LOS ALAMITOS : Creager Returns to Winner’s Circle
With more than 2,500 victories in his 24-year riding career, jockey John Creager won’t list last Sunday’s $11,150 Vandy’s Flash Handicap among his biggest. Still, it probably won’t soon be forgotten.
The victory aboard Zesty Re Run was Creager’s first of the weekend and marked his return to the winner’s circle since he suffered multiple injuries in a spill in Idaho in late July.
The 40-year-old Creager, who won the 1982 Champion of Champions aboard Sgt. Pepper Feature, traveled to Les Bois Park on the last weekend of July for a stakes race. He accepted an additional mount before the stake and, in that race, was thrown over his filly’s head when she stumbled after the start.
“The trainer asked if I’d ride this filly and I said sure. I thought it might help me out,” said Creager, who finished the first weekend of the quarter horse season with two victories, two seconds, and five thirds in 17 mounts. “She stumbled out of the gate, kicked me and stepped on my back.”
Creager suffered three broken ribs, a dislocated thumb and a back injury. He began rehabilitative swimming 10 days ago, at the same time the cast was removed from his hand. He galloped horses on Aug. 16-17 and qualified horses last Wednesday and Thursday. He had hoped to pick up a mount in the $150,000 Governor’s Cup Futurity on Aug. 17 at the Orange County Racing Fair, but had no luck.
“I’m a lot better this week than last week, so a couple of days didn’t hurt,” he said. “The ribs still tickle a little bit. I’ve been pretty lucky; that’s the longest I’ve missed. I’ve broken my collarbone and been out three weeks before but that’s the first time I’ve worn a cast.”
Zesty Re Run was winless in his first three starts this year, including a loss by a neck at Bay Meadows to Takin On The Cash, the reigning West Cost 3-year-old star, in the Foster City Handicap on May 24. Sunday night, Zesty Re Run battled Sweeten The Pot before winning the 350-yard race by a head in 17.75 seconds for his first stakes victory.
Zesty Re Run, who has won four of nine starts for owner Betty Cott, will be pointed to the Los Alamitos Derby on Oct. 25, but may have an additional start before the trials, according to trainer Dennis Ekins.
Two quarter horses were scratched last weekend by the California Horse Racing Board because of a developing controversy surrounding the horses’ sire of record, Nublado.
Nu Directions was scratched from Saturday’s ninth race and Nublado Jet was withdrawn from Sunday’s seventh race. Both horses were listed as having been sired by Nublado, a thoroughbred stallion, but might actually have been sired by other stallions standing at Richlyn Farms in Hemet.
A lawsuit has been filed by trainer Dean Gallo and horse owner Judd Morse, who train and own Nu Directions, charging Richlyn Farms operators Dick and Cheryl Weening with negligent misrepresentation, fraud and conspiracy.
The CHRB barred 15 horses Saturday whose pedigree have come under question. Morse owns 11 of those horses, among them Dream Team and Ever So, whom Morse had intended to enter in tonight’s California Sires Cup Futurity Trials.
Morse maintains that blood-typing tests at UC Davis indicate that Nublado is not the sire of 11 of his horses, and that the sires are Browns Dasher or Speeding Holme, depending on the individual animal. Morse and Gallo will attend a CHRB board meeting in Del Mar on Friday, when the issue is expected to be discussed.
“We’d like to see blood-typing in these quarter horses mandatory,” said Gallo. “I’m going to the board meeting on Friday at Del Mar and there’s a rumor they might make blood-testing mandatory. California may require something that the AQHA (American Quarter Horse Assn., the ruling body of quarter horse racing) doesn’t.”
Blood testing is conducted by the governing bodies of thoroughbred and harness racing, the Jockey Club and the United States Trotting Assn.
Meanwhile, the 15 horses may not be raced, which angers trainer Charles Treece, who missed a racing opportunity with Nublado Jet--the 9-5 morning line favorite in Sunday’s seventh race.
“We’re going to get a blood test done,” he said. “This is not a real outstanding horse, but it’s making (owner Orville Miller) a little money. It’s the man’s first horse and he’s not real high on racing right now.”
Treece said that for the horses to return to the track, the pedigrees will have to be verified and, if found to be incorrect, switched. Then the correct sire registration papers would need to be resubmitted and the horse would be renamed. He said he hoped that the process could be completed “within a week, but there’s no real set time.”
Richlyn Farms has five breeding stallions.
“Supposedly, they’ve taken blood tests but nothing has been proven yet,” said Dick Weening. “I’ve gotten a lot of publicity lately and it’s killing me.
“My reputation is at stake. I breed 300 foals a year and a mistake could have been made. It’s not unreasonable that it could have happened. At this point, I’m out of business.”
Nublado is far from the most fashionable sire in quarter horse racing. In 1990, Nublados Casino, a foal of 1985, was his richest offspring of the year with earnings of $10,023.
Trainer Bryan Braithwaite added to his 25-horse stable last Friday in a fashion. His 4-year-old filly, GG Valentine, gave birth to a colt late Friday afternoon on the Los Alamitos backstretch.
Braithwaite was traveling on Friday, bringing a load of horses from Pleasanton, and missed the birth.
He bought GG Valentine in March, stopped training her in June, but thought she was a month or two away from foaling.
“We didn’t think it would be born this soon,” he said. “It’s leaving Thursday to go back to Arizona.”
Braithwaite, who tied for seventh in the Arabian trainer standings at the recently concluded Bay Meadows meeting, said GG Valentine will return to training at the end of the year.
“We’re going to give her four months off and bring her back,” he said. “She should be back. It’ll take us three (more) months to get her ready (for a race).”
As for the foal, Braithwaite said he might make a race horse, too. He spends a few moments after training hours exercising with his mother between the barns and is doing well, according to the trainer.
“He’ll be a race horse,” Braithwaite said with a smile.
Los Alamitos Notes
Two horses that were successful at Bay Meadows won stakes races on opening weekend at Los Alamitos. Isaws Sugar Bear, a 4-year-old filly, won the $21,900 Miss Princess Handicap on Friday night. She was third in the Peninsula Championship at Bay Meadows behind Takin On The Cash. Trainer Bob Gilbert said Isaws Sugar Bear will be pointed to the Vessels Maturity Trials on Sept. 20.
Golden Rustler, the 123-pound high weight, won his third stakes of the year in Saturday’s Kaweah Bar handicap. He also won the Yorba Linda Handicap at Los Alamitos in February and the May 17 Inaugural Handicap at Bay Meadows. He was ridden by Eddie Garcia, who won by half a length in a hand ride. Garcia had four victories Saturday, and Ralph Pauline had three on Sunday’s program. Trainers Daryn Charlton, Charles Bloomquist and Ekins, had three winners each over the weekend.
Tonight’s program is highlighted by four California Sires Cup Futurity Trials. One stake is scheduled for the weekend, the $10,000-added Leo Handicap for 2-year-olds at 350 yards Saturday. . . . Kip Didericksen rides Bay Meadows Futurity winner Ed Grimley in Monday’s $2-million All-American Futurity, the world’s richest quarter horse race.
Average handle for the first three nights was $1,026,185. Sunday’s program will offer 10 races instead of 12.