From the Santa Anita Media Team:
CALIFORNIA INSTITUTION STILL GOING STRONG
A book could be written about Nick Alexander’s life; two, maybe three. A movie too, and a sequel.
But one account either written or on film wouldn’t do justice to a life of both realistic and fairytale fulfillment, the latest episode of which occurred yesterday at Santa Anita.
Alexander, still an institution in California racing as an owner and breeder going on half a century, owns and bred the winner of the Leigh Ann Howard California Cup Oaks, Rose Dawson, and bred the winner of race seven, Crash Corrigan.
Born in Santa Monica, Alexander said his “roots” are in Nebraska, “but my mom and grandmother and aunt moved out here in the 1930’s, so I’m a native Californian.”
He is partial to naming is horses after baseball stars of yesteryear, like Clem Labine and Pee Wee Reese, or war heroes like Desmond Doss, and film characters both real and imagined like Crash Corrigan and Marla Hooch.
“I was a baseball nut from the time I was a little kid,” Alexander said. “I was a Dodger fan before they moved from Brooklyn. We had the PCL (Pacific Coast League) out here where the Angels played in a copy of (Chicago’s) Wrigley Field at Santa Barbara and Avalon Street.
“In the mornings after church, my Granny would drive to the ball games for a Sunday doubleheader. The second game was seven innings and I think the tickets were a buck and a half or $2.
“She would take me to watch the Angels. They were my team and the Hollywood Stars were the dreaded rival that played at Gilmore Field. Wrigley Field was beautifully built, and Gilmore was kind of a wooden tinderbox waiting to catch on fire. They were fun times.”
Alexander has a passion for both the past and the present, although he keeps things in perspective, for instance his “celebration” after Saturday’s successes.
“We came home (in Pasadena), took the dog for a walk and ordered barbecued chicken pizza from Blaze,” said Alexander, still taut and trim approaching octogenarian status. “I picked it up and then we watched a Netflix movie.”
Alexander attributes a prudent philosophy in large part to his success, both with Thoroughbreds and automobiles, where he has a dealership in South Los Angeles. He graduated from Pasadena High School and attended USC for two years.
“I’ve always been a competitive person going back to Little League baseball when I was a kid,” he said. “I was in fifth grade when the Little League was first formed in our area of Pasadena, and I knew most of the kids who played since they were from my own school. The pressure was on to beat the kids you knew so you could brag about it all week long at school.
“I’ve always been competitive. The car business has monthly goals, always striving to meet or exceed what the factory expects. I’ve always enjoyed competition.
“I wasn’t good enough to be a professional baseball player, so horses were the next best thing.
“I retired several years ago from the car business, and my kids (Nick Jr. and Elizabeth) have taken over the BMW and Mini Cooper dealership in South Los Angeles. It’s kind of an industrial neighborhood.
“I think we’re the biggest Mini Cooper dealer in the western states, for sure.”
Alexander has retired as Chairman of the TOC (Thoroughbred Owners of California) but remains a Board member, although his term expires in June. He has mixed emotions about the future.
“My personal opinion is the internet set the country and people in general in the wrong direction” he said. “I’ve always thought that social media is the devil.
“People act on social media like they wouldn’t act to your face, so I’m not optimistic about that, and there a couple of generations that I’m not fond of, but this is still the greatest place in the world and I wouldn’t trade it for anywhere else.”
Nick Alexander, who turns 80 in September, has fulfilled almost all his dreams, yet he remains committed to the future.
He still has a lot of living to do.
BRICKYARD RIDE, LEGGS GALORE EARN LOFTY BEYERS FIGS ON CAL CUP DAY
Lightning fast Brickyard Ride, a 1 ¾ length winner of Saturday’s $150,000 Don Valpredo California Cup Sprint on Saturday, earned a lofty 101 Beyer Speed Figure, his third triple digit Beyer from 19 starts. Alone through sizzling splits of 21.71, 44.15 and 56.58, the 5-year-old chestnut by Clubhouse Ride got six furlongs in 1:09.54 for owner/breeder Albert Pais and trainer Craig Lewis.
Idle since Aug. 15, the Phil D’Amato Leggs Galore was long gone on the lead in yesterday’s $150,000 Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf Sprint Presented by John Deere and earned a solid 96 Beyer, just one tick off her career best. Rocketing from post 11 in a field of 12, the William Sims homebred 5-year-old mare by Bayern skipped down the hillside in 22.27, 44.66, 1:06.86 and came home about 6 ½ furlongs in 1:12.99
‘GOOD RACE’ EXPECTED OF NEIGE BLANCHE IN ASTRA
Neige Blanche has run nine times in the United States, all in stakes, four of them Grade I’s.
The versatile French-bred mare can stalk or attend the pace, depending on the shape of the race. Her forte is turf marathons, her longest in the U.S. at a mile and a half when she won the Grade III Santa Barbara Stakes at Santa Anita last May.
She broke the mold however at odds of 11-1 in her most recent start last Nov. 25, winning Del Mar’s Grade III Red Carpet Stakes going wire to wire at 1 3/8 miles.
Neige Blanche (White Snow) may put forth a similar effort in the Grade III Astra Stakes, Monday’s holiday feature on turf for older fillies and mares, celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
“Pace is a factor,” said trainer Leonard Powell of the five-year-old chestnut, “but last time she won on the lead because nobody wanted to go in front, so she made her own pace.
“In the past, she would stalk if somebody wanted to go to the lead, so she’s very adaptable, she’s doing well and should run a good race.”
The field for the mile and half Astra, race seven of nine races with a 12:30 p.m. first post time: Neige Blanche, Juan Hernandez, 2-5; Disappointing Act, Flavien Prat, 4-1; Froso, Mario Gutierrez, 20-1; Reiwa, Umberto Rispoli, 5-1; and Scherzo, Kyle Frey, 6-1.
CHRB MEETING ON THURSDAY, JAN. 20
The California Horse Racing Board will conduct a teleconference meeting 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 20.
Consistent with Governor Gavin Newsom’s Executive Order N-29-20, this meeting will be teleconference only. No physical location will be provided.
The public may participate in either of two ways. The webcast audio link on the CHRB website will continue to provide a way for the public to listen to this meeting. Note: The teleconferencing log-in information has changed from previous meetings.
Beginning with this meeting, those wishing to speak during the meeting may dial 800-343-1703 and enter 98443# to join the teleconference. To speak on any item, press star (*) 1 to enter the speakers’ queue. Those providing unsolicited public comment on individual agenda items will be limited to two minutes. Comments must relate specifically to the agenda items.
FINISH LINES: John Velazquez has been suspended three days (Jan. 22, 23 and 28) for causing interference on Con On the Run in Friday’s first race, resulting in the disqualification of his mount from first to second . . .Santa Anita regrets the passing of longtime LA-based sportscaster Bill Seward,who passed earlier this week following a lengthy battle with cancer. Seward hosted a number of Santa Anita television productions in the 1990s and was considered a Pro’s Pro… There were 201 recorded workouts this morning, 39 on the training track . . . There will be holiday racing Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, featuring the Grade III Astra Stakes for older fillies and mares at a mile and a half on the hillside turf course. First post time for the nine-race program is 12:30 p.m.