Veteran Racecaller Buchdahl on the Mic

May 31, 2024

Alan Buchdahl. (Santa Anita Photo)

• GII Triple Bend: Happy Jack Goes Second Off The Layoff
• Saturday’s $1 Coast-To-Coast Pick 5 Starts At 2 p.m. PT
• Imagination Fires Bullet In 1st Work Since Preakness

Stable Notes By Victor Ryan

With Santa Anita track announcer Frank Mirahmadi set to call next week’s Belmont Stakes Racing Festival at Saratoga, veteran racecaller Alan Buchdahl will be on the microphone at Santa Anita for three days starting next Friday.

Buchdahl, 67, formerly was the track announcer at Hollywood Park and the Oak Tree meeting at Santa Anita. He also served as the backup announcer for decades at Santa Anita, where he supported the likes of Chic Anderson, Dave Johnson and Trevor Denman.

“Since Alan began his career as a track announcer nearly 50 years ago, his voice has become synonymous with so many of Santa Anita’s great moments,” said Nate Newby, Santa Anita’s Senior Vice President and General Manager.  “It is fitting to welcome him home to the announcer’s booth while Frank is out of town, and we thank him for accepting the assignment.”

Buchdahl, who was born and raised in nearby Pasadena, called his first races at the Oak Tree meet in 1974 while still in high school. The following year he became the full-time Oak Tree announcer, a post he would hold for the next eight seasons. 

In 1981, Buchdahl succeeded the legendary Harry Henson as the track announcer at Hollywood Park. 

“It is a privilege and an honor to be in that announcer’s booth at Santa Anita,” Buchdahl said Thursday. “I’m thankful for any time I’m calling races, but especially at Santa Anita.”

Buchdahl will be in action next Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It will be his first-time calling races since a three-day stint at Santa Anita in April 2022.

“I’ve been watching more races with an announcer’s eye over the last week to 10 days,” Buchdahl said of his preparations. “I’ll be at Santa Anita this weekend for some practice runs as well.” 

Mirahmadi has been Santa Anita full-time track announcer since the 2019 winter season. He added race-calling duties at the Saratoga summer meet last year. 

With Belmont Park currently under renovation, this year’s Belmont Stakes was moved to Saratoga. Due to the track configuration, the final leg of this year’s Triple Crown will be run at 1 ¼ miles rather than its traditional distance of 1 ½ mile. 

The Belmont Stakes Racing Festival is next Thursday through Sunday in upstate New York.

GII Triple Bend: Happy Jack Looks To Build Off Big Comeback Effort

Following a nearly 10-month layoff, Happy Jack uncorked the best performance of his career when nearly springing an 18-1 upset in last month’s Kona Gold Stakes going six furlongs on dirt at Santa Anita. He’ll look to build off that effort Saturday when he goes in the GII Triple Bend at seven furlongs on dirt.

In the Kona Gold, Happy Jack was beaten just three-quarters of a length by top sprinter The Chosen Vron. He was forwardly placed throughout under Frankie Dettori, coming up just short after pressing both The Chosen Vron and graded stakes winner Forbidden Kingdom, who finished last. 

Happy Jack earned a career-high 101 Beyer Speed Figure for the performance. It is the highest posted by any horse entered in the Triple Bend.

“We were kind of floored by the effort,” trainer Doug O’Neill said Thursday. “We were so happy. We didn’t know he would show that much gate speed. Frankie said he was shocked where Happy Jack put him early.”

Happy Jack is a homebred for Calumet Farm. A veteran of the 2022 Triple Crown, the 5-year-old Oxbow horse had been sidelined since July 1 when he finished fifth in the Kelly’s Landing Stakes at Ellis Park. 

“All credit to Calumet for being so patient with him,” O’Neill said. “Every time he gets a little hiccup, they’re great at giving him the time he needs. Now we’re seeing a stronger, more mature Happy Jack.”

Happy Jack, who will be ridden by Edwin Maldonado for the first time Saturday, is 12: 2-2-3 with $325,560 in earnings. He has never won a stakes race. As a 3-year-old, he was third in both the GII San Felipe and GI Santa Anita Derby at Santa Anita. He would go on to finish 14th in that year’s Kentucky Derby and eighth in the Preakness. 

The Triple Bend goes as the sixth race on a nine-race card. Post time is approximately 3:30 p.m. PT. 

The field

Saturday’s $1 Coast-To-Coast Pick 5 Starts At 2 P.M. PT

The $1 Coast-to-Coast Pick 5 Saturday starts at 2 p.m. PT with the third race from Santa Anita. Also part of the sequence are the fifth and seventh races from Santa Anita and races 10 and 11 from Gulfstream Park. 

The third from Santa Anita is a six-furlong turf event for $25,000 claimers which have never won two races. The 6-5 morning line favorite is Topolina, who will have Edwin Maldonado aboard for trainer and co-owner Ryan Hanson.

The fifth from Santa Anita is an open maiden race at one mile on turf. Installed as the 5-2 favorite on the morning line is One Time Mark, who exits consecutive runner-up efforts in similar events. Trained by Mark Glatt, he will have Kyle Frey in the irons.

The seventh from Santa Anita is the GIII Honeymoon Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on turf. Eastern invader Faith Understood with Mike Smith up is the 5-2 program favorite for trainer Jonathan Thomas.

The 10th from Gulfstream is the Game Face Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at six furlongs on dirt. Haulin Ice, ridden by Edgar Zayas for trainer Saffie Joseph Jr., is the 7-5 favorite on the morning line.

The 11th from Gulfstream is a $16,000 maiden-claimer at 1 1/16 miles on turf. In a field of 10, Gossiper is the 2-1 favorite for trainer Kathleen O’Connell. Luca Panici rides. 
The Coast-to-Coast Pick 5 features a player-friendly 15 percent takeout rate. It is offered every Saturday and Sunday throughout the end of the Santa Anita Hollywood Meet June 16. 

FINISH LINES _______________

Imagination worked Friday for the first time since finishing eighth in the Preakness Stakes. The Into Mischief colt fired a bullet when drilling six furlongs in 1:11.40 for trainer Bob Baffert. He is slated to return in next Saturday’s GI Woody Stephens going seven furlongs at Saratoga on the Belmont Stakes undercard …

Sunday’s features on an eight-race card is the Desert Stormer Stakes for fillies and mares at six furlongs on dirt. Anywho wheels back for trainer John Sadler two weeks after a smashing eight-length allowance win at Churchill Downs in her 4-year-old debut …

Owner and horseplayer Chris Victor (Victor Racing) will be host Tom Quigley’s handicapping guest Saturday on the Santa Anita simulcast feed starting at 11:50 a.m…

Every Friday during the Hollywood Meet, on-track fans will receive free parking and admission plus $3 beer and $5 margaritas.

@jonathanstettin on hot streak! Picks Race8 at both @GulfstreamPark & @santaanitapark ow.ly//cyil307C3Tp #horseracing #PastTheWire

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