Safe journeys, more mounts and a prosperous sport. Those are among the New Years wishes of most of Southern Californias top riders. Heres a sampling:
Brice Blanc "That everyone is healthy and safe, and that racing can generate more business and we have more horses to ride."
Eddie Delahoussaye "Personally, I think theres too much racing, especially in Southern California where were short of horses. Some people are saying thats not so, but the size of the fields says it all. We should go back to what we had years ago, with a month and a half of racing off, maybe break the season up between meets, have eight races a day instead of 10. That might help our industry continue for the next few years until it turns around again.
"Im sure it will turn around, but it looks like its going to take time. I wish there could be more lobbying to change the tax laws like they were in the 1980s when horses could be run as a business and (losses could be) used as a tax write-off. Its allowed in the boating industry, why not racing? I think we provide more jobs than the boating industry."
Victor Espinoza "I wish everything goes right and nothing (bad) happens to all the jockeys, not just me. Its a dangerous sport and I hope everyone is safe. This has been a great year for me, but it soon will be over. I hope next year is even better."
David Flores "I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and more horses for us to ride."
Garrett Gomez "Id like to be in the top five at every meet, win lots of races, and have a safe and happy new year. Id like to see riders be able to have advertising on their pants and all the parties involved get the percentages straightened out so that can happen and we can all be one big, happy family. That would help racing."
Luis Jauregui "My main goal would be to have bigger fields and a better live racing program. As a jockey, I appreciate riding with big crowds on hand. I hope we all are safe and that racing gets a tax break to help the industry."
Chris McCarron "That the federal government makes it legal to wager via telephone through the Internet and that all the factions within the industry agree on the right formula for dividing up all those dollars."
Laffit Pincay Jr. "I hope I can keep doing good the way Ive been doing, and I keep riding good horses. I wish the best for the fans and hope that racing gets better and more people go to the track."
Iggy Puglisi "I hope we get more horses and bigger fields, and for me, personally, to finish in the top 10 in the (meet) standings."
Bobby Frankel is high on a son of Gone West named Civilisation, who should make his debut at Santa Anita. One problem: hes somewhat of a head case, like his mother. "Hes a difficult horse to train," says Frankel. The colt has inherited some genes from his dam, Toussaud, a multiple Grade I winner whose talent was only surpassed by her eccentricity . . .
Carolyn Conley has opted to remain with her fiancée on the East Coast and will not co-host Santa Anitas inter-track television show when the meet begins Dec. 26. Replacing Conley will be former Daily Racing Form chart caller Jon White. He joins mainstay Kurt Hoover, whose knowledge and ingratiating style is compatible to any partner . . . If you think the battle for the presidency was close, try this: through Dec. 13, Pat Day led Jerry Bailey in the race for top money-winning jockey $17,450,838 to $17,355,995, a difference of $94,843 . . . Good riddance to 2000: With the new year fast approaching, Hall of Fame trainer Ron McAnally had only 38 wins from 344 starters, less than 11 percent, while fellow Hall of Famer Jack Van Berg had 24 wins from 410 starters, less than six percent. Combined, they were winning at just over eight percent . . . Olivier Placais, a 16-year-old apprentice rider from France, earned rave reviews on the backstretch before finishing seventh on the Van Berg-trained 38-1 shot Forgot Not To in his Hollywood debut. "He looks really good," said Van Berg. "Hes a natural lightweight. Horses work good for him and they relax for him." Placais is on a brief working vacation before he returns to France, where he won six times with 55 mounts last year . . .
Lookalikes: Corey Black and k.d. lang . . . Nick (Sarge) Hines has split as trainer Craig Dollases assistant to concentrate on his own growing stable of horses . . . Three weeks into the Golden Gate meeting, perennial Bay Area training leader Jerry Hollendorfer had 36 wins from 92 starts. Runner-up Art Sherman had nine wins from 31 starts. Hollendorfers horses had earned $567,327. Second at $152,120 was Chuck Peery . . . Laffit Pincay Jr., who turns 54 on Dec. 29, had 9,037 career wins through Saturday . . . Wednesday and Thursday on-track crowds at Hollywood have barely been breaking 4,000, but with a pick six carryover of more than $494,000 last Wednesday, attendance jumped about 2,500, to 6,570 . . . Comment from a Hollywood Park usher on a Wednesday when the gate just cracked the 4,000 mark: "Itll be life and death to stay awake today." . . . A total of 54 horses were entered on one Friday card at Hollywood, an average of 6.75 horses per race.