JOCKEY QUOTESTIAGO PEREIRA, THE HUNTED, WINNER: “I worked him the other day and he worked really good. I’ve never ridden him in a race, but I looked at his last two races and it looked like he was running against good horses. Today, the pace seemed good for him and he was comfortable. When I pushed him out at the quarter pole, he took off.”TRAINER QUOTESRICHARD BALTAS, THE HUNTED, WINNER: “The horse has been training good. He was a little unlucky; he was too far back last time. This is stakes company, against Cal-breds…it was a good race and a great ride (by Tiago Pereira). I’m very happy for all the connections. He was nice and relaxed down the backside. I think the rider did a really good job on him.”OWNER QUOTESGARY FENTON, LITTLE RED FEATHER RACING, PART OWNER OF THE HUNTED: “This couldn’t have set up any better if we had drawn it up. It set up perfect and Tiago rode a perfect race. He followed instructions and it worked out.”BILLY KOCH, THE HUNTED, WINNER: “It was perfect. Tiago did such a great job, Richie Baltas and his staff did such a nice job with this horse. He was really troubled in the beginning of his career and they brought him along and were really patient and it is a credit to our owners at Little Red Feather, Richard and Vanessa. People like this allow us to be patient and do the right thing.”PARTNERS OF LITTLE RED FEATHER RACING, THE HUNTED, WINNER: “It’s a dream winning a stakes race at Santa Anita, it’s an absolute dream. What Billy said, where this horse has come from in exactly one year ago today, all credit goes to Richie and his team; he’s a dream maker.”MADELINE AUERBACH, PART OWNER, THE HUNTED: “Unusual Heat (the late sire of The Hunted) is the gift that keeps on giving.”NOTES: The winning owners are Madeline Auerbach LLC, Ciaglia Racing LLC & Little Red Feather Racing.
The common cuckoo is what biologists call a brood parasite; it lays eggs in other birds’ nests, hoping the mothers won’t notice. Often they don’t, because cuckoo eggs have evolved to closely resemble those of their victims. And once the cuckoo hatches, the invader seizes the nest, pushing out all the other eggs. The parasitized birds, however, are fighting back. There’s an ongoing evolutionary arms race between the cuckoo and its most frequent victims, such as the brambling and the red-backed shrike. The parasitized birds are evolving unique egg “signatures,” markings that help the mother distinguish an authentic egg from an impostor. Though scientists have had ideas about how this arms race works, a study published this week in Nature Communications suggests that the egg war isn’t playing out the way we’d once thought. The conventional wisdom is that recognizable eggs must have three visual qualities: They should be highly similar to eggs holding their siblings; distinct from eggs laid by other mothers of the same species; and have complex, dense markings to make them more difficult to mimic. But when researchers analyzed hundreds of eggs from eight different parasitized species, they found a different story. Eggs didn’t necessarily need all three attributes to be distinguishable. For example, brambling parents were able to identify their eggs even though there was a lot of variation among sibling eggs and little difference between eggs from different mothers. The scientists also found that complex, dense egg markings could actually make it more difficult for mother birds to recognize their eggs. The insights suggest moderation may be a winning tactic in the egg war: Markings need to be visually dense enough to convey some information, yet not so dense that the egg becomes unrecognizable.