Horse racing newsletter: Del Mar starts its fall meeting

Del Mar Fairgrounds
(San Diego Union Tribune)

Hello, my name is John Cherwa and welcome back to our horse racing newsletter, as we get through the weekend before the Breeders’ Cup. In other words, nothing to see here, move along.

Del Mar finishes its race year with a 15-day race meeting that goes until the end of November. Racing will be Friday, Saturday and Sunday except for this week and Thanksgiving week, when a Thursday card is added. The track will have a more sensible 12:30 p.m. start (except Thanksgiving), so racing the sunset most days shouldn’t be as big of a problem. Although, remember to “fall back” on Sunday as we go back to standard time, which is less of the year than daylight saving time. Shouldn’t standard time be longer than saving time?

Anyway, here are the graded stakes:

Nov. 15 — Grade 3 $100,000 Bob Hope Stakes, 2-year-olds, 7 furlongs.

Nov. 21 — Grade 3 $100,000 Native Diver Stakes, 3 and up, 1 1/8 miles.

Nov. 26 — Grade 3 $100,000 Handicap, 3 and up, 1 3/8 miles on turf.

Nov. 27 — Grade 2 $200,000 Hollywood Turf Cup, 3 and up, 1 ½ miles on turf.

Nov. 28 — Grade 1 $300,000 Hollywood Derby, 3-year-olds, 1 1/8 miles on turf.

Nov. 28 — Grade 2 $200,000 Sea Biscuit Handicap, 3 and up, 1 1/16 miles on turf.

Nov. 28 — Grade 3 $100,000 Jimmy Durante Stakes, fillies 2-years-old, 1 mile on turf.

Nov. 29 — Grade 1 $300,000 Matriarch Stakes, fillies and mares 3 and up, 1 mile on turf.

Nov. 29 — Grade 3 $100,000 Cecille B. DeMille Stakes, 2-year-olds, 1 mile on turf.

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Justify, Hoppertunity hearings

On Thursday, the California Horse Racing Board held concurrent hearings for the possible disqualifications of Justify in the 2018 Santa Anita Derby and Hoppertunity in the Tokyo City Cup at Santa Anita. It was available to watch on a web feed provided by the CHRB. The hearing was part of a settlement of a lawsuit against the CHRB brought by Mick Ruis, owner and trainer of second place finisher Bolt d’Oro in the Santa Anita Derby.

What’s at stake is purse money and for Justify losing the distinction of being the only Triple Crown winner to retire undefeated. Trainer Bob Baffert wasn’t charged as it was clear that the drug positives were the result of contamination in the feed with jimson weed, which contains the prohibited scopolamine.


My takeaway of the 4-hour-plus hearing (admittedly, I drifted in and out of it) was that there was nothing new. Dr. Rick Arthur, equine medical director of the CHRB, strongly defended the decision that no action should have been taken. The attorney for the CHRB seemed intent on protecting the secrecy of the closed-door meeting held by the board a couple years ago. In this self-proclaimed era of transparency, the CHRB attorneys continue to try to protect communications by the board and CHRB employees. (Yes, this not a new topic for the newsletter.)

So, what’s going to happen? I don’t know. But here seems to be what the stewards’ decision will hinge on. Should mitigating circumstances, in which a trainer had no control, overrule the fact that a rule is a rule and the horse tested positive?

I’m predicting a majority decision, not unanimous. The winner? Got a coin to flip?

Del Mar preview

Opening day of the fall meet at Del Mar with a 12:30 p.m. post and nine races. Five of the races are on the turf. There is a lower-level stakes as the feature, the $75,000 Kathryn Crosby Stakes for fillies and mares going a mile on the turf. Cordiality is the 7-2 favorite for trainer Tim Yakteen and jockey Drayden Van Dyke. She’s coming off a win in the Swingtime Stakes and Santa Anita under the same conditions. This 7-year-old mare has won 12 of her 33 lifetime races and is two of four this year. The second favorite, at 4-1, is Colonial Creed for Richard Baltas and Mario Gutierrez. She has never won on the stakes level and was third in the Swingtime. Gutierrez is taking over the ride from Flavien Prat, who’s to ride Proud Emma at 8-1. Colonial Creed has won three-of-12 lifetime.

Here are the field sizes, in order: 7, 6, 7,6, 8, 10, 8, 7, 10.

Bob Ike’s DMr pick of the day

SEVENTH RACE: No. 2 Never Be Enough (5-1)

Win type from the Manuel Badilla stable returns from Golden Gate after two more synthetic wins to try the Del Mar turf course again. Back in July going 1 3/8 miles on grass, ‘Enough made an early move and paid the price late while going a distance that is likely too far for her. She loves the mile distance and should get a great trip sitting behind an abundance of early speed while drawn well inside. Good gamble in a very competitive race from top to bottom.

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

Ciaran Thornton’s DMr pick of the day

SIXTH RACE: No. 9 Cozy Bear (8-1)

Cozy Bear has Umberto Rispoli riding for the first time Saturday, a profitable betting strategy since Rispoli arrived in the U.S. in December from Italy. ‘Cozy ran a closing second in the last race and on the gallop out past the finish line passed the run away, geared down, winner. In that race, at 6 ½ furlongs, the odds-on winner Wedding Groom was never going to get beaten. ‘Cozy, however, came from far back to pass four horses to run second. Wedding Groom was ridden by Rispoli that day and is entered in race eight Saturday with odds of 6-1. I am also betting that horse as well. Cozy Bear’s trainer Ryan Hanson has won three of his six races in the last two weeks. The 8-1 morning line is a very nice value for us today.

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


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.

“A mix of Northern California locals and Southern California invaders makes for an interesting edition of the Pike Place Dancer Stakes on Saturday afternoon at Golden Gate Fields. The Pike Place Dancer, the first of 10 stakes at the current meet, is a one-mile turf event for 2-year-old fillies.

“The two headliners: Southern California-trained Consternation and local filly I’m So Anna. Consternation, purchased out of her career debut in Ireland, comes off a seventh-place finish in the Surfer Girl Stakes at Santa Anita. Two starts ago, Consternation broke her maiden at Santa Anita. Julien Couton rides for trainer Paddy Gallagher. I’m So Anna, a California-bred trained by Steve Sherman, showed she could be effective going a route on Oct. 11, when she stalked the pace before losing by a half-length to stakes placed colt Tacoflavoredkisses.

“Other in the Pike Place Dancer: Southern California maiden Sweetest Angel, the Jonathan Wong-trained Mischief Free, five-length maiden winner Risen Lady for trainer Michael McCarthy and three others.

“On Sunday, the feature is the $75,000 El Dorado Shooter Stakes for California-bred or -sired 3-year-olds and upward. The morning-line favorite, 8-5 shot Baja Sur, won the Oakland Stakes last year and earned a triple-digit Beyer speed figure. Trained by Blaine Wright, Baja Sur was last seen running fourth in the California Flag Handicap at Santa Anita. That said, he stumbled badly at the start, losing all chance, and was still able to finish the race with good energy.

“The 2-1 second morning-line choice, No Longer Silent, raised eyebrows and dropped jaws in his last start on Sept. 26 when breaking the track record sprinting 5 1/2 furlongs, stopping the clock in 1:01.93 seconds while earning a career-high 93 Beyer.

“Multiple 2-year-old stakes winner Bettor Trip Nick makes his first start off a layoff and moves to the barn of trainer Quinn Howey in the El Dorado Shooter. Shipper Ultimate Bango, conditioned by Mark Glatt, finished second behind Galilean in the California Flag. Local veteran Frank Alvarado picks up the mount. Square Deal, a sharp starter allowance winner from the Steve Specht stable, rounds out the group. The 2019 I’m Smokin Stakes winner comes off a six-furlong victory in which he earned a career best Beyer (87).”

Big races preview

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

11:34 Mahoning Valley (6): $100,000 Juvenile Stakes, Ohio-bred 2-year-olds, 1 1/16 miles. Favorite: Uptown (9-5)

12:02 Mahoning Valley (7): $100,000 John W. Galbreath Stakes, Ohio-bred fillies 2-years-old, 1 1/16 miles. Favorite: Alexandria (6-5)

12:10 Woodbine (5): $126,800 maiden special weight, fillies 2-years-old, 1 mile on turf. Favorite: Mrs Frankel (2-1)

12:30 Mahoning Valley (8): $100,000 Best of Ohio Sprint Stakes, Ohio-breds 3 and up, 6 furlongs. Favorite: Altissimo (5-2)

12:58 Mahoning Valley (9): $100,000 Best of Ohio Distaff Stakes, Ohio-bred fillies and mares 3 and up, 1 1/8 miles. Favorite: Moonlit Mission (9-5)

1:26 Mahoning Valley (10): $100,000 Best of Ohio Endurance Stakes, Ohio-breds 3 and up, 1 ¼ miles. Favorite: Forewarned (8-5)

1:44 Woodbine (8): $100,000 Overskate Stakes, Can-bred 3 and up, 7 ½ furlongs on turf. Favorite: Not So Quiet (9-5)

1:57 Belmont (9): Grade 3 $100,000 Bold Ruler Handicap, 3 and up, 7 furlongs. Favorite: Phat Man (2-1)

2:15 Woodbine (9): $250,000 Princess Elizabeth Stakes, Can-bred fillies, 2-years-old, 1 1/16 miles. Favorite: Dreaming of Drew (7-5)

3:20 Woodbine (11): $101,200 allowance, fillies and mares 3 and up, 5 furlongs on turf. Favorite: Ishiyaya (3-1)

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.

“The $20,000 Trick Or Treat Handicap at 870 yards will highlight the Saturday night card. There are eight races with a 6 p.m. post. The Trick Or Treat is the eighth and final race and is led by Ballast Point, who has been the dominant quarter horse at 870 yards the past two years. Earlier this year, Ballast Point posted the fastest time at 870 yards seen at Los Alamitos since 2006. Ballast Point has tried straightaway stakes but he excels at 870 yards. He is the 4-5 morning-line favorite. Also, worth watching is Coronas Big Flash, who is in the fifth race allowance at 330 yards, making his first start since finishing fourth in the Grade 1 Ed Burke Million Futurity on June 21.

“The second of the meet’s four races with million-dollar purses will be Sunday night when a terrific lineup of 10 juveniles in the $1,104,550 Golden State Million Futurity at 400 yards. First post for the eight-race program is 5:15 p.m. with the Golden State Million scheduled for 8:31 p.m.

“The purse for the Golden State Million is the most since 2012 and the seventh richest in the 51-year history of the race. Los Alamitos’ other million-dollar races are the Ed Burke Million (mid-June), next Sunday’s $1,052,350 Los Alamitos Super Derby and the Dec. 13 Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity, California’s richest horse race of any breed in 2020.

“Favorite Doc is the 7-5 morning line favorite after his spectacular 3½-length victory in the Golden State trials on Oct. 18. The $102,000 purchase at the Los Alamitos Equine Sale flew out of the gate from post number five and had a two-length lead after the first 150 yards. He continued to open up and crossed the wire in :19.46 - 14/100ths of a second faster than the next fastest time, which was :19.60 posted by Apollitical Patty. Can the gelding repeat such an impressive effort? That will be the big question heading into the Golden State Million final. Jose Nicasio will pilot the half-brother of 2019 AQHA World Champion He Looks Hot from post number five. Monty Arrossa will saddle the Ed Allred-bred Favorite Doc.

“Arrossa also trains Apollitical Patty, who won her trial by a length over a field that included two other Golden State finalists in Counting The Ways and Aint She Tempting. The Apollitical Blood filly has won four of her five career starts with her only setback being a second-place finish in the Los Alamitos Juvenile final. “We later found out she had a kidney infection,” Arrossa said.

“Half of the Golden State field made their Los Alamitos debuts in the Golden State Million trials, including three from trainer Eddie Willis. Two of those — Apollitical Gold and HR Princess Jess — won their respective Golden State trials after running in the 440-yard Grade 1 All American Futurity at Ruidoso Downs. Apollitical Gold finished third to the undefeated filly Whistle Stop Cafe in the All American final. The gelding by Apollitical Jess has hit the board in all six of his career starts. Justine Klaiber, who is enjoying the best year of her five-year career with 68 quarter horse wins and nearly $1 million in earnings, will ride Apollitical Gold from post seven. She is looking to become the first woman jockey to win the Golden State Million.”

Chris Wade’s LA pick of the day

FOURHT RACE: No. 7 Hangar 24 (7-2)

This talented sophomore goes to new connections who do well with runners of this ilk and the gelding draws the perfect outside post for his style of racing Saturday. He’s also posted many competitive figures when you factor in trouble during his race and the track variant. I expect Hangar 24 will have a better getaway Saturday from the outside post, so I believe he’ll break with the field and be a contender for all the board placing at a medium mutuel.

A final thought

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

Del Mar Entries for Saturday, October 31.

Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, Del Mar, California. $2 Win, Place and Show; $1 Exacta, $2 Quinella, 50-cent Trifecta, $2 Rolling Double, 50-cent rolling Pick 3; 10-cent Superfecta; 50-cent Pick 4 last 4 races; 50-cent Players Pick 5 first 5 races; 50-cent Pick 6 last 6 races; $1 Place Pick All; $1 Super High Five last race. Trifecta needs 4 betting interests; Superfecta needs 6. 1st day of a 15-day meet.


1 1/16 Mile Turf. Purse: $35,000. Starter Optional Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $50,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Mr Right NowAlexis Centeno113Ryan Bratcher12-1
2InvictatatusUmberto Rispoli124Alfredo P. Marquez4-1
3Armour PlateFlavien Prat122Peter Miller5-2
4AlvaaroAbel Cedillo122Robert B. Hess, Jr.4-1
5Carmelita's ManJuan Hernandez122Dean Pederson7-2
6Hoop DreamEdwin Maldonado122David Bernstein7-2
7Jack SproutTiago Pereira120Luis Mendez10-1


1 Mile. Purse: $20,000. Maiden Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $20,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1GambiniJessica Pyfer112Jeff Mullins3-120,000
2Derby WarEswan Flores122Ruben Gomez20-120,000
3Time to TestifyAlexis Centeno115Doug F. O'Neill2-120,000
4Afleeting LifeJose Valdivia, Jr.124Joshua M. Litt5-220,000
5Malibu PrinceRicardo Gonzalez122Richard Baltas5-120,000
6Mongol AltaiEdwin Maldonado122Enebish Ganbat7-220,000


1 Mile Turf. Purse: $57,000. Maiden Special Weight. 3 year olds and up. State bred.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Square RootMario Gutierrez122Doug F. O'Neill10-1
2One Fast BroTiago Pereira122Shelbe Ruis3-1
3Trevor TUmberto Rispoli124Patrick Gallagher2-1
4Cool Your JetsJuan Hernandez124Shelbe Ruis5-1
5LuvluvFlavien Prat122John W. Sadler4-1
6Ultimate MysteryTyler Baze124Vann Belvoir20-1
7Mamba CoolAbel Cedillo122Philip D'Amato4-1


6 Furlongs. Purse: $36,000. Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $32,000-$28,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Sweet River BainesTiago Pereira120Tim McCanna4-132,000
2Tobacco RoadAlexis Centeno113Paul G. Aguirre8-132,000
3Captain ScottyAbel Cedillo118Peter Miller7-228,000
4WhatwasithinkingEdwin Maldonado120Steve Knapp6-132,000
5LioniteFlavien Prat120Tim Yakteen5-232,000
6Horse GreedyJuan Hernandez120John W. Sadler2-132,000


1 Mile Turf. Purse: $59,000. Allowance Optional Claiming. Fillies. 3 year olds. Claiming Price $80,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Annangel Juan Hernandez120Richard Baltas5-1
2BeguiledFlavien Prat120Philip D'Amato4-1
3Lady NoguezVictor Espinoza120Vladimir Cerin6-180,000
4Go Big Blue NationTiago Pereira120Michael W. McCarthy15-180,000
5Over AttractedUmberto Rispoli120John W. Sadler3-1
6FroseMario Gutierrez120George Papaprodromou8-1
7Avenue de France Drayden Van Dyke120Leonard Powell7-280,000
8Loud Loud MusicAbel Cedillo120Steven Miyadi6-180,000


5½ Furlongs. Purse: $31,000. Maiden Claiming. 2 year olds. Claiming Price $50,000. State bred.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1CridgeRicardo Gonzalez122Art Sherman15-150,000
2Shimmer Me TimbersAbel Cedillo122Andrew Lerner6-150,000
3From the Get GoAlexis Centeno115Luis Mendez3-150,000
4Runaway WywyEswan Flores122Edwin Alvarez20-150,000
5PaisanoJuan Hernandez122Robert B. Hess, Jr.10-150,000
6Broken FingerJ.C. Diaz, Jr.122Rafael DeLeon8-150,000
7IntenseTyler Baze122Walther Solis4-150,000
8Gates of HeavenAssael Espinoza122Shelbe Ruis5-250,000
9Cozy BearUmberto Rispoli122Ryan Hanson8-150,000
10TheluteismineFlavien Prat122Peter Miller7-250,000
11CojoEdwin Maldonado122Jeff Bonde10-150,000
12Detective BernardoTiago Pereira122Edwin Alvarez20-150,000
Also Eligible
13Chief JacksonAaron Gryder122Jeff Bonde12-150,000


1 Mile Turf. Purse: $75,000. 'Kathryn Crosby Stakes'. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Ellie ArrowayVictor Espinoza121John W. Sadler8-1
2Never Be Enough Tiago Pereira121Manuel Badilla5-1
3Proud EmmaFlavien Prat121Peter Miller8-1
4She's Our CharmJuan Hernandez121Ronald L. McAnally5-1
5Muchly Umberto Rispoli121Simon Callaghan5-1
6CordialityDrayden Van Dyke123Tim Yakteen7-2
7QahiraAbel Cedillo121Bob Baffert5-1
8Colonial CreedMario Gutierrez121Richard Baltas4-1


5½ Furlongs. Purse: $35,000. Starter Optional Claiming. 2 year olds. Claiming Price $50,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Mister BoldMike Smith123Jeff Bonde7-2
2Uncle BoogieAbel Cedillo123Andrew Lerner2-1
3Wedding GroomUmberto Rispoli123Sal Gonzalez6-1
4Swift as I AmFlavien Prat120John W. Sadler3-1
5Pappy BoyingtonTyler Baze120Steven Miyadi5-150,000
6C'Mon JennaJuan Hernandez120Robert B. Hess, Jr.8-1
7Lucky RocketEswan Flores123Kenneth D. Black12-150,000


1 Mile Turf. Purse: $57,000. Maiden Special Weight. 2 year olds.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1The Great OneAbel Cedillo120Doug F. O'Neill4-1
2Ivory SkyAlexis Centeno113Ruben Gomez30-1
3PetruchioFlavien Prat120Richard E. Mandella9-5
4Mount PelliarRicardo Gonzalez120Ryan Hanson8-1
5DrivehappyAaron Gryder120Jeff Bonde12-1
6AirmanDrayden Van Dyke120John A. Shirreffs8-1
7K P Aim HighTyler Baze120Jeff Mullins8-1
8CapperTiago Pereira120Peter Eurton20-1
9HeliochromeJuan Hernandez120Jeff Bonde4-1
10El JoyJ.C. Diaz, Jr.120Eoin G. Harty30-1
11Got CurlyMario Gutierrez120Philip A. Oviedo12-1
12Du JourMike Smith120Bob Baffert6-1
Also Eligible
13OncomingUmberto Rispoli120David E. Hofmans5-1
14BoluVictor Espinoza120J. Keith Desormeaux12-1