Hello, my name is John Cherwa and welcome back to our horse racing newsletter as we get ready for a wet weekend at Santa Anita.
We’re going to start with the stewards’ rulings and lead with one that no doubt will be great water cooler discussion. (Does that exist anymore, or is it a relic of the past?) If you just look at the ruling, you’ve got no idea of the backstory. That’s why you get this newsletter.
--Groom Martin Espinoza was fined $200 for disorderly conduct (aggressive behavior) based on an incident at San Luis Rey Downs on July 8. He’s also to be evaluated for anger management and sign a testing agreement with the Winners’ Circle. That’s what the ruling says.
It seems that Espinoza was arrested by the San Diego Sheriff’s Department for assault with a deadly weapon after he allegedly attempted to stab groom Jehobany Alvarez with a pitchfork outside a tack room at San Luis Rey. On Oct. 2, he plead guilty to the felony charge.
This from the stewards’ minutes: “Groom Alvarez reported that the 51-year-old Espinoza appeared at his tack room, drunk, on the evening of July 8. He was upset because a trainer fired him and subsequently hired Mr. Alvarez. He stated he pushed Espinoza to the ground after he appeared. Espinoza then grabbed a pitchfork, but did not attempt to stab him with it, before the incident was broken up by a San Luis Rey security guard. Neither party was injured.”
So, you ask, is $200 the appropriate penalty? First, the CHRB investigation also brought additional charges, including suspension of the license. They were not mentioned in the ruling. Also, in the actual ruling, the stewards listed Espinoza as a “foreman.” We have no idea what that’s about.
We’ve asked the CHRB for a little more clarity on this ruling and we’ll probably get it tomorrow. Not saying anything is amiss, it’s just I’ve never typed the words “attempted to stab … with a pitchfork” before.
--Farrier Augustine Munoz had his license taken away after he cashed checks that, according to stewards, he knew had stop payments on them. He will not regain his license until he has made restitution or reached a financial settlement on the $4,300 in question.
--Exercise rider Corey Alan Black was suspended for failure to appear at a hearing for an alleged use of drugs. He is barred from the track at least until he communicates with the stewards. Because he did not appear, there is no other information.
--Jockey Heriberto Figueroa was fined $200 for missing his mount in the first race on Jan. 19. He said he got caught in traffic after working horses at San Luis Rey Downs and could not make it back in time for the noon race. Sunset Seven was ridden by Joe Talamo and finished 10th and last in the race.
--Jockey John Jude was fined $100 for using his riding crop more than three times without giving his mount a chance to respond. He was riding Casual Reply, who finished sixth in the eight-horse race. Jude admitted he was “overzealous.”
Stewards v. Santa Anita
The following is not a ruling but I found it interesting as to what happens when the racing office and the stewards have different views on a subject. I’m just going to run the stewards’ comments, although I’ve changed some of the words and phrases for clarity:
“It was brought to the attention of the stewards Jan. 19 that there was a possibility that the horse FIERY LADY trained by Anna Meah might not be eligible for the 10th race on Jan. 20. A conversation with Steve Lym (VP of racing/racing secretary) took place on Jan. 19 but it was decided a final decision would be made Jan. 20 after another meeting.
“In attendance before the stewards were, Lym. Daniel Eidson (SA racing director) and David Meah, (trainer’s husband, exercise rider). As listed in the Santa Anita condition book under Eligibility and Allowances: ‘Wins in the first condition allowance race in Northern California will not be considered when determine eligibility purposes in non-state bred restricted allowance races. Horses who have won the first conditioned allowance in Northern California shall remain eligible for the open first conditioned allowance race, provided that horse does not win a race other than claiming or starter allowance following that win.’
“The horse in question had won back-to-back first allowance condition races in Northern California at Golden Gate Fields and Santa Rosa. The representatives for Santa Anita were firm in their beliefs that the horse was eligible. Following the meeting, the participants were informed that the horse would not be allowed to run due to not being eligible.”
Not exactly sure why I found this interesting, except it does show the independence of the stewards, who, of course work for the state not the track. The question remains, are the rules and rulings in the best interest of racing?
SA’s flexible racing office
The racing office continues to be on its “A” game by completely revamping the Saturday card because of the expected 1-2 inches of rain. For starters, they’ve taken all the races off the turf—well ahead of time—and replaced them with dirt races. And the scheduled Grade 2 $200,000 San Marcos Stakes on the turf has been postponed and moved to the following weekend. In addition, the ungraded Baffle Stakes on Sunday has also been moved a week.
I’ve said it before but getting ahead of the game, instead of a wait-and-see philosophy, is so smart and fair to both the horsemen and bettors, and not necessarily in that order. In addition, Saturday is the scheduled pay out of the Rainbow Six. Currently, Santa Anita has full fields in all those races, which, of course, makes the potential handle even greater.
Santa Anita preview
Gotta say, but Thursday’s card is really good for a weekday. There are three allowance/optional claimers and two maiden specials. And, again, it’s a Thursday. There is an eight-race card starting at 12:30 p.m.
It’s tough to figure out which is the feature, especially since there are two allowance races worth $59,000 and the third is $57,000. And, there are two MSW’s worth $55,000. Half the card is on the turf. So, we’ll look at the big races with broad strokes.
The sixth race is six furlongs for older horses. Distinctive V, along with me, is eligible for an AARP card as a 7-year-old gelding (that’s not me). Trainer
In the sixth race, for 3-year-olds going 1 1/4 miles on the turf, the favorite is Acker at 3-1. Miller is trainer and
Now, we never like to tout any horses since I specialize in “Who goofed, I’ve got to know?” corrections. But, and take it for what it’s worth, we’re hearing some backstretch buzz in the seventh race for Big Scott Daddy, who is at 7-2. (Again, warning, I’m just passing on what I’m hearing and you know how that can work out.)
Bob Ike’s SA pick of the day
FOURTH RACE: No. 6 Captain Scotty (3-1)
With the projected rain figuring to move all four scheduled turf races to the main track, let's stay away from those. We'll go to this hard-knocking horse from the Peter Miller barn that is fast early, drawn well outside and is likely to catch a sealed wet-fast track that promotes front runners. He's been second in three straight but looks overdue to beat these for top connections.
Sunday’s result: Mongolian Window was where we wanted her to be early but was empty turning for home and faded badly in a very sub-par effort.
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 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.
“On Thursday, Golden Gate Fields offers a $32,723 carryover in the late Pick 5. The late Pick 5, a $0.50 minimum bet, goes as races 3-7 on the seven-race program. The third race should go about 1:45 p.m. Track officials expect there to be at least $150,000 in new money in the late Pick 5 pool. However, with major tracks such as Aqueduct and
“Golden Gate also offers a super high-five carryover in the third race of $3,993. The bet will only remain on the wagering menu if there are seven starters. If there is a scratch, then the wager (and carryover) moves to the fifth race.
“Meanwhile, the Golden Pick Six jackpot pool continues to increase and the pool sits at $77,127.
“The El Camino Real Derby will be run on Saturday, Feb. 16. Some contenders who worked this week include Anothertwistafate (59.40 for 5 furlongs for trainer Blaine Wright), Magnificent McCool (6F in 1:14.80 for Doug O’Neill) and King of Speed (6F in 1:16.80 for
“This week, the Thursday, Friday and Saturday cards will have a first post time of 12:45 p.m. while our Sunday card will begin about 11:15 a.m. because of the Super Bowl. Saturday will have a 10-race card.
“Side note: I’m picking the Patriots to win the big game on Sunday. Part of that has to do with the fact that my entire family is from Massachusetts, which means if I don’t want to get shunned from the family for the day, I need to root for them. In all seriousness, though, the Patriots are an amazing team, Bill Belichick is one of the best to ever coach and Tom Brady is one of the best to ever play.”
(Note: The newsletter is not responsible for the contents or opinions of Matt Dinerman’s delusional views of the New England Patriots. Although, he’s probably right.)
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And now the star of the show, Thursday’s entries.
Santa Anita Entries for Thursday, January 31.
Santa Anita, Santa Anita Park, Arcadia, California. 22nd day of a 61-day meet.
1 Mile Turf. Purse: $36,000. Claiming. 4 year olds and up. Claiming Price $40,000.
|1||Ice Kat||124||Richard Baltas||7-2||40,000|
|2||Falcone||Kent Desormeaux||124||J. Keith Desormeaux||5-1||40,000|
|4||The Rule of King's||Tiago Pereira||124||Ruben Gomez||6-1||40,000|
|5||Fortune of War||Agapito Delgadillo||124||Nestor M. Capitaine||10-1||40,000|
|6||Point Guard||Ruben Fuentes||124||Reed Saldana||10-1||40,000|
|7||East Rand||Drayden Van Dyke||124||Tim Yakteen||2-1||40,000|
|8||Hot American||Tyler Baze||124||Ryan Hanson||8-1||40,000|
1 Mile. Purse: $22,000. Claiming. 4 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $16,000-$14,000.
|1||Platinum Equity||Ruben Fuentes||122||Andrew Lerner||3-1||14,000|
|2||Ronton||Diego ||122||Jeffrey Metz||6-1||14,000|
|3||Odyssey Explorer||Eswan Flores||124||Hector O. Palma||4-1||16,000|
|4||Gain Ground||Evin Roman||124||Robert B. Hess, Jr.||4-1||16,000|
|5||Elwood J||Tyler Baze||124||Jeffrey Metz||6-1||16,000|
|6||Spa Shackalacka||Heriberto Figueroa||117||Philip D'Amato||9-5||14,000|
About 6½ Furlongs Turf. Purse: $55,000. Maiden Special Weight. 4 year olds and up.
|1||Big Buzz||Joel Rosario||124||Tim Yakteen||7-2|
|2||Dimkar||Flavien Prat||124||Philip D'Amato||6-1|
|3||Lomu||Andrea Atzeni||124||Neil D. Drysdale||4-1|
|4||Impeachableoffense||Drayden Van Dyke||124||Scott ||8-1|
|5||Raging Tiger||Tyler Baze||124||Jeff Bonde||3-1|
|6||Pointed||Ruben Fuentes||124||Marsha D. Schwizer||6-1|
|7||Dubnation||Heriberto Figueroa||119||Philip D'Amato||5-2|
6 Furlongs. Purse: $59,000. Allowance Optional Claiming. 4 year olds and up. Claiming Price $62,500.
|1||Zulfikhar||Joseph Talamo||122||Bob Baffert||4-1|
|3||Distinctive B||Drayden Van Dyke||122||Peter Miller||5-2|
|4||The Hardest Way||Joel Rosario||122||Ronald W. Ellis||4-1|
|5||Microrithms||Mike Smith||122||Bob Baffert||4-1|
|6||Captain Scotty||Flavien Prat||122||Peter Miller||3-1|
6½ Furlongs. Purse: $23,000. Maiden Claiming. Fillies. 3 year olds. Claiming Price $30,000.
|1||Lucky Brite Eye||Diego Sanchez||122||Martine Bellocq||20-1||30,000|
|2||Discrete Stevie B||Tiago Pereira||122||Marcelo Polanco||5-1||30,000|
|3||Depende de Ti||Octavio Vergara, Jr.||122||Antonio Garcia||12-1||30,000|
|4||Choi||122||Ben D. A. Cecil||5-2||30,000|
|5||West Stowey Lass||Alonso Quinonez||122||Neil D. Drysdale||12-1||30,000|
|6||Point Received||Edgar Payeras||122||Ruben Gomez||20-1||30,000|
|7||West Way Dreams||Eswan Flores||122||Walther Solis||20-1||30,000|
|8||Tick Tock||Heriberto Figueroa||117||William E. Morey||3-1||30,000|
|9||Perfect Ice Storm||Edwin Maldonado||122||Peter Eurton||7-2||30,000|
|10||Tizbuds Princess||Ruben Fuentes||122||Steve Knapp||8-1||30,000|
1¼ Mile Turf. Purse: $59,000. Allowance Optional Claiming. 4 year olds and up. Claiming Price $62,500.
|1||Acker||Rafael Bejarano||122||Peter Miller||3-1||62,500|
|2||Ya Gotta Wanna||Joel Rosario||122||Philip D'Amato||7-2|
|3||Maestro Dearte||Geovanni Franco||122||Peter Eurton||4-1|
|4||Risky Proposition||Joseph Talamo||122||William Spawr||6-1|
|5||Kershaw||Heriberto Figueroa||117||Philip D'Amato||4-1|
|6||Starting Bloc||Drayden Van Dyke||122||Alfredo Marquez||12-1|
|7||Encumbered||Mario Gutierrez||122||Kristin Mulhall||15-1|
|8||Magic Musketier||Kent Desormeaux||122||Jerry Hollendorfer||12-1|
|9||Fight On||Flavien Prat||122||Doug F. O'Neill||6-1|
1 Mile. Purse: $57,000. Allowance Optional Claiming. 3 year olds. Claiming Price $80,000.
|1||Swamp Souffle||Geovanni Franco||122||George Papaprodromou||20-1||80,000|
|2||Palladium||Heriberto Figueroa||117||Doug F. O'Neill||12-1|
|3||Gray Magician||Joel Rosario||122||Peter Miller||3-1|
|4||Manhattan Up||Tiago Pereira||122||Philip A. Oviedo||12-1|
|5||Big Scott Daddy||Mike Smith||122||Mike Puype||7-2|
|6||Kingly||Drayden Van Dyke||122||Bob Baffert||9-5|
|7||Extra Hope||Flavien Prat||122||Richard E. Mandella||5-2|
About 6½ Furlongs Turf. Purse: $55,000. Maiden Special Weight. 3 year olds. State bred.
|1||Abusive Gary||Tiago Pereira||122||Philip D'Amato||8-1|
|2||Go Like the Wind||Alonso Quinonez||122||Paulo H. Lobo||6-1|
|3||Brix||Heriberto Figueroa||117||Richard Baltas||3-1|
|4||Loud Mouth||Tyler Baze||122||Michael Machowsky||8-1|
|5||Derby Storm||Edgar Payeras||122||Ruben Gomez||30-1|
|6||Nice Haircut||Mario Gutierrez||122||Doug F. O'Neill||15-1|
|7||Preaching Trainer||Assael Espinoza||117||Carla Gaines||4-1|
|8||He Be Mojo Risin||Rafael Bejarano||122||Richard Baltas||8-1|
|9||Flicflac||Octavio Vergara, Jr.||122||Howard L. Zucker||15-1|
|10||Play Money||Joseph Talamo||122||David E. Hofmans||5-2|
|11||King Lebron||Evin Roman||122||Doug F. O'Neill||8-1|
|12||Mobou||Mike Smith||122||John A. Shirreffs||2-1|
|13||Street Demand||Eswan Flores||122||Robert A. Bean||20-1|
|14||Derby Star||Brandon Boulanger||122||Ruben Gomez||20-1|