On his website, the first line of Adam Kitchingman’s autobiography is as unassuming as the man himself.
“I grew up on a horse farm in the mountains of Mansfield, Australia, best known for the movie ‘The Man From Snowy River.’”
The 38-year-old has led a fascinating life which has taken him from Australia, to Japan, and finally the United States.
Sahara Sky returned to his regular stall at Betfair Hollywood Park Wednesday after a triumphant victory in Monday’s Grade I Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park.
“He was happy to be home,” remarked Dan Ward, assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. “We put him in an outside pen when he got back and he was rolling around and having a ball.”
Ward said the last time he got that excited was when Dakota Phone won the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.
Saturday’s feature may have been called the American Handicap, but it was a pair of Europeans who stole the show.
Irish-bred Obviously won the Grade II, $150,000 contest, defeating French-bred Lucuyan by 2 1-2 lengths in the mile turf event. Their respective connections are looking forward to a rematch in the Grade I, $300,000 Shoemaker Mile June 29.
Trainer Mike Mitchell was ecstatic with Obviously’s performance. “He came out of the race great,” beamed Mitchell. “If everything looks good, he’ll go next in the Shoemaker Mile.”
The last time Gary Stevens rode at Betfair Hollywood Park, he guided Alphabet Kisses to victory in the 2005 A Gleam Invitational Handicap.
“I didn’t know that,’’ said Stevens in response to the information.
Alphabet Kisses is long retired, but Stevens is in the midst of a highly successful comeback which began in January and continues over the Memorial Day weekend. The biggest of the mounts for the Hall of Famer is the Tom Proctor-trained Marketing Mix in the Grade I, $250,000 Gamely Stakes.
Saturday was a pretty good day to be Joe Talamo.
Not only did the 23-year-old native of Louisiana sweep both stakes races at Betfair Hollywood Park, taking the $100,500 Fran’s Valentine with 9-2 shot Unusual Hottie and the $150,000, Grade II Marjorie L. Everett Handicap with 9-1 outsider Open Water, he got to see his mentor – Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens – go gate-to-wire aboard Oxbow, the upset ($32.80) winner of the Preakness.
“I thought it was great,” said Talamo. “I was so happy for Gary. Even as a little kid I always looked up to him. I remember I was 11 when he won (the 2001 Preakness) with Point Given.
Martin Garcia, currently sixth in the Betfair Hollywood Park jockey standings with seven victories, has parted ways with agent Jim Pegram.
Garcia will now be represented by Pegram’s son Brad.
“Brad called me about taking Martin’s book,” said Jim. “He was a little hesitant. I told him go ahead and take him. He’s a live rider. We’re family, that’s business.”
Adam Kitchingman, who capped a big week with a victory in Saturday’s Came Home Stakes with Let Em Shine, left Sunday morning for a cruise to Alaska with wife Christie.
“I took them to the airport this morning,” said assistant trainer Hector Rangel. “They’re flying to Washington, then taking the cruise to Alaska.”
Rangel, who has worked for Kitchingman for 10 years, said Let Em Shine returned well and was “fresh” Sunday morning.
The preparation was over.
It was 5:15 a.m. Saturday morning when Doug O’Neill arrived at the Churchill Downs barn of his prized 3-year-old Goldencents. It would be 10 hours of anticipation before the gates sprang open for Kentucky Derby 139 and O’Neill would find out if the bay colt would reward the trainer his second consecutive victory in the world’s most famous race.
“Everyone around the barn was having a blast all week,” said a reflective O’Neill. “After the success of I’ll Have Another last year, we were all feeling a lot of confidence. There wasn’t nearly as much pressure this year. Last year, there was a lot of self-induced pressure and a lot of media pressure. Never having success in the Derby before, you feel a little rattled at what it takes to get a horse ready. After the win, you feel a little swag, more confidence, and everyone’s looser.”
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