Here & There: Feb. 5

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Winter showed its ugly face again this week in much of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic with cold and snow leading many to daydream about warm afternoons on steeplechase courses or at racetracks in Florida and California.

Racing fans dreaming of the sport’s marquee names are in luck this coming weekend with a major showdown between champions California Chrome (2014 Horse of the Year and 3-year-old male) and Shared Belief (2013 2-year-old male) in the Grade 2 San Antonio Stakes at Santa Anita Park. Back on the East Coast will see Lea defend his title in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap.

Plenty of other talking points, too, and thankfully not of the DeflateGate, bad call or Super Bowl halftime show variety. We give you this week’s Here & There.

Worth Repeating

“It’s a winter wonderland…” – Exercise rider Robbie Walsh, headed to the track during a brief snow shower at Fair Hill Thursday morning

“Winter wonderland my ass – this is no good.” – Exercise rider Johnny Mitchell, a few paces behind Walsh (and not nearly as cheerful)

“You ought to get in the horse game like me, make enough money and hire somebody to go up there and shovel snow, blow it off the driveway.” – 2014 Eclipse Award-winning owner and breeder Ken Ramsey to TIHR’s Tom Law, fresh off (another) shoveling session in Saratoga

“They tell me it was minus-8 up there this morning and had 25 or 26 inches of snow on the ground. I had to see a picture of it because I’ve been coming to Saratoga 20, 25 some years and I have never seen a flake. Maybe I just come at the wrong time of year, huh?” – Ramsey on talking to his sons tending to his newly bought house on Fifth Avenue in Saratoga

“I see where you’re having a little rough weather back East.” – Trainer Art Sherman from San Diego Tuesday morning (just a little Art)

“Looking at the list. He’s won $800,000 and it’s all there for him. There are six Grade 1 races and those are his six races.” – Walsh, on the 2015 goals for Demonstrative (who could become the third horse to earn more than $1 million in North American jump races with another strong season

“It helps with a guy like Rick Violette. He gets three paragraphs and I get one. That’s fine with me.” – Ralph Evans, owner of Kentucky Derby contender Upstart, on staying out of the spotlight and letting his trainer do the talking

“A lot of horses can throw a punch but not that many can take a punch and he still kept trying.” – Retired jockey and Fox Sports 1 and NYRA analyst Richard Migliore on Shared Belief in the Breeders’ Cup Classic

“I haven’t done all my research yet for Saturday’s show, … but to have one that was 2-year-old champion, one that was 3-year-old champion and Horse of the Year meet up as 4-year-olds and I haven’t come up with anybody yet. So to have two champions out of the same foal crop hooking up this early in the year is remarkable.” – Migliore about Saturday’s San Antonio showdown between Shared Belief and California Chrome

“I’ve been wanting to meet his horse heads-up for a long time. It’s going to be interesting and I just hope everybody has a fair shake in it this time.” – Sherman on taking on his friend and fellow trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, trainer of Shared Belief, with Horse of the Year California Chrome

“I used to say in my era … go in about a minute and he went in 1:01 … I said, ‘man, my boss would have kicked me right in the pants.’ Missing five lengths is a lot of lengths.” – Sherman after Victor Espinoza worked California Chrome a little slower than he would have preferred earlier this week

“An 18-wheel UPS truck was stuck in the snow on the taxiway, but the flight was only 10 minutes late which is pretty good considering.” – Trainer Cyril Murphy, on landing in Boston this week after a trip home to Ireland

“Fair enough, you can quote me on the less controversial aspects of our conversation.” – Evans at the end of nearly 30-minute conversation about his more than four-decade involvement in racing

“It’s like bragging on your kids.” – Maryland trainer Larry Murray on what it’s like to talk about a stakes winner in the barn

“You hate to take that away from him, but you’d have your heart in your mouth every time you led him to the breeding shed.” – Pin Oak Stud’s Clifford Barry, on the retirement of Sky Classic at 25

 

Tweets of the Week (Post Super Bowl food spread edition)

From Horse Racing Radio Network (@HRRN): When I spell check @TheBigAStabile’s last name the first suggestion is to change it to “brisket.” Don’t know why but this just seems right.

From David Grening (@DRFGrening): The Giant Killer shows no mercy even when the Giant is his son.

 

By the Numbers

1.52: Percentage increase for handle in January 2015 compared to January 2014, according to Equibase.

9: Number of Aqueduct cards canceled so far this year through Wednesday due to winter weather.

21.5: Lengths Doc’s Daneka won maiden claiming race by Feb. 1 at Aqueduct.

30: Years in operation for the Kentucky Derby Museum in 2015

35: Lengths Jackie Black won maiden claiming race by Jan. 23 at Aqueduct.

$812,581,924: Total handle on U.S. races in January 2015

 

Winter warmer

We know you’re cold and even if you’re not this will certainly warm you up from the inside out. It’s newly minted Eclipse Award winner Joe Clancy’s column from the February issue of Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred and it’s about losing a friend who just happens to be a horse. Read it here.