SANTA ANITA : First Step in an Uphill Derby Battle Takes Place Sunday for Bertrando


The Breeders' Cup Juvenile was a tour de force for Arazi, but for him as well as many of the horses in pursuit that November day at Churchill Downs, the race was physically damaging.

Arazi underwent operations on both knees a few days after the Breeders' Cup, and several other horses in the field also required surgery. Some of them have been slow resuming the road to the Kentucky Derby this year, and a few besides Arazi have yet to return to the races.

Bertrando, who finished second, five lengths behind Arazi, didn't require surgery because of the Breeders' Cup, but suffered an injured hoof and sore shins. With the Derby only seven weeks away, Bertrando will make his first start as a 3-year-old in Sunday's $200,000 San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita.

Six other horses are entered in the 1 1/16-mile San Felipe. Natural Nine, with David Flores riding, drew the inside. The others, in order, are Pecos River and Laffit Pincay; Al Sabin, Gary Stevens; Bertrando, Alex Solis; Arp, Chris McCarron; Prince Wild, Eddie Delahoussaye; and Hickman Creek, Pat Valenzuela. Bertrando will carry 122 pounds, six more than his rivals.

The Breeders' Cup Juvenile was Bertrando's first loss. The California-bred son of Skywalker had won three in a row before going to Kentucky, breaking his maiden in late August at Del Mar, winning the Del Mar Futurity about two weeks later and winning the Norfolk Stakes by nine lengths at Santa Anita in October.

Bertrando has turned in some excellent workouts and might have run sooner this year, but he lost some time because of the rain at Santa Anita.

The other day, Bertrando, who works best when paired with other horses, spotted a stablemate 15 lengths during a seven-furlong exercise and passed him at the quarter pole, finishing in 1:24 3/5 and galloping out a mile in 1:37 for trainer Bruce Headley.

The San Felipe horses are hoping to use Sunday's race as a steppingstone to the 1 1/8-mile Santa Anita Derby on April 4. Waiting to run in that race is A.P. Indy, winner of the Hollywood Futurity and San Rafael Stakes.

R.D. Hubbard, board chairman at Hollywood Park, has become the track's largest stockholder with a recent purchase that cost more than $6.2 million.

In private transactions, Hubbard bought 517,733 shares at $12 a share, which brings his investment in Hollywood Park to 15.6% of the company.

Hubbard would not say whom he bought the shares from, but another Hollywood Park shareholder, who declined to be identified, said that a substantial amount was sold by Tom Gamel, who had been one of the track's largest shareholders.

Before Hubbard's purchase, the largest Hollywood Park investors were Harry Ornest and his family, who own slightly less than 10%.

"I bought this latest stock at 50 cents to a dollar over the market value," Hubbard said. "I believe in the long-term potential for the growth of racing at the track, and this purchase reflects the confidence I have."

Besides Hollywood Park, Hubbard's racing interests include the Woodlands, which races both greyhounds and horses in Kansas City, Kan.; Ruidoso Downs, a quarter horse track in New Mexico, and a greyhound track in Portland, Ore.

Hubbard is also heading a group that has applied for a racing license that would enable him to build a track in the Dallas area. Hollywood Park would have a 24% interest in the Texas track if the state grants Hubbard the license. Hearings for the applicants might start in June.

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