Tony Farina could become a trivia answer.
If Laffit Pincay Jr. does not resume riding, Farina will be the answer to the question, "What rider was aboard the horse that caused Pincay to fall, ending his career?"
The answer, in fact, would be Tony Farina. But it would not be true in intent or spirit. According to Farina’s agent, Derek Lawson, Pincay, who has won more races than any rider in history, 9,530, does not hold the 23-year-old Farina responsible for the spill at Santa Anita on March 1 that caused the 56-year-old Hall of Fame jockey to suffer two fractures in the same bone in his neck. Pincay must wear a halo device for eight weeks to help the fractures heal, but whether he rides again remains to be seen.
Farina, a native of Paris whose command of the English language is limited, is in the process of obtaining a working visa to remain in the United States. Ironically, it was Pincay who authored a letter to the Immigration and Naturalization Service in support of Farina’s dream to ride in America.
"Laffit has written a letter on Tony’s behalf," Lawson said. "That happened two weeks before the accident, so you can imagine how terrible Tony feels. I have a copy of the letter, signed by Laffit, stating that he felt Tony was a good, young rider and an asset to the riding colony."
Pincay was crossing the dirt portion of a race at about 6Â½ furlongs on Santa Anita’s unique downhill turf course on March 1, when his mount, a 4-1 shot named Trampus Too, clipped the heels of 13-1 shot Rainman’s Request, who drifted out under Farina, causing Trampus Too to catch Rainman’s Request’s hind heels.
"When I told Tony it was Laffit who went down behind him, he felt terrible, because Laffit had gone out of his way to write the letter giving Tony an opportunity to ride in this country," Lawson said.
"But the real irony is that we picked up the mount on Rainman’s Request only on the morning of the race, because Felipe Martinez, who had been named on him, had to take off because he was hurt in a spill, so trainer Peter Eurton asked us if we would ride the horse. I looked at the horse’s form, talked with Tony, and we agreed to ride him. The only negative in my mind was that Rainman’s Request hadn’t raced down the hill too much, but I didn’t think that was going to be a big deal."
Farina hasn’t seen or spoken with Pincay since before March 6, when the fractures were revealed and the halo brace applied.
"That was on a Tuesday (March 4)," Lawson recalled. "We saw Laffit that morning at (trainer) Vladimir Cerin’s barn. Tony asked Laffit how he felt and told him he was sorry about what happened, and Laffit said, ”˜It’s not your fault. The horse was just getting out on you." Laffit was forgiving, but Tony was extremely upset."
HOMESTRETCH: Agent Bob Meldahl reports Pincay "doing great" as he recovers from his aforementioned injury. "Everything is very positive," Meldahl said. "I was very happy the way everything was."
. . . It’s little wonder Bobby Frankel plans to run Empire Maker in the April 12 Wood Memorial before the Kentucky Derby on May 3. The Hall of Fame trainer has history on his side, because all of the following thoroughbred greats--Gallant Fox (1930), Twenty Grand (1931), Johnstown (1939), Triple Crown winner Count Fleet (1943), Hoop Jr. (1945), Triple Crown winner Assault (1946), Foolish Pleasure (1975), Bold Forbes (1976), Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew (1977), Pleasant Colony (1981) and Fusaichi Pegasus (2000), won the Wood before going on to capture the Run for the Roses
. . . With the multiple Grade I-winning filly Composure the latest of his star 3-year-olds to become hors de combat (she was retired for breeding after a sesamoid fracture), and with Kafwain and Domestic Dispute looking more and more like they’ll be found wanting at a mile and a quarter, Baffert might have to buy his way to the Derby again this year.
. . . Gary Stevens scrapped plans to ride in Dubai on Sunday, due to the war in the Middle East.
. . . Jan Booth, Randy Bradshaw, Thomas Bunn, Jim Buss, Adolph Byrd, Mark Cofer, David Cross, Richard Cross, Henry Dominguez, Jude Feld, Walter Greenman, Eddie Gregson, Riley Griffiths, Gary Jones, Kim Lloyd, Donn Luby, Terry Mangrum, Chuck Marikian, Brian Mayberry, Mike Mollica, Pico Perdomo, Vivian Pulliam, Larry Risdon, Steve Rothblum, Bill Shoemaker, Cotton Tinsley, Charlie Whittingham and Hector Zazueta. What do they have in common? Because they died or for other reasons during the past seven years, each of the 28 no longer trains in the Southern California.