Hello, my name is John Cherwa and welcome back to our horse racing newsletter as we monitor what’s going on at Santa Anita.
Of course, the biggest story of the week—and probably of the year in horse racing--remains the horse breakdowns at Santa Anita. It depends on how you want to look at it. There have been 23 since Dec. 26, or one in the last 20 days.
Now that is a somewhat deceptive stat in that you could spin the 1-in-20 to being 1-in-3 if you just look at racing dates. And that’s what everyone is looking at. Training, which is approaching 3,000 timed workouts since the last breakdown, is going well.
The one thing everyone agrees on, however, is that one is too many
I’ve been pretty bad about those of you who have emailed me about answering. I’ve been hit with a crush of notes from people who want to offer suggestions of what went wrong. It’s gone from the predictable medication and track conditions, to unsavory people and earthquakes.
I respond if I think I have anything to add to your thoughts and I have time. If you haven’t figured it out, those of you who hurl personal insults, call me stupid, or are just plain mean, are likely to never get a response. Although, I do feel bad for people so filled with hate.
Back to what’s important. The big story so far this week is Sen. Dianne Feinstein sending a letter to Chuck Winner, chairman of the California Horse Racing Board, looking for answers on the breakdowns. She also called for Santa Anita to be shut down until there are answers. It’s not likely she’ll get any because, well, there are no definitive ones.
Here’s what I think will happen, and it is my opinion only. I haven’t been told anything. I’m real certain that racing will continue through Saturday. The day is too important to the industry unless things go horrifically bad on Thursday and Friday.
After that, I wouldn’t be surprised that with the next breakdown, and there will be one some time in the future, that Santa Anita takes another break from racing. For how long, I don’t know. The CHRB will meet next Friday to determine options of how they would handle this situation, which could include moving the dates elsewhere.
However, if Santa Anita can get by this weekend, and beyond, and beyond, and beyond, they may not have to close this meeting. That’s a tall order. The only thing that can quiet this firestorm is time. So, that’s why a break is not out of the question.
The only sure way to keep breakdowns from happening is to not race. It would come at great expense to The Stronach Group. But, I think, it is much more focused on its long-term survival than any short-time loss. Of course, that doesn’t help all the employees would temporarily be out of jobs.
My guess, again a guess, is that we won’t see a lot of June racing during this meet. After Saturday, the next big milestone is Kentucky Derby weekend. It would be quite remarkable if the track could go until then without some kind of accident. We can only hope, for the horse’s sake.
It’s an eight-race card starting at 1 p.m. There are four turf races, two down the hill. Half the races are for maidens and three races are restricted to Cal-breds. We’re not going to name a feature race. It would be either the sixth, a one-mile turf allowance/optional claimer for 3-year-olds. Or the eighth, an allowance Cal-bred fillies race down the hill at 6 ½ furlongs. Clearly, the most important stat on Thursday … and Friday … and …. is just getting everyone home safe.
Here are the field sizes, in order: 10 (4 also eligible), 9, 7, 8, 8, 9,10, 10 (1 ae).
Bob Ike’s SA pick of the day
SIXTH RACE: Exacta Box 4-5
I like a couple of horses here in this first-level allowance/optional claimer for 3-year-olds going one mile on turf (rails at 30 feet). I'll take one speed horse in My Mandate (4-1) and one closer in Order and Law (5-1) to try to hit the exacta. ‘Mandate is improving and the fastest horse in the race, so if he handles the distance without too much pace pressure he may be hard to run down. ‘Law invades from the East and broke his maiden in a turf stakes. He can fire late and will be a threat if he gets some pace at which to run.
Sunday’s result: Blitzkrieg ($4.40) was bet like he couldn't lose and didn't, easily winning his third straight on turf.
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.
“Live racing resumes at Golden Gate Fields with cards through Sunday. I have handicapped the races here for three years and I can honestly say our product has gotten better each year. In most of our races, handicappers’ can make a case for the majority of the horses. That wasn’t always the case, but things have changed. Our payouts are strong. The handicapping puzzles are typically challenging and thought-provoking. The races are fun and exciting to watch. These are the types of races and sequences that horseplayers want to dive into. We’ve seen plenty of horses come in at prices. I’m confident this gradual improvement will continue.
“On Friday, Leg D of the Stronach 5 wager goes as race five. A field of nine 3-year-olds go 5 ½ furlongs. It’s also the first leg of the late pick 4. The horse to beat is No. 3 Drill Time, who drops in class after a number of decent efforts against allowance company. No. 8 Sizzling Jamie is an interesting horse to consider. The Cliff DeLima trainee hasn’t been seen since the summer time, when he broke his maiden by more than five lengths in a maiden special weight over the dirt on the California fair circuit. Also getting support will likely be Doug O’Neill trained Three Ay Em and recent maiden winners Johnny Runner and One Salty Dog.
“Turf racing resumes next Friday, April 12, the first of two-straight three-day weeks. According to management, our turf track is in great shape and the track crew is finishing up the final touches so we can race over the course next week. Multiple jockey agents have confirmed that many horsemen are eager to run horses on the turf again and are hopeful for good field sizes. Sounds good to me.
“In other news, top Bay Area turf sprinter Bay Muzik is scheduled to run in the Grade 2 $200,000 Shakertown at Keeneland on Saturday. Trained by up-and-coming young conditioner Ari Herbertson, the son of City Zip has won six-of-12 lifetime races and hasn’t raced since a sharp-looking allowance win in early January. It’s a very tough spot and he’ll go off at a price. He’s very quick so expect him to go to the lead.
“El Camino Real Derby winner and Sunland Derby runner up Anothertwistafate remains at Sunland Park, according to trainer Blaine Wright. Wright’s main goal is to run the horse in the Kentucky Derby, and would prefer to train him up to the race. That said, Anothertwistafate is on the bubble to draw into the Derby, and Wright may have to run Anothortwistafate in the Arkansas Derby or Lexington to earn more points so he can secure a spot. The son of Scat Daddy has earned 30 points so far. Wright will monitor the points after the Bluegrass, Wood Memorial and Santa Anita Derby are run this week, and will then make a decision.”
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And now the star of the show, Thursday’s entries.
Santa Anita Entries for Thursday, April 4.
Santa Anita, Santa Anita Park, Arcadia, California. 58th day of a 61-day meet.
About 6½ Furlongs Turf. Purse: $55,000. Maiden Special Weight. 3 year olds and up. State bred.
|1||Unusually Handsome||Tiago Pereira||118||Tim Yakteen||12-1|| |
|2||Bob's Sniper||Brice Blanc||118||Val Brinkerhoff||20-1|| |
|3||Sidepocket Action||Assael Espinoza||119||Steve Knapp||12-1|| |
|4||General Mo||Geovanni Franco||118||Jerry Hollendorfer||6-1|| |
|5||Sir Eddie||Flavien Prat||124||Dan Blacker||5-2|| |
|6||Hit the Seam||Mario Gutierrez||124||Edward R. Freeman||9-2|| |
|7||Elusive Flame||Ruben Fuentes||118||Jeff Mullins||8-1|| |
|8||Play Money||Rafael Bejarano||118||David E. Hofmans||3-1|| |
|9||Gooch Express||Evin Roman||124||Mike Puype||12-1|| |
|10||First in Show||Agapito Delgadillo||118||Mark Glatt||12-1|| |
|11||Appreciated||Aaron Gryder||118||Rafael Becerra||7-2|| |
|12||Flicflac||Octavio Vergara, Jr.||118||Howard L. Zucker||20-1|| |
|13||Jen Go Unchained||Agapito Delgadillo||118||Mike Puype||12-1|| |
|14||Juggles||Mario Gutierrez||118||Doug F. O'Neill||5-1|| |
7 Furlongs. Purse: $22,000. Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $12,500.
|1||Midnight Soot||Ruben Fuentes||124||Antonio Garcia||15-1||12,500|
|2||Papa Turf||Heriberto Figueroa||122||Jeffrey Metz||6-1||12,500|
|3||Monydontspenitself||Joseph Talamo||122||Mark Glatt||3-1||12,500|
|4||Baby Bear's Soup||Assael Espinoza||119||Steve Knapp||5-2||12,500|
|5||Little Scotty||Jorge Velez||115||Vladimir Cerin||8-1||12,500|
|6||Burn Me Twice||Tiago Pereira||122||William Spawr||5-1||12,500|
|7||Harrovian||J.C. Diaz, Jr.||115||Dennis Givens||30-1||12,500|
|8||Finallygotabentley||Alonso Quinonez||122||Derek Meredith||30-1||12,500|
|9||Run Macho Run||Geovanni Franco||124||Jerry Hollendorfer||7-2||12,500|
6 Furlongs. Purse: $32,000. Maiden Claiming. 3 year olds. Claiming Price $50,000.
|1||Red Valor||Eswan Flores||124||Val Brinkerhoff||12-1||50,000|
|2||Drink||Martin Pedroza||124||David E. Hofmans||3-1||50,000|
|3||High Five||J.C. Diaz, Jr.||117||Vladimir Cerin||4-1||50,000|
|4||Mica Bay||Assael Espinoza||119||Philip D'Amato||6-1||50,000|
|5||Railman||Rafael Bejarano||124||Peter Eurton||5-2||50,000|
|6||Shared||Geovanni Franco||124||Jose Jesus Avalos||8-1||50,000|
|7||Palaleo||Flavien Prat||124||Jeff Bonde||7-2||50,000|
1 Mile Turf. Purse: $55,000. Maiden Special Weight. 3 year olds and up.
|1||Lomu||Drayden Van Dyke||124||Neil D. Drysdale||5-2|| |
|2||T Bones Trick||Rafael Bejarano||118||David E. Hofmans||4-1|| |
|3||Hackberry||Martin Garcia||118||Dan Blacker||12-1|| |
|4||American Camp||Tiago Pereira||118||Robert B. Hess, Jr.||12-1|| |
|5||Caribbean ||Brice Blanc||124||John A. Shirreffs||5-1|| |
|6||Keystone Field||Flavien Prat||124||Richard E. Mandella||3-1|| |
|7||Pointed||Ruben Fuentes||124||Marsha D. Schwizer||12-1|| |
|8||Calabasas||Geovanni Franco||124||Dan Blacker||9-2|| |
6 Furlongs. Purse: $22,000. Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $10,000.
|1||Asem||Felipe Martinez||122||Kelly Castaneda||15-1||10,000|
|2||Todos Santos||Rafael Bejarano||122||Kelly Castaneda||5-1||10,000|
|3||Dragon Flower||Alonso Quinonez||122||Derek Meredith||12-1||10,000|
|4||A Filly Can Dream||Octavio Vergara, Jr.||122||Frank Lucarelli||15-1||10,000|
|5||Blooming Hannah||Tiago Pereira||122||Robert A. Bean||12-1||10,000|
|6||Smart Rachel||Eswan Flores||122||Hector O. Palma||3-1||10,000|
|7||Cinnamon Twist||J.C. Diaz, Jr.||115||Jorge Periban||2-1||10,000|
|8||Party Hostess||Evin Roman||122||Jorge Periban||5-2||10,000|
1 Mile Turf. Purse: $57,000. Allowance Optional Claiming. 3 year olds. Claiming Price $80,000.
|1||Vantastic||Mike Smith||122||Peter Eurton||7-2|| |
|2||Contagion||Edwin Maldonado||122||Doug F. O'Neill||15-1||80,000|
|3||Urban Light ||Tiago Pereira||124||Philip D'Amato||8-1|| |
|4||My Mandate||Drayden Van Dyke||122||Mark Glatt||4-1|| |
|5||Order and Law||Geovanni Franco||122||Vladimir Cerin||5-1|| |
|6||Rijeka ||Kent Desormeaux||124||Richard Baltas||3-1|| |
|7||Forestation||Assael Espinoza||119||J. Eric Kruljac||15-1|| |
|8||Shining Through||Flavien Prat||124||Jerry Hollendorfer||8-1|| |
|9||Irish Heatwave||Rafael Bejarano||124||J. Keith Desormeaux||8-1|| |
6 Furlongs. Purse: $32,000. Maiden Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $50,000. State bred.
|1||Hard to Come Home||J.C. Diaz, Jr.||111||Clifford W. Sise, Jr.||6-1||50,000|
|2||Perfect Tale||Drayden Van Dyke||124||Mark Rheinford||7-2||50,000|
|3||Sea's Journey||Geovanni Franco||124||Jerry Hollendorfer||3-1||50,000|
|4||Sterling's Temple||Alonso Quinonez||124||Val Brinkerhoff||20-1||50,000|
|5||Friday's At Shady||Ruben Fuentes||118||Jeff Bonde||5-1||50,000|
|6||Soul Owner||Assael Espinoza||119||Vann Belvoir||8-1||50,000|
|7||Tak'in the Red Eye||Evin Roman||124||Mark Glatt||12-1||50,000|
|8||Indi Luck||Israel Ocampo||118||Jeff Bonde||12-1||50,000|
|9||King Parker||Tiago Pereira||118||Craig Anthony Lewis||15-1||50,000|
|10||Pig Iron||Heriberto Figueroa||124||Jorge Gutierrez||5-1||50,000|
About 6½ Furlongs Turf. Purse: $57,000. Allowance. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. State bred.
|1||Moonshine Annie||Kent Desormeaux||124||Mark Glatt||3-1|| |
|2||Wandering Patrol||Mario Gutierrez||124||Ben D. A. Cecil||4-1|| |
|3||Square Peggy||Joseph Talamo||118||Brian J. Koriner||15-1|| |
|4||Drop the Mic||Tiago Pereira||124||Philip D'Amato||10-1|| |
|5||Be Lifted Up||Flavien Prat||116||Jeff Mullins||6-1|| |
|6||Thalia||Geovanni Franco||124||Philip D'Amato||6-1|| |
|7||Shylock Eddie||Aaron Gryder||124||Brian J. Koriner||6-1|| |
|8||Charmingslew||Mike Smith||124||Neil French||15-1|| |
|9||Miss Voluptuous||Drayden Van Dyke||124||Patrick Gallagher||6-1|| |
|10||Hot On the Trail||Heriberto Figueroa||116||Mark Glatt||15-1|| |
|11||An Eddie Surprise||Rafael Bejarano||124||Doug F. O'Neill||5-1|| |