Racing! Previewing the Sham Stakes

Hello, my name is John Cherwa and welcome back to our horse racing newsletter as we get ready for some great 3-year-old racing at Santa Anita this weekend.

So, while I sit here still waiting for the CHRB to post the stewards minutes from the long ago Los Alamitos meeting, I thought we might look at Saturday’s Sham Stakes, which happens about eight hours after the Eclipse Awards finalists are named during the morning Santa Anita workouts.

(Notice how I got both my pet peeves of the week in one sentence?)

It’s actually a pretty good race and offers Kentucky Derby qualifying points, but not enough to really make a difference. A horse would have to win a bigger race than the Sham to make it to Louisville.

Now, there is always a lot of talk that the big barns are hurting the game by squeezing out the little guy. So, what do we have in this race? Two horses from Bob Baffert’s barn, two from Peter Miller’s barn, two from Keith Desormeaux’s barn and one from Jerry Hollendorfer’s barn. (Actually, Keith’s barn is not that big, he just has good horses.)

Let’s look at the lineup:

1. Sueno (trainer Desormeaux, jockey Kent Desormeaux). Bought for $61,000, he’s two for three having won a maiden claimer by 4 ¾ lengths and a black type stakes at Golden Gate by 1 ½.

2. Gray Magician (Miller, Flavien Prat). An $18,000 purchase as a yearling, he’s 4-1-1-2, so never out of the money. Last out he won a maiden special by 9 ½.

3. Savagery (Miller, Joel Rosario). He was a $100,000 purchase. He has won one of six. Was fifth in the Los Alamitos Futurity and second in the Bob Hope Stakes.

4. Easy Shot (Desormeaux, Rafael Bejarano). An $80,000 purchase, he is one for four. Last out, he won a maiden claiming.

5. Coliseum (Baffert, Joe Talamo). He was a Godolphon homebred that won his only race by 6 ¾.

6. Gunmetal Gray (Hollendorfer, Mike Smith). He was a $225,000 purchase. He’s one for four. Ran fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, won by Game Winner and ran second to Game Winner in the American Pharoah at Santa Anita.

7. Much Better (Baffert, Drayden Van Dyke). Three Chimeys Farm is both the consigner and owner of this $600,000 colt. Last out he was 14th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, but is now back on the dirt. He was second in the Zuma Beach.

So, there you have it. Remember, it’s Saturday, not today.

Who goofed, I’ve got know?

Yup, me, again. When I was going over my Eclipse picks I said that Sistercharlie won the Breeders’ Cup Fillies & Mares Turf Sprint. Of course, it’s correct if you eliminate the word Sprint. She’s not a sprinter. But, it doesn’t change the vote in any way.

Santa Anita preview

Friday’s card is pretty even with a couple of early races for 3-year-olds, although the best ones are running over the weekend. There are four races with purses between $55,000 and $59,000. Four of the nine races are on the turf, three of those down the hill. First post is 12:30 p.m.

We’re going to pick the seventh as the feature, as it’s worth $59,000. It’s an allowance/optional claimer for fillies and mares 4 and up going down the hill. It draws a field of seven. Okinawa, at 5-2, is the favorite for trainer Richard Baltas and jockey Heriberto Figueroa. She is two of nine lifetime, having won last on April 12 at Aqueduct. In fact, most of her races have been back east as this will be only her fourth California start. Her best race last year might have been a second in the black type Daisycutter Handicap.

Tonahutu is the second favorite at 3-1 for Dan Blacker and Joel Rosario. She is three for 11 lifetime and was fourth in the Swintime Stakes, in which Okinawa finished 10th. She started her career in England.

Here are the field sizes, in order: 9, 6, 7, 8, 6, 10 (1 also eligible), 7, 8, 10 (4 ae).

Bob Ike’s SA pick of the day

SIXTH RACE: No. 7 Nolo Contesto (4-1)

Second-time starter from the John Sadler barn had a very rough trip in his debut and figures to show big improvement with that race under his belt and stretching out in distance. The son of Pioneerof the Nile broke slowly from the rail and was jostled badly after the start, then finished with some interest while acting like he will love added distance. Main threats are Railman and favorite Omaha Beach if looking for exacta partners.

Tuesday’s result: Acclimate did not relax well early and found himself on a pressured lead, then tired through mid-stretch in the first race. He wants rating tactics for his best shot.

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’re back with our weekly look at the best racing going on at Golden Gate Fields. As with the last couple meetings, 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.

“Live racing resumes at Golden Gate Fields on Friday and runs through Sunday. We’ll first note that this will be the last week of racing on the turf until it resumes in April. Looking at the condition book, it appears that next week is the first week in which every race is scheduled for the Tapeta surface. This is nothing new. Golden Gate always takes a hiatus from turf racing from January to April.

“There is a super talented 3-year-old that makes his first start against winners on Friday. Anothertwistafate, a Scat Daddy colt from the Blaine Wright barn, was purchased for $360,000 in June as a 2-year-old and has been well

regarded for a long time. He broke his maiden last month, running the fastest 1 1/16 mile during the closing week of the Fall meet while earning an 84 Beyer speed figure for his effort. He ran even faster than second level allowance horses and two divisions of stakes fillies and mares that week.

“This upcoming allowance is surely a prep run for the El Camino Real Derby, and we can expect to see him in some nice stakes races down the line. As a side note, there has been talk about this horse being ‘the real deal’ well before his first career race, a ninth-place finish sprinting at Santa Anita. He had trained at Golden Gate before his first race.

“Interestingly, the runner-up finisher in Anothertwistafate’s maiden race, Shadrack, is in the fifth race, last leg of the Stronach 5 wager, on Friday. Shadrack was 10 lengths clear of the third-place finisher in the aforementioned second-place finish. His only other career race, on grass, resulted in a last to first unofficial win. However, he was disqualified for causing interference down the stretch. It’s my single in the Stronach 5 wager. He’ll be tough to beat if he runs like he did in his first two starts. Note, too, that he moves back to turf in his third lifetime start.

“We would like to congratulate jockeys Frank Alvarado and Abel Cedillo. Alvarado, a veteran jockey that began his riding career in 1990, picked up his 3,500th career win aboard Sweetly Spoken in the final race of 2018. Cedillo made his 1,000th career trip to the winner’s circle when guiding Be Thoughtful to a gate to wire score in the opening race last Sunday. Well done Frank and Abel.”

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.

“Kiddy Up Cowgirl will defend her title in the Grade 1, $100,000 Charger Bar Handicap when she faces nine older mares in the 400-yard race on Sunday. Her trainer, James Glenn Jr., has been successful in title defenses before, as he conditioned the champion Quirky to back-to-back Charger Bar wins in 2015-16. Kiddy Up Cowgirl will not be the favorite in this race, as she’ll be taking on a field that includes multiple stakes winners One Sweet Racy, A Political Lady, Thermonuclear Energy and Love To Reason Br.

“Trainer by Chris O’Dell for owner Johnny Trotter, One Sweet Racy is the one to beat in the Charger Bar, as she’ll enter this race after winning the Grade 1 AQHA Distaff Challenge. She’s won three of her last four starts. O’Dell will also saddle Thermonuclear Energy, who ran second to Kiddy Up Cowgirl in last year’s Charger Bar, and four-time stakes winner A Political Lady.

“The weekend action will get underway with eight-race program on Friday and Saturday night. Friday’s card starts at 7 p.m., while Saturday’s starts at 6 p.m.

Kellie McDaid, the leading thoroughbred jockey during the recently concluded 2018 meet at Los Alamitos, said on Wednesday morning that she is stepping away from riding effective immediately. “It’s true, I’m not going to ride in 2019,” McDaid said.

“McDaid said she’ll talk about her decision in more detail during the Pacific Coast Quarter Horse Racing Association Awards Banquet to be held on Jan. 24. The nighttime thoroughbred racing leaders are also recognized on this evening. An apprentice jockey in her first year of riding, McDaid finished the night meet with 73 wins from 275 thoroughbred mounts, winning at a 26.5% rate. She won eight other thoroughbred races during her career, several of those on longshots during the daytime Southern California thoroughbred circuit meets at Los Alamitos. She also won a pair of 870-yard stakes races with Rule He Will, the Truly A Pleasure Handicap and the Snowbound Superstar Handicap. A native of Ireland, McDaid, 30, added that she is a trained nutritionist and has some business ideas that she is hoping to pursue.

“Reviewing last weekend’s stakes action, Corona By Corona closed out 2018 with his first career stakes wins after coming out on top at 10-1 odds in the Holiday Handicap at 350 yards. Nellesen retired multiple stakes winner KVN Corona at the end of last year, but appears to have a new threat for the upcoming derbies in Corona By Corona.”

Ed Burgart’s LA play of the day

SIXTH RACE: No. 3 Stilts (3-1)

Trainer Jorge Farias has been doing well with first-out claims and he took this gelding from a strong maiden $4,000 victory in last outing. The win was flattered when third-place finisher R Valiant Hero was victorious for maiden $6,250 last Sunday. He was troubled in prior maiden $12,500 seventh-place outing when breaking off balance while getting bumped.

Final thought

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

Santa Anita Entries for Friday, January 4.

Santa Anita, Santa Anita Park, Arcadia, California. 7th day of a 61-day meet.


About 6½ Furlongs Turf. Purse: $36,000. Claiming. 4 year olds and up. Claiming Price $40,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Anziyan CatOctavio Vergara, Jr.124Javier Jose Sierra50-140,000
2Hollywood SquareMario Gutierrez124Doug F. O'Neill5-140,000
3Taki's ChoiceHeriberto Figueroa119Philip D'Amato6-140,000
4What'sontheagendaTiago Pereira124Doug F. O'Neill5-240,000
5Conquest SuperstarAlonso Quinonez124Gary Mandella15-140,000
6Ice KatJoel Rosario124Richard Baltas4-140,000
7BellerinDrayden Van Dyke124Carla Gaines6-140,000
8Chosen VesselEdwin Maldonado124Craig Dollase12-140,000
9ExultationGeovanni Franco124Peter Eurton7-240,000


1 Mile. Purse: $18,000. Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 4 year olds and up. Claiming Price $8,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Smart RachelEswan Flores122Hector O. Palma5-28,000
2Miz TianjinEdwin Maldonado122Michael Pender4-18,000
3Kennedie SkyHeriberto Figueroa117Rafael DeLeon8-18,000
4Majestic DesignAssael Espinoza119Richard Baltas9-58,000
5Blooming HannahLuis Fuentes115Robert A. Bean15-18,000
6Princess LeiaTiago Pereira124Rafael Becerra5-28,000


6 Furlongs. Purse: $32,000. Maiden Claiming. 4 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $50,000-$40,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Shanghai BillyJoel Rosario124Mike Harrington8-150,000
2Seahawk WaveAssael Espinoza119Ronald W. Ellis7-250,000
3StonegateAngel Cruz124John W. Sadler5-250,000
4AggressivityJoseph Talamo124Ronald W. Ellis7-250,000
5MolafGeovanni Franco124William E. Morey4-150,000
6Normandy BeachTyler Baze124Jeff Mullins5-150,000
7PaladarDrayden Van Dyke124Carla Gaines10-150,000


1 Mile Turf. Purse: $33,000. Starter Allowance. Fillies and Mares. 4 year olds and up.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Chalky Brice Blanc122Jay Nehf15-1
2FoxtailJoel Rosario122John W. Sadler5-2
3Untouched EleganceDrayden Van Dyke122Richard Baltas5-1
4Trust Fund KittyAlonso Quinonez122Val Brinkerhoff6-1
5Sudden LightAssael Espinoza117James M. Cassidy30-1
6Drift AwayTyler Baze122Andrew Lerner6-1
7SugaryFlavien Prat122Martin F. Jones6-1
8Take a LeapMike Smith122Jeff Mullins2-1


6½ Furlongs. Purse: $33,000. Claiming. 4 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $25,000-$22,500.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1AllaboutmikeTyler Baze122Thomas Ray Bell, II12-125,000
2Junior GilliamJoel Rosario124Jerry Hollendorfer8-525,000
3Denman's CallRafael Bejarano122Doug F. O'Neill3-125,000
4Conquest CobraFlavien Prat122Vladimir Cerin5-125,000
5Stone HandsAngel Cruz122John W. Sadler5-225,000
6Big LeagueDrayden Van Dyke122Mike Puype6-125,000


1 Mile. Purse: $55,000. Maiden Special Weight. 3 year olds.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1IstanbulKent Desormeaux122James M. Cassidy10-1
2RailmanRafael Bejarano122Peter Eurton6-1
3Carribean ColoursMario Gutierrez122Simon Callaghan12-1
4AsanoAssael Espinoza117J. Keith Desormeaux10-1
5Royal InsiderTyler Baze122Eoin G. Harty20-1
6Omaha BeachFlavien Prat122Richard E. Mandella9-5
7Nolo ContestoJoel Rosario122John W. Sadler4-1
8HarmonMike Smith122Patrick Gallagher6-1
9Midnight RoamerAlonso Quinonez122Ryan Hanson20-1
10Green FleetJoseph Talamo122Bob Baffert8-1
Also Eligible
11American CampEvin Roman122Robert B. Hess, Jr.15-1


About 6½ Furlongs Turf. Purse: $59,000. Allowance Optional Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 4 year olds and up. Claiming Price $62,500.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Wicked StormTyler Baze122Tim Yakteen10-1
2OkinawaHeriberto Figueroa117Richard Baltas5-2
3A Little Bit MeFlavien Prat124Richard Baltas4-1
4Suspicious SpouseDrayden Van Dyke122Peter Miller4-1
5Grace BayAaron Gryder122Frank Lucarelli20-1
6TraviezaRafael Bejarano122Doug F. O'Neill7-2
7Tonahutu Joel Rosario124Dan Blacker3-1


6 Furlongs. Purse: $57,000. Allowance. 4 year olds and up. State bred.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Plain WrapEswan Flores124Javier Jose Sierra20-1
2Tanners PrideAaron Gryder122Brian J. Koriner8-1
3LeroyTyler Baze124Philip A. Oviedo5-1
4Old Indian TrickTiago Pereira122Jack Carava8-1
5MinosoMartin Pedroza124Hector O. Palma5-1
6CyclometricGeovanni Franco124Karen Headley4-1
7Clyde's PrideJoel Rosario124Jerry Hollendorfer5-2
8Raul RosasJoseph Talamo124Dean Pederson7-2


About 6½ Furlongs Turf. Purse: $55,000. Maiden Special Weight. 3 year olds. State bred.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1King ParkerGeovanni Franco122Craig Anthony Lewis20-1
2VezuchiyJoel Rosario122Dan Blacker4-1
3Bounty HunterTiago Pereira122Mark Glatt15-1
4Tank TeamKent Desormeaux122J. Keith Desormeaux12-1
5Nice HaircutMario Gutierrez122Doug F. O'Neill5-1
6Unusual AngelBrice Blanc122Alexis Barba5-1
7Go Like the WindAlonso Quinonez122Paulo H. Lobo15-1
8Tiger DadAssael Espinoza117Carla Gaines12-1
9Unusual RiderDrayden Van Dyke122Mike Puype9-5
10BrixRuben Fuentes122Richard Baltas8-1
Also Eligible
11Trending HigherGeovanni Franco122Carla Gaines10-1
12Satchel PaigeFlavien Prat122Philip D'Amato4-1
13Sea of LibertyJoel Rosario122John W. Sadler7-2
14PeedieMario Gutierrez122Ben D. A. Cecil15-1