Hello, my name is John Cherwa, and welcome back to our horse racing newsletter as we go through holiday gifts that you readers want to give to racing.
Thanks to all of you who sent along suggestions for holiday gifts for people, places and things in racing. As usual, the response was great but I couldn’t use them all. I had to do some editing on some responses so they were about who is getting the gift rather than what you wanted for the holidays. And I tried to group like-minded responses together, especially those of you who wanted to send a lump of coal to Santa Anita. So, without further rambling, let’s get to what you folks wish for racing.
To Victor Espinoza, an angel who was an orthopedic surgeon in life to ride on your shoulder if you go through with your plan to return to racing.
-- Rebekah Lane
To Victor Espinoza, a full recovery and an opportunity to ride in the Kentucky Derby in 2019.
-- Rey Hernandez
To Gary Stevens, a happy and fulfilled retirement.
-- Debra Gilbert
To every jockey and every horse, safe trips and a couple lucky photos for me.
-- Rob Tuel
To all of the horses, a safe retirement in large green pastures.
-- Norman Day
To every assistant starter in the country, a safety vest and helmet. There are so many ways they can get hurt, and just a minimum standard of protection should be enforced.
-- Jim Eggers
To Ann Moss, Dottie and John Shirreffs, a Zenyatta foal to win a race. She has a Medaglia d’Oro filly in training in Florida and a win would be a great Christmas present.
-- Fred Hoyt
To Bob Baffert, several extra-large rolls of bubble wrap in your barn leading up to the 2019 Triple Crown.
-- Jim Wood
To Bob Baffert, a horse that can’t win on any surface or at any distance, just to relieve boredom.
-- Joen Mitchell
To John Sadler, a Triple Crown race win (or two or three).
-- Sandy Wyper
To Belinda Stronach, the complete DVD collection of the 1950s/1960s TV series “Make Room for Daddy.”
To Frank Mirahmadi, a large suitcase to carry his extensive resume.
To Michael Wrona, a rabbit’s foot and a golden parachute. Neither of which his employer had the decency to supply him with.
-- Mike Valiante
To race fans, here’s hoping for a long-shot to win the Kentucky Derby and to hear Michael Wrona back on the air soon.
-- Jim Favors
To Santa Anita, a new public address system so that the crowd can actually hear new race caller Frank Mirahmadi.
-- Mike Park
To Santa Anita and the Stronach Group, to get a clue about what attracts fans to the track, in particular women. Promote the horses. We don’t need $75 packages so we can order a beer in the cool kids bar. That crowd won’t be back, but horse fans like me would.
-- Carol Neal
To Santa Anita, to please return your program to pocket size again. Besides, the large one won’t fit in my Christmas stocking.
-- Zizi Howell
For the holidays, a round of drinks for Nola, Carlos and Art, longtime barkeeps at Santa Anita. And also, to give Gary Stevens all of the losing tickets I accumulated by betting against him. What a great career.
To a mediation counseling expert, someone to help pay the fees he or she rightfully gets for listening to Frank and Belinda Stronach.
To Michael Wrona, something really nice — whatever he’d like (within reason.)
-- Drew Hart
To the stewards at Santa Anita, new high-powered binoculars so they can really see what’s happening on the race track.
-- Peter Canavan
To the comedian who came up with the idea of roulette wagering on races, some nyuck-nyuck-nyuck sounds to disturb your sleep.
-- Don Walters
To the opening-day fans at Santa Anita, more than two beer stands open in the infield, more than five betting windows open with pari-mutuel clerks who actually know how the machines work, and a place to buy a hot dog without having to wait two hours in line.
-- Gil Luna
To Santa Anita, still waiting on those new, fireproof barns and a stable manager that is nice to the small trainers and gives them adequate stall space.
-- Carolyn Sherry
To Los Alamitos, a total makeover for the race track grandstand area.
-- William Casper
To Los Alamitos, more racing because it’s such a friendly track with reasonable prices and a good crowd.
-- Gerald Fisch
To Del Mar, the ability to stay open from mid-July until Nov. 1.
-- Doug Forde
To the owners and operators of Arizona Downs, our new track up in Prescott, best of luck to you all, and much success in your new venture.
-- Dennis McGarry
To Nick Zito fans, a Kentucky Derby contender.
To Aqueduct, a racing association that appreciates it properly, and a big kiss from me.
To jockeys everywhere, horse-players who don’t actively hate them.
-- Diana Hurlburt
For race fans, a clock that gives the actual minutes to post for Gulfstream Park.
-- Curtis Kalleward
To Thistledown race track, the wish for people to enjoy a race day in its beautiful but abandoned clubhouse. And, for physically challenged people, the ability to gain access without climbing steps at the entrance, or having to walk a long circuitous journey through a racino to purchase a program. And when you get there to have food or beverages and mutuel clerks.
-- Jane Eaton
To the California horse racing powers, a plea to not miss the boat and capitalize on the inevitable legalization of sports betting in California to benefit the racing industry.
-- Jim Sciuto
To our esteemed newsletter producer, two fewer weeks to the racing season so he has more vacation.
-- Christie Davis
And finally, to all our newsletter readers, I want to thank you for your support and wish you a wonderful holiday season and a prosperous New Year. Here’s also hoping you’ll watch this little three-minute clip from Sunday’s “CBS Sunday Morning,” about a Secret Santa who enlists the help of a homeless person, and a lesson on how we can all live a better life. (Just click here and stick through the commercial, it’s worth it.)
-- John Cherwa
Los Alamitos thoroughbred review
In the final stakes race of the eight-day meeting, the $100,000 King Glorious Stakes was a runaway for heavy favorite Galilean, who won by nine lengths. He went to the front and was never headed in the one-mile race for 2-year-old Cal-breds.
Galilean paid $2.40 and $2.10. There was no show wagering in the six-horse race. Our Silver Oak was second, and Feeling Strong was third.
“He broke really sharp and relaxed well for me,” winning jockey Flavien Prat said. “I was confident he would give me a good kick when I asked him. I hadn’t ridden him before, but I’d watched the replays of his other two races, so I went into this with a lot of confidence.”
Winning trainer Jerry Hollendorfer was a little circumspect on the colt’s future.
“We’re taking one step at a time with him,” Hollendorfer said. “We’ll take a good look at a lot of different things and the fact that he can route makes a big difference. He has speed and once we can make him tactical as well, we’ll be in a lot better position.
Champion of champions
You know, once a week we preview the big weekend races at Los Alamitos’ quarter-horse races but then we don’t always give you the results. So, with the biggest race of the year on Saturday, we thought we should ask Orlando Gutierrez, Los Al’s media guru, to summarize what went down. All yours, Orlando.
“Eleven years ago, Johnny and Jana Trotter celebrated a partnership with Burnett Ranches with a victory with One Famous Eagle in the 2007 Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity.
“‘I told Jana when One Famous Eagle won the Two Million, “Jana, you better enjoy this because we might never get to do this again,”’ Johnny Trotter said. ‘She said, “No way, we’ll do this with one of his sons someday.”’
“Ridden by Cody Jensen for trainer Justin Joiner, Bodacious Eagle proved Jana right, as the 6-year-old gelding by One Famous Eagle won the Grade 1, $600,000 Champion of Champions by a head over Lesley Joyner’s Jesstacartel. Bred by La Feliz Montana Ranch, Bodacious Eagle led from start to finish and held off a steady charge from Los Alamitos Super Derby winner Jesstacartel and a big late run by third-place finisher BH Lisas Boy.
Bodacious Eagle covered the 440 yards in 21.4572 seconds. Leaving the gate from the nine as the 9-2 third choice in the wagering, Bodacious Eagle posted his 14th win in 33 starts and his $300,000 in earnings pushed his career bankroll to $1,297,536. Bodacious Eagle has finished in the top four in 29 of his career starts.
“‘He’s the best horse I’ve ever owned,’ said Trotter, a past AQHA president and one of the owners of Ruidoso Downs.
“The win was the first in this race for Jensen, a two-time AQHA champion jockey. ‘I’ve been coveting this race for a long time. It’s kind of like the last real bucket-list race that I’ve been wanting to scratch off,’ he said.
“The top three finishers were followed by Zoomin For Spuds, LD Is Back, He Looks Hot, Heza Dasha Fire, Yanque, Tarzanito and Jess Ravin.”
Big races review
A look at graded stakes or races worth more $100,000 or more on Sunday.
Aqueduct (8): $150,000 New York Stallion Series (Great White Way Division), N.Y.-bred fillies 2 years old, 6 furlongs. Winner: Blindwillie McTell ($7.50)
Los Alamitos (7): $100,000 King Glorious Stakes, Cal-bred 2-year-olds, 1 mile. Winner: Galilean ($2.40)
Remington (9): $100,000 She’s All In Stakes, fillies and mares 3 years old and up, 1 mile 70 yards. Winner: United Patriot ($5.60)
Remington (10): $100,000 Trapeze Stakes, fillies 2 years old, 1 mile. Winner: Cowgirls Like Us ($11.20)
Remington (11): $400,000 Remington Springboard Mile, 2-year-olds, 1 mile. Winner: Long Range Toddy ($39.20)
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Now, here is the star of the show, Sunday’s results. See you on Dec. 26, and there is no cure for newsletter withdrawal, sorry.