A streak jockey Laffit Pincay had put together the final days of the Santa Anita meet was in danger of ending during Hollywood Park's opening night card Friday.
Third behind David Flores and Alex Solis in the rider standings for the Santa Anita season that ended Monday, Pincay had won at least one race the last nine days of the meet, but was blanked through the first eight races of the card Friday night in Inglewood.
Within 102 wins of Bill Shoemaker's career record of 8,833, Pincay finished third in the first race with Baja Gold, who was making his first start of the year, then second with 9-5 favorite Preachin' Man in the second. After sitting out the third, Pincay, 52, was unplaced after setting the pace with longshot Dreamer in the fourth, then was second on 5-2 second choice Sparkling Spirit a race later.
An overflow crowd at Good Shepherd Church in Arcadia said goodbye to Charlie Whittingham Friday during a service that lasted a little more than 90 minutes.
Whittingham, the Hall of Fame trainer who died Tuesday at 86, was buried later in the day at Sierra Madre Cemetery, only a few miles from Santa Anita, where he won 204 of his more than 630 stakes victories.
Whittingham was remembered fondly, through words and with the help of video tributes, which included family photos and the stretch runs of the 1986 and 1989 Kentucky Derbies, races Whittingham won with Ferdinand and Sunday Silence, respectively.
Among those who delivered eulogies were ESPN's Chris Lincoln; Hall of Fame trainer Jack Van Berg, who earned his lone Kentucky Derby win with Alysheba in 1987, a year after Whittingham got his first with Ferdinand; Daily Racing Form columnist and Whittingham biographer Jay Hovdey, and former jockey and trainer Bill Shoemaker, who had countless victories in tandem with a man who trained 11 national champions.
Among those attending were actor and longtime racing owner John Forsythe, former Hollywood Park president Marje Everett, current Hollywood Park CEO R.D. Hubbard, former jockey and trainer John Longden, former trainers John Russell and Richard Cross, owners Trudy McCaffery and John Toffan.
Trainers Jenine Sahadi, Ben Cecil, Bobby Frankel, Julio Canani, Sandy Shulman and Caesar Dominguez were there, as were jockeys Laffit Pincay Jr., Eddie Delahoussaye, Corey Nakatani, Gary Stevens, Alex Solis, Corey Black, Paul Atkinson and Pat Valenzuela.
Valenzuela, who has had a troubled personal life, briefly thanked Whittingham and his family for their support. Valenzuela rode Sunday Silence to victory in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness 10 years ago.
Keeper Hill, who won last year's Kentucky Oaks, will make her first start of 1999 Sunday when she opposes five other fillies and mares in the $150,000 Hawthorne Handicap.
Trained by Bobby Frankel for Dr. John Chandler, Keeper Hill was beaten in her first three starts in New York as a 2-year-old, then broke her maiden on the turf at Santa Anita before winning the Las Virgenes, a Grade I, by 5 1/2 lengths at 56-1.
The Deputy Minister filly then ran in six more Grade I races before the end of the year, getting her only victory in the Oaks. She was second in the Santa Anita Oaks, Mother Goose, Coaching Club American Oaks and Gazelle Handicap and was third in the Breeders' Cup Distaff.
Horse Racing Notes
Hollywood Park will have a tribute to Charlie Whittingham today. . . . Event Of The Year, who was second to Free House in the Santa Anita Handicap in his last start, is expected to return in the $150,000 Mervyn LeRoy Handicap at Hollywood Park on May 1.