Newsletter: Racing! Los Alamitos puts its first day of the meeting in the books


Hello, my name is John Cherwa, and welcome back to our horse racing newsletter as we look at a steward change at Del Mar.

The first day of Los Alamitos’ summer meeting is in the books, but the news was happening down south at Del Mar. Normally, we don’t get in the weeds on things such as changes in the stewards’ lineup, but Scott Chaney, whose rulings have brought fire from some bettors (and no doubt delighted bettors on the other side) will not be working the Del Mar meeting.

Now, Steve Andersen of the Daily Racing Form did all the heavy lifting on breaking this news, so you can read his story here.

But in summary, for the first time in three years, Chaney, Grant Baker and Kim Sawyer will not be the trio adjudicating happenings on the track at Del Mar. Chaney has been replaced by John Herbuveaux, who was up at Golden Gate.

That trio was at Santa Anita on May 6, when Achira was not disqualified for drifting way out in the stretch and possibility compromising the run of Helen Hillary. You can get both sides of the controversy in one of our past newsletters. You can find it here.


Chaney and Sawyer voted to let the race results stand, while Baker voted to take Achira down. Jockey Mike Smith was later given three days off for the race.

The trio was also involved in an at least 10-minute photo finish decision at Del Mar in November of last year. The newsletter got a little hyperbolic and silly on that decision, but you can read it here.

Anyway, they are breaking up the gang.

Rick Baedeker, executive director of the California Horse Racing Board, said in very couched terms that the recent controversy could have played a part in rotating the stewards.

“Rotation has been talked about outside of any controversy,” Baedeker told Andersen of DRF. “It’s not a new topic. That situation brought an outcry from many folks, so rotation became more of a point of focus.”

So, Chaney became a shipper and will be placed at the Santa Rosa Fair meeting later this summer in addition to doing work in the CHRB office in Sacramento.

Los Alamitos thoroughbred review

Love A Honeybadger won her third in a row when she took the $54,255 feature race on Thursday’s opening day. That’s the good news for winning trainer Brian Koriner. The bad news is that the race was an optional claimer and Peter Miller grabbed the 4-year-old for Rockingham Ranch.

Love A Honeybadger paid $10.00, $4.80 and $4.00 for winning the 5½-furlong race by two lengths. Silken Spy was second, and Highland Lass was third.


Los Alamitos thoroughbred preview

There are eight races starting at 1 p.m. Friday. There’s not much to get excited about except three of the races have 11 horses in them. That’s impressive. The feature is the seventh, which is a 5½-furlong allowance/optional claimer for Cal-bred fillies and mares.

Veteran campaigner Princess Kendra is the 7-2 favorite. She has won eight of her 38 races. She ran seven times at the just concluded Santa Anita meeting. She last ran an allowance/optional claimer where she finished sixth and last and was eased in the stretch. However, she is cutting back from eight furlongs to 5½. Reed Saldana is the trainer and Agapito Delgadillo, who has retired a couple of times and keeps coming back, is the jockey.

Six of the races are claimers, seven if you include the seventh. Here is the field size, in order: 6, 7, 7, 7, 11, 11, 9, 11.

Jose Contreras LRC play of the day

FOURTH RACE: No. 6 Don’t Stalk Me (3-1)

He faded down stretch and finished last in a field of six against higher-level claimers at Santa Anita. He was claimed by the Doug O’Neill barn out of that effort and now returns nearly a month later. He’s now a first-time-gelding and returns to the track of his debut win four starts ago while reuniting with the rider that was aboard that day. The horse-for-course angle tends to do well over this track, and this runner looked good in his local win.

Thursday’s result: Four Gaels, at 7-1, had a 3½-length lead after the far turn, but the marathon-length stretch was just too much and horse got nailed at the wire by a neck by the 3-5 chalk.

Jose Contreras is an excellent handicapper and well known on social media and familiar to racing fans watching on TVG. You can follow him on Twitter at @losponies or check him out at his website.

Los Alamitos nighttime weekend preview

This weekly segment is in the hands of Orlando Gutierrez, marketing and media maven at Los Al. So, the floor is yours, Orlando:

“It’s doubleheader time at Los Alamitos with daytime thoroughbred racing preceding the nighttime quarter horse and thoroughbred action. During the 12-day race meet, nine of those days will have back-to-back racing cards. Friday’s eight-race card will feature a pick 6 carryover of $8,242 with the sequence beginning in race three with a 4½-furlong thoroughbred race for fillies and mares. First post is 7 p.m.

“In Friday’s feature, Sweet 16 makes her first start since racing in the $30,000 Los Alamitos Juvenile Invitational Stakes on Dec. 17 when she heads a group of sophomores in a $11,025 allowance at 300 yards. Trained by Juan Aleman, Sweet 16 had a tough out in the Juvenile Invitational. She was fractious in the gate and then stumbled at the start on the way to running seventh. The filly by Pyc Paint Your Wagon is out of the champion aged mare Fovee, a winner of the Grade 1 Mildred Vessels Memorial Handicap in 2011. Sweet 16 was third to 2017 champion 2-year-old J Fire Up two races back in a 400-yard trial to the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity.

“The main event of the weekend is the $25,000 Vandy’s Flash Handicap for 3-year-olds on Sunday. The seven-horse field will feature four stakes winner led by Grade 1 Los Alamitos Winter Derby winner Jess My Kiss. Owned and bred by Mark and Peggy Brown, Jess My Kiss has not raced since winning the $215,000 derby at 24-1 odds on Feb. 10. Trained by Roman Figueroa, Jess My Kiss was a two-time Grade 1 futurity finalist last year and his efforts included a seventh-place finish to champion J Fire Up in the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity. The One Sweet Jess gelding has posted a pair of modest turn and works in preparation for his return.

“A Political Lady is the one to beat in this 400-yard dash. The Chris O’Dell-trainee is four for four in 2018 including a daylight victory in both the Grade 3 La Primera Del Ano Derby and La Pacifica Handicap. This is her first start of the year against the opposite sex. The field will also feature CM Boom Shakalaka, the winner of the Dillingham Handicap, and Jesstacartel, who’ll be making her first start since a runaway 2¼-length victory in the Corona Chick Handicap on Nov. 19.”

Ed Burgart’s LA play of the day

EIGHTH RACE: No. 4 Jess Bet Me (5-2)

He was gelded prior to his last impressive maiden victory when striding out with authority midway en route to a 1¾-length victory while earning a nice 92 Trackmaster speed figure. He displayed plenty ability last winter and has much upside while only making second start since January. Bet to win and make exacta of 4-2 and 4-5.

Final thought

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And now the stars of the show, Thursday’s results and Friday’s entries.