Racing! It’s the last two weeks at the Santa Anita meeting

Hello, my name is John Cherwa and welcome to our horse racing newsletter and I already miss Jon White’s weekly contribution.

Every day seems to bring news as Santa Anita counts down to its final day of the meeting, June 23. But that won’t be the end of it, as horses will continue to train over the track until July 11 when the Del Mar track becomes available.

The latest moves have been interesting, to say the least.

Perhaps the most puzzling is Gov. Gavin Newsom calling for no more horses to be racing at Santa Anita until independent veterinary reviews were in place. Well, they’ve been in place for years.

Let me quote Rule 1846 titled Racing Soundness Examination: “Each and every horse entered shall be subjected to a veterinary examination for racing soundness and health on race day not later than two hours prior to official post time for the race in which the horse is to compete.

Then there is Rule 1853 titled Examination Required: “The official veterinarian shall examine each horse that is scheduled to race to determine its fitness to start.”

Now, if you go back to the weekend, the California Horse Racing Board asked Santa Anita to voluntarily close down and not run the last (at that time) seven days of the meeting. But the track could remain open for training. Interesting splitting of the baby. While you could concede that racing is more dangerous than training if for no other reason than there are so many horses running together at full speed. But whatever inherent risks there are have not gone away for training.

Still, if Santa Anita were not open for training, there would be no place for them to stretch their legs on a daily basis. Even if a horse isn’t racing or training they need to get out of their stalls and either canter or gallop almost every day.

Then on Wednesday, there was the big announcement that there would be enhanced safety reviews of horses at Santa Anita. A panel of five people, to include Dr. Rick Arthur, chief vet for the CHRB, and Darrel McHargue, chief steward for the CHRB. According to a news release, any one of the five members of the panel can keep a horse from running.

However, this panel has a lifespan shorter than a butterfly or house fly. It’s good for the remaining six racing days. There is no mention of expanding it.

Add to all this the fact that the Breeders’ Cup meets on June 27 and the fate of Santa Anita as this year’s host could be decided then. This is a really, really tough decision. If the Breeders’ Cup moves the races to Churchill Downs, a track that normally has a higher mortality rate than Santa Anita, then the group is making a huge statement that Santa Anita is not a safe track to run on.

Keep it at Santa Anita and you are inviting a week of nothing but stories and discussion on how safe the track is, likely overshadowing the actual racing. And, then, if a horse goes down, there will be second-guessing of a proportion we haven’t seen in a while.

Tough call.

So what will happen these last two weeks of racing at Santa Anita? Certainly the hope is nothing but racing.

Santa Anita preview

It’s a really strong Friday card at Santa Anita, eight races starting at 1 p.m. There are five allowance/optional claiming races and four turf races. Field sizes aren’t bad either and given the caliber of the card, there shouldn’t be a lot of scratches from the new panel. But that’s just a guess.

The feature is likely the third race, a mile on the turf for horses 3 and up. It’s got some heavy hitters in it. The favorite, at 5-2, is Liam the Charmer, who has been racing at the top, although not with a lot of success. Trained by Michael McCarthy and ridden by Ruben Fuentes, he was 14th last out in a Grade 1 at Doha and he finished 12th in the Breeders’ Cup Turf. He did win the Grade 2 John Henry. He’s five-of-17 lifetime.

The second choice, at 3-1, runs for John Sadler and Drayden Van Dyke. He finished fifth last out in the Gold Cup, which was won by Vino Rosso. He finished eighth in last year’s Rebel Stakes. Most of his other races have been at the allowance level.

Here are the field sizes, in order: 6, 8 (1 also eligible), 6, 7, 9, 7, 7, 8.

Ciaran Thornton’s SA pick of the day

RACE FIVE: No. 3 Capture the Sea (15-1)

Capture the Sea is from trainer Craig Dollase who is 30% first time grass like today and 50% in the money with big prices. We get 15-1 morning line Friday. The horse is protected as well in this optional claimer race in a sign of optimism. These allowance races have been giving us great value during the meet. Dam has one winner from three starters on turf. Last week four of five sprint races on turf saw a gate-to-wire winner and jockey Edwin Maldonado jumps on so we know this is the strategy today. This is the best betting race on the card. If the favorite does not win in this wide open race it’s going to be a big price.

Sunday’s result: On Sunday as the guest on Quigley’s Corner at Santa Anita and our free full card, we went seven of nine with six of those winners the top choice. Our play of the day Playa Chica was bet down to 6-1 with Flavien Prat almost riding a perfect race sitting at the back of the pack and flying home down the stretch to lose by a head running second.

Ciaran Thornton is the handicapper for, which offers daily full card picks, longshots of the day, best bets of the day.

Los Alamitos Weekend preview

It’s time to turn things over to marketing and media guru Orlando Gutierrez, who will tell us about the upcoming weekend at Los Alamitos. Orlando, the floor is yours.

“Dr. Steve Burns’ homebred filly Tequila Sangria, a finalist to the Grade 1 Golden State Million Futurity, will make her sophomore debut when she heads a group of 3-year-olds in the $11,525 allowance feature in the seventh race on Friday. First post on Friday is 6 p.m.

“Tequila Sangria was lightly raced in 2018, with three starts. She won her first race by 1 ¾ lengths at 300 yards and then qualifying to the Golden State Million after running second to Apollitical Pence in the trials. Apollitical Pence was one of the top males at Los Alamitos last year and most recently won the Heritage Place Derby at Remington Park in Oklahoma.

“’We started her late but she broke her maiden in good fashion,” trainer Mike Casselman said. “Running second to Apollitical Pence was nice, but unfortunately she didn’t have a great trip in the Golden State Million final (finishing 10th). … After some time off, she’s been coming along great for her 2019 debut.”

“Tequila Sangria is eligible to run in the trials to the Governor’s Cup Derby on July 14 and the Golden State Derby trials in August, Los Alamitos Super Derby trials in October and Southern California Derby trials in late November.

“Eight top sophomores led by stakes winner Red Hawk Cartel, a multiple graded derby placed horse in 2019, will be in the $13,400 allowance on Saturday. The 330-yard feature is the eighth and final race with a first post at 6:30.

“Red Hawk Cartel represents one of the top racing teams at Los Alamitos in the form of owner Martha Wells, trainer Matt Fales, and jockey Erasmo Gasca. Red Hawk Cartel won just once during his freshman campaign, in the Freshman Stakes on California Breeders Champions Night.

“He qualified to the Grade 2 PCQHRA Breeders Futurity and later finished second in his trial to the Grade 1 Golden State Million Futurity. This year, Red Hawk Cartel has posted a runner-up effort in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Winter Derby and a third in the Grade 3 El Primero Del Año Derby -- both of those won by superstar Powerful Favorite.

“The field will also feature Los Alamitos Winter Derby finalist I Like My Chances and El Primero finalist Teller Hez Famous, a pair of sophomores owned by Bradbury Racing. I Like My Chances enters Saturday's main event in solid racing form after second or better in three consecutive allowance events, including a half-length win on March 30. Teller Hez Famous ran fourth in his last two allowance starts, both times finishing behind his stablemate.

“Jockey Brayan Pena, who has won 106 thoroughbreds wins, will look to add another win when he guides Sonic Boy from the three in Saturday's second race at 4 1/2 furlongs. The Peppered Cat gelding has hit the board in 11 of 21 career starts. He is trained by Robert Lucas.

“Brighton Boy will look to score his second victory in nine days in Saturday’s race. Brighton Boy made his Los Alamitos night debut a winning one when he cruised to a 3 1/2 length win at 870 yards on June 7. He had previously raced at Los Alamitos during the daytime summer thoroughbred meet in 2018. Edgar Payeras will ride Brighton Boy from the six.

“In last Sunday’s Ed Burke Million Futurity trials, five of the 10 qualifiers came out of the first of 11 trials including fastest qualifier Dreams Divine for Reliance Ranches and trainer Mike Robbins. Dreams Divine finished third in the Grade 2 Robert Adair Kindergarten Futurity on May 19. Mental Error, the runner-up in the Kindergarten Futurity, also qualified to the Ed Burke Million final to be held on June 23.”

Ed Burgart’s L.A. pick of the day

THIRD RACE: No. 5 Hollywood Sky (3-1)

This colt has more tactical speed than Seattle Encounter, the 8-5 morning-line favorite, and switches to leading local distance rider Edgar Payeras. He was sharp third in last outing versus wire-to-wire winner Fancy Terrace, who has now captured three of his last four outs. In addition, the colt was clearly ahead of Seattle Encounter around the far turn while only finishing ½ behind the same foe at the wire. With very few speed foes in this $5,000 field, I can see Hollywood Sky making a clear early lead.

Final thought

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Now, the star of the show, Friday’s entries.

Santa Anita Entries for Friday, June 14.

Santa Anita, Santa Anita Park, Arcadia, California. 29th day of a 41-day meet.


1 Mile Turf. Purse: $67,000. Allowance Optional Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $20,000. State bred.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Emmy and IJ.C. Diaz, Jr.116Vann Belvoir15-120,000
2SedamarMartin Garcia120Shelbe Ruis2-1
3Opus WonFlavien Prat120Richard Baltas3-1
4Marjorie ERuben Fuentes125Patrick Gallagher12-1
5Fantasy HeatJoseph Talamo118Mark Glatt7-2
6LostintranzlationGeovanni Franco125Richard Baltas9-5


4½ Furlongs. Purse: $65,000. Maiden Special Weight. 2 year olds. State bred.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Margo With a TModesto Linares119Charles R. Stutts50-1
2Hot SocksJ.C. Diaz, Jr.115Steven Miyadi10-1
3With Due CauseEdgar Payeras122Mike Harrington8-1
4Cheap Cheap CheapMario Gutierrez119Doug F. O'Neill5-2
5Square DealFlavien Prat122Simon Callaghan2-1
6Next FlightJorge Velez115Steven Miyadi4-1
7Bam Bam AgainGeovanni Franco122Jorge Periban8-1
8ZinzanNorberto Arroyo, Jr.122Kristin Mulhall6-1
Also Eligible
9Cal's GemRuben Fuentes122Luis Mendez6-5


1 Mile Turf. Purse: $77,000. Allowance Optional Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $80,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Higher PowerDrayden Van Dyke123John W. Sadler3-1
2Ritzy A. P.Flavien Prat125Dan Blacker4-1
3Liam the CharmerRuben Fuentes125Michael W. McCarthy5-2
4Double Touch Alonso Quinonez125Dan Blacker5-1
5Blended CitizenRafael Bejarano125Doug F. O'Neill5-1
6Souter Norberto Arroyo, Jr.125Mark Glatt7-2


6½ Furlongs. Purse: $65,000. Maiden Special Weight. 3 year olds and up. State bred.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Sidepocket ActionAssael Espinoza125Steve Knapp5-1
2Play MoneyJoseph Talamo120David E. Hofmans6-1
3Delta ForumFlavien Prat120Neil D. Drysdale3-1
4Big BarrelJ.C. Diaz, Jr.118Leonard Powell4-1
5MelboAlonso Quinonez120Victor L. Garcia12-1
6NorthrndancrsghostOctavio Vergara, Jr.125Santos R. Perez50-1
7Satchel PaigeTiago Pereira120Philip D'Amato6-5


5 Furlongs Turf. Purse: $67,000. Allowance Optional Claiming. 3 year olds. Claiming Price $80,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1AsanoKent Desormeaux122J. Keith Desormeaux12-180,000
2Toothless WonderEvin Roman124Robert B. Hess, Jr.10-180,000
3Capture the SeaEdwin Maldonado124Craig Dollase15-1
4Royal SongBarrington Harvey124Jose G. Hernandez, Sr.30-180,000
5Strictly BizJoseph Talamo124Brian J. Koriner5-1
6CarnivorousMario Gutierrez124Doug F. O'Neill4-180,000
7Yes I Am FreeNorberto Arroyo, Jr.124Steven Miyadi2-180,000
8Unbridled's SkyeAaron Gryder124Mike Puype5-2
9Roger That Tiago Pereira124Matthew Chew15-1


6½ Furlongs. Purse: $74,000. Allowance Optional Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $80,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1BlameitonthelawDrayden Van Dyke123Ronald W. Ellis8-1
2Horse GreedyVictor Espinoza123John W. Sadler10-1
3Mr VargasJoseph Talamo123Brian J. Koriner3-1
4CalexmanGeovanni Franco123Vladimir Cerin4-1
5LomboFlavien Prat125Philip D'Amato6-1
6Hot SeanMartin Pedroza123Bob Baffert7-2
7The Hardest WayMike Smith123Ronald W. Ellis9-5


5 Furlongs Turf. Purse: $69,000. Allowance Optional Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $62,500.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Moon KittyEvin Roman125Jack Carava6-162,500
2Love and Peace Flavien Prat123Neil D. Drysdale5-1
3Rocky PolicyJoseph Talamo125Andrew Lerner7-262,500
4LittlefirefighterRafael Bejarano123Richard E. Mandella4-1
5Kentan RoadJorge Velez116John W. Sadler4-1
6Watch Me BurnAgapito Delgadillo118Val Brinkerhoff12-1
7Gypsy BluNorberto Arroyo, Jr.125Mark Glatt5-2


1 Mile. Purse: $32,000. Maiden Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $25,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Cat's DesireJorge Velez118Nestor M. Capitaine8-125,000
2Cuyahoga FallsNorberto Arroyo, Jr.120J. Eric Kruljac8-125,000
3Girl Can PartieJ.C. Diaz, Jr.113Val Brinkerhoff6-125,000
4ThanksAbel Cedillo120Robert B. Hess, Jr.4-125,000
5Lucky Brite EyeDiego Sanchez120Martine Bellocq6-125,000
6ZillindaTiago Pereira125Bruce Headley8-525,000
7Reds Sacred AppealEvin Roman120Lisa Bernard20-125,000
8Info's TreasureGeovanni Franco120Ian Kruljac5-125,000

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