Horse racing newsletter: Santa Anita has a four-day racing week

Santa Anita starting gate
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

Hello, my name is John Cherwa and welcome to our horse racing newsletter as we try and shake our post Triple Crown hangover.

It just doesn’t seem like a Friday newsletter without Jon White’s Triple Crown previews. No doubt he never expected it to last as long as it did, but yet, he came back every week with fresh insights on the road to the three Triple Crown races. Can’t wait for his return.

OK, on to a little news before we give you a shorter than normal newsletter.

--McKinzie, the horse, is being retired and will stand next year at Gainesway Farm near Lexington, Ky. He had a great career winning eight of 18 starts, including four Grade 1s. Expectations were so high at the start of his career but an injury took him off the Derby trail and he was eclipsed by stablemate Justify. Post Derby, his performances had uneven results, running at the highest levels.

The horse was named after Brad McKinzie, one the best people in racing. He was instrumental in turning Los Alamitos into a daytime thoroughbred track. It will be sad to see Brad’s namesake retire, but maybe through his career as a stallion the name will be around a lot longer. Check out this story by Claire Crosby of Bloodhorse. Just click here.

--An advisory council was named to find the members that will try and bring the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act to fruition, once it passes the Senate and is signed by the President. The first thing the group, which has the overused and meaningless label of blue-ribbon, should do is figure out that horse racing is two words, not one. Then they have to come up with the people who will make up the governing body.


The group is made up of Len Coleman (co-chair), Dr. Nancy Cox (co-chair), Katrina Adams, Dr. Jerry Black, Gen. Joseph Dunford, Frank Keating, and Ken Schanzer. The name that stuck out to me is Dunford, who was the former head of the Joints Chief of Staff. I don’t know if he knows anything about horse racing but he sure knows how to deal with conflict. For more on who they are, check out this from the Paulick Report. Just click here.

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Santa Anita Preview

Friday’s nine-race card at Santa Anita is pretty unspectacular with a 12:30 p.m. start. Four of the races are on the turf and there are two allowance/optional claimers. The feature would be the eighth race, a 1 1/8-mile turf allowance/OC worth a total purse of $59,000.

North Country Guy is the 3-1 first choice from trainer Richard Baltas and jockey Mario Gutierrez. He is four-of-25 lifetime with seven seconds. Last out, he was seventh in the Del Mar Handicap at 1 3/8 miles. There are two second favorites, at 7-2, with Maestro Dearte (Peter Eurton, Umberto Rispoli) and Border Town (Richard Mandella, Flavien Prat). Maestro Dearte is two-of-13 lifetime and has never raced higher than the allowance level. Border Town is two-of-nine lifetime and ran at a grade stakes level once, finishing sixth.

Here are the field sizes, in order: 9, 6, 8, 9 (2 also eligible), 8, 10 (2 ae), 10, 8, 13.

Golden Gate weekend preview

Here’s our weekly look at the best racing going on at Golden Gate Fields. 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.

“Friday’s main event is the eighth race. The morning-line favorite is Slam Dunk Sermon, coming off an easy win at this allowance condition three weeks ago. Foothill, who broke his maiden in a California-bred maiden special at Del Mar on the turf, draws the undesirable rail post in this six-furlong sprint but should be listed as a major player. Recent starter allowance winner Ready for a Fight, Pleasanton allowance winner Take Me for a Spin and class dropper Darnquick also figure to get bet in the field of nine.


“The last leg of the Stronach 5 wager is the third race on Friday, a maiden special weight for 2-year-old routers on the grass. Dyn O Mite exits a pair of poor efforts in Grade 1 races down south for trainer Keith Desormeaux and is well spotted for a maiden win. Three starts ago, he routed on grass for the first time and ran second behind American Pharoah (G1) second place finisher Rombauer. Mr. Pickles makes his second start routing on turf and could take a second forward with that angle in mind. He has plenty of turf and route pedigree, which is a positive, and last time out ran second behind a lone leader who was handed an easy lead and never stopped. These two horses are the two I selected to put on the XBTV “All Star Stronach 5 Ticket.”

“Our feature race on Saturday kicks off the late Pick 5 in the fifth race, a first-level allowance on the turf for 3-year-old fillies. Impressive maiden winner Scherzo is likely to get play after a 2 ½ length win against older filly and mare maidens to kick off her career in the United States. The Manny Badilla trainee was acquired in July after two races in Europe and has been well regarded since she arrived here in the states. Mylittlerunaway, the possible favorite, comes off a second-place finish against older allowance horses last month and put up some better than looked efforts at Del Mar over the summer. Malibu Jane makes her first start for Jonathan Wong, moving up north from Southern California, while Reiwa is the “other” Wong entrant. Stretch out sprinter Smokin Hot Bobbie and Rev Ree round out the field.

“Lastly, our marquee race on Sunday is the third, an allowance at a mile for 2-year-olds. California-bred filly I’m So Anna, coming off a second-place in the Generous Portion Stakes for trainer Steve Sherman on Aug. 30, faces the Simon Callaghan-trained Tacoflavoredkisses in what should be an interesting matchup. Tacoflavoredkisses was last out third in the I’m Smokin Stakes for California-breds at Del Mar. He broke his maiden at Del Mar two starts ago. The eighth also catches the eye: a mile and seven eighths (that’s right) marathon on turf.”

Frank Mirahmadi’s SA pick

SIXTH RACE: No. 9 Comradery (8-5)

Comradery has shown ability in his two U.S. starts, and last time it took an absolutely perfect trip (and ride) for odds-on favorite Lane Way to deny him at Del Mar. Despite his outside draw and the presence of a Bob Baffert runner who will get plenty of support, Santa Anita Park’s Jon White makes him a solid favorite on the morning line. He should loom large for the powerful combo of Hronis Racing, John Sadler and Umberto Rispoli.

Sunday’s result: Ekklesia ($17.80), the fourth choice in a field of five and highest-priced winner on the Santa Anita card, was prominent throughout, headed by the top two choices at the top of the stretch, then fought back gamely under strong handling by Juan Hernandez to prevail by a neck.

Frank Mirahmadi is the track announcer at Santa Anita Park.

Ciaran Thornton’s SA pick

SEVENTH RACE: No. 6 Leprino (8-1)

Leprino won last out under the first-time ride by Umberto Rispoli. Rispoli leaves to ride Hidden Promise who he won on last out as well. That is a John Sadler horse and Rispoli has been the regular rider Sadler so the jockey change is not a bad thing. In fact, it means we get a better price that we might have on this class raise. Friday, Tyler Baze hops on. Leprino has as much speed as the top choices as well as a great closing kick so this 8-1 morning line is a nice value for us.

Sunday’s result: Donut Girl drifted out to 60-1 and tracked in third into the turn. There was no catching the favorite who won but ‘Hoop outran those giant odds to surge late and run third paying $14.60. Make a note of this horse next time when running against lesser. Third at 60-1 on the class jump, that was an impressive result.


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

Los Alamitos is the only track in California racing at night. So, let’s turn things over to marketing and media guru Orlando Gutierrez, who will tell us about things going on at Los Alamitos. Orlando, the floor is yours.

“Zoomin For Spuds will look to earn a record tying fifth berth to the prestigious Champion of Champions when he joins a strong field of older horses in the 60th running of the Grade 1, $125,000 Robert Boniface Los Alamitos Invitational Championship on Sunday night. Nine starters are expected with the winner getting a provisional berth in the Dec. 12 Champion of Champions.

“Zoomin For Spuds won the Champion of Champions as a 3-year-old in 2016 and has been a part of the 440-yard classic every year since then. If he is able to earn a spot in the Champion of Champions, he would join the great Refrigerator, the event’s only three-time winner, and 2008 winner Jess You And I as the only horses to run five times.

“Zoomin For Spuds, an Idaho-bred gelding by Zoomin For Bux, is also tied for sixth place at Los Alamitos with 12 stakes wins. A 13th woulld tie him with Flight 109 for fifth-place all-time. Jose Nicasio will ride Zoomin For Spuds.

Ed Allred’s Chocolatito will also be part of this strong field and already has a berth to this year’s Champion of Champions after winning the Grade 1 Vessels Maturity on July 5. The Scott Willoughby-trainee also won the Kaweah Bar Handicap and was fourth in the Grade 1 Go Man Go Handicap in his most recent start on Aug. 31. For his career, he’s finished in the top two in 12-of-17 starts.

“The newest top runner in the older division at Los Alamitos is the Valentin Zamudio-trained Eagle Coast, who will make his local debut in the Los Alamitios Championship. He arrives after winning the 2019 Grade 1 Rainbow Derby at Ruidoso Downs and the 2018 Hobbs America Futurity at Zia Park. He won his only start this year at Sunland Park in February. Bail Czech, who has been in razor sharp form this year with a victory in the Spencer Childers Handicap and a runner-up effort in the Go Man Go, leads the rest of the field.


“The weekend starts on Friday night at 6 p.m. with the running of the $15,000 Whataway To Go Handicap for fillies and mares at 350 yards. Allred’s Grade 1 stakes placed mare Hot Little Kiddy will head the field while facing California Breeders Debutante Stakes winner All Prettied Up and five other good looking runners. In her previous start, Hot Little Kiddy finished third in the Grade 1 Mildred Vessels Memorial Handicap on Sept. 20 and before that she was second to Tequila Sangria in the Flight 109 Handicap on Aug. 9.

Keep an eye on Ashley Garcia’s All Prettied Up, who was an easy ¾ length winner in the Debutante and then ran a solid fourth when facing the boys in the Sgt Pepper Feature Handicap on Aug. 29. Suite Expectations is another solid filly always with stakes aspirations. The Apollitical Jess filly ran third in the $400,000 Los Alamitos Oaks this spring and two outings ago she was an impressive allowance winner here.

The Whataway To Go is named after the 1969 AQHA champion 2-year-old filly, who enjoyed an unbeaten seven-race campaign that year. Her nose win in the Kindergarten Futurity over Spencer Childers’ Nutter Brother is considered one of the most memorable quarter-horse races of that era.

“Looking back at last week’s stakes races, 14-1 longshot Jess A Little More won the Grade 2, $140,000 PCQHRA Breeders Derby for trainer Danny Montes and jockey Ruben Lozano, while Monopolist won the Grade 2, $375,000 PCQHRA Breeders Futurity to give trainer James Glenn, Jr. his richest ever stakes win. For young rider Oscar Andrade Jr. this was his first futurity victory at Los Alamitos.

“As for the 16th annual Los Alamitos Equine Sale, a pair of six-figure Favorite Cartel yearlings were the high seller at the two-day sale. Legacy Ranch purchased the filly Glass Ceiling for $110,000 on the first day of the sale. Allred bought Cleared To Fly also for $110,000 on day two of the sale. A total of 237 head sold for $5,153,800 with the average sale price for the 204 yearlings being $21,474.”

Chris Wade’s Friday LA pick

FOURTH RACE: No. 5 Racing N Lace (5-1)

She has shown ability in both of her much-troubled efforts while facing winners in her two most recent starts after breaking her maiden 82 nights ago. In her most recent outing, the filly broke slowly and outward at the start to bump a rival several times. Racing N Lace lost over a length of ground as a result, but the runner kept on trying despite racing in close quarters late. The filly showed quickness in her career debut so I will give her a good look while hoping that she can benefit from a clean journey.

A final thought

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

Santa Anita Entries for Friday, October 9.

Santa Anita, Santa Anita Park, Arcadia, California. 9th day of a 18-day meet.


1 Mile Turf. Purse: $55,000. Maiden Special Weight. 3 year olds and up. State bred.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Mamba CoolAbel Cedillo120Philip D'Amato6-1
2River NorthAlexis Centeno113Jeffrey Metz20-1
3ChipperFlavien Prat120Mark Glatt4-1
4With Due CauseTyler Baze120Mike Harrington8-1
5LuvluvUmberto Rispoli120John W. Sadler8-5
6Carmelita's ManJuan Hernandez120Dean Pederson2-1
7Trevor TJose Valdivia, Jr.124Patrick Gallagher20-1
8Gee Gee WhizJ.C. Diaz, Jr.120Michael S. Wilson50-1
9Ultimate MysteryRuben Fuentes124Vann Belvoir30-1


1 Mile. Purse: $22,000. Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $12,500.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1ImpressionTiago Pereira122Peter Miller6-512,500
2Pubilius SyrusJuan Hernandez122Vladimir Cerin4-112,500
3Vodka TwistAbel Cedillo120Steve Knapp8-112,500
4Autumn DayTyler Baze122Ryan Hanson6-1
5Bitter Ring HomeGeovanni Franco122Cesar DeAlba10-112,500
6Blame It On KittyFlavien Prat122Doug F. O'Neill5-212,500


6 Furlongs. Purse: $20,000. Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $10,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Bounty of GoldAlexis Centeno117Jonathan Wong5-210,000
2Stormin RangerEdwin Maldonado124Adam Kitchingman5-110,000
3Give Me a HintJessica Pyfer112Peter Miller4-110,000
4Sybil's KittyRicardo Gonzalez122Richard Baltas6-110,000
5SenoradiabloTiago Pereira122Manuel Ortiz, Sr.20-110,000
6Just GraceAbel Cedillo122Robert B. Hess, Jr.5-110,000
7Takes a VillageGeovanni Franco118Reed Saldana5-110,000
8Mama's KidAssael Espinoza122Sal Gonzalez6-110,000


1 Mile Turf. Purse: $55,000. Maiden Special Weight. Fillies. 2 year olds. State bred.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Sideways SuancesTyler Baze122Jeff Mullins12-1
2Warrens Candy GirlDrayden Van Dyke122Craig Anthony Lewis7-2
3Renegade PrincessEdwin Maldonado122Peter Eurton20-1
4Miss Ever ReadyUmberto Rispoli122Brian J. Koriner3-1
5SteinwayTiago Pereira122Jose Hernandez, Jr.20-1
6After MidnightJuan Hernandez122Carla Gaines6-1
7Big StretchAbel Cedillo122Philip D'Amato6-1
8St HelenaMario Gutierrez122Mike Puype10-1
9Big AndyFlavien Prat122Blake R. Heap5-2
Also Eligible
10Stars of BluegrassDrayden Van Dyke122Andrew Lerner10-1
11Princess SadieFlavien Prat122Doug F. O'Neill8-1


6 Furlongs. Purse: $57,000. Allowance Optional Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $20,000. State bred.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Rinse and RepeatTiago Pereira124Lorenzo Ruiz10-120,000
2Preaching TrainerJuan Hernandez124Carla Gaines4-1
3AgamemnonTyler Baze118Ronald L. McAnally12-1
4Quick FinishUmberto Rispoli124Dan Blacker3-1
5Handsome CatJose Valdivia, Jr.120Steven Miyadi10-1
6FratelliFlavien Prat122Andrew Lerner5-2
7Principe CarloEdwin Maldonado124J. Keith Desormeaux5-120,000
8Offshore AffairVictor Espinoza124Carla Gaines6-1


1 1/8 Mile Turf. Purse: $55,000. Maiden Special Weight. 3 year olds and up.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1OculusHeriberto Figueroa120Anthony K. Saavedra30-1
2War PathAbel Cedillo120Bob Baffert5-2
3Temple SecretRicardo Gonzalez124Neil D. Drysdale15-1
4My IndyTiago Pereira124Samuel Nichols15-1
5JurorTyler Baze120Sal Gonzalez12-1
6Frasard Flavien Prat120Leonard Powell4-1
7K P D DayVictor Espinoza120Alfredo P. Marquez10-1
8Huge BiglyJuan Hernandez120Mark Glatt8-1
9Comradery Umberto Rispoli120John W. Sadler8-5
Also Eligible
10A. P. PharoahJuan Hernandez120Peter Miller5-1
11Silent MusketierTiago Pereira124Samuel Nichols15-1


6 Furlongs. Purse: $38,000. Claiming. 3 year olds. Claiming Price $40,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Hidden PromiseUmberto Rispoli124John W. Sadler3-140,000
2Self TaughtTiago Pereira122Steve Knapp12-140,000
3Promise NothingJessica Pyfer112Rafael Becerra6-140,000
4Annie's BoyEdwin Maldonado122Jose Hernandez, Jr.12-140,000
5TizhotndustyDrayden Van Dyke122J. Eric Kruljac6-140,000
6LeprinoTyler Baze122Reed Saldana8-140,000
7Drippin SauceFlavien Prat122Jonathan Wong5-240,000
8HowbeitAbel Cedillo122Doug F. O'Neill5-140,000
9Go TimeAlexis Centeno115Jorge Periban15-140,000
10Shootin MoneyGeovanni Franco122Philip A. Oviedo30-140,000


1 1/8 Mile Turf. Purse: $59,000. Allowance Optional Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $62,500.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Kazan Tyler Baze122Javier Jose Sierra12-1
2ZestfulEdwin Maldonado124Mark Glatt4-162,500
3Maestro DearteUmberto Rispoli122Peter Eurton7-262,500
4North County GuyMario Gutierrez122Richard Baltas3-1
5Border TownFlavien Prat122Richard E. Mandella7-2
6Untamed DomainTiago Pereira122John W. Sadler8-1
7Musawaat Juan Hernandez122Mike Puype12-1
8Marckie's WaterAbel Cedillo124Peter Eurton6-162,500


6½ Furlongs. Purse: $22,000. Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $16,000-$14,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Baby GronkJorge Velez124Jeffrey Metz15-116,000
2Big CheddarMario Gutierrez124Antonio Garcia20-116,000
3Surfside SunsetAssael Espinoza122Dean Greenman30-114,000
4Indy JonesJessica Pyfer112Val Brinkerhoff10-114,000
5Next FlightRicardo Gonzalez120Steven Miyadi12-116,000
6BedrockEdwin Maldonado120Jeff Bonde12-116,000
7NesbittAlexis Centeno115Art Sherman5-114,000
8King ParkerFlavien Prat122Craig Anthony Lewis4-114,000
9Etterbay UcklayJose Valdivia, Jr.124Ronald W. Ellis6-116,000
10SorrisoAbel Cedillo124Mark Glatt8-116,000
11NietzscheRuben Fuentes120Vann Belvoir30-116,000
12You'reright AgainHeriberto Figueroa120Lloyd C. Wicker15-116,000
13ConvexUmberto Rispoli120Michael W. McCarthy3-116,000