In tribute to that fine celebration of all things April foolish, let us acknowledge a collection of unintentional hilarity that has made the rounds recently. I will try to keep a straight face while I type so as not to telegraph the jokes. But sometimes it is hard when you hear
Richard Mandella declare that Beholder might return to the races in early May on the grass at Santa Anita.
"It would be there or the Adoration Stakes, one of the two," Mandella said. "She's never run on turf, but the Royal Heroine is worth $100,000 more."
Mandella could be thinking that the one-mile Royal Heroine will be the first stakes race run over the course after a break of two weeks for the Los Alamitos spring meet. Still, this is the same beleaguered turf course that management will be ripping out and replacing in time for the Breeders' Cup.
Mandella might be taking into account that the Adoration is at 1-1/16 miles, and his primary target, the $400,000 Vanity on June 5, has been inexplicably reduced to one mile from its long-running 1-1/8 miles. But how could that matter to a cruising front-runner like Beholder?
As far as the purse difference goes, I would like to think that Mandella is making a statement about how racetracks in California have gone dirt cheap in funding many of their graded events at the rock-bottom level. Then again, he could be trying to make sure the race is run at all. Without his Royal Heroine name drop, the Adoration figured to get about three nominations.
At least Mandella seems happy with his job. Dale Romans, fresh from Keen Ice's thumping in the World Cup, was quoted by Alan Aitken in the South China Morning Post as being mad as hell and not willing to take it anymore. Or something like that:
"I'm ready for an adventure, and I'm so sick of what's happened to the sport in the U.S. I'm done with it," Romans said. "I'm a horseman, and I think races should be won by the better horseman, not something else. I was very impressed with what I saw in Hong Kong when I was there, and I know that, because the vet side of racing is so tightly controlled there, it's the superior horseman who will succeed. They've never had an American trainer, but if they want me, I'd love to train there."
Hong Kong is a closed system with only 24 training licenses available, and its exotic temptations always have been strong. More power to Big D, although I'm not sure if bad-mouthing your current gig is the way to impress a new employer. We'll keep the light on.
Tom Amoss wasn't leaving the country, but he did go into orbit over the ride Mo Tom got from Corey Lanerie in the Louisiana Derby last weekend. The trainer took it out on the jock, offered an apology, then doubled down on the depths of his disappointment.
"I was not at my professional best with Corey afterward, and I apologize for that," Amoss told Jeff Duncan of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. "It's all the work we put into the horse. To watch that unfold is -- the only thing I can compare it to is being present to watch your son get beat up on the playground. It's hard to watch."
A bit of a reach, unless the horse had been hurt. Amoss would have been the winner of the Steve Coburn Inappropriate Analogy Award ("Would it be fair if I played basketball with a child in a wheelchair?") had it not been for James McIngvale, who descended from the top bunk to deliver his 10-point plan for responsible racehorse ownership to the Association of Racing Commissioners International last week in New Orleans, as shared by Natalie Voss of The Paulick Report.
How many of McIngvale's 10 commandments will be taken seriously is up for grabs. But No. 2 sounds like it was hatched by a truly ticked-off god:
"Drug-free racing is the only way to go. Being a member of WHOA (Water, Hay, Oats Alliance) and running your horses on Lasix is like telling your kids not to do drugs while you're mainlining heroin."
There's how you win an argument: Play the smack card.
But the blue ribbon goes to Perry Martin, the majority owner of Dubai World Cup hero California Chrome, who benefited greatly in the past from being the bland Dean Martin to Steve Coburn's wacky Jerry Lewis. Now that Coburn is no longer part of the Chrome ownership, Martin (Perry, not Dean) let his freak flag fly in a post-race interview with Scott Hazelton on the World Cup's international feed that included the following:
* A berating of Victor Espinoza for California Chrome's wide trip.
* Regret that his horse did not break the track record by more than he did.
* A hope that California Chrome could win a Breeders' Cup Win and You're In race to avoid BC Classic entry fees, having just won $6 million.
* A reference to possible participation in The Stronach Group's pie-in-the-sky $12 million race next January, with a possible prep for the 5-year-old California Chrome in the Hollywood Derby.
Just a simple thank you to trainers Art and Alan Sherman would have been sufficient. California Chrome can speak for himself.