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Racing! Santa Anita management tree is a little smaller with the departure of Joe Morris

Hello, my name is John Cherwa, and welcome back to our horse racing newsletter. Here’s special thanks to Eric (Manny) Sondheimer for filling in for me while I was back East.

We had planned to do the next installment of our sometimes weekly Q&A, which will run Saturday, but we’ve got breaking and important news. So you’ll have to wait a day to find out what Michael Wrona and the Arctic Monkeys have in common.

This is a slightly longer version of what appeared in the print and online editions of The Times.

First shakeup at Santa Anita

In the first big management move at Santa Anita since Tim Ritvo took over, Joe Morris is leaving his post as senior vice president of West Coast operations for the Stronach Group. The track said his resignation was effective immediately.

The management tree at Santa Anita had gotten a little crowded with Ritvo’s arrival. Morris had been serving as a general manager and chief operating officer. That’s pretty much the role that Ritvo had assumed.

Ritvo said there are no current plans to replace his position.

“We will evaluate the current staff to see if anyone could succeed him in that position,” Ritvo told The Times. “But there is no decision on that. In the meantime, I’ll facilitate some of his duties and send off some of his other duties to others on staff.”

Morris, when reached by The Times, said his statement, released by Santa Anita, covered everything.

“At this time of my life, it’s going to be good to get back to my [breeding] farm in Lexington,” Morris said in the statement. “My wife has been running the operation back there and my family has been spread over several thousand miles for quite a few years now and we’re looking forward to spending more time together in a place we all love.”

The speculation was that with Ritvo’s arrival there was a glut of senior managers. Among that group is also Keith Brackpool, whose title is chairman of West Coast operations for the Stronach Group.

“I’m sure there were a few different reasons [for Morris leaving],” Ritvo said. “Whether it be the direction we were headed or too many cooks in the kitchen. The one thing in our opinion is that Joe was an upstanding guy that has worked really hard.

“We were kind of similar in the things we got involved in. Might have been a little bit of crossover.”

Morris also had responsibility for Golden Gate Fields in Northern California.

Morris has been around racing for most of his life. He has run tracks as small as a harness track in Hinsdale, N.H., and as large as Santa Anita. He was the past president of the Thoroughbred Owners of California and at one time was the publisher of Thoroughbred Times.

Ritvo reiterated that California remains the top priority of the Stronach Group. Frank Stronach, founder and honorary chairman, is scheduled to visit Tuesday and Wednesday.

The biggest issue that Ritvo said he needed to fix was the field sizes. With bigger fields comes more betting opportunities, which means bigger handles. The track has had a robust number of starters this meeting compared to the last meet.

“It’s been pleasant to see,” Ritvo said. “[Racing Secretary] Rick [Hammerle] has done a real good job putting the programs together. There have been very few complaints. It’s great to see these field sizes in a 19-day meet, but it’s more important to see big fields in the extended meeting.”

Santa Anita preview

The field sizes for Friday’s card are starting to squeeze down a bit but not to the crisis point of the summer. It’s a pretty average card with no stakes races and one allowance. There are three turf races: the third, fifth and eighth. The number of horses in each race, in sequential order, are 7, 6, 7, 7, 8, 9, 9, 10 (4 also eligible).

Now, as a service, if the infield videoboard is still not fixed or works intermittently. Here are the horses in the one post, whose odds you may not get to see. First race: Gunslinger (15-1). Second: Exhuberance (9-5). Third: Cordiality (5-2). Fourth: Rossmoor Way (10-1). Fifth: Gift Of A Star (4-1). Sixth: Heart Of The Nile (5-1). Seventh: Secret Touch (4-1). Eighth: Air On Fire (10-1).

In case you missed it

We ran an explainer earlier this week on how the new Treasury and IRS rules will affect bettors. It leads with the story of when friends of the newsletter and all-around good guys Bob Ike and Kurt Hoover hit a single pick-six ticket at Santa Anita last year. You can read it here.

Jeff Nahill’s SA Pick

Third race: #6 Earring (2-1)

I don't normally like betting favorites, but the way I look at this filly is that she can be a single in the Pick 5 and a single to start off your Pick 6. Trainer Tom Proctor is one of the best with turf horses. This 4-year-old finished third to better at Saratoga. Proctor is 21% with shippers and good turf jockey Drayden Van Dyke rides like he normally does for Glen Hill Farm/Proctor.

Monday’s result: New Karma finished fifth at 12-1 in the fourth race.

Jeff Nahill is a quality editor for the San Diego Union-Tribune. He can be reached at jeff.nahill@sduniontribune.com. For other selections go to his blog fromthewinnerscircle.me

Ed Burgart’s LRC Pick

Eighth race: #1 Designs By Dynasty (9-2)

This 3-year-old filly turned her head while breaking very slow in her last race and also had a rough prior Derby trip.

Los Alamitos Preview

Sunday is the big day at Los Al this weekend with the $125,000 Robert Boniface Los Alamitos Individual Championship (which takes about as long to say as it does to run the race). It’s a 440-yard race, with defending champion Heza Dasha Fire hoping to become the first back-to-back winner since 2010. The trainer is Jose Flores with Cruz Mandez in the saddle. He Looks Hot, for track owner Ed Allred, and Bodacious Eagle should serve as the top competition.

The winner of the race gets a pass into the $750,000 Champion of Champions on Dec. 17. Robert Boniface was the former president of the Horsemen’s Quarter Horse Racing Assn. that had the winter meeting at Los Al for many years.

Last thoughts

I need to get this off my chest and complain about the length of baseball games. And, by the way, go Dodgers and read Houston Mitchell’s Dodgers newsletter — sign up here. I started watching Monday’s Game 3 while I was somewhere over the Gulf of Mexico and finished the game at my apartment in Pasadena. And it was a 3-1 game. Yeah, that’s long.

And speaking of newsletters, coming up soon, joining the Dodgers as the second-, third- and fourth-best sports newsletters, will be ones devoted to the Lakers and Clippers. Sign up for the Lakers here. And the Clippers here.

Anyway, if you like what you see in this bit of disposable literature, tell someone and have them click here and sign up. Remember, it’s free, and all we need is your email address, nothing more.

Any thoughts, drop me an email at john.cherwa@latimes.com or feed my ego by following me on Twitter @jcherwa.

Now, the star of the show, Friday’s entries.

Santa Anita Entries for Friday, October 13.

Santa Anita, Santa Anita Park, Arcadia, California. 9th day of a 19-day meet.

FIRST RACE.

1 Mile. Purse: $19,000. Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $16,000-$14,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1GunslingerBrayan Pena125Antonio Garcia15-116,000
2Dukes UpAustin Solis118Philip D'Amato8-516,000
3Rafter OneMartin Pedroza122Michael Pender10-116,000
4Sindys LuckRafael Bejarano125Hector O. Palma7-216,000
5Special StoryTyler Conner125Mark Glatt9-216,000
6To the BarSantiago Gonzalez125Ronald W. Ellis5-216,000
7Rim DitchSaul Arias120Victor Fernandez12-114,000

SECOND RACE.

1 Mile. Purse: $50,000. Maiden Special Weight. Fillies. 2 year olds.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1ExuberanceTyler Baze120Ian Kruljac9-5
2JohanssonSantiago Gonzalez120Scott Hansen12-1
3ShezaspanishdancerDrayden Van Dyke120Jerry Hollendorfer4-1
4Dr. AnnMario Gutierrez120Doug F. O'Neill2-1
5Our Slick ChickMike Smith120Jerry Hollendorfer5-1
6D D's LuteJoseph Talamo120Gary Sherlock5-1

THIRD RACE.

1 1/8 Mile Turf. Purse: $53,000. Allowance Optional Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $62,500.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1CordialityTyler Baze123Mark Glatt5-2
2How UnusualCorey Nakatani125Michael Pender5-1
3Dynamic Mizzes KGary Stevens123Mark Glatt10-1
4Laseen Victor Espinoza123James M. Cassidy4-1
5Ginga Norberto Arroyo, Jr.123Felipe N Souza12-1
6EarringDrayden Van Dyke123Thomas F. Proctor2-1
7Space CadetKent Desormeaux123Richard Baltas6-1

FOURTH RACE.

1 Mile. Purse: $28,000. Maiden Claiming. Fillies. 2 year olds. Claiming Prices $50,000-$40,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Rossmoor WayAustin Solis113Mike Harrington10-140,000
2UnchangedSantiago Gonzalez122Patrick Gallagher5-150,000
3WinsinfashionJoseph Talamo122Robert B. Hess, Jr.6-150,000
4StylitudeKent Desormeaux122J. Keith Desormeaux8-550,000
5Sauce On SideEvin Roman117Peter Miller5-250,000
6Cee Sam's GirlRuben Fuentes115George Papaprodromou6-150,000
7Happy MaggieFelipe Martinez120Mike Harrington10-140,000

FIFTH RACE.

About 6½ Furlongs Turf. Purse: $36,000. Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $40,000-$35,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Gift of a StarFlavien Prat123Jack Carava4-140,000
2Pleasant as PieDrayden Van Dyke123Ronald W. Ellis4-140,000
3Warm EndowmentTiago Pereira123Ed Moger, Jr.5-140,000
4Little Bit LovelyEvin Roman116Adam Kitchingman7-235,000
5Wedding BlushTyler Baze123Kristin Mulhall3-140,000
6AllsquareJoseph Talamo123Philip D'Amato6-140,000
7SummertimemischiefSantiago Gonzalez121Kathy Walsh12-135,000
8GogoulaTyler Conner120George Papaprodromou20-140,000

SIXTH RACE.

6½ Furlongs. Purse: $50,000. Maiden Special Weight. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Heart of the NileKent Desormeaux122Hector O. Palma5-1
2ComplimentiTyler Baze122Michael W. McCarthy8-1
3Lovely LindaTyler Conner122Eoin G. Harty12-1
4DurangaFlavien Prat122Jerry Hollendorfer6-1
5Kentan RoadEvin Roman117John W. Sadler9-2
6Hansen Tale BluesRuben Fuentes115Victor L. Garcia15-1
7RansomedJuan Ochoa125Sal Gonzalez12-1
8Miss RicochetJoseph Talamo122Mark Glatt8-5
9Starlet StormRafael Bejarano122Bob Baffert8-1

SEVENTH RACE.

1 1/16 Mile. Purse: $30,000. Starter Allowance. 3 year olds and up.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Secret TouchMario Gutierrez120Peter Eurton4-1
2Kona DreamsTiago Pereira120William Spawr8-1
3Popular KidKent Desormeaux120J. Keith Desormeaux5-1
4Mercer IslandMartin Garcia125Peter Miller5-1
5TrustworthyNorberto Arroyo, Jr.120Clifford W. Sise, Jr.6-1
6Desert GeneralTyler Baze123Sean McCarthy7-2
7TrapalandaFlavien Prat120Mike Puype12-1
8Rings of JupiterDrayden Van Dyke120Richard Baltas12-1
9Quality LineEvin Roman118Victor L. Garcia6-1

EIGHTH RACE.

About 6½ Furlongs Turf. Purse: $28,000. Maiden Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $50,000-$40,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Air On FireRafael Bejarano122Richard E. Mandella10-150,000
2BourbonmademedoitGary Stevens122Dan Blacker15-150,000
3Member State Evin Roman117Simon Callaghan5-150,000
4Wit and WisdomTyler Baze122Michael W. McCarthy12-150,000
5Beloved HolidayVictor Espinoza122John W. Sadler6-150,000
6SaldamenteJoseph Talamo122Brian J. Koriner9-250,000
7Bombshell TonightDrayden Van Dyke122Mike Puype12-150,000
8MilhaudFlavien Prat125Richard E. Mandella5-250,000
9Awesome HeightsCorey Nakatani122Neil D. Drysdale5-150,000
10Captain WalkerMario Gutierrez123Richard Rosales12-140,000
Also Eligible
11Unnamed SourceMario Gutierrez120Antonio Garcia20-140,000
12CaliforniumAustin Solis113Michele Dollase20-140,000
13SixesSaul Arias123Doug F. O'Neill12-140,000
14Malibu d'OroJuan Ochoa120Sal Gonzalez20-140,000

john.cherwa@latimes.com

@jcherwa

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