Miller's Cross(ing)

The news, in real time …

Wednesday, June 1, 9:30 a.m. – Frank Stronach sends his consigliere Tim Ritvo out from Florida to solve the problems at Santa Anita. Think Tom Hagen going to Hollywood (without the horse head).

Sunday, June 4, 12:15 p.m. – Ritvo and Joe Morris come to the Santa Anita pressbox to announce that due to a lack of entries, the Thursday, June 8 program has been cancelled.

Monday, June 5 – Ritvo does a wide-ranging interview with the LA Times. Two of the things that jump off the page are his quote that “everything is on the table” and his mentioning that the half-a-billion dollar facility is underperforming based on property value.

Wednesday, June 7, 10 p.m. – FX airs a mind-blowing Season 3, Episode 9 of Fargo.

Friday, June 9, 1:02 p.m. – The Peter Miller-trained Vending Machine crosses the line first in the Santa Anita opener coming down the hill, only to be disqualified for barely coming out and bothering a horse who was tiring and was just nailed for third. Twitter explodes with criticism for this call, even by those who benefited financially.

Friday, June 9, 1:42 p.m. – Miller saddles Roy H for a sensational victory in the Grade II True North at Belmont Park, stamping this horse as a force to be reckoned with in the Breeder’s Cup Sprint.

While being interviewed following the race, you can see the steam coming out of his ears as he wants to talk about the disqualification across the country as much as the brilliant win by Roy H.

For good measure, Santa Anita’s leading trainer Miller watches 2-year-old first-time starter Surrender Now score an impressive victory in Santa Anita’s third race, which followed soon after the True North score.

Friday, June 9, 4:46 p.m. – Santa Anita announces that the final two Thursday programs of the meet, June 15 and 22, have been cancelled. This is described in the Sunday program under the headline SANTA ANITA MODIFIES RACING SCHEDULE.

Saturday, June 10, 8:19 a.m. – Tim Ritvo appears on the Roger Stein radio show and does an excellent job of laying out the problems Santa Anita is facing and many of the possible solutions, while still hanging out that Sword of Damocles about the value of the land.

He also comes up with the revelation that the takeout is too high, stating a blended 12 to 14 percent would be ideal. He fails to mention, however, that those races would be run with Unicorns, rather than thoroughbreds.

Saturday, June 10 – Bob Baffert puts on a masterful training exhibition at Belmont with West Coast, Abel Tasman, American Anthem and Mor Sprit, as all four turn in their A game off the plane.

Mike Smith does him one better, as in addition to riding each of those Baffert runners perfectly, he guides Songbird to victory in her seasonal debut in the Phipps to make it a five-bagger.

Saturday, June 10, 5:26 p.m. – Just 18 minutes before the running of the 11th and final race at Santa Anita, it’s announced that the Miller-trained Fly To Mars, who is making his second start, is now a gelding.

It turns out Fly To Mars is the only horse alive for the nearly 600K Pick 6 Jackpot and goes right out and wins the race as the second choice.

Cue Twitter explosion.

Saturday, June 10, 7:04 p.m. – Brad Free puts up a comprehensive recap on DRF.com about what happened in that final race at Santa Anita, including the fact that the $891,568 winning ticket was purchased by persons unknown at Hollywood Park for $1,920.

He also has the following quote from Peter Miller: “I thought we called it in when we cut him six months ago. It was an oversight.”

Sunday, June 11, 8:05 p.m. – Peter Miller does what can only be described as a jaw-dropping interview on the Stein show, which basically begins with Miller saying the Santa Anita stewards are out to get him.

When the subject rolls around to Fly To Mars being a gelding, he flatly tells Stein that he thought he was still a colt, obviously forgetting what he had told Brad Free some 13 hours earlier.

Stein ends the interview by suggesting that Miller stop beating his head against the wall and go home and hug his wife and children, which is what really matters.

Sounds like good advice.

To be continued …

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ratzkym@yahoo.com @TashmanMortyS