Hello, my name is John Cherwa, and welcome back to our horse racing newsletter, as we solicit your thoughts on the best mudder you’ve ever seen.
The rain has certainly muddied things up for Southern California racing the last couple of weeks. In fact, Los Alamitos took all its races off the turf not just for Thursday but the rest of the meeting. (That’s a joke, folks.)
It sounds simplistic, but racetracks need good weather. It promotes bigger on-track attendance and, maybe more important, bigger racing fields making for bigger racing handles.
It’s no secret that the last Santa Anita winter/spring meet did some really good numbers, but that was helped by bad weather back east, so that the Arcadia track was able to offer better racing and more options to everyone in the country. Those are the numbers the track will run against.
The previous year, Santa Anita canceled three days of racing because of the weather. This year only one, and most of those races were shifted to later cards.
The National Weather Service is predicting a wetter-than-normal winter for Southern California in the upcoming year. Despite all the grief people like to give meteorologists for their forecasts, these are smart guesses based on a lot of data and probabilities. Really, what they do is no different than your doctor — look at the data, probabilities and make the best guess possible.
So while we can hope for the rain to always fall on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, that’s probably not a smart bet to make.
The condition of the track is certainly a factor that handicappers look at very closely. There are generally two camps when it comes to handicapping a wet surface: those who look at the breeding, and those who look at the trainer. It’s a trait that some sires pass on to their progeny. And some trainers anticipate when races might be run in the slop and enter their horses accordingly. Some trainers also are better at selecting the right shoe for an off track.
But the factor you can never rule out is that great horses seem to be able to run on any surface, and maybe that’s the biggest factor of all.
So, I know this is a Johnny Cueto-like windup (or Juan Marichal for you old-timers) to get to the point. I’m wondering who you think is the best mudder you ever saw, and tell me why in no more than two sentences. If I get enough responses, I’ll run your answers in the Monday newsletter. If you want to broaden it out to a sire, like “any horse sired by A.P. Indy” or something like that, it’ll work too. You need to include your real name, not some email handle, but the one that’s on your driver’s license. (You know what I mean.) And put “favorite mudder” in the subject field. Let’s make this informative and fun. Email me here.
Los Alamitos thoroughbred review
Thursday’s rain-splashed feature was a six-furlong allowance/optional claimer for horses 3 and older. The heavy favorite Microrithms picked up an easy half-length win for trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Drayden Van Dyke. Part of the ownership group was David Israel, a former chairman of the California Horse Racing Board but, even more important, a sports columnist both in Chicago and for the Los Angeles Herald Examiner.
It was Microrithms’ second win in four starts. He paid $3.20, $2.60 and $2.20. He missed the track record by .03 seconds. I Am the Danger was second, and Montmarte was third.
Los Alamitos thoroughbred preview
The second day of the meeting will hopefully have a dried-out track for its eight races beginning at 1 p.m. Five of the races are 5 1/2 furlongs, and three of the races are for 2-year-old fillies, totaling 31 runners. The feature is the seventh race, a six-furlong allowance/optional claimer for fillies and mares 3 and older for $45,000 in purse money.
Just Grazed Me is the 8-5 favorite for trainer Phil D’Amato and jockey Tyler Baze. The filly has won two times and finished second in all her other races. She won the Fleet Treat Stakes and finished second in the Torrey Pines and Betty Grable, all at Del Mar.
Family Girl, at 7-2, is the second favorite for Peter Miller and Heriberto Figueroa. She is a little more experienced, having won three times in 12 starts. Two of those wins have come at Los Alamitos in a maiden special and a claiming race. Post is around 4 p.m.
Here are the field sizes, in order: 6, 6, 7, 6, 12, 7, 8, 12.
Jose Contreras LRC play of the day
SECOND RACE: No.6 El Asesino (3-1)
He’s got the right running style for the race. He has enough speed to stay close but does not need the lead to get job done. He ran a game second last time out at the tricky seven-furlong distance at Santa Anita. He’s making his second start for this barn, and he should be in good tracking position throughout from this outside post.
Thursday’s result: Red Wine and Dine went to the front as expected and put forth a game effort but just didn’t have enough left and finished fourth.
Los Alamitos nighttime weekend preview
This weekly segment is in the hands of Orlando Gutierrez, marketing and media maven at Los Al. So the floor is yours, Orlando.
“A pair of stakes races named in honor of two of the greatest quarter horses of all-time will highlight the second part of the day/night doubleheaders at Los Alamitos.
“Multiple stakes winner Twisted Sifter will go after a nation’s-best ninth victory in 2018 when he heads the $25,000 A Ransom Handicap for 3-year-olds at 350 yards on Friday night. A Ransom was the 2000 AQHA world champion and a 12-time stakes winner at Los Alamitos.
“Ridden by Jonathan Roman for trainer Roman Figueroa, Twisted Sifter has been one of the most pleasant surprises of the meet. He began the year in the claiming ranks, but all he’s done is win since breaking his maiden on Feb. 11. The son of FDD Dynasty has climbed the ranks along the way, even scoring wins in the Sgt. Pepper Handicap, Chingaderos Handicap and Dreams Come True Ranch Stakes. He’ll be going after his fifth victory in a row.
“Katies Easy Moves will go after his second consecutive victory in the $35,000 First Down Dash Handicap when he faces six strong rivals in the 400-yard dash on Saturday night. This race honors the 1987 AQHA world champion and quarter horse racing’s all-time leading sire.
“While the First Down Dash represents his last stakes victory, Katies Easy Moves has enjoyed a strong campaign in 2018. The Maknmoves gelding has finished fourth or better in four high-level stakes races at Los Alamitos. He was even on the lead in the early stages of the Grade 1 Robert Boniface Los Alamitos Invitational Championship before running fourth to the millionaire He Looks Hot. He also finished second to BH Lisas Boy in the Grade 1 Bank of America Challenge Championship. Eduardo Nicasio will ride him from post five for trainer Monty Arrossa.
“Royaltys Authority is one of the top contenders in the First Down Dash after a stakes-winning campaign in which he won the Kaweah Bar Handicap and was second to Tarzanito in the Grade 1 Go Man Go Handicap. The stakes-placed Well Good, the Brazilian star Corona Jumpim MLR, 2017 First Down Dash runner-up Chicks Fayvorite, John Ward Handicap winner Joe Legacy and Firing Tools will also race.
“Looking ahead to next weekend, TVG will air the post-position draw to the Grade 1, $600,000 Champion of Champions and the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity on Wednesday afternoon at about 2:30 p.m. The field to the Champion of Champions is headed by past winners Heza Dasha Fire and Zoomin for Spuds and rising stars Jesstacartel and Tarzanito. Grade 1 Golden State Million Futurity winner Flash and Roll heads the Los Alamitos Two Million.
“As for the nighttime thoroughbred racing action, jockey Kellie McDaid has locked up the breed’s riding title. The only rider who was close was injured Jesus Sanchez. He’ll miss the remainder of the meet before returning next season. McDaid is the second woman to win the thoroughbred riding title at Los Alamitos and the first since Cheryl Charlton in 2012.”
Ed Burgart’s L.A. play of the day
FOURTH RACE: No. 8 Jess Curlin (2-1)
This gelding drops into the maiden claiming ranks for the first time and gets a positive post switch from the rail to the far outside. He broke slow before running well late for fifth in last Los Alamitos Two Million trial outing while facing first two finishers who qualified for the futurity finals. His best races came when drawn outside earlier this year. I also suggest exactas with #3 Rockin Liz and #4 Chasin Harm. The former scored an easy win versus softer and has upside, while the latter also drops from a stakes into a claimer.
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Now, the stars of the show, Thursday’s results and Friday’s entries.