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Apprentice Arny Fontanez May Have Magical Touch; Wins With Filly Who Had Not Been Competitive at CRC

By Warren Eves

Sometimes it’s impossible to explain why a horse suddenly becomes competitive.

We mention this because of a horse named Run Gia Run.

In her sixth start, after showing absolutely zip, Run Gia Run won the third at Calder Race Course on Feb., 21.   In her last start she had finished tenth and last at odds of 105-to-1.  Run Gia Run simply had not been competitive in all of her previous races at the maiden $12,500 claiming level.

Trainer Charles Fontana took the blinkers off Run Gia Run and named Arny Fontanez to ride.  He’s a 21-year-old native of Aguas Buena and a product of the Escuela Vocacional Hipica in Puerto Rico.  It was the young rider’s fourth ride after having worked for awhile for Chad Brown at Saratoga this summer.  There was also a stint at Palm Meadows.  Fontanez comes from the same jockey school that has produced apprentices Edgard Zayas, Manuel Franco and Victor Carrasco.

So maybe, just maybe, this young man named Fontanez is a natural.

There was no way I could have bet this horse, even to hit the board.

Notes scribbled across my official program–Watched the fifth at the Fairgrounds on Feb., 20 and even though they called it firm, you could see the water splashing up from the carpet as they ran the 5-1/2 furlong dash.  Liked the late energy of Enduring Erin who was dropping in class and going for a maiden $25,000 claiming tag……………….What were the Oaklawn Park stewards doing after race one on Thursday?  They obviously failed to do their job. Hezunusal veered in severely after the break eliminating #8-Goober, #9-Nobel Bird, #10-Old Bones and #11-Good Time Coming.  Come on. I had no interest in the race. But how about the stewards taking what should have been “no brainer” action?  One last thing. The owners of the 8,9,10 & 11 got screwed, not to mention the bettors who used those horses in their wagering……………….Nobody elected to claim All Star Bell when Steve Asmussen dropped the Richard Bell four-year-old gelding in for a ham sandwich($16K) in race three at Oaklawn Park on February 20.  I was not in the paddock to examine them but you have to wonder what infirmity All Star Bell must have. He was not taken and yet he wired the field, blowing the field away with a final FF(12.30) final fraction. Sharp trainer Chris Richard did claim fifth place finisher Thunder, who was bumped from the right a few strides away from the barrier…………………Liked the manner which Deep Dive moved in traffic down the backstretch after trailing early in the fifth at Oaklawn on Feb., 20.  The 7-year-old horse finished gamely late but what kept me from using the horse on my playback list was his poor way of travel nearing the wire.  He could turn out to be just fine, but I have to go with what I see.  He was claimed by owner Danny Caldwell and he’s already proven this meet he’s astute at this claiming game…………….Speaking of Caldwell, we’ve been fortunate to establish some give and take communication with him over the past two months.  When he won with the mare Cabo Time off the claim it was visually impressive.  We asked him about what prompted him to put up $40,000 to drop the claim slip and take her off a capable trainer like McLean Robertson.  Here’s what he had to say.  ”I do a lot of research and she was at the top of my list.  I liked the replays, plus she had a nice break and was fresh.  Also figured she was worth up to $30,000 as a broodmare.  The only negative was she came from a trainer I respect(Robertson) and figured we couldn’t improve her much.”  Well, Cabo Time did improve, winning with aplomb………………..Reviewed the sixth race for three-year-olds at Gulfstream Park Feb., 22.  It was hard to fault the front running win of Constitution. He didn’t break sharply and jostled with Big Guy Ian several times to wind up three-wide entering turn one.  He was used to gain the lead off the first turn, set all the pace, and then when in the lane he widened. Team Valor’s Mexikoma rallied from far back to be third. We noted Joel Rosario did not use the whip on Mexikoma but I’m among those who have to see Team Valor’s new trainer prove he’s worthy. Barry Irwin has proved over and over to be ahead of the curve, but I’m going to reserve my enthusiasm regarding Richard Mettee who was assistant trainer to Saeed bin Sur0or……………….Boss Barney’s Babe finished well from far back to be third in race eight at Oaklawn, but was it a weak bunch?  We kinda think that might be the case and that’s why Boss Barney’s Babe did not make our playback list……………..Since claiming Adonica for $20,000 from William Fires back on February 17 at Oaklawn last year, the filly has won three times and finished second once in 8 starts.  Al and Bill Ulwelling put up the money and the way she won again on Feb., 23 at the Hot Springs oval she may be good for another for trainer Michael Biehler…………………….On review of the fifth race at Gulfstream Park on Feb., 28, it was hard to believe the stewards made no change when Life in Shambles number was allowed to stay up. Guarantee you Chad Brown couldn’t have been happy and obviously jockey Alan Garcia felt his mount Inca Saint had been compromised.  The stewards claimed the drifting out was after the wire. I’ve probably watched more races than most stewards of today. Here’s what I saw, and I have no axe to grind.  Life in Shambles was in lane three early in the stretch. He came in a tad before he began drifting out. He wound up in what I called lane five(+) meaning one could not be absolute about the actual lane he was in at the finish. What I can tell you is this. If I had bet on Inca Saint I would be livid.  Guess these jockeys can do just about whatever they want these days.  The only one happy with the no change call had to be new trainer Linda Rice who claimed Inca Saint for $50,000.  Cagey Michael Tomlinson was also taking a runner out of the same maiden $50,000 race.  He haltered third place finisher L.A. Freeway from Michael Matz……………..Since too many of my playbacks have failed to run positively, I am giving a lot more thought before I add a horse to the list.  Take for instance the fourth race at the Fair Grounds on March 2, a maiden $15,000 claimer.  The sophomore filly Autobesouthern beat only one when beaten 25 in her debut.  Jason Meaux brought her back in the six furlong test and she fell well out early. Chris Landeros wheeled out side and to the middle of the track into the stretch. She made a significant late gain.  More importantly Autobesouthern galloped right on by the eventual winner into and around the turn.  It was a huge move forward and we felt she should be added to the Horses To Watch list…………….Had to love the winning run on the drop to $30,000 claiming on March 6 at Oaklawn Park of Southern Parkway.  Despite off to a sluggish start he raced in fifth inside one early on as they went down the backstretch.   Southern Parkway moved into the fray on the far turn but was blocked and had to wait.  He continued to look for racing room once into the lane and when a lane opened he rallied nicely and posted a notable final fraction(FF) of 6.33. Kim Puhl made the timely claim of Southern Parkway who could come right back with another big run because he really didn’t have to work that hard for this one………………Fancy Catastrophe, a debuting 5-year-old mare, had absolutely no chance leaving post one on Friday, March 7.  She went inward out of the latch, then ducked in sharply to be away well behind.  Off the top Fancy Catastrophe was spanked and was able to get home sixth.  She did gallop out in notable fashion after the finish.  The issue here is how big her physical issues must be having failed to get to the races until she was five……………..Prior to racing on Saturday, March 8, word out of SoCal was that David Hofmans had a serious Kentucky Derby prospect in Schoolofhardrocks.  Prior to San Felipe he was seen winning the final race of the Del Mar meet impressively.  He was entered in the Grade 1 Frontrunner but did not go…………….Every rider in race one at Oaklawn Park Saturday, March 8, left the rail open and Calvin Borel said thankyou.  He rode the four-wrapper Indian Red to a last to first romp in the maiden $12,500 claimer.  It was impressive for the level but I’m done trying to use these maiden winners when they come back vs. winners………………..You will go broke betting on impressive maiden winners. I think you might be okay to consider using the maiden winner Delta Flower when they bring her back, if trainer Stanley Roberts runs her long.  I caught her strong gallop out after making her debut and that’s how she made my list and wound up winning March 8th at 7-1.  This filly is crying to go long.  The only way I would use her next time is if her connections bring her back at a route of ground……………..It’ll be interesting to see where trainer Larry Bates shows up with the maiden three-year-old New York-bred filly named Vineyard Vista.  Owned and bred by Thomas Willmott the Andromeda’s Herb filly showed promise making her debut at Calder Race Course on Sunday, March 9.  She was not quick early, jostled and check’ed after the break and her rider kept her well away from the rail while trailing the field moving down the backstretch.  Eighth with a gap into the turn, Vineyard Vista was spanked left-handed.  She made a notable late gain and was up just in time to save second, then galloped out well into the turn.  It would make sense to run her against New York breds in here coming races but we do not know if that will happen since she’s in Florida.

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About The Author

Warren Eves
Warren Eves is a senior turf writer from the state of California who calls Pearl River, Louisiana his home. The one time editor of the Pasadena Independent Star News moved on to handle publicity for racetracks coast to coast. Eves gained his first exposure to the racetrack through a school buddy the late Art Lerille, Jr., who eventually became a trainer in California. Warren worked as farm manager for crack two-year-old trainer Ray Priddy, before holding on track jobs at the racetrack. He worked for Hall of Fame trainer M.E. "Buster" Millerick, Allen Drumheller, Jr., and Dick Moon. Eves has a well rounded background in all breeds. He developed Quarter Horse Report in 1979 with Ed Burgart, track announcer, at Los Alamitos Race Course. It was an innovative publication which revolutionized the industry with actual descriptions of the workouts. While handling publicity at Saratoga Raceway in upstate New York Eves was named employee of the year in 1970. He also handled publicity for Sunland Park, Centennial Park, Ascot Park, Thistledown, and two harness meetings in California. Eves then went into the 900-line business with his best plays and has compiled his own Kentucky Derby ratings for many years. In 1997 he began going back and forth to Las Vegas teaming up with Ralph Siraco to create the long runining radio show Raceday Las Vegas. Eves has produced and directed many horse racing shows on both radio and television. In 2010 he got a call from Mark Geiger. That's when he began writing www.pricehorsecentral.com. Eves, with a reputation of a trip handicapper, is known for his video tape scrutiny. He currently monitors horse racing in for a major horseplayer. While writing for Ridder Publication at the Pasadena Star News his investigative reporting was highly regarded by his peers. Often on the cutting edge, Eves has been given the green light to write about what issues he sees fit to cover. Have a question. His book "Hold All Tickets" is soon to be made available for those who come to this site. It's a factual account of actual events and happenings that took place in the 70s, 80s and 90s. If Warren doesn't know the answer to a question you may have, he'll tell you up front. Eves won't drop it there, however, he'll find someone who knows the answer and get back to you.

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