Horse racing newsletter: Justify to remain Santa Anita Derby winner

Horses bolt out of the starting gate at Los Alamitos Race Track
The starting gate at Los Alamitos Race Track in July 2014.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Hello, my name is John Cherwa and welcome back to our horse racing newsletter as Los Alamitos runs two-thirds of its three-week meeting with Thursday racing … and more full fields.

We’ll start with some news before moving on during this very light day.

--Justify will remain the winner of the 2018 Santa Anita Derby … and undefeated. The board of stewards at Santa Anita ruled that the results of the 2018 Santa Anita Derby would not be overturned as the result of a drug positive for Justify, the 13th winner of the Triple Crown. Justify has tested positive for scopolamine, a drug found in jimson weed. It was previously discovered that the horse ingested the substance through feed contamination.

Justify, along with stablemate Hoppertunity, were among seven horses representing four different barns who tested positive for the substance. Hoppertunity was also cleared by the CHRB in its ruling on Wednesday. He won the 2018 Tokyo City Cup at Santa Anita. Most equine medical experts believe that scopolamine is not a performance enhancing substance.

Wednesday’s ruling came after Justify had already been cleared of any penalty by the California Horse Racing Board in closed session on Aug. 23, 2018. However, Mick Ruis, owner and trainer of second-place finisher Bolt d’Oro, filed suit alleging that CHRB should not have dismissed the matter without an official complaint. Ruis filed suit against the CHRB and as part of the settlement, the CHRB agreed to file an official complaint and hold a hearing.


The Santa Anita stewards did not give Justify a sweeping endorsement, though, saying, “It is the stewards’ opinion that had this board of stewards heard the Justify and Hoppertunity complaints prior to Aug. 23, 2018, both horses would have been disqualified.”

--Some of you will remember the sight to Princess Noor being pulled up at the top of the stretch in last Saturday’s Starlet Stakes at Los Alamitos. Trainer Bob Baffert was happy to report there were no breaks. But subsequent inspection turned up a soft-tissue injury in her left front leg and the 2-year-old filly was retired. She was originally bought for $1.35 million. Remember, it’s more difficult for horses to recover from soft-tissue injuries than a hairline fracture. At least that’s what the anti-synthetic people say. Princess Noor’s first mating will be to Into Mischief. She will be headed to Taylor Made Farm.

--Bodexpress, a horse who will always be remembered more for a race he ran without a rider, was also retired about a week after winning the Grade 1 Clark Stakes at Churchill Downs. The exact nature of the injury that forced his retirement was not disclosed. Bodexpress became known to the non-racing publc when he dumped jockey John Velazquez right out of the gate at the start of last year’s Preakness Stakes. He continued to run the race along with the rest of the field. Of course, regular racetrackers found nothing unusual about this happening to a pack animal. But the general public, on this nationally televised race, found it fascinating

--Rules surrounding use of the riding crop became ever so slightly more clear when the Assn. of Racing Commissioners International (ARCI) announced a rule change that does not allow a jockey to strike a horse more than twice in succession without giving the horse a chance to respond. It further defined a chance to respond as three strides. However, the ARCI declined to put a maximum number of strikes for the entire race on the table. California just recently went from three strikes to two. California also has a limit of six strikes per race.

--This isn’t really news as much as it is marketing, but it’s all for a good cause and you just might want it. The very popular Santa Anita calendar will not be given out on opening day (Dec. 26) because the public won’t be allowed. But, you can buy it at You can’t buy them until Friday, so don’t look for a link on the landing page until then. The cost will be $5 which will be donated to the Foothill Unity Center, after shipping. You are limited to two per household and the track is only printing 5,000 of them. Sounds like one of those win-win situations.

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Los Alamitos preview

Thursday’s card is eight races beginning at 1 p.m. The field sizes remain impressive, the races, not so much. We’re going to resist designating a feature for Thursday. All the races are claiming, except the seventh, which is a starter allowance, which is essentially an allowance designated race with claiming-level horses. The conditions are written around claiming conditions. The high purse for the day is the second, a maiden claimer for 2-year-old Cal-bred fillies going 5 ½ furlongs. There are four 5 ½ furlongs races, three at a mile and one going six furlongs.

Here are the field sizes, in order: 9, 10 (2 also eligible), 10, 10 (2 ae), 10 (1 ae), 10, 7, 10 (2 ae).


Ciaran Thornton’s LRC pick of the day

SIXTH RACE: No. 4 Impression (4-1)

Impression at 4-1 is value given this horse, in this race, should be the 9-5 favorite in my book. Trainer William Spawr and jockey Tiago Pereira won two in a row at this distance at Del Mar and lost the horse to a claim to Peter Miller for $10,000. Next out, Spawr reclaimed the horse off a third-place finish at Santa Anita for $12,500. The first work off the claim in October saw a best of the day 46 second workout. First start in two months and this trainer wins 20% off the bench and an impressive 47% in the money. Again, value does not always mean a big price, it means a better price than we should get.

Sunday’s result: Ca Dreamer ($18.00) ran a smart race just off the pace, angled out and won by an easy 1 ½ lengths.

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

A final thought

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And now the star of the show, Thursday’s entries.

Los Alamitos Race Course Entries for Thursday, December 10.

Los Alamitos Race Course, Los Alamitos, California. 4th day of a 11-day meet.


5½ Furlongs. Purse: $15,000. Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $8,000-$7,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Spectacular StormRamon Guce124Jerry Wallace, II20-18,000
2Lyrically ViolentSantos Rivera119Bill McLean10-18,000
3Gallantlystreaming Francisco Amparan124Samuel Nichols30-18,000
4GalwalksintoabarJessica Pyfer115Faith Taylor5-18,000
5Queen CarmelitaJavier Matias124Rafael DeLeon6-18,000
6StarzaGeovanni Franco124Victor M. Trujillo5-18,000
7Sybil's KittyTyler Baze124Kristin Mulhall3-18,000
8Wine At SunsetEfrain Hernandez122J. Eric Kruljac15-18,000
9GironaTiago Pereira124Paul G. Aguirre2-18,000


5½ Furlongs. Purse: $32,000. Maiden Claiming. Fillies. 2 year olds. Claiming Price $50,000. State bred.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Keep Your CoilTyler Baze122Anthony K. Saavedra8-150,000
2Winning AppealAlexis Centeno115Ed Moger, Jr.4-150,000
3AlysseTiago Pereira122J. Eric Kruljac15-150,000
4BekeleJavier Matias122Rafael DeLeon20-150,000
5Here Comes RalphieGeovanni Franco122Gary Stute10-150,000
6Warrior LadyEdwin Maldonado122Brendan W. Galvin12-150,000
7Run the Blues AwayJose Valdivia, Jr.122Jonathan Wong6-150,000
8Streaming TigerFrancisco Amparan122Jose R. Gonzalez, Jr.8-150,000
9Miss RebekahEfrain Hernandez122J. Eric Kruljac8-150,000
10Phantom IndianAbel Cedillo122Isidro Tamayo9-550,000
Also Eligible
11Military PrincessEdgar Payeras122John Cisneros20-150,000
12DontmesswithtessHeriberto Figueroa122Jose Hernandez, Jr.6-150,000


1 Mile. Purse: $18,000. Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $16,000-$14,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Diamond BlitzEdwin Maldonado121Steve M. Sherman5-116,000
2ColosiGeovanni Franco124Mark Glatt7-216,000
3Big BarrelTyler Baze121Anthony K. Saavedra8-116,000
4T Bones TrickJuan Hernandez121Isidro Tamayo8-116,000
5GovernanceAbel Cedillo122Jonathan Wong5-116,000
6Friendly OutthedorMario Gutierrez121Ed Moger, Jr.8-116,000
7LeatherneckFrancisco Amparan119Jose R. Gonzalez, Jr.20-116,000
8Vodka TwistTiago Pereira122Steve Knapp8-116,000
9BodegaJessica Pyfer112Derek Meredith15-116,000
10PioneerofthestormRicardo Gonzalez124Jonathan Wong4-116,000


5½ Furlongs. Purse: $23,000. Maiden Claiming. Fillies. 2 year olds. Claiming Price $30,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1MolokiniAlexis Centeno115Richard Baltas10-130,000
2Smart LolaJose Valdivia, Jr.122Kristin Mulhall20-130,000
3Little VickyTiago Pereira122Milton G. Pineda15-130,000
4Ms BigDrayden Van Dyke122Steven Miyadi5-130,000
5Stone Cold LadySantos Rivera117Jonathan Wong8-130,000
6Later DaysChristian Aragon122Patricia Harrington8-130,000
7Cold Brew KellyEdwin Maldonado122Steve M. Sherman5-130,000
8You're All TalkJessica Pyfer115Peter Eurton4-130,000
9Pirates CrossAbel Cedillo122Jerry Hollendorfer7-230,000
10Marvelous MarvellaCesar Ortega112Terri Eaton8-130,000
Also Eligible
11Big Hoochie MamaHenry Lopez115Jerry Wallace, II20-130,000
12Brewed BigRamon Guce122Sergio Morfin30-130,000


1 Mile. Purse: $19,000. Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $12,500-$10,500.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1SugaryJuan Hernandez121Martin F. Jones7-212,500
2Our Bold PrincessAlexis Centeno114Eduardo L. Rich20-112,500
3Gratzie Mario Gutierrez121Manuel Badilla4-112,500
4Paige RunnerEdwin Maldonado121Lorenzo Ruiz5-110,500
5Hot On the TrailGeovanni Franco121Gary Stute20-112,500
6Destiny's JourneyAbel Cedillo119Steve Knapp5-112,500
7Posh Holly Tyler Baze121Steve M. Sherman4-112,500
8Lexington Grace Jessica Pyfer114Reed Saldana8-112,500
9Avalon RideEdgar Payeras118Marcia Stortz30-110,500
10Reds Sacred AppealTiago Pereira121Walther Solis15-112,500
Also Eligible
11Lady BrexitRicardo Gonzalez124Jonathan Wong6-112,500


1 Mile. Purse: $19,000. Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $12,500-$10,500.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1UpoRicardo Gonzalez124Isidro Tamayo6-112,500
2Tobacco RoadEdwin Maldonado121Paul G. Aguirre6-112,500
3Uber StarTyler Baze121Ruby Thomas12-112,500
4ImplicitlySantos Rivera116Tim McCanna10-112,500
5ImpressionTiago Pereira121William Spawr4-112,500
6SeauGeovanni Franco121Quinn Howey3-112,500
7Cimpl ManAbel Cedillo121Jonathan Wong4-112,500
8RemembertobreatheJose Valdivia, Jr.121Robert Baze30-110,500
9ContagionRuben Fuentes121Andrew Lerner20-112,500
10Jan's ReserveAlexis Centeno114Rosemary Trela6-112,500


6 Furlongs. Purse: $26,000. Starter Allowance. 3 year olds and up.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1HeartfullofstarsTyler Baze124Edwin Alvarez5-2
2Self TaughtTiago Pereira122Steve Knapp5-1
3CambyGeovanni Franco124Charles S. Treece8-1
4Emerald MagicSantos Rivera119Bill McLean10-1
5ItalianoJessica Pyfer117Vann Belvoir7-2
6Shane ZainAlexis Centeno117Richard Baltas4-1
7LittlebitamedalJuan Hernandez124Art Sherman4-1


5½ Furlongs. Purse: $23,000. Maiden Claiming. 2 year olds. Claiming Price $30,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Little MischiefEswan Flores122Daniel Dunham12-130,000
2Autism Can DoRicardo Gonzalez122Jonathan Wong4-130,000
3Grey PointHeriberto Figueroa122Jeffrey Metz20-130,000
4Mr. ArtisticGeovanni Franco122O. J. Jauregui7-230,000
5Hot PursuitTyler Baze122Kristin Mulhall3-130,000
6Our Hy RollerEfrain Hernandez122Robert Baze20-130,000
7Lili's BoyEdwin Maldonado122Hector O. Palma8-130,000
8Light My TigerBrandon Boulanger122Jesus Nunez20-130,000
9Santiago's WishJavier Matias122Sal Gonzalez15-130,000
10MeetmeincaliAbel Cedillo122Isidro Tamayo7-230,000
Also Eligible
11DryspellSantos Rivera117John W. Sadler10-130,000
12Walking With DinoAlexis Centeno117Bill McLean3-130,000