The old timers getting ready for next weekend's Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita could have been excused if they thought they'd entered a time machine before Saturday's fourth race.
A glance at the program showed jockeys who hadn't ridden a race in many years -- in some cases, decades. Among them were 65-year-old Angel Cordero Jr., 64-year-old Jacinto Vasquez and 59-year-old Sandy Hawley.
All eight riders in the "Living Legends Race" were Hall of Famers, also including Jerry Bailey, 51, Pat Day, 55, Gary Stevens, 45, Chris McCarron, 53, and Julie Krone, 45.
The winner was Hawley, who picked up his 6,450th career win aboard Tribal Chief. It didn't take much strategy -- Hawley's mount led virtually from gate to wire and won by 6 1/2 lengths. It was a typical ride from the Canadian native's past. He was known for rating a horse on the lead.
"The horse dragged me around there real nice," he said. "It's a great thrill. I'll have to find out when he's running back. Maybe I can get the call."
The horse has celebrity owners, too -- Herb and David Alpert, the co-founders of A&M Records and the leaders of the Tijuana Brass.
A few of the jockeys seemed reinvigorated by the competition.
"I rode in an exhibition race a year after I retired and it didn't refire me," said Chris McCarron. "Son of a gun, this did. Is there anything open next Friday or Saturday? I'm here."
After Hawley, the jockeys' order of finish was: Bailey, Stevens, Day, Krone, Vasquez, McCarron and Cordero.
With a week to go before the Breeders' Cup World Championships at Santa Anita, major weekend action around the country included:
Calder Race Course
Big Drama completed a sweep of the Florida Stallion Series events for colts and geldings, stalking the pace, then drawing off in the stretch to win Saturday's $400,000 In Reality Division by 5 lengths over Three Part Harmony. Edgemoor finished third. Big Drama, a Montbrook colt, ran the 1 1/16 miles in 1:47.12 as the even-money favorite. Winning trainer David Fawkes said it appeared Big Drama was trapped on the rail behind Three Part Harmony early but got free to come through on the rail. "Whenever you have the favorite, they try to race ride you," he said. "This horse overcame a lot today and showed he has a lot of guts." Big Drama became the sixth horse to sweep an FSS series, which started in 1982.
La Chica Sensual rallied four-wide at the top of the lane and drew off handily to win Saturday's $400,000 My Dear Girl Division of the Florida Stallion Stakes by 4 1/2 lengths over Trippi's Greatstar. Exe finished third. La Chica Sensual missed by a head winning all three legs of the series, finishing second in the Susan's Girl Division. She ran Saturday's 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:48.41 under Eddie Castro. "It's a shame she couldn't win the 'Triple Crown,'" said winning trainer Pablo Andrade. "But that's racing … As she develops, I think she's going to like the longer distances."
It's a Bird dueled down the stretch with Gotcha Gold to win Saturday's $100,000 Spend a Buck Handicap by a head. Dream Maestro was third. It's a Bird, a 5-year-old son of Birdonthewire, ran the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:47.4.
Soldier's Dancer came from well back to win Saturday's $100,000 Miami Mile by 4 lengths over Wise River with Fair Weather third. Soldier's Dancer, a 4-year-old Lost Soldier gelding, ran the 1 mile on firm turf in 1:35.73.
Frolic's Dream, the odds-on favorite, ran to her notices in the $100,000 Cassidy Stakes for 2-year-old fillies, scoring by 12 3/4 lengths, ridden out. Sailing Time was second and A Day for Dancing was third. Frolic's Dream, a Florida-bred daughter of Smoke Glacken, got the 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:04.34. Jermaine Bridgmohan rode for trainer Marty Wolfson.
American Border started at the back of the pack in Friday night's $150,000 Violet Stakes for fillies and mares, saved all the ground, then got through on the rail into the stretch and went on to win by 1/2 length over the pace-setter, Le Cordon Bleu. All is Vanity finished third. American Border, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred Boundary filly, ran the 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:41.74 with Jose Lezcano riding. She was claimed by trainer Jason Servis for $30,000 on June 12 at Monmouth Park and earned $90,000 for Friday's night victory. "We claimed her knowing she had a great turf pedigree," Servis said. "I kind of followed her a little bit in Florida when I was down there … I was not thinking she was stakes material but now she's looking pretty good."
Informed Decision settled in mid-pack early in Saturday's $300,000 Lexus Raven Run Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, advanced toward the front while swinging wide on the turn and went on to win by 4 1/4 lengths over Secret Gypsy. Dubai Majesty was third. Informed Decision, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Monarchos, ran 7 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:20.86 with John Velazquez up for trainer Jonathan Sheppard. "Once I got around the turn, I got a clear trip on her and was able to make sure she could get her momentum," Velazquez said. Informed Decision won for the fifth time in seven career starts.
Always First was last at the beginning of Saturday's $150,000 Sycamore Stakes. But after 1 1/2 miles over firm turf, the 7-year-old, British-bred Barathea gelding was, in fact, first, 3/4 length ahead of Transduction. Telling was third. Always First, under Rene Douglas, finished in 2:30.98. "I just let him feel comfortable the whole way," Douglas said. "I took my time. When it was time to press the button, I did and he responded to me great."
Acoma raced within striking distance of the leaders into the turn in Friday's $150,000 Pin Oak Valley View Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, challenged for the lead with a furlong to run and got home first, 1/2 length better than Tight Precison. Grenadia was a longshot third. Acoma, making her first start on the grass, ran the 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:43.6 under Julian Leparoux. "She's a beautifully bred filly, Empire Maker (her sire) out of Aurora, by Danzig," said winning trainer David Carroll. "So she's got turf on top and bottom. She has the class, obviously." Acoma also won the Dogwood at Churchill Downs in May and now has four victories from seven career starts. Acoma also is an historic Native American pueblo west of Albuquerque.
Herboriste caught Palmilla with three sixteenths of a mile to go in Sunday's $150,000 Rood & Riddle Dowager Stakes and went on to win by 1 1/2 lengths over that rival. Caprice was third, another 6 1/2 lengths back. Herboriste, a 5-year-old, British-bred daughter of Hernando, ran the 1 1/2 miles on the firm turf in 2:31.16. "She was relaxed all the way," said winning rider Julien Leparoux. "I just waited with her and then she went right to the front." It was the first win of the year for Herboriste.
Golden Yank moved to the lead with a quarter mile to run in Sunday's $350,000 Oklahoma Derby, then held off Tiz Now Tis Then to win by 1 3/4 lengths. A "horse for the course," Golden Yank has scored three of his four wins at the Oklahoma City oval. Acting Zippy finished third, 2 3/4 lengths farther back. Golden Yank, a gelded son of Yankee Gentleman, won the MEC Mile on the Derby undercard last year but had been winless in eight starts since capturing the Jean Lafitte Stakes at Delta Downs last November. He was fourth in the Super Derby in his last outing. Jamie Theriot rode Yankee Gentleman over the 9 furlongs in 1:50.47.
Tell It As It Is rallied in deep stretch in Sunday's $175,000 Maple Leaf Stakes for fillies and mares and just nipped the favorite, Arden Belle, by a nose. Born To Be was well back in third. Tell It As It Is, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred Chester House filly, ran the 1 1/4 miles on a fast track in 2:04.99. Emma-Jayne Wilson rode for trainer James Smith.
High Mist came from last of just four starters to win Saturday's $150,000 Fanfreluche Stakes for Ontario-bred 2-year-old fillies. At the wire, the daughter of Olmodavor was 2 1/2 lengths to the good of Sans Sousi. Edamame led for a while and finished third. High Mist, with Emma-Jayne Wilson in the irons, ran the 6 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:09.78.
Quelle Beaute got to the lead with a sixteenth to run in Saturday's $100,000 River Memories Stakes for fillies and mares and went on to win by 1 3/4 lengths over Pleasant Review. Saskawea finished third. Quelle Beauty, a 5-year-old, Florida-bred mare by Silver Deputy, ran the 1 mile on firm turf in 1:34.48. James McAleney rode for trainer Roger Attfield.
Stud Muffin moved toward the leaders on the turn in Saturday's $250,000 Empire Classic for New York-breds, split the leaders after entering the stretch and drove home first, 1 1/2 lengths better than That'srightofficer. Love Abroad was third and Spanky Fischbein finished fourth after leading much of the way. Stud Muffin, a 4-year-old Raffie's Majesty colt, ran the 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:49.08 under Alan Garcia. The race headlined a rich day for state-breds at the Elmont, N.Y., oval.
In other races on the well-subscribed card: Trinity Magic led all the way to an impressive, 7-lengths victory over Tall Poppi in the $100,000 Sleepy Hollow for 2-year-olds; Stormy's Smile at odds of 75-1 led from gate to wire in winning the $100,000 Maid of the Mist for 2-year-old fillies by 3 1/2 lengths over Sneakin Up; Stormin Normandy was a front-running winner in the $125,000 Hudson Handicap at 6 furlongs, beating the favorite Rollers, by 1 1/2 lengths; Love Cove led all the way to a 3/4-length victory over You Go West in the $150,000 Ticonderoga Handicap for distaffers at 9 furlongs on the grass; Ice Cool Kitty rallied from well back to capture the $125,000 Iroquois Handicap for fillies and mares going 7 furlongs, beating By the Light by 1 length; and Logic Way pressed the pace in the $150,000 Mohawk Handicap at 9 furlongs on the turf, then was just up at the wire to nip pace-setting Get Serious by a neck. Hangingbyathread was only a nose farther back in third.