Santa Anita gets back on track following 'weather bomb'
Trainers at Santa Anita were on Sunday adjusting back to their normal routines after a fierce storm, dubbed "bombogenesis" or "weather bomb", hit California over the weekend, killing at least five people.
Meteorologists described it as the worst storm in California for years as torrential rain, flash floods and mud slides wreaked havoc.
Santa Anita cancelled its meeting on Friday and the turf races programmed for Saturday and Sunday were switched to dirt.
Simon Callaghan, who is based at the track, reckons the weather was the worst he has seen since his move from Britain seven years ago.
He said: "We've lost training days and had unusual amounts of rain over the last few days. I think we had five or six inches one day, which is an awful lot.
"There were a few days we couldn't train but luckily the good weather soon comes round. It's a hold-up and inconvenience, but you just have to go with it.
"They cancelled the racing on Friday as with that amount of rain in a short period it makes the dirt track unsafe – it was the best thing to do – and I had quite a few horses down to run on the turf, but we've basically scratched all of them.
"The first year I came it was a very wet winter, but this winter has definitely been the wettest I've seen."
Callaghan, son of former Newmarket trainer Neville, is hoping the sun will be shining on Kentucky Oaks contender Abel Tasman, who ended last year with victory in the Grade 1 Starlet Stakes.
She is pencilled in to return in the Santa Ysabel Stakes, a race won by the brilliant Songbird last year, at Santa Anita on March 4.
"She's done really good and I'm really happy with her," added the trainer. "I plan to run her in just under two weeks in a Grade 3 and then we'll decide what the next race is going to be, then hopefully the Kentucky Oaks.
"We ran Fashion Plate in the Oaks in 2014 after she won the Santa Anita Oaks and I think this filly is going to be a real live contender. Classics are what it's all about. We got close to winning the Derby with Firing Line [second to American Pharoah] a couple of years ago, which was a great experience."
A return to his homeland for Royal Ascot is also on Callaghan's agenda.
He said: "We've got a couple of orders for the breeze-up sales for that type of horse if we come across one – a fast precocious two-year-old. I'd look forward to that and it's something I'd like to do."