It’s Big Cap time again at Santa Anita and I’m thinking Cougar!

Twirling Candy heading for another lead at the finish

painting of Cougar II


NO, not that type of cougar! This is the time of year that always brings back special memories of my favorite Santa Anita race ever (at least until Zenyatta’s Breeder’s Cup win). Only a few months after the man who introduced the sport of kings to me (my father) had died, the 1973 version of the Big Cap was run and the field included my all-time favorite So-Cal horse Cougar II (under Laffit Pincay, Jr.). If you click on the painting to the right, you’ll get a clearer look at how beautiful Cougar was with his always perfectly coiffed long full tail and mane that usually seemed as if he’d just jogged in from seeing his favorite Beverly Hills stylist. Trainer Charlie Whittingham had brought “The Big Cat” back off of a long layoff and some solid works and the horse was ready to roll; beating a game Kennedy Road after a long stretch drive, a photo finish and steward’s inquiry by a whisker! That $50 win ticket (the most costly for me up to that race) had my palms sweating while waiting seemingly forever for the stewards to finally give Cougar, ‘The Bald Eagle’ (his 8th Big Cap title), and I a win that is forever etched in my mind.
Here’s the bobbing of the heads stretch call by track announcer Terry Gilligan…

Cougar barely beats Kennedy Road:

Twirling Candy with Joel Rosario up


Well ‘Coug’ is long gone and it really feels strange to say that tomorrow marks the 74th running of the $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap at the Great Race Place where they’re loading up the card with three Grade 1 stakes races in one day. The Big Cap is headed up by 4/5 morning line favorite Twirling Candy, the 4 year old son of Candy Ride and his trainer John Sadler (the Long Beach native) told me that he’s expecting a sweet Saturday from his colt that is considered by many to be the best thoroughbred in the nation right now. Twirling Candy is 6 of 7 lifetime on the track and anything less than a 7th win tomorrow would be a big disappointment for his connections…as you’ll hear from Sadler, who’s as confident as a trainer can be in this game…
Good luck John and Joel…

John Sadler:

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About tedsobel

Award winning sportscaster/journalist covering major events around the world since 1974. Please check out my audio vault and follow me on twitter (@tedsobelsports).
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