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Frank Mirahmadi to take over as Santa Anita race caller

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ARCADIA, Calif. — Frank Mirahmadi will become Santa Anita’s new race caller when the winter meet begins Dec. 26, replacing Michael Wrona who was let go after two years.

Mirahmadi recently completed his fourth season as track announcer at Monmouth Park in New Jersey. He will conclude his race calling duties at Aqueduct in New York on Dec. 16. The 51-year-old caller has also worked at Florida’s Hialeah, Oaklawn in Arkansas, Golden Gate Fields in Northern California and Louisiana Downs. He had brief stints at Santa Anita in 2014 and 2016.

Wrona was informed Saturday that he would not return by Tim Ritvo, chief operating officer for The Stronach Group, which owns Santa Anita. Wrona had the job since spring 2016, when he won it after competing with three other announcers, including Mirahmadi.

Ritvo said Monday that Mirahmadi would perform promotional duties in addition to calling races. He said Mirahmadi is a “very engaging, funny guy.”

Mirahmadi, who was born in Los Angeles, played the role of Santa Anita track announcer in the 2003 movie “Seabiscuit.”

Baffert sweeps Grade 1 2-year-old races at Los Alamitos

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LOS ALAMITOS, Calif. (AP) Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert swept the CashCall Futurity and Starlet for 2-year-olds, winning the Grade 1 races for the second straight year at Los Alamitos.

Improbable won the $300,345 Futurity by five lengths as the 1-5 favorite and 3-2 favorite Chasing Yesterday won the $300,345 Starlet by a head on Saturday. Drayden Van Dyke became the second jockey to win both races in the same year.

Baffert earned his fifth straight victory in the Futurity and his 11th overall, having won it six times at old Hollywood Park.

Improbable ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:41.18 and paid $2.40 to win. The colt’s ownership includes most of the group that owned Triple Crown winner Justify.

In the Starlet, Chasing Yesterday ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.59 and paid $5 to win. She is a half-sister to 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, also trained by Baffert.

Victor Espinoza aims for January comeback

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DEL MAR, Calif. — Hall of Fame jockey Victor Espinoza is aiming to return to riding in January, six months after he was seriously injured in a training accident.

The 46-year-old rider says he had an MRI recently and “it came out perfect.” Espinoza says he doesn’t need surgery and his spinal cord has healed “perfectly,” which was his main concern.

He fractured a vertebra in his neck at Del Mar last July when the horse he was exercising fell.

Espinoza was back at Del Mar on Saturday for the first time since the accident. He presented the trophy to the winning connections in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby. He has been recuperating at his Del Mar home.

Espinoza says he hopes to return sometime in January at Santa Anita. The track opens its winter meet on Dec. 26.

He rode American Pharoah to a Triple Crown sweep in 2015.