte. Pedroza swept the first three races in the morning aboard Redneck Ways and Father Six to Five in claiming events and Crystaltransmitter in an allowance test. The Panamanian native returned in the afternoon from his prolonged break and remained in his groove, sandwiching minor stakes wins in the Commissary aboard Now Showing and the Mor-
VALENZUELA MAGIC Jockey Patrick Valenzuela’s magic day in 1988 included a victory aboard a 3-year-old maiden named Magic Johnson. OAK TREE RACING ASSOCIATION
Four Footed Fotos
“I love basketball and used to go to Lakers games all the time with Doc Kerlan,” said Valenzuela of famed orthopedic specialist Robert Kerlan, Los Angeles Lakers team physician and co-owner of the horse. “I met Magic once in the locker room after the game, and he said, ‘You’re Patrick Valenzuela? I’m a fan of yours,’ ” said Valenzuela, both flattered and surprised. “And I said, ‘Wow, I’m a fan of yours!’ ” Both athletes dished out their magic in different sports at the heights of their careers in Los Angeles at the time of the sextet on Oct. 21, four days after Valenzuela’s 26th birthday. There was magic in the air from the outset as
of wish you could take the name back.” On this day, however, Magic Johnson proved best in $32,000 claiming company, battling for the early lead before drawing off to a 1 3/4length score. Valenzuela, who rode in all nine races, came back to win the fourth on Caro’s Ruler for Joe Manzi, the sixth on Defend Your Man for Jimmy Jordan, the seventh on Beat for Neil Drysdale, and the ninth on Unrepressed for Jerry Fanning. “That was a real cool day; I was blessed to have a day like that,” said Valenzuela. “It all kind of fell together well, and I only got beat a neck in one of the other races [fourth in a five-horse blanket finish]. You know me; I go in optimistic every day and feel like I’m going to win every race. And when a day starts like that, it gives you more confidence. “You know, I’ve always got the fans behind me, and they kept yelling, ‘C’mon, Patrick, win another one!’ after each win,” recalled Valenzuela of the uplifting crowd clamor. “I told Jerry that we’d win the last race,” said Valenzuela of greeting Fanning in the paddock before the nightcap. “I had already won five, and I told him we had a heckuva shot.” MCHARGUE MASTERY Oct. 25, 1979, was a day when Darrel McHargue could do no wrong. “Every time it came to an opening, it opened up clearly,” recalled McHargue of his six-win day. “Things were just falling into line. Whatever decision you made, it was the right decision.” McHargue, who now makes decisions on the rides of other jockeys from the stewards’ booth, primarily at Northern California tracks, credited agent Scotty McClellan for lining up the winning mounts. “They were all live horses, and from good barns,” said McHargue of a duo of winners for trainer Gary Jones and one each for Richard Mandella, Tommy Doyle, D. Wayne Lukas, and David Hofmans. Three were favorites, two were second choices, and one was a third choice. The only “name” horse of the six was Great Lady M., who led all the way to win the $25,000 allowance feature by 4 1/4 lengths in 1:08 4/5 for six furlongs. Great Lady M. won several major
a l e u z n e val Valenzuela won the opener on Raise You, a 3-1 shot trained by Marcus Murphy. He came back in the second race on Magic Johnson, a California-bred trained and bred by Mike Mitchell. “I had to go through Doc Kerlan to get permission to name the horse Magic Johnson,” said Mitchell. “He didn’t turn out to be much horse, which is kind of embarrassing. You kind www.oaktreeracing.com
“I’ve always got the fans behind me, and they kept yelling, ‘C’mon, Patrick, win another one!’ after each win.” —Patrick Valenzuela
Valenzuela won six on one card four days after turning 26.
Four Footed Fotos
stakes and became the dam of Lady’s Secret, Horse of the Year in 1986. McHargue won a pair of claiming races for Jones, the opener on a 3-year-old colt named Bold Seventeen and the fifth on a 2-year-old colt named Getaway Mandate. Jones was happy to have McHargue aboard, especially with the latter. McHargue rode first-call for Jones after winning an Eclipse Award the previous year. “Getaway Mandate’s dam, Miss Rose Away, was the craziest mare you ever saw, and she passed some of her craziness on,” said Jones of her nutsy son.
nothing compares with the highs and lows of racing, and that day was definitely one of the highs.” NEARLY SEVEN “I remember that day very well,” said Steve Valdez from his home in New Plymouth, Idaho. “I won six and should have won seven.” The date was Oct. 15, 1973, and teenage apprentice sensation Valdez was immune from making any mistakes. Valdez had already won six of the first eight races when he climbed aboard Aberion Bob, the 4-5 favorite, in the nightcap.
Bill Vassar Photography
“Every time it came to an opening, it opened up clearly.”
mchargue Darrel McHargue won six in 1979 and today works as a steward.
McHargue’s only close win was in the second race aboard Keith’s Reb, who snatched a threeway photo separated by noses. The jockey also won the sixth race with Misty Mem and the nightcap with First Victory. On the nine-race card, McHargue had seven mounts. His only loss occurred in the seventh race aboard Qualification, who finished fourth in a five-horse field, beaten by about two lengths. McHargue retired in 1989 before making the switch to become a steward. “It’s good because it keeps you in the game,” said McHargue, 57, from Golden Gate Fields of his second career. “But
“I made the lead in the stretch and was going to win,” said Valdez. “But he broke down inside the eighth pole, and I was pulling him up the last sixteenth.” Aberion Bob finished third, beaten by four lengths. Valdez’s sextet came as no surprise to him. “At that time, in my mind, I could win every race,” said Valdez 38 years later. “I was 17 at the time, and you couldn’t beat me. I thought I was [Eddie] Arcaro.” Valdez’s big day put an exclamation point on a year in which he became the first West Coast jockey to win an Eclipse Award as leading OAK TREE RACING ASSOCIATION
“At the time in my mind, I could win every race.”
valdez apprentice, an achievement not repeated for 27 years until Tyler Baze earned the honor in 2000. Valdez thanked his agent, George Hollander, for enabling him to run away with Oak Tree honors with 36 wins and putting him in contact with leading barns. Three of his wins that day were for a brash young New York transplant named Bobby Frankel, and two were for veteran Bob Wheeler. After finishing last in the first race, Valdez won back-to-back races for Wheeler and owner Hastings Harcourt, the first by a neck on 8.40-1 Cheung and the second on 21-1 outsider Noche de Gala by disqualification. Noche de Gala crossed the wire second, a half-length behind Monter under Don Pierce, but Valdez lodged a claim of foul and stewards reversed the order of finish for interference in the stretch. “Pierce packed me out and took me out to the middle of the racetrack,” said Valdez, who was rallying on the outside. “Otherwise, I would have beaten him.” After finishing second by seven lengths in the fourth race on My Broadside, Valdez won the fifth for Frankel on Pataha Prince, part of an www.oaktreeracing.com
entry favored at 7-10. Valdez returned to capture the sixth aboard On Tune, a 6.50-1 shot trained by Ray Priddy, husband of the conditioner who put Pedroza on one of his six winners 19 years later. Valdez continued his spree by guiding favored Phoenix Fats to victory in the seventh for Frankel. He completed his big day in the eighth aboard Golden Doc Ray, a 4.70-1 shot who won by a neck on turf for Frankel and owner Marion Frankel, no relation to the trainer and also the owner of Pataha Prince. Valdez encountered weight problems after losing his bug and rode on and off through 1996 before moving to Idaho 11 years ago. He currently works in partnership with Don Horne in a company called Bulls Are Us, which owns about a dozen bucking bulls that compete in rodeos in the Pacific Northwest. “I’m proud of what I did that day,” said Valdez. “I know I’m in very elite company.”
© Bill Mochon
Courtesy Steve Valdez
Steve Valdez now wrangles bulls in Idaho and rode six winners in 1973.
Steve Schuelein is a freelance turf writer, Hollywood Park publicist, and Southern California correspondent for Thoroughbred Times. He is based in Playa Del Rey, Calif. PADDOCK 2011
Hard Work Rewards Hollendorfer Trainer of champion Blind Luck, California-based Jerry Hollendorfer this year was inducted into the national Hall of Fame.
Jerry Hollendorfer dominated Northern California while also winning such races as the Santa Anita Handicap, Kentucky Oaks, and Haskell Invitational.
t is typical of the man that when Jerry Hollendorfer spoke upon his induction into the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame, he talked of how good the trainers and horses are on the West Coast rather than about himself. “The East Coast is important, and sometimes they don’t know what we do out on the West Coast,” said Hollendorfer. “But there are a lot of very good horses and trainers there and a lot of competition.” All California trainers—especially those who ply their trade in Northern California—know that much of that competition comes from Hollendorfer’s stable. He was a one-person juggernaut in Bay Area racing for decades. Take any race any day, and chances are one or more Hollendorfer runners had the event surrounded. Consider what Hollendorfer accomplished in
Northern California before he ventured south on a more permanent basis: 37 straight training titles at Bay Meadows and 38 titles at Golden Gate Fields. He has won more than 6,000 races, with career earnings of well over $120 million, much of it in Northern California. Along the way, the 65-year-old native of Akron, Ohio, managed to win training titles at Arlington Park and Thistledown as well. And for someone based in California, he sure found ways to win the Kentucky Oaks. Three times he has swooped in and won the companion jewel to the Kentucky Derby—with Lite Light in 1991, Pike Place Dancer in 1996, and the incomparable Blind Luck in 2010. Blind Luck, last year’s champion 3-year-old filly, may have propelled Hollendorfer into the Hall of Fame, but he couldn’t have reached that OAK TREE RACING ASSOCIATION
“I’ve had some great employees to help me over the years, and you can’t get in the Hall of Fame without these people.” —Jerry Hollendorfer
pinnacle without the rest of his vast stable. Over the years, they have included California-bred King Glorious (1989 Haskell Invitational), Heatseeker (2008 Santa Anita Handicap), Dakota Phone (2010 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile), and the good distaffers Tuscan Evening and Hystericalady. As tough as Blind Luck was last year, when she added the Alabama Stakes and Las Virgenes Stakes to her Oaks victory, she is proving even more exciting in 2011. She and East Coast-based Havre de Grace have staged a series of battles that may be www.oaktreeracing.com
the best rivalry ever between female racehorses. Hollendorfer credits the people around him with his success. “I’ve enjoyed being an owner as well as a trainer, and I’ve enjoyed working with many top riders like Russell Baze,” said Hollendorfer at the induction ceremonies in Saratoga on Aug. 12. “We’ve won more than 2,500 races together. I’ve had some great employees to help me over the years, and you can’t get here without these people. It’s very special.” Chief among Hollendorfer’s assistants are his wife, Janet, who is also his stable manager, and Dan Ward, who manages the Southern California division when Hollendorfer is out of town. The trainer has many longtime owners, with whom he partners on several of his runners, people like Dr. Mark DeDomenico, George Todaro, and Ted Aroney. Aroney, who owned King Glorious and now is the racing manager for the Craig Family Trust, hosted a beach party at Del Mar about two weeks before the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies to toast and roast his longtime friend. Trainer John Sadler, a dominant force in Southern California who used to race against Hollendorfer in Northern California, paid tribute to his colleague at the beach party. Sadler noted that Hollendorfer always does his homework, is a hard worker, and thoroughly deserved his Hall of Fame honor. “You look at his numbers and horses like Lite Light, King Glorious, and now Blind Luck, and there’s no question he belongs,” said Sadler.
Hollendorfer with other California-based Hall of Fame trainers Bob Baffert, Richard Mandella, Jack Van Berg, Ron McAnally, and Neil Drysdale (top) and with his current champion Blind Luck (left)
Trevor Jones /thoroughbredphoto.com
A L O O K AT T H E P E O P L E , H O R S E S , A N D P R O J E C T S T H AT M A K E O A K T R E E U N I Q U E
Chachamaidee, ridden by Tom Queally, won the 2011 Oak Tree Stakes at Goodwood in England.
Oak Tree Stakes, Unbeaten Frankel Highlight Glorious Goodwood
Trevor Jones /thoroughbredphoto.com
HE SPOTLIGHT SHONE ON trainer Sir Henry Cecil and jockey Tom Queally when they won the Oak Tree Stakes at Glorious Goodwood—but not quite as brightly as just two days before, when this same team guided Frankel to victory in the Qipco Sussex Stakes at the English racecourse in late July. The Oak Tree Stakes for fillies and mares at seven furlongs is a highly regarded Group III fixture, named for the Oak Tree Racing Association. Yet Oak Tree had another connection this year in Frankel, the 3-year-old named for Oak Tree’s all-time leading stakes-winning trainer, the late Bobby Frankel. Owned by Juddmonte Farm, Frankel was a five-length winner of the Sussex, where he stepped out for the first time against older horses and put his unbeaten record of seven on the line. It was his fourth Group I victory. Frankel’s chief competition was Canford Cliffs, who beat Goldikova in his previous start and who boasted a five-race winning streak. He finished second to Frankel. Cecil, who now has won the one-mile Sussex Stakes six times, said of Frankel, “He’s a very, very good horse, probably the best I’ve ever seen.” Since 1982, the Oak Tree Racing Association and Goodwood have enjoyed a warm reciprocal relationship across the Atlantic, each naming a major stakes for the other. Oak Tree’s Goodwood Stakes has lured outstanding competitors and with its positioning ahead of the Breeders’ Cup has been an instrumental lead-up for success for the championship races. The favorite for the 2011 Oak Tree Stakes at Goodwood, Maqaasid, OAK TREE RACING ASSOCIATION
Trevor Jones /thoroughbredphoto.com
Trevor Jones /thoroughbredphoto.com
was saddled by John Gosden, a familiar name at Oak Tree meetings from when he trained full time in California and when he took part in Breeders’ Cup races hosted by Oak Tree at Santa Anita. Maqaasid could finish only fifth, however, as Chachamaidee provided Cecil with an impressive effort in the Oak Tree. Owned by R.A.H. Evans and bred in Ireland, the 4-year-old got to the lead in the final furlong and won by nearly three lengths with Queally up. n
Gino Roncelli (left), representing the Oak Tree Racing Association, presented the trophy to trainer Henry Cecil, who also trains unbeaten Frankel (top).
Chaplaincy Benefits from Oak Tree Donations
HE RACE TRACK CHAPLAINCY of America and the Oak Tree Racing Association grew up together, and Oak Tree has been a major benefactor of the California divisions ever since. Salty Roberts founded the national organization in the early 1970s, and today Eddie Meza in Southern California and Chris Belluomini in Northern California serve as chaplains to the racing industry. Begun as a non-denominational Christian organization, the California chapters have expanded beyond their spiritual beginnings. Meza explained that the chaplaincy is dedicated to helping the people within the racing industry any way it can, regardless of a person’s religious beliefs. “I believe that the Race Track Chaplaincy belongs to the people of the racetrack,” said Meza. The chaplaincy aids backstretch workers with everything from applying for citizenship to translation and filing taxes. The Southern California division works with local churches, the YMCA, and teen support groups. In Northern California, Belluomini organizes clothing donation drives and food banks, both of which are available free to backstretch workers. He is trying to begin English classes as well. Recently, the Northern California chaplaincy worked with the University of California at Berkeley and the city of Albany on a mural therapy project. About 40 backstretch workers participated in creating a 12-foot mural, which now hangs in the recreation hall at Golden Gate Fields. The chaplaincy also sponsors picnics to foster a sense of community among those on the backstretch. It works in conjunction with other groups, such as the Winners Foundation and the California Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Foundation. www.oaktreeracing.com
The chaplaincy is able to help people primarily because of Oak Tree, Meza said. “They’ve supported us for 40 years,” he said. “Every time we said we were going to hold an activity, they would open up the doors and sponsor us.” n
Eddie Meza (left) and Chris Belluomini are the chaplains in Southern and Northern California, respectively. This mural (below) was a therapy project coordinated by the Northern chapter.
Beryl and Noble Threewitt were popular at California racetracks.
Racing Loses Noble Threewitt
OBLE THREEWITT, WHO CARED passionately for horses and the people who worked with them, died in September 2010 at age 99, two months after the death of his wife of 77 years, Beryl. A Thoroughbred trainer from 1932 until his retirement in 2007, Threewitt won the Wood Memorial and Florida Derby with Correlation, the Swaps and San Rafael Stakes with Devoted Brass, the California Derby with Cuzwuzwrong, and the San Carlos Handicap with Debonaire Junior. His other stakes winners include Old Topper, Theresa’s Tizzy, Cerise Reine, Hairless Heiress, and Hula Blaze. King of Cricket, a sprinter, set track records at four California tracks during the 1970s for Threewitt. The venerable conditioner was witness to plenty of racing history. He was at Agua Caliente racetrack in Tijuana when Australian champion Phar Lap won the Agua Caliente Handicap in 1932. He attended the inaugurals of Santa Anita Park in 1934, Bay Meadows the same year, Del Mar in 1938, Hollywood Park in 1938, and Golden Gate Fields in 1941.
Although he was known to be one of the earliest arrivals in the stable area each day, Threewitt did not spend his whole time with the horses. Vitally concerned with the welfare of backstretch workers, he served many years as president of the California Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association and as a national vice president of the HBPA. He also was president of the California Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Foundation, of which he was the leading organizer. Its purpose was—and is—to provide broad health and welfare services for anyone who works on the backstretch. Its facility at Santa Anita, which is also its headquarters, is named in his honor. (See the article about the CTHF on page 23.) Noble and Beryl Threewitt were popular figures at the tracks and knew everyone. “I used to tell people that one of the wonderful things about this business is that you meet people from all walks of life,” Threewitt said in an interview. Certainly one of those was actress Mae West, whom Threewitt met during the filming of the 1935 movie “Goin’ to Town,” in which Noble played a jockey. n OAK TREE RACING ASSOCIATION
Zenyatta’s Owners Receive Pincay Award
19 races in a row, losing only once when she nearly caught Blame in ERRY AND ANN MOSS, owners of champion Zenyatta, received the eighth annual Laffit Pincay Jr. Award July 9 at Hollywood Park. the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs. Jerry Moss has served as a member of the California Horse Racing They followed the Oak Tree Racing Association, which received the Board since being appointed in 2003. Ann Moss is an active environaward in 2010. Hall of Fame jockey Pincay made the presentation during the Hollywood Gold Cup card. The Award is presented annu- mentalist and founder of the Dolphin Connection. The Pincay Award began in 2004 by honoring racing executive and ally to people or organizations that have served racing with integrity, publicist Bob Benoit, who also created Paddock magazine. Other Pinextraordinary dedication, determination, and distinction. cay honorees are trainer Noble Threewitt, trainers Mel and Warren “Racing owes the Mosses a debt of gratitude for keeping Zenyatta Stute, California owner-breeder E. W. “Bud” Johnston, steward Pete in training for an extra year [in 2010],’’ said Pincay. “They have been Pedersen, and jockey Merlin Volzke. n huge supporters of the sport for a long period of time and have continued to promote racing in numerous ways.” During Pincay’s riding career, he piloted Ruhlmann for the Mosses and trainer Charlie Whittingham to win the 1989 Mervyn LeRoy Handicap at Hollywood. Jerry Moss, co-founder of A&M Records with Herb Alpert, has been involved as a Thoroughbred owner since 1970, owning such stakes winners such as 2005 Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo, Fighting Fit, Kudos, Sardula, and Tiago. However, Zenyatta, Horse of the Year in 2010 and a multiple champion, is the best horse the Mosses have ever campaigned. Trained by John Shirreffs, she became the first female ever to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic, prevailing under regular jockey Mike Smith in 2009 at Santa Jerry and Ann Moss with their champion mare Zenyatta. Anita. Zenyatta won her first
Videos Show Careers for Retired Racehorses
HE OAK TREE CHARITABLE Foundation provided funding for seven “webinars” (web seminars) about second careers for Thoroughbreds produced by the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association. Tat Yakutis McCabe of Yakutis Enterprises edited the videos. Interviews with people in California involved in developing new careers for Thoroughbreds after racing reveal how they work with the horses to find their most suitable skills, such as retraining as hunters, jumpers, and dressage competitors. One webinar is about
an exhibition at Cal Expo in Sacramento that gave the public insight into the many uses for former racehorses. In several cases, footage of the horses winning races is shown alongside video of their follow-up careers in other equine activities. You can find the seven videos on Oak Tree’s YouTube channel at OakTreeRaces or at yakutisenterprises.com. There is also a link to the videos on the CTBA site (www.ctba.com) under the “After Racing” tab near the top of the home page. Each video is under 10 minutes in length. n PADDOCK 2011
Oak Tree on the Internet
OU MAY BE HOLDING a traditional magazine in your hands right now, but it is also a portal to the Internet. You can find the Oak Tree Racing Association in many places online. Oak Tree has a website as well as Facebook and Twitter accounts and a YouTube channel. You may have already experienced the YouTube channel back on pages 28-29 of this Paddock magazine. There you can access videos of the amazing John Henry and Zenyatta winning their three consecutive stakes at Oak Tree. The YouTube channel is called OakTreeRaces, and you can browse other Oak Tree races and events there as well. Check out Oak Tree information on its website at www.oaktreeracing.com. Like us on Facebook at Oak Tree Racing Association, and follow us on Twitter at @OakTreeRaces. n
Find Oak Tree videos on YouTube on the OakTreeRaces channel.
Yellow Ribbon Winner, Champion Brown Bess Dies
Four Footed Fotos
OOK UP BROWN BESS on the Internet, and most of the inforBrown Bess was bred in California and campaigned by Suzanne mation is about a historically famous British flintlock musket Pashayan’s Calbourne Farm exclusively in her home state. She put into use in the early 1700s raced extensively in Northern and used in numerous wars California for trainer Chuck around the world. Jenda, earning eight of her The Brown Bess who won 11 stakes victories there. the 1989 Yellow Ribbon InviOverall, Brown Bess won tational Stakes at Oak Tree was 16 of 36 races and placed in a formidable weapon, too. The 30 of them. 15-hand powerhouse by She was the first of four Petrone from the Windy Sands Yellow Ribbon winners mare Chickadee used her Yelnamed champion turf female low Ribbon victory to assure the same year. The others earning the title of champion were Ryafan in 1997, Fiji grass mare that year, when she in 1998, and Golden Apples was 7 years old. The Yellow in 2002. Ribbon was her fifth graded Brown Bess died at age 29 stakes win of 1989. Her time on July 15 at John C. Harris’ for the 1 1/4 miles was Harris Farms, where she had 1:57 3/5, a fifth of a second spent several years in retireslower than the course record. ment. n Brown Bess won the 1989 Yellow Ribbon Invitational at Oak Tree.
Oak Tree Supports Horse and Human Welfare
AK TREE RACING ASSOCIATION’S intense interest in caring for Thoroughbreds and the people who work with them is reflected in the organization’s donations for the last fiscal year. Oak Tree, which is a not-for-profit endeavor, has given more than $27 million to such causes and to community organizations since it began racing in 1969. Among the groups concerned with retired racehorses that have received support by the Oak Tree Racing Association and Charitable Foundation are the United Pegasus Foundation, Tranquility Farm, and the California Equine Retirement Foundation (CERF).
Research groups that have benefited from Oak Tree include the Northern and Southern California Equine Foundations, which operate veterinary hospitals at the tracks, and the Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory. The welfare of track workers was supported with gifts to the Winners Foundation, California Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Foundation, Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund, Edwin J. Gregson Foundation, and Race Track Chaplaincy of America, Northern and Southern California chapters. n OAK TREE RACING ASSOCIATION
oak Tree Beyond 2011
OR 42 SEASONS, the Oak Tree Racing Association has conducted a
fall race meeting, with the proceeds going to support such worthy
causes as you have read about in the pages of this issue of Paddock magazine. In 2011, for the first time in its history, Oak Tree will not be conducting a race meeting. Those organizations that help the racing industry—both its people and its equine competitors—have seen a corresponding and necessary cutting back in the funds Oak Tree has been able to donate. However, the intent is that this is a brief hiatus only. Oak Tree is pursuing a new partnership with the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club and will apply for racing dates for the fall of 2013. “While our future dates have not been resolved yet, we are anticipating returning to a racing status,” said Sherwood C. Chillingworth, Oak Tree’s Executive Vice-President. “We anticipate resolution of this issue sometime before the end of the year.” n
Oak Tree Racing Association Santa Anita Park Arcadia, California 91007-3439
PADDOCK is published annually by the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association (CTBA), with offices at 201 Colorado Place, Arcadia, CA 91...