Racing! Santa Anita stewards were busy to open meeting


Hello, my name is John Cherwa and welcome back to our horse racing newsletter as we wonder if Santa Anita is running too many races.

I know we just finished with the Los Alamitos stewards’ rulings but the Santa Anita adjudicators came flying out of the box with 13 rulings in the first week. But, none as interesting as that one from Los Al. (You know which one I’m talking about.)

--Jockey Jeff Catalan was fine $50 for jogging in front of the starting gate when it wasn’t allowed. Catalan said he was at fault. Fellow outrider Francisco Cardenas confirmed that Catalan was in error.

--East Coast-based jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. was suspended for three days (Jan. 4, 5, 6) for careless riding and causing interference in the 10th race on Dec. 26 while aboard Avalanche. In the stretch run, Ortiz, riding on the outside, allowed Avalanche to drift three spots to the inside, causing interference with Trojan Spirit. Avalanche finished fourth, Trojan Spirit finished eighth. Ortiz was also issued a warning in ninth race for causing a horse to alter their path. But he was not suspended for that incident. Ortiz served the penalty at Gulfstream.

--Owner Eduardo Venosa, who goes by Freedom Stables, was suspended Jan. 5 for failure to appear at a scheduled hearing dealing with an alleged debt of $5,535.15 to the Equine Medical and Surgical Group. The suspension is indefinite until the matter is cleared up.

--Owner-trainer Lance Hellum was reinstated after it was determined that he met his obligations to Angel’s Feed Inc. totaling $1,159.61. the ruling was issued on Nov. 18 at Del Mar. Hellum, as a trainer, was not listed as having any barn space at Santa Anita.

--Trainer Bill Spawr was fined $750 when Skye Diamonds tested positive for an overage of Methocarbamol, generally used as a muscle relaxer. His horse, Skye Diamonds, who won at Santa Anita on Oct. 7, had 6.05 ng/ml in her system. The allowable limit is 1 ng/ml. Spawr accepted responsibility and said the only thing he could figure is the possibility that medicated feed was not cleaned out before the next feeding. Steward Grant Baker wanted a $1,000 fine.

--Jockey Ruben Fuentes was fined $100 for using his riding crop more than three times in a row before letting his horse respond. The violation took place aboard Banze No Oeste on Dec. 28. The horse won the race by two lengths. Fuentes admitted guilt.

--Veterinarian Ted Simpson was fined $1,000 when Best of Me, a horse he treated, tested positive for dexamethasone on June 7 at Santa Anita. She won the race by 2 ¼ lengths. Dexamethasone has many uses but is generally used as an anti-inflammatory. Trained by Peter Miller, she had 52 pg/ml in her system as the allowable limit is 5 pg/ml. The vet report said the horse was given an injection of phenylbutazone on the morning of June 6, yet there was no presence of the non-steroid, anti-inflammatory in her system. Simpson concluded this odd combination occurred when the “temporary veterinarian assistant” filled the syringe with dexamethasone instead of phenylbutazone.

--Jockey Edwin Maldonado was fined $100 for using his riding crop more than three times in a row before allowing the horse to respond. His mount, Fahan Mura, won by ¾ lengths on Dec. 29.

--Trainer Brian Koriner was fined $3,000 and suspended 30 calendar days after his horse Mr. Vargas had a drug positive. However, the stewards stayed his suspension and placed Koriner on one year’s probation. If Koriner is not hit with another drug violation, he won’t have to serve his 30 days. Mr. Vargas, who won the race on Aug. 18 at Del Mar, had 2,932 ng/ml of procaine in his system. The allowable limit is 25 ng/ml. The horse was disqualified as far as purse money goes and the owner and jockey were forced to return their share of the money.

--Trainer Mike Puype was fined $200 when his horse, Kittyhawk Lass, showed up for the turf race with the wrong shoes. She finished seventh in the Dec. 30 race.

--Trainer Mike Pender was fined $100 for failure to show up and saddle Top Hat Tantrum on Dec. 30. She finished last in the six-horse race.

--Trainer Jose A. Flores was fined $100 for failure to show up and saddle Media Tone on Dec. 30. Media Tone threw jockey Evin Roman at the start and was not an official finisher.

--Trainer Faith Taylor was fined $100 for failure to show up and saddle More Power to Him on Dec. 31. More Power to Him finished last in the seven-horse race.

Santa Anita preview

Santa Anita is certainly riding a high for its big handle increases, but the biggest factor in the increases is just more races. But more races come at a cost. Last week, I credited the racing office for getting ahead of the weather and changing the Sunday card to all dirt races to help handicappers in advance and eliminate a lot of scratches.

But, as I look at nine-race cards on both Thursday and Friday, I’m wondering if this is the smart play to make the horse inventory last as long as it needs to? Friday has its first five-horse non-stakes race. Long way to go.

This is the first week for new racing boss Steve Lym, who comes here from Woodbine. To paraphrase Dorothy, “Steve, I’ve a feeling you’re not in Toronto anymore.” (The base for this quote is often misspoken, but I tried to stay true to the accurate one.)

So, Steve, and top assistant Dan Eidson, have a formidable task to manage this always changing horse population and hopefully they have the authority to say more can sometimes be less.

That’s a pretty long windup to get the feature race on the nine-race card that starts at 12:30 p.m. And, it’s a six-horse (paying attention?), 6 ½ furlong allowance/optional claimer for Cal-bred fillies and mares 4 and up. S Y Sky is the 8-5 favorite for trainer Phil D’Amato and jockey Joe Talamo. She benefited from a DQ to win her last start and was third in the Betty Grable at Del Mar. She hasn’t missed the board in her life with four wins, two seconds and a third in seven starts.

The second favorite is Show It N Moe It at 5-2. Gary Sherlock trains and Rafael Bejarano rides. She is much more season with four wins in 17 starts. She was fifth in the Betty Grable. She hasn’t won since Feb. 18. Post time is around 4 p.m.

Here are the field sizes, in order: 7, 6, 7, 8, 8, 10, 8, 6, 10.

Bob Ike’s SA pick of the day

FOURTH RACE: No. 7 Emmy and I (6-1)

Competitive $25,000 claimer for fillies and mares going one mile on turf (rails at 30 feet) and I will try front-running Emmy and I for trainer Vann Belvoir. The 6-year-old mare stretched out around two turns for the initial time in her last start and set the pace before tiring to third vs. Cal-bred allowance runners. She catches a field with very little early foot and might get brave on the front end over a course that is kind to speed, especially when the auxiliary rails are way out.

Sunday’s result: Miss Unusual never got on track and disappointed after being bet down to 6/5 favoritism.

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.

“Racing resumes at Thursday with a 12:45 p.m. post on the usual racing schedule. There is a carryover of $38,284 in the $0.50 late pick 5, which starts in the third race. At least $200,000 in new money is expected to be added.

“Trainer Larry Rivelli, who has won the Arlington Park training title five years in a row, recently shipped a string of 17 horses to Golden Gate and the Midwest horseman indicated he was ready to rumble with his string on the West Coast. Rivelli entered two horses on Thursday and five on Friday, with six of the seven runners to be ridden by Rivelli’s go-to rider in Chicago, Jose Valdivia Jr.

“Congrats to Golden Gate Debutante Stakes winner Tomlin, who ran third behind 3-year-old monsters Bellafina and Mother Mother in the Santa Ynez Stakes at Santa Anita on Sunday. The daughter of Distorted Humor is trained by well-respected Bay Area horsemen Steve Specht and has now earned a Grade 2 placing, which will help her status as a broodmare. Sueno, who won the Gold Rush Stakes over the Tapeta in December, ran a very credible second in Saturday’s Grade 3 Sham Stakes for 3-year-olds on the Kentucky Derby trail. It’s exciting to see Golden Gate stakes winners going on to at least make an impact in these major races. Well done to both horses and their connections.

“We mentioned Anothertwistafate in our last write-up: a horse with a ton of talent who was prepping for the El Camino Real Derby in Friday’s second race. A stakes run for the son of Scat Daddy is imminent, as he rolled once again to a convincing win, opening up down the stretch to win by five lengths. He has the pedigree that suggests he can run on any surface but runs like he will be best on the grass or synthetics. He’s a big, strapping horse who has an athletic body and a good way of moving and has shown no signs that more distance will be an issue. I’m excited to see what he will do in the ECR Derby, a race that offers the winner a free berth to the Preakness.

“Eight runners are signed on to go one mile in the fifth race on Friday, which is Leg E of the Stronach 5. Like most Stronach 5 wager races, it’s a competitive, deep field. I could make a strong case for Gray Gem, stretching back out to a route after an undesirable trip sprinting against open $25k claimers. Maxinamillion, for the Jonathan Wong barn, will go off favored. He has been competitive at this $20k level before and looks like he is up against a field he can handle.”

Final thought

Always looking to jump the circulation of this newsletter. Can’t beat the price. If you like it, tell someone. If you don’t like it, then you’re probably not reading this. Either way, send to a friend and just have them click here and sign up. Remember, it’s free, and all we need is your email, nothing more.

If you have any thoughts, you can reach me at You can also feed my ego by following me on Twitter @jcherwa

And now the star of the show, Thursday’s entries.

Santa Anita Entries for Thursday, January 10.

Santa Anita, Santa Anita Park, Arcadia, California. 10th day of a 61-day meet.


1 Mile Turf. Purse: $33,000. Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 4 year olds and up. Claiming Price $35,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Mraseel Ruben Fuentes124Richard Baltas7-235,000
2Halo DarlinTiago Pereira124Rafael Becerra4-135,000
3SpeakersFlavien Prat124Andrew Lerner8-135,000
4Subic BayTyler Baze124Jeff Mullins6-135,000
5QuinnieRafael Bejarano124Carla Gaines5-135,000
6GoseecalEdwin Maldonado124Vladimir Cerin3-135,000
7Wind Tartare Evin Roman124Vann Belvoir4-135,000


6 Furlongs. Purse: $55,000. Maiden Special Weight. 4 year olds and up.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1PointedRuben Fuentes124Marsha D. Schwizer10-1
2Victory ElementDrayden Van Dyke124Bob Baffert6-5
3DeuceEvin Roman124Vann Belvoir12-1
4Mantaray IslandEdwin Maldonado124Doug F. O'Neill3-1
5SomethintotapaboutMario Gutierrez124Anna Meah6-1
6Candy CornellMike Smith124John A. Shirreffs5-2


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

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1SlewgoodtobetrueMike Smith122Peter Eurton1-1
2SupremaKent Desormeaux122J. Keith Desormeaux20-1
3Show HostessTyler Baze122Tim Yakteen8-1
4BellazanoRuben Fuentes122Mick Ruis12-1
5Bev's HumorFlavien Prat122Eoin G. Harty8-1
6SoothingRafael Bejarano122Robert B. Hess, Jr.3-1
7ClaudelleJoel Rosario122John W. Sadler4-1


1 Mile Turf. Purse: $33,000. Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 4 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $25,000-$22,500.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Girl DownstairsFlavien Prat124Peter Miller2-125,000
2Lady Beware Luis Fuentes117Mick Ruis8-125,000
3Miss Boom BoomJoel Rosario122Richard Baltas5-225,000
4War MoccasinBrice Blanc122Javier Jose Sierra12-125,000
5Indypendent DeputyTyler Baze120Dallas E. Keen15-122,500
6Peach Cove Drayden Van Dyke120Mike Puype4-122,500
7Emmy and IAssael Espinoza117Vann Belvoir6-125,000
8Award ItGeovanni Franco120Vladimir Cerin10-122,500


6½ Furlongs. Purse: $32,000. Maiden Claiming. 3 year olds. Claiming Prices $50,000-$40,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1He's Zippin On ByHeriberto Figueroa115Michael Machowsky12-140,000
2Nice WorkJoel Rosario122John W. Sadler3-150,000
3DrinkDrayden Van Dyke122David E. Hofmans5-250,000
4Time N MoneyEswan Flores122Hector O. Palma8-150,000
5Gran MartilloRuben Fuentes122Paul G. Aguirre5-150,000
6Resident LiberalJoseph Talamo122Thomas F. Proctor10-150,000
7DyfFlavien Prat122Leonard Powell5-150,000
8OhtaniTiago Pereira122William Spawr5-150,000


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

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1LadybugDiego Sanchez124John W. Sadler5-140,000
2Sheza ChattykatFlavien Prat124Leonard Powell5-240,000
3Ruby TrustOctavio Vergara, Jr.124Howard L. Zucker12-140,000
4Favorite TripJoel Rosario124Peter Eurton8-140,000
5SaburaiBrice Blanc124Vladimir Cerin6-140,000
6Our Bold PrincessRyan Barber124Eduardo L. Rich15-140,000
7Florista Rafael Bejarano124Mark Glatt6-140,000
8Silken SpyHeriberto Figueroa119J. Eric Kruljac6-140,000
9Gone to TownMario Gutierrez124Anna Meah8-140,000
10PromnesiaTyler Baze124Martin F. Jones12-140,000


6 Furlongs. Purse: $38,000. Claiming. 4 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $40,000-$35,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Jan's ReserveAgapito Delgadillo122Victor L. Garcia12-140,000
2Adens DreamCerapio Figueroa122John W. Sadler4-140,000
3KocheesMario Gutierrez122Jerry Hollendorfer3-140,000
4AllaboutactionTyler Baze124Javier Jose Sierra5-240,000
5ItalianoHeriberto Figueroa117Jerry Hollendorfer4-140,000
6BistrayaJoel Rosario122Robert Gilker8-140,000
7K Thirty EightAssael Espinoza117Karen Headley8-140,000
8Market SentimentTiago Pereira122Steve Knapp15-140,000


6½ Furlongs. Purse: $67,000. Allowance. Fillies and Mares. 4 year olds and up. State bred.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Isa FirecrackerFlavien Prat122Jamey R. Thomas5-1
2Coco KissesHeriberto Figueroa117Jeff Bonde10-1
3Smiling TigressTyler Baze122David Bernstein6-1
4S Y SkyJoseph Talamo122Philip D'Amato8-5
5Show It N Moe ItRafael Bejarano122Gary Sherlock5-2
6Barbara BeatriceTiago Pereira122Philip D'Amato7-2


About 6½ Furlongs Turf. Purse: $55,000. Maiden Special Weight. Fillies and Mares. 4 year olds and up. State bred.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1La Guapa VelosHeriberto Figueroa119Mike Puype12-1
2I'm SassyTiago Pereira124Sam J. Scolamieri8-1
3SmoovieMario Gutierrez124Doug F. O'Neill3-1
4Smiling AnnieJoel Rosario124Mark Glatt7-2
5Oh Pretty WomanDrayden Van Dyke124Martin F. Jones4-1
6RadishFlavien Prat124Doug F. O'Neill8-1
7Eagle EaseEdwin Maldonado124Michael Pender20-1
8Whoa NessieRafael Bejarano124Doug F. O'Neill8-1
9Perfect PortraitBrice Blanc124Neil French15-1
10Into RissaJoseph Talamo124Gary Sherlock8-1