Racing! It’s time for Del Mar’s turf-filled meet

Hello, my name is John Cherwa and welcome back to our horse racing newsletter as Rob Henie gives us his perspective on the Accelerate vs. Justify debate.

Well, we’re back to regular racing as we head into the Del Mar meeting. It’s a meeting that has grown on both the fans and those who run Del Mar. The dates originally belonged to Hollywood Park, but when it was sold and demolished, Del Mar did its part for racing and picked up slack.

It’s a strong turf meeting with nine of the 14 stakes races being held on the grass course. The final weekend, Dec. 1-2, have two Grade 1s, both on the turf.

It’s normally going to be the usual Thursday through Sunday, except this week when it’s Friday through Monday. First post is 12:30 p.m. except on Thanksgiving, when it is backed up to 11:30 a.m.

Here’s a short story I wrote on the meeting for online and print. Just click here.

Accelerate vs. Justify

Much will be said over the coming weeks about who should be horse of the year.

Kosta Hronis, the likeable co-owner of Accelerate, put it this way shortly after Accelerate won the Breeders’ Cup Classic. “I read somewhere where it said maybe he did all this in the wrong year,” Hronis said. “But maybe Justify won the Triple Crown in the wrong year. I don’t know.”

One opinion I respect is our own Rob Henie, who contributes weekly lessons on handicapping to the newsletter. He sent this out to all his subscribers of the East and West Coast Handicapping Report. Here’s what he had to say.

“There’s a debate and vote right now for Horse of the Year honors, Justify or Accelerate.

“My question would be, why? Justify is the clear horse of the year, period.

“In our sport of horse racing, there’s big races, and bigger races. While it’s typical to view the larger purse races with higher esteem, there’s so much more to our sport than who earned the most purse money. If we’re gonna limit Horse of the Year honors to who earned the most, which it seems these days is more often the case than not, then let’s simply rid ourselves of the ‘vote.’ If that’s the case, Accelerate wins.

“If we’re gonna use Horse of the Year honors for intelligent discussion with reverence to our sports history and milestones, then it becomes easy, it’s Justify as horse of the year.

“Long before the Breeders’ Cup, before seven and eight figure purses, our sport, from the fans to backside workers, from our writers to mutual clerks, have held the Triple Crown with special reverence. The Triple Crown is horse racing. There’s a reason why the non-racing fan working at the grocery store, may have heard of American Pharoah, or Justify, Seattle Slew and Secretariat, but likely has no clue as to what a daily double is.

“Ask that same person who won the 2018 Pacific Classic or Breeders’ Cup Classic? Our racing culture over the years created the buzz surrounding this accomplishment, the one event that even the general public understands in our sport. Even in all those years where the winner of both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, ultimately came up short in the Belmont, the buzz that race was often still noteworthy.

“To even debate whether Justify is more worthy than Accelerate is appalling to me really. Yes, Accelerate won some nice races, but Justify won the Triple Crown, which for me would have been enough by itself, but to do so in the manner he did? Well, this ‘vote’ isn’t close. Think about it, here’s a horse who did something in our sport for the first time since Apollo in 1882.

“He won the Kentucky Derby despite not running as a 2-year-old, and then, if that wasn’t enough, decided he’d go ahead and win the Triple Crown. Seriously? Overall, and just as mind boggling that we can barely say this with a straight face, in a span of 112 days, he broke his maiden, won the Santa Anita Derby, Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont. So please, there’s not one scenario in which Accelerate should be Horse of the Year. In fact, that would be highway robbery in a year we witness true greatness and history.”

Del Mar preview

OK, opening day at Del Mar and they have a stakes race, three turf races and an eight-race card that starts at 12:30 p.m. Turf is going to be theme of this meeting.

Friday’s feature is the $75,000 Kathryn Crosby Stakes, named for, well, if you don’t know, I can’t help you. It’s for fillies and mares going a mile on the turf. Way to Versailles is the 7-2 morning line favorite. She has raced most of here career in Canada, and this will be her first race at Del Mar. She did win a Grade 2, two starts back at Woodbine. Gary Barber is the trainer and Flavien Prat will ride.

The second favorite is Quebec at 9-2. She has won one of her six races this year. She has one win and two seconds in her last two starts, including a second in the Swingtime Stakes at Santa Anita. Richard Baltas gets the training duties and Rafael Bejarano will be the jockey.

Bob Ike’s DMR play of the day

SEVENTH RACE: No. 8 Tonahutu (6-1)

Strong $75,000 restricted stakes race, with a full field of 11 (after two scratches) going a mile on turf. I thought all three horses coming out of the Swingtime at Santa Anita ran well that day but the best price of the three will be late-running Tonahutu, trained by Dan Blacker. The 4-year-old filly raced wide into the stretch and finished fastest on the outside, which gives her a shot to run these down with a similar effort.

Sunday Result: My Man Chuckles didn't pick it up from off the pace, finishing fifth in the sixth race.

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

We are back with our weekly look at the best racing going on at Golden Gate Fields. As with the last meeting, we’re delighted to have race caller and all-around good guy Matt Dinerman as our host for previews and other musings. So, take it away, Matt.

“The feature race of the week goes as race seven on Saturday, the $50,000 Golden Nugget Stakes for 2-year-olds. A half-dozen entrants are set to compete in the six-furlong contest. Leading trainer Jonathan Wong saddles a pair of runners in the 2018 Golden Nugget: Mad Luther and The White Shadow. Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer has a contender in Tivan, a first out maiden special weight winner against California-bred company. Another maiden special weight victor, Tribal War Chant, won his second lifetime start by 5 lengths and makes his first start against winners in the Golden Nugget for trainer Ed Moger Jr. Midnight Special, who won as the favorite in an Oct. 7 dirt race at Fresno, rounds out the list of recent maiden special weight winners. Daddy Jones completes the field of six.

“The Stronach 5 Wager last leg goes as race four on Friday, a five-furlong turf allowance race. I like #7 Sunrise Journey over #4 Elegant Tanner, the latter having just won an allowance race coming off an 11-month vacation, while the former rival finished right behind. There are reasons to believe Sunrise Journey can turn the tables on Elegant Tanner this time. It’s his third start in the form cycle and he, a speedy gelding, won’t have to deal with as much pace as in that last start.

“A big shoutout goes to 9-year-old Administer, who won a claimer last week coming off a five-and-a-half month break. The stakes place gelding has now won 10 of 41 races, with 19 other in the money finishes. Trainer Blaine Wright says he’s one of his favorite horses in the barn.

“’He’s a big part of the family,” Wright said. “I say he’s almost part dog. He’s got a personality for sure. He’ll eat any kind of treat, but starlight peppermints certainly are his favorite. He was the first horse I ever trained for Peter Redekop. He’s a special horse in the barn.’

“Redekop and Wright currently have a number of talented horses, including Grade 2 winner Alert Bay, six-time stakes winner Alliford Bay and talented 2-year-old colt Arcadia Calls.”

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.

“Champion KVN Corona looks to improve his local record to a perfect 10 for 10 when he starts from the 10 in the Grade 1, $925,100 Los Alamitos Super Derby at 400 yards on Sunday night. KVN Corona enters the race following one of his best races ever at Los Alamitos with a ¾-length win in the fastest qualifying time of :19.67 on Oct. 20. KVN Corona won all six starts in 2017 on the way to being named the champion 2-year-old colt. He’s won his first three starts at Los Alamitos this year, but he did lose of two of three at Ruidoso Downs this summer.

“Few horses have enjoyed a double digit winning streak at Los Alamitos, especially in graded stakes that KVN Corona has raced. Champion filly Corona Chick, who is also the dam of KVN Corona’s sire, Corona Cartel, is the track record holder having won 12 consecutive starts at Los Alamitos from Aug. 6, 1991 to Aug. 8, 1992, while two-time distance champion Snowbound Superstar won 10 straight over 5/8th of a mile Vessels Course from March 23, 2006 to Sept. 27, 2009. Charger Bar had two separate nine-race winning streaks at Los Alamitos while champions Moonist and Sign Of Lanty also posted nine-race streaks, all three coming up short from joining the track’s exclusive 10 in a row club.

“KVN Corona, ridden by Ramon Sanchez and trained by Paul Jones, will face a field that includes five other derby winners on Sunday night. His rivals will include Grade 1 Los Alamitos Winter Derby winner Jess My Kiss and Grade 2 Golden State Derby winner Jesstacartel.

“Scoopie Jess and On Our Way, a pair of Grade 1 finalists in 2017, will meet in Saturday’s Town Policy Handicap for 3-year-olds at 400 yards. Eight will be go in the Town Policy, with a $25,000 purse. First post is 6 p.m. Friday’s eight-race program, which features a pair of allowances, will start at 7 p.m.

“Los Alamitos had its biggest Pick Four night ever when a combined total of $403,289 was wagered in the early and late pick fours last Sunday night. The early pick four had a pool of $218,339, which ranks as the track’s third highest ever.”

Ed Burgart’s LA play of the day

SEVENTH RACE: No. 3 Ray Donovan (3-1)

He stands out talent wise but has been a victim of poor starts vs. better company in several of his 12 outs. In last Los Alamitos Super Derby trial outing, he broke poorly while getting bumped back from both sides and was loaded with energy late in a better-than-looked ninth-place outing. He qualified earlier this year for the Los Alamitos Winter Derby and seems better suited to this 350-yard distance than his main rivals Total Change and Vintage Lines, whose victories have come at 300 yards.

Final thought

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

Del Mar Entries for Friday, November 9.

Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, Del Mar, California. $2 Win, Place and Show; $1 Exacta, $2 Quinella, 50-cent Trifecta, $2 Rolling Double, 50-cent rolling Pick 3; 10-cent Superfecta; 50-cent Pick 4 last 4 races; 50-cent Players Pick 5 first 5 races; $2 Pick 6 last 6 races; $1 Place Pick All; $1 Super High Five last race. Trifecta needs 4 betting interests; Superfecta needs 6. 1st day of a 16-day meet.


1 Mile. Purse: $26,000. Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $20,000-$18,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Dedicated to YouAssael Espinoza113Vann Belvoir12-118,000
2Plum DandyAgapito Delgadillo120Sal Gonzalez4-120,000
3My FarmerHeriberto Figueroa115Jerry Hollendorfer5-220,000
4Papa TurfMartin Pedroza118Reed Saldana5-118,000
5Elwood JEdwin Maldonado120Eddie Truman5-120,000
6Twirling TigerTyler Baze120Charles S. Treece5-120,000
7Clear the MineLuis Fuentes113Steve Knapp7-220,000


7 Furlongs. Purse: $18,000. Maiden Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $20,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1EskenforadrinkHeriberto Figueroa117Peter Miller9-520,000
2HeloiseLuis Fuentes115Vladimir Cerin6-120,000
3TrappizaRuben Fuentes124Michael Pender4-120,000
4Sweet CongratsAssael Espinoza117Dan Blacker5-220,000
5Irish LassieEvin Roman122Gerard Piccioni8-120,000
6Spectacular StormTyler Baze122Jorge Gutierrez8-120,000
7Princess NicoleStewart Elliott124Val Brinkerhoff15-120,000


1 Mile Turf. Purse: $54,000. Allowance Optional Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $20,000. State bred.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1SpeakersRafael Bejarano124Patrick Gallagher7-220,000
2Super PatriotDrayden Van Dyke120Bob Baffert3-1
3Tapitha BonitaTiago Pereira120William Spawr6-1
4TenthousandreasonsJoseph Talamo122Craig Dollase12-1
5Sapphire KidTyler Baze120Matthew Chew8-1
6ScathingHeriberto Figueroa117Lorenzo Ruiz20-120,000
7X S GoldKent Desormeaux122James M. Cassidy5-1
8Marjorie EFlavien Prat122Patrick Gallagher5-2


6 Furlongs. Purse: $35,000. Maiden Claiming. 2 year olds. Claiming Prices $100,000-$85,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Trojan MagicAssael Espinoza115Bob Baffert5-2100,000
2Manhattan UpGeovanni Franco117Philip A. Oviedo3-185,000
3Easy ShotKent Desormeaux120J. Keith Desormeaux2-1100,000
4Montana MoonRuben Fuentes120Mick Ruis6-1100,000
5Platinum NightsMario Gutierrez120Peter Eurton5-1100,000
6MuskokaAlonso Quinonez120J. Keith Desormeaux10-1100,000


1 Mile Turf. Purse: $32,000. Starter Allowance. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Take Charge GalRafael Bejarano119John W. Sadler15-1
2FoxtailTyler Baze121John W. Sadler9-2
3Mongolian WindowDrayden Van Dyke119Peter Miller5-1
4Lucky KnickersEvin Roman121Dallas E. Keen12-1
5Lil Bit DangerousKent Desormeaux121James M. Cassidy5-1
6Take a LeapMike Smith122Jeff Mullins7-2
7Chalky Brice Blanc121Jay Nehf20-1
8EzpzylemonsqueezyAssael Espinoza114Robert B. Hess, Jr.20-1
9Sunday ProphetFlavien Prat121Richard Baltas4-1
10Trust Fund KittyAlonso Quinonez119Val Brinkerhoff6-1


5½ Furlongs. Purse: $53,000. Maiden Special Weight. 3 year olds and up. State bred.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Sidepocket ActionJoseph Talamo124Steve Knapp5-1
2Red EnvelopeDrayden Van Dyke122Dan L. Hendricks5-2
3ChampsachampTyler Baze122Ryan Kenney15-1
4Leroy PegasusKeiber Coa122Salvador Orozco20-1
5DubnationHeriberto Figueroa117Philip D'Amato7-2
6Clyde's PrideGeovanni Franco122Jerry Hollendorfer9-2
7Big BarrelAlonso Quinonez122Leonard Powell2-1


1 Mile Turf. Purse: $75,000. 'Kathryn Crosby Stakes'. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Gliding ByEvin Roman121Richard Baltas8-1
2Miss Southern MissAssael Espinoza121J. Keith Desormeaux20-1
3Excellent Sunset Mario Gutierrez123Anna Meah8-1
4ShehastheritestuffGeovanni Franco121Patrick Gallagher20-1
5QuebecRafael Bejarano121Richard Baltas9-2
6Way to VersaillesFlavien Prat121Peter Miller7-2
7Tonahutu Gary Stevens121Dan Blacker6-1
8Escape ClauseRuben Fuentes121Don Schnell20-1
9Sweet Charity Tyler Baze121John W. Sadler6-1
10Last Promise KeptDrayden Van Dyke121Thomas F. Proctor5-1
11Pantsonfire Kent Desormeaux121Richard Baltas12-1
Also Eligible
12Birdie GoldMike Smith121Gary Mandella10-1


5½ Furlongs. Purse: $22,000. Maiden Claiming. Fillies. 2 year olds. Claiming Prices $32,000-$28,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Kate's PrincessJoseph Talamo120Craig Dollase12-132,000
2Tiz a MasterHeriberto Figueroa113William E. Morey6-128,000
3Depende de TiLuis Fuentes111Antonio Garcia30-128,000
4Queen CarmelitaAgapito Delgadillo120Rafael DeLeon10-132,000
5NorwegianFlavien Prat118Michael W. McCarthy8-528,000
6Morning PressAssael Espinoza113Tim Yakteen20-128,000
7HininiTiago Pereira120Daniel Dunham12-132,000
8Equal MeasureTyler Baze120Tim Yakteen7-232,000
9Ron's CatEvin Roman118Marcia Stortz12-128,000
10OrcaMartin Garcia120Ronald L. McAnally5-132,000