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Bacharach, Costello team up on musical benefit for horses

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SOLANA BEACH, Calif. (AP) Burt Bacharach and Elvis Costello are teaming up for a musical benefit for victims of the San Luis Rey Downs training track fire this month that killed nearly 50 horses and injured their caretakers.

The event on Jan. 17 at the Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach, a mile from Del Mar racetrack, will be hosted by actress Bo Derek, a former member of the California Horse Racing Board. She and Oscar-winning actress Anjelica Huston will preside over an auction before the show.

Bacharach and Costello teamed on the Grammy-winning album “Painted From Memory” in 1998.

“Horses and horse racing have given me nothing but pleasure for the last half-century,” Bacharach said. “The horrible circumstances around the San Luis Rey Downs fire cry out for aid in so many ways. This is my way of giving back to the horse community.”

Tickets range from $250 to $1,000, which includes an after-show reception with Bacharach, a horse owner and racing fan of 50 years. Sales began Wednesday.

All money raised will be equally split between the California Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Foundation and the California Retirement Management Account. The money will go toward caring for horses, trainers, grooms and stable workers who were displaced by the fire at the training track in Bonsall on Dec. 7.

Renowned jockey Jose Flores dies in racing accident

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) A renowned jockey who was among the best in Pennsylvania history died Thursday of injuries suffered in a racing accident.

Parx Racing announced the death of Jose Flores, 56, who was racing Monday at the suburban Philadelphia track when his horse went down and Flores was thrown off. The jockey hit the ground headfirst and suffered a massive trauma.

He was removed from life support Thursday afternoon.

Flores won 4,650 races in a career that spanned more than three decades. He was the top career earner at Parx, formerly known as Philadelphia Park.

“It’s unbelievable, just sickening,” Scott Lake, the top trainer at Parx, who has known Flores since 1991, told The Philadelphia Inquirer. “He was just tremendous, a nice guy, always a professional.”

Flores’ mounts earned $64 million in nearly 29,000 career starts, according to the Equibase thoroughbred database.

Parx called Flores an “outstanding jockey” and expressed condolences to his family.

The Jockeys’ Guild said Flores is the 157th jockey to die in a racing accident in unofficial records going back to 1940. The group said that before Flores, it had no record of a jockey ever being killed in an accident at a Pennsylvania track.

Native River gets wire-to-wire win in Cheltenham Gold Cup

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CHELTENHAM, England (AP) Native River delivered an exhibition in front-running to outlast favorite Might Bite in a thrilling duel to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Britain’s most prestigious jumps race, on Friday.

Ridden by champion jockey Richard Johnson, 5-1 shot Native River took the lead right from the start and was never passed in the race over 3 miles and 2 1/2 furlongs in front of a crowd of 70,000.

After they jumped the last fence, Native River and Might Bite were neck and neck, but Johnson got a kick out of the Colin Tizzard-trained horse on the uphill finish and Native River won by 4 1/2 lengths – a year after finishing third in the race.

For Johnson, it was a second victory in the Gold Cup – 18 years after his first on Looks Like Trouble.

“It’s been a long 18 years,” Johnson said. “To be honest, I was a passenger.

“The more I asked from him, the better he jumped.”

Might Bite’s handler, Nicky Henderson, was looking to become the first trainer to capture the Cheltenham Festival’s three signature races in the same year – the Champion Hurdle, the Champion Chase, and the Gold Cup.

It was Might Bite’s first defeat over fences, and Henderson said the heavy going didn’t do the horse any favors – especially against a rival who is a past winner of the Welsh National and the Hennessy Gold Cup

“It was the right thing to track Native River because no other horse got into the race, he had to be in the right place,” Henderson said of the 4-1 favorite.

“On better ground, stamina wouldn’t have been an issue. But in that ground you have to work so much harder. The winner is a Welsh National winner and the reason I’ve never won that race is because I can’t find horses that go in that ground.”

Native River won his owners 369,822 pounds ($515,000).

Anibale Fly, a 33-1 shot, was third.