Friday’s seventh race at Betfair Hollywood Park has suddenly become the hottest topic in racing.
After completing eight months of rehabilitation from life-threatening medical issues, Grade I winner Paynter is back. The 4-year-old is one of eight entered in the $62,500 allowance test at seven furlongs.
Not since Barbaro’s valiant fight to survive has there been as much public outpouring of affection for an ailing race horse.
Owner Ahmed Zayat and his son, Justin, were able to chronicle Paynter’s roller coaster ride from grave condition to full recovery on their respective Twitter pages,
jazz3162 and JustinZayat. Fans all over the world responded with prayers and encouragement using the Twitter hash tag #PowerUpPaynter, which is Zayat’s pet name for the horse.
Paynter has won three of six starts with earnings of $952,224, but win or lose Friday, his story already has a happy ending.
The saga began In May, 2012, when Zayat and Bob Baffert were campaigning a more celebrated 3-year-old. Bodemeister had finished second to I’ll Have Another in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness when the trainer announced he would not compete in the Belmont Stakes. Of course, Baffert knew he had an ace in the hole in Paynter.
The bay son of Awesome Again, who had won an allowance race on Preakness day May 19, ran his heart out in a narrow loss to Union Rags in the Belmont. With the sudden retirement of I’ll Have Another and a later injury to Bodemeister, Paynter was quickly ascending the ranks of the 3-year-old division. After a scintillating victory in the Grade I Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park July 29, many felt he indeed was the kingpin.
The afterglow of his Haskell victory hadn’t yet worn off when Paynter developed a temperature a few days later.
He was sent to a nearby clinic in New Jersey, where he responded well to treatment. He was released, sent to Belmont Park, and resumed training for Baffert.
Paynter shipped to Saratoga to prepare for the August 25 Grade I Travers Stakes, but his connections decided to skip the race. Just before he was scheduled for a flight to Del Mar to join Baffert’s string on this coast, the fever returned. This time, it was far more serious.
On Sept. 2, Paynter was transferred to Upstate Equine Medical Center, about 10 miles from Saratoga, where he was placed under the care of Dr. Laura Javsicas. The horse was diagnosed with colitis, a dangerous inflammation of the colon. During his treatment, Paynter developed early stages of laminitis, a deadly hoof disease that eventually claimed the life of Barbaro. Foot casts were placed on his three affected feet in an attempt to stabilize the condition.
After consultation with Dr. Louise Southwood at the University of Pennyslvania New Bolton Center, Paynter was sent to that facility, where he underwent surgery Oct. 3 to remove an abnormality in his intestines. At that point, Zayat was praying his horse would survive, let alone race again.
The colt proved to be a fighter. He bounced back from the surgery extraordinarily well. Just nine days after the procedure, the following press release was issued:
“Fantastic News was revealed on Friday for Grade I winner Paynter, who has battled deadly cases of Colitis and Laminitis for several weeks. The 3-year-old colt has been cleared of any lingering symptoms of both of those diseases following the results from a set of diagnostic tests taken at New Bolton Center, and he’s expected to make a full recovery and be eligible to return to racing in 2013.”
Within a week, Paynter was sent to Fair Hill Equine Therapy Center in Maryland to continue his recovery. He arrived in California Dec. 29 to rejoin Baffert at Santa Anita. His first official workout was Feb. 26.
As soon as entries were taken for Friday’s card, news of Paynter’s return spread like wildfire. The buzz on the internet has become ferocious. Hundreds of well-wishers have posted messages.
Baffert summed up Paynter’s return with a succinct message on his Twitter account Monday: “Paynter ready to roll.”
MARKETING MIX LIKELY TO FACE THE BOYS IN SUNSET HANDICAP
Glen Hill Farm’s Marketing Mix, who won a thrilling stretch battle in the Grade I Gamely May 27, probably will make her next start against males in the Grade III, $100,000 Sunset Handicap Sunday, July 14, according to trainer Tom Proctor.
“We’ll probably nominate (Marketing Mix) to the (Grade II $150,000) Royal Heroine Mile (July 6) and the Sunset, but right now we’re strongly considering the Sunset,” said Proctor. “We should get a nice weight break running against the boys.”
If Marketing Mix does indeed opt for the Sunset, it would mark her first race against males. Glen Hill Farm and Proctor would still be represented in the Royal Heroine by Customer Base, second in the recent Redondo Beach Stakes at the Royal Heroine distance of one mile on turf.
It is not unprecedented for a female to win the Sunset, which is run at 1 1-2 miles on turf. Petite Ile, a 4-year-old filly, won it for trainer Eddie Gregson in 1990 and 6-year-old Typecast was victorious for A.T. Doyle in the 1972 edition, the last time the race was two miles.
Just five weeks prior to Typecast’s victory in the Sunset, she lost by a neck to Convenience in a celebrated match race before a crowd of 53,575. The owner of Convenience? Glen Hill Farm.
TRAINER ROSS BRINSON PASSES AWAY AT 101
Ross Brinson, who trained 1947 Hollywood Gold Cup winner Cover Up, died Thursday morning at the age of 101.
His son Gary, the starter at Betfair Hollywood Park for the last 29 years, said his father passed away in his sleep at 5 a.m.
“He was proud of winning the Gold Cup in track record time, but even more so of winning the Sunset Handicap with the same horse just five days later,” said Gary.
Ross also trained the popular Billy Ball, named for cantankerous baseball manager Billy Martin, and a winner of his first four starts by a combined 22 lengths in 1983. Other stakes winners he conditioned included Savaii, heroine of the 1962 Del Mar Oaks, and Prince Don B., who earned over $400,000 while competing in the mid-1980’s.
He retired with 352 victories from 2,687 starters. His horses earned more than $3.14 million. He saddled his last starter as a trainer Sept. 11, 1999 at Fairplex Park.
Ross’ other son, Clay, trains a string of 50 thoroughbreds at Canterbury Park in Minnesota. He is also survived by three grandchildren and three great grandchildren.
“He never lost interest in the track,” said Gary. “He wanted to go to (Betfair Hollywood Park) just last week.”
A native of Dardanelle, Arkansas, Ross Brinson was raised in Arizona and rode quarter horses in match races as young man. He began his training career in 1932.
Services are pending.
SPECIAL 75 CENT PRICING OFFERED SATURDAY, JUNE 15
In celebration of Hollywood Park’s diamond anniversary, Betfair Hollywood Park will offer special 75 cent pricing Saturday, June 15.
General admission, programs, hot dogs and sodas will be available for 75 cents the entire day. Beer will be offered at the reduced price for 75 minutes – from 1 p.m. to 2:15 p.m.
On the race track, a trio of stakes events are scheduled, including the Grade I $250,000 Vanity Handicap at 1 1-8 miles on Cushion Track. The first two juvenile stakes of the Spring/Summer meeting also will be presented; the $100,000 Willard L. Proctor Stakes for all 2-year-olds, and the $100,000 Cinderella Stakes for fillies.
Additionally, a prix fixe menu with a choice of soup or salad, main course selection, dessert and a glass of champagne in a commemorative 75th anniversary flute will be offered in the Turf Club. The cost is $75 per couple. Reservations can be made by calling 310-419-1601.
Post time June 15 is 1 p.m. Track gates will open at 9:55 a.m. for simulcasts.
The feature attraction is the $250,000 Vanity Handicap, a Grade I for older fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles over Cushion Track. The card will also include a pair of stakes for 2-year-olds – the $100,000 Willard L. Proctor Memorial and the $100,000 Cinderella Stakes for fillies. Both are at 5 ½ furlongs over Cushion Track.
The fifth $150,000-guaranteed Pick Six Saturday of the Spring/Summer meet will also be offered.
If the Pick Six pool exceeds $200,000 on any of the remaining selected Saturdays – which also include June 22, June 29, July 6 and July 13 – there will be Happy Hour food and drink specials available at Whittingham’s Pub and the Betfair Players’ Lounge.
A bonus – a 2013 Toyota Prius courtesy of Toyota of Orange – will also be given to a single winning ticket – provided it was purchased either at Betfair Hollywood Park or through Television Games Network (TVG).
SEMINARS RETURN SATURDAY
Longtime jockey agent Tony Matos will be the guest of co-hosts Michael Burns and George Ortuzar at the upcoming Escogiendo Ganadores (Picking Winners) session Saturday, June 15.
During the Spanish-language seminar, Matos, who is currently booking mounts for
Garrett Gomez and Alonso Quinonez after working earlier for, among others, Laffit
Pincay, Jr. and Victor Espinoza, Burns and Ortuzar will discuss the agent’s career as well as the Betfair Hollywood Park card, including the $250,000 Vanity, a Grade I for older fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles over Cushion Track, plus a pair of stakes for 2-year-olds – the $100,000 Willard L. Proctor Memorial and the $100,000 Cinderella for fillies. Both races are at 5 ½ furlongs.
Escogiendo Ganadores will begin at 11:30 a.m. at the Paddock Tote Board.
At 12 Noon, one of the on-air personalities from Television Games Network (TVG) will play host for the Hollywood Insider at the same location.
Handicapping tips, insights and other last minute information will be offered on the afternoon’s races.
CLOSING STRIDES —Jockey Tyler Baze was off his mounts Thursday….Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer will celebrate his 67th birthday June 18……Paynter isn’t the only one making a comeback this week. Jockey Omar Berrio, who suffered a stroke in December, 2010 and another in May, 2012, is named on a pair of Javier Sierra trainees; Quillotano Thursday and Rossi Reserve Friday………. Bob Baffert -trained Hollywood Gold Cup hopefuls Game On Dude and Liaison had workouts Thursday at Santa Anita. Game On Dude, the defending Gold Cup Champion, went 6 furlongs in 1:13 2/5, while Mervyn LeRoy Handicap winner Liaison drilled a half-mile in 48 2/5 seconds. The Grade I, $500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup will be run Saturday, July 6………Apprentice Irving Orozco won his 40th race Sunday aboard Ernie Owl and his weight advantage has been reduced accordingly from seven to five pounds.……A reminder that Betfair Hollywood Park will have a special Friday night program July 5 in honor of the track’s 75th anniversary season. Post time will be 7:05 p.m. A concert, featuring the 80z All Stars, will be offered after the evening’s races are concluded.
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