Horse racing newsletter: Day One of the Breeders’ Cup

Horses take off from the starting gate at Del Mar.
(Hayne Palmour IV / San Diego Union-Tribune)

Hello, my name is John Cherwa and welcome back to our horse racing newsletter as we look to the two best days of racing all year.

The Breeders’ Cup is upon us. Friday is nothing but 2-year-old races, headlined by the Juvenile and Juvenile Fillies. There are also three turf races for 2-year-olds. I advanced the Juvenile and what you may need to know. Just click here.

The biggest races remain on Saturday, so let’s look at what tidbits the Breeders’ Cup notes team have found. These are edited and not all horses are included.

Authentic, Improbable, Maximum Security. Trainer Bob Baffert said he was enthusiastic about all six of the horses he brought to the Breeders’ Cup. “The Classic horses are three pretty powerful horses,” Baffert said. “We’ve got a Derby winner, a 3-year-old champion and Improbable has won his last [three] races in great fashion. I’ve never been this strong before in the Classic. Usually, I’d be happy to have just one of those in the Classic. To have three is pretty amazing.”

All three of Baffert’s Classic horses have different running styles.


“Authentic, … he’s fast,” Baffert said. “Max is fast, but you can put him where you want. And Improbable has speed himself, but he can sit, he can stalk. What they all have in common is they are extremely talented horses. You hate to run all three of them together like that, but for the Breeders’ Cup Classic everything is on the line. Championship honors are on the line with horses like Tiz the Law in there. I’ve been watching Tiz the Law and he looks great. It’s going to be a great race with those four horses in there.”

By My Standards. Trained by Bret Calhoun, By My Standards is owned by Chester Thomas’ Allied Racing Stable. “Chester has put some very good horses in my barn to begin with and I’m very thankful for that,” Calhoun said. “It would mean a lot to win the Classic for him. The key has been he’s willing to let us do what we need to do to be successful. We run when we need to run and rest when we need to rest. He allows us to campaign them like we need to in order to keep them at the top level. Guys like him you want to see rewarded. He’s also a guy who continues to reinvest in the business, so whatever happens, he’s going to put it back into the game.”

Global Campaign. The Stanley Hough-trained 4-year-old son of Curlin, who has won six of nine starts during a career frequently interrupted by foot issues, enters the Classic off back-to-back graded-stakes victories in the Monmouth Cup and the Woodward at Saratoga. Hunter Rankin, president of Sagamore Farm LLC, credits Hough and his staff for Global Campaign’s ability to overcome his chronic foot issues and make it into the Classic field.

“Global Campaign’s obviously special to us,” Rankin said. “The reason he got through those issues is because of our team, Stan and assistant trainer Laz [Cruz]. They’ve gotten him where he is today. He’s the best he’s been since I’ve been around him.”

Rankin said Global Campaign is likely to begin his stallion career next year at WinStar Farm.

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Higher Power. Hronis Racing’s Higher Power visited the starting gate and galloped on the main track at 8 a.m. with assistant trainer Juan Leyva aboard for trainer John Sadler.

Saturday’s start in the Classic will be the second for Higher Power, who run for Hronis Racing and John Sadler. He is scheduled to join the stallion roster at nearby Darby Dan Farm in February. He finished third last year behind Vino Rosso at Santa Anita.

“He didn’t break that well last year in the Classic,” Sadler said. “He needs to do that and get a good trip, something he hasn’t had a lot this year. … There is no question the field this year is deeper than last year. And, you don’t know how strong the 3-year-olds (Authentic and Tiz the Law) are.”

Tacitus. Jockey Jose Ortiz, who has been aboard the four-time winner in 11 of 14 runs, has the return call in the $6 million feature. “He’s a big horse who pretty much has one pace,” Ortiz said. “He doesn’t have a quick turn of foot. He will accelerate for 100 yards and then keep that same pace. He can be tricky because he sometimes shies away from other horses when they come to him. He’s a little funny mentally, but he has a lot of talent. Fortunately, he has a great trainer (Bill Mott) in his corner and I think he is going to run a big race.

“I think he’ll sit mid-pack. The rail is no problem. I could be forward, but he will likely sit mid-pack and try to make one run. There should be a fast pace this time and I think he will run his race. [Horses sired by Tapit] get better with age and racing, so hopefully he runs his best.”

Tiz the Law. “Obviously, it’s been a strange year,” said Jack Knowlton, Sackatoga’s operating manager. “We’ve had a great year. There is a little disappointment with the Derby, but everything before that was perfect. Hopefully, we can cap it off with a big race here.”


Ce Ce. Trained by Michael McCarthy, Ce Ce started 2020 with three consecutive victories including Grade 1 scores in the Beholder Mile at Santa Anita and the Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park. Since then, she has two thirds followed by a fourth sprinting in the Derby City Distaff at Churchill Downs in her most recent start. “It is not her fault,” McCarthy said. “She has had some excuses and there were some errors in judgment on my part. She is doing as well as she ever has.”

Dunbar Road. “She didn’t break that well last time [when third in the Beldame],” jockey Jose Ortiz said. “I think the last race looks kind of bad, but it was also a really heavy track. … I know it’s a tough race with these two fillies (Swiss Skydiver and Monomoy Girl), but she’s a very honest filly. Hopefully she he can get a good position and make her run.”

Harvest Moon. “She is a late maturing filly and she had little niggling issues as a 2-year-old,” said trainer Simon Callaghan. “The whole family is like that. I raced her dam (Qaraaba) and she was a grass filly who won a stake for me at age 5 after racing in Europe. She only ran for me twice before she got hurt, but she is by Shamardal and (his offspring) could go on dirt.” Flavien Prat will ride.

Horologist. “Even though we have been training her and run her a few times, it looks like she’s become a little stouter and a little stronger,” trainer Bill Mott said. “She was coming off an effort in California where she was eased the time before, so anything would have been an improvement, but each race, from running big at Monmouth and not as well in the La Troienne to a really big race last time, she’s become stronger.”

Monomoy Girl. “She’s good, really good,” trainer Brad Cox said. “She’s as good as she’s ever been honestly. It’s scary to see how well she’s moving, how happy she is and how fresh she is. She really likes Keeneland. She spent a lot of time here as a 2-year-old and obviously won the Ashland here and prepared for the Ashland here. She was here for a few weeks before the race then. And, she spent a good time here this spring. Most of her works before getting back to races were here at Keeneland. She does love it here, there’s no doubt about it.”

Ollie’s Candy. “She had been running on turf when we got her but she had won on the all-weather [at Golden Gate] and the Summertime Oaks on dirt at Santa Anita,” trainer John Sadler said. “I have trained many Candy Rides and I know they are good on a variety of surfaces. We took her down to Del Mar [after her two grass starts] and she trained so well on the dirt we made the decision to run her on it.”

Point of Honor. “We need a good trip,” trainer George Weaver said. “We need things to happen, but I don’t think it’s that far-fetched. She was in a big field in the Apple Blossom. There were some very good mares in there, several Grade 1 winners. With a little more luck, she could have won that. She needs a little luck. She needs the right trip.”

Swiss Skydiver. “She’s doing extremely well,” jockey Robby Albarado said. “I want to say she’s doing as good if not better than she was at Pimlico [for the Preakness]. She’s moving really well. She’s very confident. She’s so smart about everything. She knows where she’s at and what she has to do. … I love my draw. I love being where I’m at. We have to beat them all. If they weren’t good, they wouldn’t be in the race, but I guess the main threat is Monomoy Girl on the outside. I just want to get away clean and get through the first turn to see where we’re at. Hopefully, I can get her tucked in the same as in the Preakness and tick off the 12s like she likes to do. Every eighth of mile, she’ll go in 12 (seconds) and comes home as fast as you want her.”

Valiance. “Before she raced, we had high hopes for her based on her pedigree,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “Then she won her first start and won a stakes in her third start. You don’t very often see a horse that can step up in class in their first three starts. We liked her a lot before that, but that really stamped her quality. She has filled out and gotten stronger and that has allowed her to get better on the dirt this year as opposed to being primarily a turf filly.”

TV Reminder

The Breeders’ Cup is on the baby NBC network, NBCSN, from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., L.A. time. Somehow, I think if it were on the big-boy NBC it might get pre-empted by election coverage, if the presidency isn’t settled by then.

Del Mar Preview

While the racing world is looking to Kentucky, Del Maris poised to get its share of the simulcast revenue. Oh, yeah, and run some races, too. On Friday there are eight races starting at 12:30 p.m. Half the races are on the turf. The feature is the $150,000 Golden State Juvenile Fillies Stakes, which pretty much tells you everything you need to know about the conditions except the distance. It’s seven furlongs.

Governor Goteven is the favorite at 9-5 for trainer Walther Solis and jockey Tiago Pereira. She has won two of her three races going up in distance each time from 4 ½ to 5 ½ to 6 furlongs. The second choice, at 4-1, is Eddie’s New Dream for Ben Cecil and Mario Gutierrez. She has raced twice, winning her last race by 4 ¾ in a maiden. Post is around 4:02 p.m.

Here are the post sizes, in order: 7, 7, 8, 8, 8, 10, 9, 10.

Bob Ike’s DMr pick of the day

SIXTH RACE: No. 1 Cherry City (4-1)

Sophomore filly from the Mark Glatt stable had trouble last time and didn’t get to show her best. After bobbling at the start, ‘City was forced to steady on the backstretch to lose position, raced mid-pack from the outside, continued wide on the turn and faded through the stretch when facing better. She drops in for a tag, adds blinkers and should fully utilize her early speed from the rail post.

Sunday’s result: Popular Kid ($28.00) raced mid-pack early from outside, moved well four-wide on turn, kept coming to the wire and got a great head bob to win by an inch under Tyler Baze. Great photo to win for a nice opening weekend.

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 SA pick

SEVENTH RACE: No. 5 Love Wins (12-1)

Love Wins has a 12-1 morning-line price for trainer Luis Mendez. Red-hot jockey Abel Cedillo, fresh off a big weekend with six victories, five on Sunday, is riding. This is the first start for ‘Love since the heavily bet debut win in May. Mendez is winning 29% in non-graded stakes races and has won 40% of his races when his horse was a maiden winner last out. Some sharp workouts add to the appeal for today.

Sunday’s result: Happy Happy Happy broke nicely from the three post and ducked inside. Unfortunately, shortly after the start Happy was pulled badly and Happy became not Happy and that was it. An outside post and a different jockey and I may bet this horse again next out. Trainer Don Schelle was likely unhappy after that race.

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.

“We’ll start with an important note: first post Friday and Saturday is 1:15 p.m. It goes back to 12:45 p.m. on Sunday.

“Saturday’s feature race is the marquee event of the week: The Joseph T. Grace Stake at 1 1/16 miles on the turf for 3-year-olds and upward. It’s a field of nine with Camino Del Paraiso, coming off a victory in the Rolling Green Stakes for trainer O.J. Jauregui, as the headliner. The California-bred son of Suances has hit the board in a number of stakes races, including a couple of graded ones earlier this year, but didn’t win a stakes until this year’s Rolling Green.

“Another attractive contender, Give Me the Lute, is new to the stakes ranks for trainer Andy Mathis. Claimed by Mathis and owners Rod and Wendy Hogan for $80,000 last year, he broke the track record for five furlongs on turf in June. He enters this stake off a decisive second-level allowance victory over Fuente, who is also in this race. Defending champion Mugaritz makes his first start of 2020 for trainer Jonathan Wong. He won the 2019 Berkeley Handicap here last year and also scored a dominant victory on dirt in the 2019 Bulldog Handicap at Fresno. Navy Armed Guard, who broke the track record going one mile on Tapeta on Sept. 27, returns to turf while stakes placed Builder and recent allowance winners Colour Me Happy and Descartes will also run.

“The third leg of the Stronach 5 wager goes as the opener on Friday: a maiden special weight on turf for fillies and mares. It’s a pretty contentious group. Olive You More (trained by Steve Sherman) and Eddie’s Sister (Wong) make their first starts for their new Northern California trainers since moving from Southern California. Zahra is a consistent local filly from the O.J Jauregui barn that figures to be in the thick of things again and Lemon Drop Tini and Zagrah are two fillies with talent that have been inconsistent. Their best efforts, however, put them in the hunt.

“Have a great Breeders’ Cup! I’m taking a shot in the Breeders’ Cup Classic with Tom’s D’Etat, an older horse that was fantastic earlier in the year and had an excuse in his last start against morning line favorite Improbable at Saratoga.”

Big races preview

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

8:30 Keeneland (1): $125,000 Nyquist Stakes, 2-year-olds, 6 ½ furlongs. Favorite: Quick Tempo (5-2)

9:05 Keeneland (2): $125,000 Songbird Stakes, fillies 2-years-old, 6 ½ furlongs. Favorite: The Grass Is Blue (4-1)

9:40 Keeneland (3): $150,000 Bryan Station Stakes, 3-year-olds, 1 1/8 miles on turf. Favorite: Fancy Liquor (4-1)

10:15 Keeneland (4): $150,000 McConnell Springs Stakes, fillies and mares 3 and up, 6 furlongs. Favorite: Bye Bye J (7-2)

10:50 Keeneland (5): Garde 2 $200,000 Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance Stakes, 3 and up, 1 5/8 miles. Favorite: Ry’s the Guy (4-1)

11:30 Keeneland (6): Grade 2 $1 million Juvenile Turf Sprint, 2-year-olds, 5 ½ furlongs on turf. Favorite: Golden Pal ($8-5)

11:58 Aqueduct (8): $100,000 Tempted Stakes, fillies 2-years-old, 1 mile. Favorite: Malathaat (6-5)

12:10 Keeneland (7): Grade 1 $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juveniles Turf, 2-year-olds, 1 mile on turf. Favorite: Mutasaabeq (5-1)

12:50 Keeneland (8): Grade 1 $2 million Breeder’s Cup Juvenile Fillies, fillies 2-years-old, 1 1/16 miles. Favorite: Princess Noor (9-5)

1:30 Keeneland (9): Grade 1 $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, 2-year-olds, 1 mile on turf. Favorite: Aunt Pearl (3-1)

2:15 Keeneland (10): Grade 1 $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, 2-year-olds, 1 1/16 mile. Favorite: Jackie’s Warrior (7-5)

3:30 Del Mar (7): $150,000 Golden State Juvenile Fillies, Cal-bred fillies 2-year-olds, 7 furlongs. Favorite: Governor Goteven (9-5)

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.

“Los Alamitos will open at 8 a.m. on Friday and Saturday for outdoor daytime simulcasting of the Breeders’ Cup. On Saturday, Los Alamitos has set up additional outdoor TVs and wagering areas on the grandstand and clubhouse aprons. The live racing card will begin at 6 p.m. on Friday with an eight-race program highlighted by El Primero Del Año Derby runner-up Old School Icon looking for his first win of the year in the $12,900 allowance in the fifth race. Live racing will be without spectators.

On Saturday, Chayito Cartel and Sass Go Blue, a pair of Grade 2 futurity winners in 2019, will face off while searching for their first stakes victory of the year in the $25,000 Town Policy Handicap.

Sunday has the richest running ever of the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Super Derby. The Super Derby has a $1,052,350 purse plus the winner will also earn a provisional berth to the Grade 1, $600,000 Champion of Champions to be held here on Dec. 12. The field will be headed by Tell Cartel, who comes in as the fastest qualifier following his impressive trial win. He is looking for his third derby win of the year after taking the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Winter Derby in February and the Grade 3 El Primero Del Año Derby in March. He’ll be ridden for the first time by jockey Eduardo Nicasio, who picks up the mount after Ruben Lozano stayed with the barn of trainer Valentin Zamudio to ride John Carter Cash, a talented gelding who beat older horses at 440 yards earlier this year. Other top contenders include Grade 1 stakes runner-up Cattail Cove and Ruidoso Downs stakes winner Oatman Creek Senator. The Super Derby is 400 yards.

Justine Klaiber became the first woman jockey to win a million-dollar race at Los Alamitos after guiding the 23-1 longshot Apollitical Gold to victory in the $1,104,550 Golden State Million Futurity last Sunday night. The win was also the richest ever at Los Alamitos for veteran trainer Eddie Willis. Apollitical Gold was one of three horses that jockey Jimmy Dean Brooks qualified to the Golden State Million final. The veteran rider decided to ride HR Princess Jess in the final, leaving Apollitical Gold needing a jockey. “Justine had worked with this horse in the past,” Willis said. “That’s why she had to come in to ride Apollitical Gold in the final.”

“Based in Oklahoma this season, Klaiber, 25, is having her best year yet. She’s won a career-high 70 races to go along with enjoying the richest stakes win of her career in the Golden State Million.”

Chris Wade’s Friday LA pick

EIGHTH RACE: No. 3 Jess Fortunate (4-1)

She was a high-priced claim that has now made two starts for her current shed-row. She remains a trouble prone runner but she always shows flashes of talent. In her most recent effort 56 nights ago, this filly broke slow to put herself behind the 8-ball right from the start. Jess Fortunate showed her ability shortly after the start, showing a nice turn of foot past the gap to move close to contention before having to take up after getting in close quarters to add to her nightmarish journey. She eventually galloped out with some good energy past the wire, earning her a solid figure in my book and making her one to play at a medium price.

A final thought

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

Due to a technical problem, Friday’s Del Mar entries are unable to be embedded into this newsletter. You can view them by clicking here. We apologize for the inconvenience.