Wedding Savior rewards 30-year training veteran with milestone triumph that he dedicates to his father, Chris Granitz.
If trainer Anthony Granitz seemed a bit subdued after scoring career victory No. 1,000 in today’s sixth race with Tommy G. Ligon’s 4-year-old gelding Wedding Savior, it was perfectly understandable.
“I’ve got to dedicate this one to my dad Chris, because he’s the one who got me started in racing when I was 13. He wasn’t in racing himself, but he followed the horses and was the one who took us to Arlington Park and introduced me to the sport,” Granitz said.
“He is 80 years old now and suffered a stroke recently that left him partially paralyzed, but he is doing a lot better now. When I went back home to Illinois two weeks ago to get (wife Joy and daughter Eve, 10), he was able to get out of the hospital, and he is in rehab now and is able to walk with a walker. My mom, Arlene, is taking care of him,” Granitz said.
“She was a schoolteacher, and second grade gave me the most trouble because she was my teacher,” Granitz added, laughing.
Granitz – who has two older daughters, Tiffanie and Taylor – was accompanied by Eve to the winner’s circle following Wedding Savior’s second consecutive victory in the mile-and-40-yard, $8,000 claiming event. Wedding Savior rolled to a two-and-three-quarter length victory from Discreet Reason that jockey Antonio Gallardo said was about as easy as it looked.
“He (Granitz) has his horses very ready, and I felt comfortable the whole race,” said Gallardo, the track’s leading jockey. “He has a lot of speed, but I didn’t want to go to the lead because of the (No. 10) outside post. I tried to hold him, but he wanted to go at the five-eighths pole. He is a big, long-striding horse, and at the half-mile pole he made the lead real easy,” Gallardo added.
Granitz was relieved to get the milestone behind him, since Joy and Eve are returning home next weekend so the youngster can resume school. Eve, who has a German Shepherd-Bullmastiff mix dog named Zenyatta, is a huge fan of racing and her dad’s biggest booster.
“He is an awesome trainer because he’s been doing it for a long time and he has a great relationship with his horses,” Eve said.
Granitz resides during the winter in nearby Safety Harbor, Fla., where he rents a home from former major league baseball pitching coach Billy Connors. “He has a ton of Yankees and Cubs memorabilia, and he lets us bring friends over to see it,” Granitz said.
The 51-year-old conditioner, who has been competing at Tampa Bay Downs for nine years, says there is nowhere else he would rather be this time of year. “We like everything about racing here, plus horses win all over when they leave here,” he said. “It’s a great place to winter your horses.
“It’s great to do it for Tommy Ligon, because I’ve had horses for him for about 20 years and he has been a great supporter of mine and of racing,” Granitz said of the Atlanta resident. “And Gallardo rode him perfect. How can you go wrong with him?”
Granitz took a summer job at Arlington Park cleaning stalls when he was 13. “I was able to help out on the backstretch during the summer, but back then you had to be 17 to go to the races, so we had to stand outside to watch the horses run. It was pretty exciting,” he said.
Granitz was an assistant to his brother, Chris Granitz, Jr., before Chris took a job with the railroad and Anthony took over the stable. He saddled his first career winner in 1984.
Gallardo, meanwhile, extended his streak of winning days at Tampa Bay Downs to 18, riding three winners on today’s card to give him 39 only 19 days into the 2014-2015 meeting.
Gallardo was at Presque Isle Downs on July 1 (when Tampa Bay Downs officially launched its 89th anniversary season during its Summer Festival of Racing), but managed to post two victories that day at the Erie, Pa., track.
Going back to the Thanksgiving Day card on Nov. 27 at Gulfstream Park West in Miami, when he rode one winner, Gallardo has posted at least one victory for 19 consecutive racing days. Included in his streak are two five-victory performances during the ongoing Oldsmar meeting.
The 27-year-old Spaniard won the second race today on 4-year-old filly Angora for breeder-owner Arindel Farm and trainer Jamie Ness. He came right back in the third, producing a late burst from 4-year-old colt Seal Six for breeder-owner Casner Racing, LP and trainer Eoin Harty, before triumphing aboard Wedding Savior for Granitz.
Gallardo, who won meeting titles last year here and at Presque Isle, finished 2014 with 268 victories, sixth-best in North America.
Thoroughbred racing at Tampa Bay Downs resumes Wednesday with a nine-race card beginning at 12:30 p.m. Tampa Bay Downs is open every day for simulcast wagering, no-limits poker action in The Silks Poker Room and golf fun and instruction at The Downs Golf Practice Facility.
Tampa Bay Downs will conduct racing each Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday through January before adding Thursdays to the mix in February. The track’s feature race on Saturday, Jan. 10 is the 11th edition of the $100,000 Turf Dash for older horses at five furlongs.
Tampa Bay Downs will hold its annual Cap Giveaway Day on Saturday, Jan. 17. Fans will receive a high-quality cap with the new Tampa Bay Downs logo with each paid admission and have the opportunity to meet many of the track’s leading jockeys and get autographs.