Racing! Happy birthday to us

Hello, my name is John Cherwa and welcome back to our horse racing newsletter as we get ready for a big weekend at Santa Anita.

Believe it or not, the L. A. Times horse racing newsletter is a year old. The actual anniversary is Saturday, Sept. 29, but we’re going to treat it more like Thanksgiving, where it’s on a different date every year. We’re marking it as being the first day of the Santa Anita fall meeting. And that’s today.

This is the 280th one of these. And our subscriber base is about 5,000. When it was started the goal was 2,000.

Some of you didn’t trust us and thought it would soon be a pay model or we would use your email as a marketing tool. Well, you were wrong. It’s just about Racing.

The two people that made this happen and remain strong supporters are Angel Rodriguez, the Times sports editor who came up with the idea for the newsletter. And Houston Mitchell, an assistant sports editor and Times sports newsletter editor. Houston has had the misfortune of editing almost every one of these. If you want to thank Angel or Houston or both for keeping this around, just click on their names as we have email links set up.

Thanks also go to Eric (Manny Mota) Sondheimer, who is the best pinch-hitter in the world when I’m not available to write this. And, Times contributor Mike Tierney, and San Diego sports editor Jay Posner, who are always available to help.

We’ve assembled a brilliant slate of contributors. Jon White’s road to the Triple Crown series remains one of the most popular things we do. And then there is our regular handicappers Ed Burgart, Jose Contreras, Rob Henie and Bob Ike. And before them we had Jeff Nahill and Mark Ratsky. And we get video tips from Jeff Siegel and Aaron Vercruysse of XBTV.

Our weekly preview to Los Alamitos is penned by Orlando Gutierrez, and our Golden Gate one by Matt Dinerman. (see below) And, thanks go to media specialists Mike Marten, Mac McBride, Bob Mieszerski and Mike Willman, who must endure my constant inquiries.

There are many more to thank, especially those who help with our Answer Man segments. And, of course, Michael Wrona, whose signature call of “Racing,” became the name of the newsletter.

I’m sure I’ve forgotten someone, so their names will appear in the next edition of “Who goofed? I’ve got to know.”

But most of all, we need to thank you. I receive a lot of positive emails from those of you who say they start the day with this little tome. That’s why we do this for you.

I was talking to Rob Henie in the press box at Del Mar just before the meeting ended. We were lamenting the grind of a 51-week racing season, he with the East and West Coast Handicapping Report and me with this newsletter. I believe “relentless” was the word we used. But that’s the same schedule of all the horsemen that work in the business. And they don’t get that one week a year off.

So, with all that said, it’s on to year two.

Santa Anita preview

There are nine races on Friday’s opening day card starting at 1 p.m. The field sizes, except for one race, are good and the day is highlighted by the Grade 3 $100,000 Eddie D. Stakes, a 6 ½ furlong turf race down the hill. It’s one of four turf races on the day. Since it’s a short meeting, you can expect the newly renovated turf course to get quite a workout.

For more on the opening of the meeting, I wrote this story for online and print. Just click here.

Stormy Liberal is the 2-1 morning-line favorite. The 6-year-old gelding is a strong competitor, having won his last two races. He’s 10 of 28 lifetime and won last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint. Peter Miller is the trainer and Drayden Van Dyke is the jockey.

The second favorite is also a Miller trainee. Conquest Tsunami is at 5-2, coming off a 12th place finish in the Wickerr Stakes at Del Mar. The 6-year-old gelding is well traveled and eight of 25 race lifetime. He won his last two races down the hill at Santa Anita including the Grade 3 Daytona Stakes. Flavien Prat is aboard.

Post time is about 3:30 p.m.

Here are the field sizes, in order: 10, 7, 5, 11 (1 also eligible), 7, 9, 8, 9, 11 (2 AE).

Bob Ike’s SA play of the day

SIXTH RACE: No. 9 Touching Rainbows (6-1)

Although he will have to turn the tables on Stormy Liberal (who beat him last time and one of my favorite horses on the circuit), the Phil D'Amato-trained gelding offers good value in here. He broke slowly before finishing full of run in a five-furlong dash at Del Mar and should relish the downhill course. Make a Win Bet on 'Rainbows and box him in exactas with the two Peter Miller runners Stormy Liberal and Conquest Tsunami.

Bob Ike is a Partner/VP of (here's a video) and the proprietor of (full-card picks, 3 Best Plays and betting strategy).

Golden Gate weekend preview

This is our weekly look at the best racing going on at Golden Gate Fields. And to give us that information we go to Matt Dinerman, track race caller and all-around good guy. So, take it away, Matt.

“Three more racing days to go at our summer meet, a meet that has been very successful all around. On Sunday’s closing day, Golden Gate Fields will have mandatory payouts in the 20 cent Golden Pick Six Jackpot wager, the early and late Pick 5s and the $1 rolling Super High Five. Track officials expect six-figure new money to be added into the Golden Pick Six pool on closing day if the jackpot continues to carry over until Sunday.

“Friday, Golden Gate Fields is proud to be a part of the Stronach 5 wager, a $1 minimum and industry low 12% takeout wager featuring five races from four Stronach Group tracks: Laurel, Gulfstream, Santa Anita and Golden Gate. Race 4 at Golden Gate is leg four of the Stronach 5 wager. The race, a $40,000 claimer for fillies and mares sprinting six furlongs on the Tapeta, attracts a salty group of runners. My top pick is #5 Bako Sweets, coming off a nice allowance score over this track last month. The William E. Morey trainee should be fairly close to the pace in a race that lacks front running speed, which means she is certain to get the first jump on the midpack and closer types that are signed on. The likely favorite will be Snow Cloud, claimed last time out by trainer Jonathan Wong from trainer James Cassidy’s barn. Wong hits at 27% first off the claim and has been the leading trainer the past two meets.

“After this week, the Northern California racing circuit will shift over to Fresno for their two-week meet, with live racing resuming at Golden Gate on Thursday, Oct. 18. The GGF fall meet runs through Sunday, Dec. 9. Turf and stakes action highlights the 32-day fall meet, with projected good-sized fields and more competitive racing.”

Los Alamitos 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.

“This weekend at Los Alamitos Race Course will have several high caliber runners in competitive allowance events. Friday’s eight-race card will feature two allowance events with Chickakid, the runner-up in the 2017 Way Maker Handicap, heading the eighth-race allowance for fillies. Perfect Louisiana, a finalist in the Golden State Derby earlier this year, will also run in this 330-yard dash. Friday's other allowance will be headed by Jess Pretending, a finalist to the 2017 La Primera Del Ano Derby. Saturday’s allowance events will have Twenty One Gunz, One Hot Habit, and Ms Jess Knockout – all major quarter-horse stakes finalists. Twenty One Gunz has run in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Winter Derby and Grade 2 Golden State Derby this year and will be in the eighth race. One Hot Habit, who competed in the 2017 Grade 1 Ruidoso Derby, will be going after her first win of the year after finishing second in four previous allowance races. Ms Jess Knockout, a two-time graded stakes participant, will lead a field of seven fillies and mares on Saturday.

“Saturday’s action will also feature the riding debut of 17-year-old Oscar Andrade Jr., the son of record setting jockey Oscar Andrade Sr. and graded stakes winning trainer Elena Andrade. Andrade Jr. will pilot My Friend Cindy in the seventh race on Saturday. The night will be an emotional one for Elena, who conditions My Friend Cindy.

“’All he wanted to do for his birthday was to ride [for the first time],’ she said. ‘It’s just a tad late, but (Sept. 27) also marked 17 years that Oscar had his accident. It’s a lot to take in this week.”

“Andrade Sr. set a Los Alamitos record with seven quarter-horse wins during a single night. Ten days after the birth of his son, Andrade Sr. was injured in a riding accident that left him paralyzed from the chest down. Through the ups and downs that followed, the Andrades have always remained deeply involved with racing. Their decorated mare Corona Mas Fina produced multiple stakes winner Uno Corona Mas for the family and is also the dam of 2018 Mildred Vessels Memorial Handicap third-place finisher Jess Mas.

“Oscar Jr. has now completed his dream of following on his father’s legacy as a jockey at Los Alamitos.

“’I think I’ll be fine if I can just have half the talent that my dad had,’ Andrade Jr. said. ‘My dad left me some big shoes to fill.’”

Ed Burgart’s LA play of the day

EIGHTH RACE: No. 4 Perfect Louisiana (3-1)

She has scored her two lifetime wins under leading jockey Jesus Ayala, who climbs aboard for the first time in her three starts this year. She was a respectable sixth in last Golden State Derby outing and has upside while only making third start since November. Plus, Chickakid, the 5-2 morning-line favorite who has been second in six of 14 starts while victorious twice, finds ways to lose.

Final thought

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

Santa Anita Entries for Friday, September 28.

Santa Anita, Santa Anita Park, Arcadia, California. 1st day of a 22-day meet.


1 Mile Turf. Purse: $25,000. Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $25,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Iron AlexGeovanni Franco123Dallas E. Keen10-125,000
2EarnednevergivenTiago Pereira120Michael Machowsky15-125,000
3Hoover TowerKent Desormeaux123Robert B. Hess, Jr.10-125,000
4Gray AdmiralRuben Fuentes120Vann Belvoir30-125,000
5Point GuardDrayden Van Dyke120Richard Baltas7-225,000
6Honeymoonz OverHeriberto Figueroa115Doug F. O'Neill5-125,000
7Ashley's Big GuyEdwin Maldonado120Peter Eurton5-125,000
8Jersey's HeatAgapito Delgadillo120Rafael Becerra8-125,000
9Original IntentFlavien Prat120Jerry Hollendorfer5-125,000
10Glorious CrownAssael Espinoza118William E. Morey4-125,000


5½ Furlongs. Purse: $28,000. Maiden Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $40,000-$35,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Wild VerseHeriberto Figueroa113Peter Miller3-135,000
2MolafAgapito Delgadillo120Richard Baltas6-140,000
3Fast CottonRuben Fuentes120Brian J. Koriner4-140,000
4GetaloadofthisFlavien Prat120Jerry Hollendorfer4-140,000
5SaluteluteStewart Elliott120Mike Puype8-140,000
6I Am the DangerRafael Bejarano123Doug F. O'Neill5-240,000
7FleetwoodDiego Sanchez120J. Keith Desormeaux10-140,000


6 Furlongs. Purse: $21,000. Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $16,000-$14,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Empress of LovHeriberto Figueroa117Genaro Vallejo5-216,000
2Bobbie LincolnEvin Roman125Ronald W. Ellis5-216,000
3Tee Em EyeAlonso Quinonez125Val Brinkerhoff4-116,000
4Li'l GrazenEdwin Maldonado125Eddie Truman6-116,000
5DiscatsonthesquareGary Stevens125Matthew Chew9-516,000


1 Mile Turf. Purse: $51,000. Allowance Optional Claiming. Fillies. 3 year olds. Claiming Price $75,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Movie MomentGary Stevens121John A. Shirreffs6-1
2Sappho Geovanni Franco121Philip D'Amato6-1
3Streak of LuckMike Smith124Matthew Chew8-1
4Don't Blame JudyJoseph Talamo121J. Eric Kruljac10-1
5Sea SensationAssael Espinoza116James M. Cassidy12-1
6K P Pergoliscious Stewart Elliott121Jeff Mullins8-1
7Nonna Gianna Rafael Bejarano121Patrick Gallagher15-1
8Mongolian WindowAlonso Quinonez121Peter Miller12-1
9TinabudTyler Conner121Jeff Mullins8-1
10Hot AutumnTyler Baze121Ian Kruljac5-1
11MiraculouslyFlavien Prat124Richard Baltas7-275,000
Also Eligible
12Lexington Grace Kent Desormeaux124Leonard Powell6-175,000


6 Furlongs. Purse: $28,000. Maiden Claiming. 2 year olds. Claiming Price $40,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1AlvaaroTyler Conner122Mike Puype6-140,000
2Mayan WarriorGeovanni Franco122Doug F. O'Neill5-240,000
3After YouAlonso Quinonez122Neil D. Drysdale6-140,000
4AgronomoOctavio Vergara, Jr.122Sal Gonzalez6-140,000
5Mr. ClassDiego Sanchez122J. Keith Desormeaux4-140,000
6Baja WarriorMartin Garcia122Juan Carlos Lopez20-140,000
7Mo DineroAssael Espinoza117Jerry Hollendorfer2-140,000


About 6½ Furlongs Turf. Purse: $100,000. 'Eddie D Stakes'. 3 year olds and up.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Law Abidin CitizenTiago Pereira121Mark Glatt12-1
2Caribou ClubJoseph Talamo125Thomas F. Proctor6-1
3Stormy LiberalDrayden Van Dyke123Peter Miller2-1
4ThreefiveindiaGeovanni Franco121Philip D'Amato15-1
5He WillKent Desormeaux121Jerry Hollendorfer15-1
6CistronTyler Baze121John W. Sadler8-1
7KenjisstormRafael Bejarano121Philip D'Amato10-1
8Conquest TsunamiFlavien Prat123Peter Miller5-2
9Touching RainbowsGary Stevens121Philip D'Amato6-1


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

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Street ClassFlavien Prat122Michael W. McCarthy8-1
2Magnificent McCoolRafael Bejarano122Doug F. O'Neill5-2
3Union StationTyler Conner122Eoin G. Harty12-1
4YakKent Desormeaux122J. Keith Desormeaux12-1
5DuelingMike Smith122Jerry Hollendorfer9-5
6Lead StarAssael Espinoza117J. Keith Desormeaux15-1
7Extra HopeDrayden Van Dyke122Richard E. Mandella4-1
8IstanbulSantiago Gonzalez122James M. Cassidy6-1


6½ Furlongs. Purse: $32,000. Starter Allowance. 3 year olds and up.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Hoss CartwrightTyler Baze120Jack Carava20-1
2Saratoga MorningKent Desormeaux120J. Keith Desormeaux8-1
3CaptivateDrayden Van Dyke123Mike Puype7-2
4Buck DuaneAssael Espinoza115Steve Knapp20-1
5Bear Chum Tyler Conner125Sean McCarthy20-1
6Duke of FallbrookMario Gutierrez123Antonio Garcia30-1
7Blame JoeStewart Elliott123Peter Miller4-1
8SequentiallyTiago Pereira123Mark Glatt15-1
9KershawRafael Bejarano120Philip D'Amato5-2
10Extreme HeatJoseph Talamo123Michele Dollase15-1
11Buckys PickAgapito Delgadillo125Victor L. Garcia15-1
12It Makes SenseEvin Roman120Carlos Cruz Lopez6-1


About 6½ Furlongs Turf. Purse: $30,000. Maiden Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $50,000-$40,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Queens WildTiago Pereira120Jeffrey Metz15-150,000
2Sweet CongratsHeriberto Figueroa113Dan Blacker12-140,000
3My Midnight AffairGeovanni Franco120Mick Ruis20-150,000
4Turing MachineFlavien Prat118William Spawr4-140,000
5Unusual GoldDrayden Van Dyke120Mark Glatt20-150,000
6TandaliciousMartin Garcia120Philip D'Amato7-250,000
7Social EtiquetteAssael Espinoza113Dan Blacker8-140,000
8Token VowRafael Bejarano120Philip D'Amato4-150,000
9Super GoodTyler Conner120Matthew Chew8-150,000
10Untouched EleganceGary Stevens120Richard Baltas5-150,000
11Lucky KnickersEvin Roman123Dallas E. Keen12-150,000
Also Eligible
12Crackling BreadHeriberto Figueroa113Jorge Periban15-140,000
13Exes N OhsTyler Baze118Dean Greenman20-140,000