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.
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 Horsebills.com (here's a video) and the proprietor of BobIkePicks.com (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.
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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.
|1||Anziyan Cat||Octavio Vergara, Jr.||124||Javier Jose Sierra||50-1||40,000|
|2||Hollywood Square||Mario Gutierrez||124||Doug F. O'Neill||5-1||40,000|
|3||Taki's Choice||Heriberto Figueroa||119||Philip D'Amato||6-1||40,000|
|4||What'sontheagenda||Tiago Pereira||124||Doug F. O'Neill||5-2||40,000|
|5||Conquest Superstar||Alonso Quinonez||124||Gary Mandella||15-1||40,000|
|6||Ice Kat||Joel Rosario||124||Richard Baltas||4-1||40,000|
|7||Bellerin||Drayden Van Dyke||124||Carla Gaines||6-1||40,000|
|8||Chosen Vessel||Edwin Maldonado||124||Craig Dollase||12-1||40,000|
|9||Exultation||Geovanni Franco||124||Peter Eurton||7-2||40,000|
1 Mile. Purse: $18,000. Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 4 year olds and up. Claiming Price $8,000.
|1||Smart Rachel||Eswan Flores||122||Hector O. Palma||5-2||8,000|
|2||Miz Tianjin||Edwin Maldonado||122||Michael Pender||4-1||8,000|
|3||Kennedie Sky||Heriberto Figueroa||117||Rafael DeLeon||8-1||8,000|
|4||Majestic Design||Assael Espinoza||119||Richard Baltas||9-5||8,000|
|5||Blooming Hannah||Luis Fuentes||115||Robert A. Bean||15-1||8,000|
|6||Princess Leia||Tiago Pereira||124||Rafael Becerra||5-2||8,000|
6 Furlongs. Purse: $32,000. Maiden Claiming. 4 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $50,000-$40,000.
|1||Shanghai Billy||Joel Rosario||124||Mike Harrington||8-1||50,000|
|2||Seahawk Wave||Assael Espinoza||119||Ronald W. Ellis||7-2||50,000|
|3||Stonegate||Angel Cruz||124||John W. Sadler||5-2||50,000|
|4||Aggressivity||Joseph Talamo||124||Ronald W. Ellis||7-2||50,000|
|5||Molaf||Geovanni Franco||124||William E. Morey||4-1||50,000|
|6||Normandy Beach||Tyler Baze||124||Jeff Mullins||5-1||50,000|
|7||Paladar||Drayden Van Dyke||124||Carla Gaines||10-1||50,000|
1 Mile Turf. Purse: $33,000. Starter Allowance. Fillies and Mares. 4 year olds and up.
|1||Chalky ||Brice Blanc||122||Jay Nehf||15-1|| |
|2||Foxtail||Joel Rosario||122||John W. Sadler||5-2|| |
|3||Untouched Elegance||Drayden Van Dyke||122||Richard Baltas||5-1|| |
|4||Trust Fund Kitty||Alonso Quinonez||122||Val Brinkerhoff||6-1|| |
|5||Sudden Light||Assael Espinoza||117||James M. Cassidy||30-1|| |
|6||Drift Away||Tyler Baze||122||Andrew Lerner||6-1|| |
|7||Sugary||Flavien Prat||122||Martin F. Jones||6-1|| |
|8||Take a Leap||Mike Smith||122||Jeff Mullins||2-1|| |
6½ Furlongs. Purse: $33,000. Claiming. 4 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $25,000-$22,500.
|1||Allaboutmike||Tyler Baze||122||Thomas Ray Bell, II||12-1||25,000|
|2||Junior Gilliam||Joel Rosario||124||Jerry Hollendorfer||8-5||25,000|
|3||Denman's Call||Rafael Bejarano||122||Doug F. O'Neill||3-1||25,000|
|4||Conquest Cobra||Flavien Prat||122||Vladimir Cerin||5-1||25,000|
|5||Stone Hands||Angel Cruz||122||John W. Sadler||5-2||25,000|
|6||Big League||Drayden Van Dyke||122||Mike Puype||6-1||25,000|
1 Mile. Purse: $55,000. Maiden Special Weight. 3 year olds.
|1||Istanbul||Kent Desormeaux||122||James M. Cassidy||10-1|| |
|2||Railman||Rafael Bejarano||122||Peter Eurton||6-1|| |
|3||Carribean Colours||Mario Gutierrez||122||Simon Callaghan||12-1|| |
|4||Asano||Assael Espinoza||117||J. Keith Desormeaux||10-1|| |
|5||Royal Insider||Tyler Baze||122||Eoin G. Harty||20-1|| |
|6||Omaha Beach||Flavien Prat||122||Richard E. Mandella||9-5|| |
|7||Nolo Contesto||Joel Rosario||122||John W. Sadler||4-1|| |
|8||Harmon||Mike Smith||122||Patrick Gallagher||6-1|| |
|9||Midnight Roamer||Alonso Quinonez||122||Ryan Hanson||20-1|| |
|10||Green Fleet||Joseph Talamo||122||Bob Baffert||8-1|| |
|11||American Camp||Evin Roman||122||Robert 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.
|1||Wicked Storm||Tyler Baze||122||Tim Yakteen||10-1|| |
|2||Okinawa||Heriberto Figueroa||117||Richard Baltas||5-2|| |
|3||A Little Bit Me||Flavien Prat||124||Richard Baltas||4-1|| |
|4||Suspicious Spouse||Drayden Van Dyke||122||Peter Miller||4-1|| |
|5||Grace Bay||Aaron Gryder||122||Frank Lucarelli||20-1|| |
|6||Travieza||Rafael Bejarano||122||Doug F. O'Neill||7-2|| |
|7||Tonahutu ||Joel Rosario||124||Dan Blacker||3-1|| |
6 Furlongs. Purse: $57,000. Allowance. 4 year olds and up. State bred.
|1||Plain Wrap||Eswan Flores||124||Javier Jose Sierra||20-1|| |
|2||Tanners Pride||Aaron Gryder||122||Brian J. Koriner||8-1|| |
|3||Leroy||Tyler Baze||124||Philip A. Oviedo||5-1|| |
|4||Old Indian Trick||Tiago Pereira||122||Jack Carava||8-1|| |
|5||Minoso||Martin Pedroza||124||Hector O. Palma||5-1|| |
|6||Cyclometric||Geovanni Franco||124||Karen Headley||4-1|| |
|7||Clyde's Pride||Joel Rosario||124||Jerry Hollendorfer||5-2|| |
|8||Raul Rosas||Joseph Talamo||124||Dean Pederson||7-2|| |
About 6½ Furlongs Turf. Purse: $55,000. Maiden Special Weight. 3 year olds. State bred.
|1||King Parker||Geovanni Franco||122||Craig Anthony Lewis||20-1|| |
|2||Vezuchiy||Joel Rosario||122||Dan Blacker||4-1|| |
|3||Bounty Hunter||Tiago Pereira||122||Mark Glatt||15-1|| |
|4||Tank Team||Kent Desormeaux||122||J. Keith Desormeaux||12-1|| |
|5||Nice Haircut||Mario Gutierrez||122||Doug F. O'Neill||5-1|| |
|6||Unusual Angel||Brice Blanc||122||Alexis Barba||5-1|| |
|7||Go Like the Wind||Alonso Quinonez||122||Paulo H. Lobo||15-1|| |
|8||Tiger Dad||Assael Espinoza||117||Carla Gaines||12-1|| |
|9||Unusual Rider||Drayden Van Dyke||122||Mike Puype||9-5|| |
|10||Brix||Ruben Fuentes||122||Richard Baltas||8-1|| |
|11||Trending Higher||Geovanni Franco||122||Carla Gaines||10-1|| |
|12||Satchel Paige||Flavien Prat||122||Philip D'Amato||4-1|| |
|13||Sea of Liberty||Joel Rosario||122||John W. Sadler||7-2|| |
|14||Peedie||Mario Gutierrez||122||Ben D. A. Cecil||15-1|| |