Newsletter: Racing! New stallions try to give a boost in California

Hello, my name is Eric Sondheimer, and welcome back to our horse racing newsletter. I’m filling in for a vacationing John Cherwa and decided to give an update on California horse breeding.

California horse breeding is in a precarious stage searching for stallions who can help replace the likes of Unusual Heat, Lucky Pulpit and Benchmark. All of them died in 2017 after making huge impacts on the Southern California racing scene. Add to that, Tribal Rule died in 2014.

The good news is that there are some promising new sires. Shaman Ghost, a son of Ghostzapper who was named the Canadian champion 3-year-old colt in 2016, began his first year at Lovacres Ranch for a stud fee of $7,500 and has more than 90 mares in foal.


Danzing Candy, a son of Twirling Candy, is standing at Rancho San Miguel for a $5,000 fee and attracting strong interest. Texas Ryano, a son of Curlin, began his stallion career at Ballena Vista Farm for a $3,500 stud fee and should have 20 mares in foal, owner Henry Williamson said.

The first 2-year-olds from Boisterous, a son of Distorted Humor, are starting to make their debuts. Based at Tommy Town Thoroughbreds, his fee is $5,000. Stay Thirsty, a son of Bernardini, is having early success at $5,000 for a live foal at Lovacres.

Tommy Town also has one of the hottest sires in Grazen, one of my favorites. (Full disclosure: I am part-owner of a Grazen yearling filly). Grazen had only 31 foals in 2016, then suddenly got very popular with 100 in 2017 and 68 this year. His fee is $5,000. His offspring have been good on dirt and turf.

Square Eddie has the most expensive stud fee at $25,000. Standing at Ocean Breeze Ranch, he has been producing versatile runners. Stanford, a son of Malibu Moon, is a new stallion at Tommy Town for a $5,000 stud fee. Acclamation, a son of Unusual Heat, is at Old English Ranch with a $15,000 stud fee.

Unusual Heat has 18 yearlings from his final crop. He died last year at age 27, having 49 stakes winners and counting. Lucky Pulpit was the sire of California Chrome and died at age 17. Benchmark, a son of Alydar, died at 26. He produced Grazen. All will be missed.

2-year-old filly makes debut

Los Alamitos has already produced a top 2-year-old maiden winner in Instagrand, and now trainer Simon Callaghan sends out Bellafina in Wednesday’s fourth race. She’s a promising 2-year-old filly who cost $800,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream sale of 2-year-olds in training last March.

There are nine races scheduled for the July 4 card. Soi Phet, a 10-year-old gelding, will be trying for his fifth stakes win the $100,000 Bertrando Stakes. In the second race, Bob Baffert’s Regulate makes his first start since being gelded. He was once a highly regarded 3-year-old. The mile maiden race is for 3-year-olds and up.

Los Alamitos thoroughbred review

Mr Vargas sure likes Los Alamitos. He went wire to wire to win Sunday’s feature race, a $48,000 5½-furlong race. Jockey Joe Talamo, who usually rides sparingly at Los Alamitos but has been taking mounts each day, picked up the win for trainer Brian Koriner.

It was the first start in eight months for Mr Vargas, who broke his maiden by four lengths in his only other start at Los Alamitos on Sept. 8 last year. McKale, the 7-5 favorite, finished second. Swiss Minister was third.

Big races review

A look at graded stakes or races worth more $100,000 or more on Sunday.

Belmont: $100,000 Saginaw Stakes, NY-breds 4 and up, 1 1/16 miles. (Races canceled because of excessive heat).

Woodbine: $100,000 Zadracarta Stakes, Ontario-breds 3 and up, 7 furlongs on turf. Winner: Silent Sonet.

Woodbine: Grade 3 $125,000 Dominion Day Stakes, 3 and up, 1¼ miles. Winner: Tiz A Slam.

Woodbine: $225,000 Bison City Stakes, Ontario-bred fillies 3 years old, 1 1/16 miles. Winner: Safe To Say.

Final thought

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Now, here is the star of the show, Sunday’s results. See you on Thursday.