Racing! Another horse death at Santa Anita

Eddie Rosenkrance
A fan waits for the start of a race at Santa Anita in November 2012.
(Jae C. Hong / AP)

Hello, my name is John Cherwa and welcome back to our horse racing newsletter as we catch up on some stewards’ rulings.

Sadly, we have to lead with the 20th horse death at Santa Anita since the meeting opened on Dec. 26. Eskenforadrink, running in a $16,000 claimer, sustained a life-ending injury during the third race on Saturday.

The 4-year-old filly was on the lead on the backstretch when jockey Geovanni Franco pulled her up with an injury to one of her front legs. She was euthanized back at the barns.

The race was run over a sloppy track. It was the seventh death during racing on the dirt. There have been five on turf and eight during dirt training.


Since the track was reopened, 523 horses had either had a timed work or ran in a race without incident before Saturday’s third race. Hundreds more have either galloped or exercised over the track surfaces.

This was Eskenforadrink’s 13th race, of which she has won twice and finished second five times. She was trained by Jorge Gutierrez and owned by Oscar Heredia.

A slightly longer version of this story can be found online. Just click here.

Stewards’ rulings


So, with all that was going on, let’s get caught up with stewards’ rulings.

--Apprentice jockey Jean (J.C.) Diaz, Jr. was suspended three days for failure to keep his mount Swirling straight during the fifth race at Santa Anita on Feb. 10. His suspension was for Feb. 22, 23, 24. Swirling won the race and was not taken down for the ride. Diaz said he made a mistake when he didn’t gather in his right rein, which would have kept Swirling from lugging in and crossing over two horses down the stretch.

--Trainer Howard Zucker was fined $100 for disorderly conduct. On Jan. 3, Zucker was schooling a horse and, according to the stewards, got impatient when the gate to the paddock wasn’t open. He was said to direct improper language to gateman Luis Holguin and then walked his horse down the road along the paddock path and was almost hit by a vehicle, according to the stewards’ report. Zucker said he did walk his horse down the path but denied using improper language directed at Holguin.

--Trainer Jorge Periban was fined $500 when his horse We Will Re Joyce tested positive for an overage of flunixin, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory. We Will Re Joyce, which won the fifth race at Los Alamitos on Dec. 16, had 77.8ng/ml in her system, over the allowable limit of 20 ng/ml. Periban said he had no idea how the excess drug got in the horse’s system.

--Jockey Felipe Martinez was suspended three days when his horse Annitasheaven shifted in and made contact with another horse in the seventh race on Feb. 16 at Santa Anita. The suspension was for Feb. 24, 28 and March 1. Martinez admitted he did a bad job allowing his horse to shift. Annitasheaven finished last in the eight-horse race.

--Trainer Joseph Herrick was fined $500 when his horse Lovely Finish tested positive for an overage of 5-hyrdroxydantrolene, a metabolite of Dantrolene, a muscle relaxer, during the second race at Del Mar on Dec. 1. Lovely Finish, who finished second, had 410 pg/ml in her system. The allowable amount is 100 pg/ml. Herrick said his foreman Raymundo Medina gave the horse the drug three days before the race rather than the usual four to keep the filly from “tying up.”

--Jockey Evin Roman and apprentice jockey J.C. Diaz, Jr., were both fined $50 when they were late to the paddock during the fifth race on Feb. 17. They both said they needed to put on rain gear and had lost track of time. Roman finished fourth aboard Rocky Rogue and Diaz was last and ninth on Billy the Hott.

--And in that same fifth race on Feb. 17, jockey Flavien Prat was fined $50 for also being late to the paddock. He offered no excuse, apologized and said it won’t happen again. His mount, Anatolian Heat won the race.


Those were all from the Feb. 14-18 stewards’ minutes. But, we got this little bit of information in the just released minutes for Feb. 22-24.

“For the first time in recent memory there were not any official rulings submitted by the Stewards this week. This racing week consisted of three (3) days.”

Santa Anita review

The feature, the $100,000 Pasadena Stakes, lost a lot of its punch as it was moved from the turf to the dirt because of rain and a sloppy track. It was a one-mile race for 3-year-olds. The field was reduced from nine to five with the surface switch. All four turf races on Saturday were moved to the dirt.

Despite all those factors, Stubbins was very impressive leading from gate to wire to win by eight lengths for trainer Doug O’Neill and jockey Tyler Baze. Rafael Bejarano is the regular rider but he was out after a tonsillectomy.

Stubbins paid $5.80, $3.60 and $3.40. Neptune’s Storm was second and Mayor Cobb was third.

“I am excited for this horse and the opportunity, it’s not every day you get a good 3-year old colt that comes around this time of year, hopefully I get to stick with him and we’ll see how far we’ll go because he’s pretty nice,” Baze said. “I’ve never ridden him before, but from watching tape of all four of his races, he seemed very ‘push button.’ It sure looked like he’s a horse that wants to go and I’m glad they didn’t change the game plan in the paddock.”

Santa Anita preview


There are nine races on Sunday, starting at 1 p.m. Santa Anita boasts (and that’s an exaggeration) the only $100,000 race in the country on Sunday, the $100,000 Tiznow Stakes for older Cal-breds going a mile on the dirt. There are two turf races scheduled but there is still a chance of rain, so who knows, especially after of Saturday’s races were taken off the grass. Five of the races are straight out claimers with three allowance/optional claimers. The average field size is 7.

Morning-line maker Jon White could have thrown a blanket over the top three horses (and did) in the five-horse race. The post is scheduled about 3:20 p.m. in the middle of the card.

Edwards Going Left is the 8-5 favorite for trainer John Sadler and jockey Joel Rosario. The 5-year-old gelding is coming off a second in an allowance on Feb. 8. His signature win came in January of last year when he won the Cal Cup Sprint. He’s seven-of-18 lifetime.

Surfing Star is the 9-5 second choice for Bruce Headley and Flavien Prat. This 4-year-old colt is running his first stakes race but is coming off two allowance wins. He is three-of-five lifetime.

And, we’ll go three deep here with King Abner at 2-1. Phil D’Amato trains and Baze rides. This 5-year-old gelding is five-of-16 lifetime and ran his last two races on the turf. The two races before that were both wins on the dirt.

Here are the field sizes, in order: 8, 7, 5, 7, 5, 6, 9, 7, 9.

Big Races review

A look at graded stakes or races worth more $100,000 or more on Saturday.

Gulfstream (4): Grade 3 $150,000 Palm Beach Stakes, 3-year-olds, 1 1/16 miles on turf. Winner: A Thread of Blue ($3.00)

Gulfstream (5): Grade 3 $150,000 Canadian Turf Stakes, 4 and up, 1 mile on turf. Winner: Krampus ($11.60)

Gulfstream (6): Grade 3 $100,000 Gulfstream Park Sprint Stakes, 4 and up, 6 furlongs. Winner: Recruiting Ready ($3.00)

Gulfstream (7): Grade 3 $150,000 Very One Stakes, fillies and mares 4 and up, 1 3/16 miles on turf. Winner: Holy Helena ($6.20)

Gulfstream (8): Grade 3 Herecomesthebride Stakes, fillies 3-years-old, 1 1/16 miles on turf. Winner: Cambier Parc ($3.60)

Gulfstream (11): Grade 3 $150,000 Honey Fox Stakes, fillies and mares 4 and up, 1 mile on turf. Winner: Precieuse ($4.00)

Aqueduct (8): $100,000 Bernardini Stakes, 4 and up, 1 5/16 miles. Winner: Royal Albert Hall ($8.80)

Gulfstream (12): Grade 2 $200,000 Davona Dale Stakes, fillies 3-years-old, 1 mile. Winner: Jeltrin ($105.00)

Oaklawn (8): $100,000 Spring Fever Stakes, fillies and mares 4 and up, 5 ½ furlongs. Winner: Amy’s Challenge ($3.80)

Gulfstream (13): Grade 2 $400,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes, 3-year-olds, 1 1/16 miles. Winner: Code of Honor ($21.00)

Santa Anita (6): $100,000 Pasadena Stakes, 3-year-olds, 1 mile moved to dirt. Winner: Stubbins ($5.80)

Gulfstream (14): Grade 2 $200,000 Mac Diarmida Stakes, 4 and up, 1 3/8 miles on turf. Winner: Zulu Alpha ($4.20)

Big races preview

A look at graded stakes or races worth more $100,000 or more on Sunday. All times PDT:

3:20 Santa Anita (5): $100,000 Tiznow Stakes, Cal-breds 4 and up, 1 mile. Favorite: Edwards Going Left (8-5)

Bob Ike’s SA pick of the day

EIGHTH RACE: No. 7 Kylemore (3-1)

When Solomini is the morning line favorite, one is almost forced to jump into the water. In a race that appears to be loaded with speed, I am going to try this Richard Baltas-trained gelding with the hope they will try rating tactics today. He set the pace and settled for second vs. similar last time but he had been effective coming from off the pace earlier in his career and might be able to drop into a good spot if grabbed early from his outside box.

Saturday’s result: Two days in a row with double-digit winners as Proud Emma ($12.40) lagged far back behind the hot pace, moved up very wide into the stretch, then ran past the tiring leaders in the final 100 yards to win in hand.

Bob Ike is a Partner/VP of (here’s a video) and the proprietor of (full-card picks, 3 Best Plays and betting strategy).

Chris Wade’s LA pick of the day

RACE SEVEN: No. 1 Winter Chocolate (9-2)

She has had a tendency to cause her own trouble in several recent starts, but she still rates as one of the most competitive runners in this event when factoring her past trouble and track variant. In her most recent start, she stumbled badly out of the gate and lost multiple lengths, but she finished fairly well under a hold far back. Trainer Jesus Nunez has been winning at a 23% clip over the last 30 nights of racing.

(No worries, Ed Burgart hasn’t gone away, he’s just on vacation. Chris Wade has been the racing analyst and host of the Los Alamitos night simulcast broadcast for nearly two decades. While Ed is on vacation, Chris also fills in as the nighttime morning-line maker.)

Final thoughts

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And now the stars of the show, Saturday’s results and Sunday’s entries.