Baffert sweeps Grade 1 2-year-old races at Los Alamitos

LOS ALAMITOS, Calif. (AP) — Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert swept the CashCall Futurity and Starlet for 2-year-olds, winning the Grade 1 races for the second straight year at Los Alamitos. Improbable won the $300,345 Futurity by five lengths as the 1-5 favorite and 3-2 favorite Chasing Yesterday won the $300,345 Starlet by a head on Saturday. Drayden Van Dyke became the second jockey to win both races in the same year. Baffert earned his fifth straight victory in the Futurity and his 11th overall, having won it six…

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Hall of Fame jockey Victor Espinoza aims for Jan comeback

DEL MAR, Calif. (AP) — Hall of Fame jockey Victor Espinoza is aiming to return to riding in January, six months after he was seriously injured in a training accident. The 46-year-old rider says he had an MRI recently and “it came out perfect.” Espinoza says he doesn’t need surgery and his spinal cord has healed “perfectly,” which was his main concern. He fractured a vertebra in his neck at Del Mar last July when the horse he was exercising fell. Espinoza was back at Del Mar on Saturday for…

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Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez rides 6,000th win

NEW YORK (AP) — Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez rode his 6,000th career winner in North America, guiding Singapore Trader to victory Friday at Aqueduct. He joins Hall of Famer Edgar Prado, Mario Pino and Perry Wayne Ouzts as the only active riders to reach the milestone and the 18th overall. Velazquez says reaching the plateau on Friday was “just another number” and it won’t be until he looks back at his career that he’ll “know I accomplished something great.” He reached the milestone on a horse trainer by…

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Frank Mirahmadi to take over as Santa Anita race caller

ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) — Frank Mirahmadi will become Santa Anita’s new race caller when the winter meet begins Dec. 26, replacing Michael Wrona who was let go after two years. Mirahmadi recently completed his fourth season as track announcer at Monmouth Park in New Jersey. He will conclude his race calling duties at Aqueduct in New York on Dec. 16. The 51-year-old caller has also worked at Florida’s Hialeah, Oaklawn in Arkansas, Golden Gate Fields in Northern California and Louisiana Downs. He had brief stints at Santa Anita in 2014…

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Rick Pitino’s equine namesake falls to 0-5 at Del Mar

DEL MAR, Calif. (AP) — It’s another loss for Pitino the horse. Hall of Fame basketball coach Rick Pitino has a 1 percent ownership stake in his namesake. The 3-year-old colt is winless in five career races after losing at Del Mar on Monday. He finished seventh among eight runners. “When I entered him, I thought he’d be pretty tough in there,” trainer Doug O’Neill said. “Then I saw who he was up against I kind of went ‘aaagh.’” Purchased for $950,000 at the Ocala, Florida, sale in March 2017,…

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Horse takes left turn out of gate, jock lands in parking lot

DEL MAR, Calif. (AP) — Wild Verse took a hard left shortly after the start of a race at Del Mar and wound up jumping a rail and hedge. His jockey landed in a dirt parking lot. The incident occurred in Sunday’s fourth race at the seaside track north of San Diego. Neither horse nor rider was injured. After jumping a rail and hedge alongside the chute that leads to the main track, the 3-year-old gelding trained by Peter Miller galloped away in the area east of the show horse…

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Exercise rider Odanis Acuna dies in training accident

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Churchill Downs says exercise rider Odanis “Cuba” Acuna died in a training accident when his horse broke down with catastrophic injuries. The 42-year-old rider for trainer Kenny McPeek was breezing unraced 2-year-old New York Harbor when the horse fell about a sixteenth of a mile before the finish line at around 5:45 a.m. Saturday. A release from the track states that emergency medical personnel who treated Acuna believe he died instantly from the spill. Track officials and veteran horsemen believe his death was Churchill Downs’ first…

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Cross Counter wins Melbourne Cup for Godolphin

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — English stayer Cross Counter, ridden by Kerrin McEvoy, gave Dubai-based Godolphin stable its first Melbourne Cup with victory in Australia’s largest and most prestigious horse race on Tuesday. The race was marred when the Aidan O’Brien-trained The Cliffsofmoher broke down at the winning post the first time around, breaking its right shoulder. The horse was euthanized after the race at Flemington. The Cliffsofmoher was an Irish horse ridden by English jockey Ryan Moore. “It is with sadness that we confirm that The Cliffsofmoher had to be…

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Foreign raiders set sights on Australia’s Melbourne Cup

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Irish trained five-year-old Yucatan will likely start favorite in Australia’s Melbourne Cup, expected to be run on a soft track at Flemington racecourse. Trained at Tipperary by regular Cup campaigner Aidan O’Brien, Yucatan became favorite for the 158th running of the two-mile handicap on Tuesday when he easily won the Herbert Power Handicap over 1 ½ miles at his last start. Yucatan, by the Irish sire Galileo out of the French mare Six Perfections, leads a strong foreign challenge for the 2018 Cup in which 11…

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Accelerate wins Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Accelerate took the lead at the top of the stretch and held off Gunnevera to win the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic by a length Saturday, strengthening his bid for Horse of the Year over Triple Crown winner Justify. The race lacked the retired Justify and left a wide-open field, which the chestnut 5-year-old horse eventually overtook after breaking from the No. 14 post as the favorite. Accelerate made a sweeping move in the far turn and was in charge at the top of the stretch,…

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