Horse racing newsletter: Louis Rabaut digs into Los Al results

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 has full fields … on a Thursday.

We normally count on our Kentucky correspondent Louis Rabaut, of the Horse Racing Happy Hour, for wisdom from the middle of the country. But here, he does an analysis on what we’ve got going on in our own back yard. Take it away, Louis.

“There have been plenty of unusual changes to the 2020 horse racing schedule such as a September Kentucky Derby, an October Preakness, a nine-furlong Belmont Stakes, even a First Saturday in May Two Heat Arkansas Derby. But none seem to have seen the effect of COVID-19 as much as the Los Alamitos ‘Spectator-less L.A. County Fair in December’ meet because of the suspension of racing at Golden Gate Fields.

“On our podcast, The Horse Racing Happy Hour, we had the affable José Contreras on to preview the meet. During the interview, I mentioned the noticeable number of entrants to the night racing who had recently shipped from Golden Gate Fields, and I asked him if I was noticing a new trend: are the Golden Gate-based runners faring really well at Los Al, or is it just me?

“’That’s a pretty good observation, the last couple of weeks,’ he said ‘You’re right about that. If you were talking to the Los Ponies (his handle on Twitter) of 2015-16, I would be getting destroyed. … Back then, I was absolutely tossing horses making their first start under the lights at Los Al at the shorter distance. This year, the invaders from Emerald Downs, Golden Gate, I have no problem singling them, or using them, whatever it may be. The recent ones from the Golden Gate circuit … I feel like the horsemen up there have had horses ready to go and because of the current no racing situation, these horses are sharp. They’re being pointed, we want to get a race in them. They’re ready to go.’


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“Most readers of this newsletter know there’s a stark difference between the LA and LRC Los Alamitos: the daytime thoroughbred meet, and the nighttime mix of thoroughbreds and quarter horses. So, my quest became obvious: are those Golden Gate-based horses performing as well during the day as they have been at night? Where did the 56 winners the first two weeks of the meet previously race? Here are the numbers:

Most Recent TrackTotal races won% of races won
SoCal (DMR, SA)3155%
Golden Gate1323%
Los Alamitos611%
1st Time Starter611%

“I think the numbers show what we would generally expect in a meeting such as this: the horses which most recently ran in Southern California, namely at Del Mar and Santa Anita, are winning a majority of the races. We would expect them to be the classiest of the groups listed, and the most numerous. Also worth noting, a first-time starter has won every race day except one.

“The other trend to be expected is Southern California horses dominating the higher-ranked races, i.e. winning all three stakes, and dominating the allowance and allowance/optional claiming company. The higher the purse, the more likely we find a winner from the Del Mar/Santa Anita circuit.

“It’s worth noting, however, that Los Alamitos likes to stagger its race types, and purses. Therefore, to structure a proper pick 5 or pick 4 ticket, the lower purse and level races are worth an examination. There were 25 races with purses of $20,000 or less, and Southern California horses won 10 of them, or 45%. Over half (GGF 9, LA 6) were won by horses either shipping from Golden Gate, or were night runners at Los Alamitos. Note that with six wins in such races, this is the totality of the Los Alamitos horses; four GGF horses also won races with purses higher than $20,000 ($48k, $42k, $32k, and $23k.).

“This coming weekend, there will be a huge number of races which fall into the ‘$20,000 or less’ category: five on Thursday and four on Friday, alone. The $1 late pick 4 this past Sunday paid $23,000; it started with an $18,000 claimer. With the meet ending Sunday, there will be a force-out of the $2 Pick Six -- perhaps a Golden Gate or Los Alamitos trainee will help us cash a big ticket.”


Louis Rabaut is a Louisville-based co-host of the Horse Racing Happy Hour podcast, alongside Megan Devine and Mike Gandolfo. New episodes release every Thursday on all major podcast platforms. Follow him on Twitter @LouisRabaut.

Sorry to report …

Penelope Rose, an unraced 2-year-old filly, became the first racing or training fatality at any Southern California daytime thoroughbred circuit in more than three months. She suffered a fractured humerus during a morning workout on Wednesday. At Santa Anita, it was the 15th death this calendar year and 16th if you go back to the start of the racing year on Dec. 26, 2019. Last year, the track reached 16 deaths by Feb. 22. If you want more, just click here.

And in more disturbing news …

The Stronach Company has joined PETA in asking the North American racing industry to longer export racehorses to South Korea after a 2006 Kentucky Derby runner, Private Vow, was sent to a slaughterhouse at the end of his breeding career earlier this year. Again, if you want to know more, just click here.

The case that wouldn’t end


After the California Horse Racing Board officially dismissed the case against Justify, Mick Ruis’ LA-based attorney filed a complaint with the California Business and Professions board that would overturn the stewards’ ruling. Ruis owned and trained the second-place finisher, Bolt d’Oro. Here’s how the CHRB responded: “Pursuant to the notice requirements of the Bagley-Keene Act, the matter will be added to the agenda for the Board’s regularly scheduled January 21, 2021 meeting. At that time, the Board will consider in executive session whether it has the authority to act on your request.”

Who goofed, I’ve got to know?

It was me. In my interview with Darrel McHargue, chief steward of the California Horse Racing Board, I referred to the process of simulating hitting a horse with the riding crop as “slagging,” rather than “flagging.” I could blame it on a bad phone connection or I could just admit I didn’t know the difference. Your best bet is on the latter.

Los Alamitos daytime preview

Los Alamitos has another amazing card of nothing but full fields. There is one race with seven but every other race is 10. I even had an email from a frustrated owner who couldn’t get his horse entered because the race only had seven or so horses. Those races don’t usually make it anymore.

Thursday’s card is nine races beginning at 12:30 p.m., a half-hour earlier than a normal weekday card this meeting. It’s not a great card with eight of the nine being claimers and the ninth being a maiden special. All of which brings us to the feature, a maiden special for 2-year-old Cal-bred fillies going 5 ½ furlongs. The favorite, at 8-5, is Squared Shady for trainer Jeff Bonde and jockey Edwin Maldonado. She has one second and two thirds in four races. Her last two races were on the turf.

Coco’s Joy is the second favorite at 5-2 for Eric Kruljac and Drayden Van Dyke. She’s only run once, a fifth at Del Mar. Five of the 10 starters are going for the first time. Post is around 4:28 p.m.


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

Ciaran Thornton’s LRC pick of the day

SIXTH RACE: No. 7 Sizzling Jamie (8-1)

Sizzling Jamie ships down from Golden Gate for trainer Isidro Tamayo who is winning 27% at the meet, 32% first off the claim, and 23% shipping. Point is this trainer is on fire and his in-the-money percentages hover over 55%. He puts Jessica Pyfer and her big weight break onboard while jumping the horse in class. Money run value play at 8-1.

Sunday’s result: Rossman blasted to the front and ran a 22-second quarter-mile but at the top of the Los Alamitos runway ran out of steam.

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

A final thought

I love getting new readers of this newsletter, and you certainly can’t beat the price. If you like it, tell someone. If you don’t like it, you’re probably not reading this.

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Any thoughts, you can reach me at You can also feed my ego by following me on Twitter @jcherwa.


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

Los Alamitos Race Course Entries for Thursday, December 17.

Los Alamitos Race Course, Los Alamitos, California. 8th day of a 11-day meet.


1 Mile. Purse: $13,000. Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $6,250.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Magic MoscoJessica Pyfer112Jeffrey Metz4-16,250
2Hot SocksSantos Rivera114Steven Miyadi6-16,250
3Devil's TeethFrancisco Amparan121Alberto Amparan20-16,250
4Tyler's TekAbel Cedillo121Jonathan Wong4-16,250
5Tequila BlancoJavier Matias121Steven Miyadi12-16,250
6Hey SequoiaEmily Ellingwood111Quinn Howey8-16,250
7Write Me a SongEdwin Maldonado121George Papaprodromou2-16,250
8RemembertobreatheJose Valdivia, Jr.121Robert Baze20-16,250
9Muhney LineHeriberto Figueroa121Leanna L. Ekstrom30-16,250
10Incredible LuckRicardo Gonzalez121Isidro Tamayo6-16,250
Also Eligible
11Unstoppable GuyEdgar Payeras119Marcia Stortz15-16,250


5½ Furlongs. Purse: $23,000. Maiden Claiming. Fillies. 3 year olds. Claiming Prices $30,000-$28,000. State bred.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1CarelesswitdatruthEswan Flores122James M. Cassidy12-130,000
2TorquayJavier Matias122Jose Bautista12-130,000
3Mojo MamaJose Valdivia, Jr.122Jere Brinkerhoff10-130,000
4She Loves KaraokeEdwin Maldonado122Adam Kitchingman6-130,000
5A J RockGeovanni Franco120Reed Saldana10-128,000
6Wild ArchTyler Baze120Anthony K. Saavedra10-128,000
7Stylish in RedTiago Pereira122Martin Valenzuela, III2-130,000
8Please MeSantos Rivera117Victor M. Trujillo15-130,000
9Queen StormbornRuben Fuentes122George Papaprodromou9-230,000
10Ya Beauty Abel Cedillo122Peter Miller5-130,000
Also Eligible
11Kiss of CongratsTiago Pereira122Rene Amescua10-130,000
12Bandon ColleenRamon Guce120Michael Lenzini30-128,000


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

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1The HenriettaFrancisco Amparan119Duff Shidaker30-150,000
2Lil RicardoJessica Pyfer115Peter Eurton6-150,000
3CatbernayTiago Pereira122Daniel Dunham8-150,000
4Mancuso At the MicHeriberto Figueroa122Jose Hernandez, Jr.30-150,000
5CojoEdwin Maldonado122Jeff Bonde3-150,000
6Just a CommandDrayden Van Dyke122J. Eric Kruljac8-150,000
7Big DiscountJuan Hernandez122Art Sherman4-150,000
8BrananxSantos Rivera117Andy Mathis7-250,000
9Royal DudeAlexis Centeno115Blake R. Heap12-150,000
10Fleet RoyEswan Flores122Hector O. Palma10-150,000
Also Eligible
11Chief JacksonRuben Fuentes122Jeff Bonde6-150,000
12Stone's RiverAlexis Centeno115Craig Anthony Lewis5-250,000


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

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Apache PassJessica Pyfer117Robert B. Hess, Jr.4-18,000
2Well Done SallyAbel Cedillo122Jonathan Wong7-28,000
3Ever VigilantAlexis Centeno117Andrew Lerner5-18,000
4Billy KEmily Ellingwood112Ryan Hanson10-18,000
5Glitter GulchHenry Lopez117Jesus J. Uranga10-18,000
6Charming LifeSantos Rivera119Sally Rivera20-18,000
7Brite TanEdgar Payeras122Marcia Stortz30-18,000
8DeltaryRicardo Gonzalez122Andy Mathis4-18,000
9Real Good DealHeriberto Figueroa124Leonard Powell3-18,000
10Goddess AphroditeCesar Ortega117Jesus Mendoza30-18,000
Also Eligible
11Dairy KidFernandez Rojas124Robert J. Lucas20-18,000
12PasitoRuben Fuentes124Steve Knapp5-28,000


5 Furlongs. Purse: $13,000. Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $6,250.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Tiger MomEdgar Payeras124Lorenzo Ruiz6-16,250
2Brilliant BirdJessica Pyfer117John F. Martin7-26,250
3Lady ChromeSantos Rivera119Jesus Ramos15-16,250
4Cioppino PasadinoRamon Guce124Jesus J. Uranga8-16,250
5Give Me a HintGeovanni Franco124Peter Miller6-16,250
6Hit It TwiceRuben Fuentes124Jose R. Gonzalez, Jr.12-16,250
7Luv Is All U NeedCesar Ortega117Angela Maria Aquino30-16,250
8PurdueEdwin Maldonado124Eddie Truman5-26,250
9Come On KatFrancisco Orduna-Rojas124Jose Antonio Flores15-16,250
10Just ClassyTyler Baze122Monty R. Meier9-26,250


1 Mile. Purse: $16,000. Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $8,000-$7,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Most DeterminedMario Gutierrez124Bill McLean12-18,000
2Black StormTyler Baze121Jeff Mullins4-18,000
3Debt MongerEdgar Payeras122Marcia Stortz8-18,000
4More HonorEdwin Maldonado119Hector O. Palma20-17,000
5FabozziJuan Hernandez124Mark Glatt7-28,000
6LifelineTiago Pereira124Leobardo Rivera10-18,000
7Sizzling JamieJessica Pyfer114Isidro Tamayo8-18,000
8Buster Douglas Geovanni Franco124Milton G. Pineda5-18,000
9R Cha ChaRuben Fuentes121George Papaprodromou6-18,000
10ImplicitlySantos Rivera119Tim McCanna6-18,000
Also Eligible
11AotearoaAbel Cedillo124Jonathan Wong8-18,000


1 Mile. Purse: $18,000. Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $12,500-$10,500.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Bella Figura Santos Rivera119Alfredo P. Marquez7-212,500
2Unchain Her HeartJose Valdivia, Jr.119Steve M. Sherman6-112,500
3Lucky StepperRicardo Gonzalez124Jonathan Wong5-112,500
4Sapphire SilkEdgar Payeras120Jorge Periban20-110,500
5Wine At SunsetGeovanni Franco117J. Eric Kruljac15-110,500
6KaydaAlexis Centeno115Ruby Thomas12-112,500
7RealrealgoodFrancisco Amparan121Alberto Amparan6-112,500
8Info's TreasureJessica Pyfer115Ian Kruljac4-110,500
9Heart RiverHeriberto Figueroa119Jeffrey Metz6-112,500
10Reds Tribal HeartTiago Pereira117Walther Solis8-110,500
Also Eligible
11Red Bunting Juan Hernandez124Isidro Tamayo9-212,500


5 Furlongs. Purse: $26,000. Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $25,000-$22,500.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1SequentiallyGeovanni Franco124John F. Martin5-125,000
2Mr. LovejoyTiago Pereira124Brian J. Koriner4-125,000
3Blackout Flavien Prat122Peter Miller3-122,500
4Flip the Coin JanAlexis Centeno117Alfredo P. Marquez8-125,000
5Captain ScottyRicardo Gonzalez124Peter Miller5-225,000
6Oil Can KnightEdwin Maldonado124Steve Knapp6-125,000
7Sweet River BainesTyler Baze124Tim McCanna8-125,000


5½ Furlongs. Purse: $42,000. Maiden Special Weight. Fillies. 2 year olds. State bred.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Swift NonniEdgar Payeras122Marcia Stortz10-1
2Squared ShadyEdwin Maldonado122Jeff Bonde8-5
3Always for MoneySantos Rivera117Andy Mathis10-1
4Sircat NellyJuan Hernandez122John W. Sadler8-1
5Chieftess AineCerapio Figueroa122Ruby Thomas20-1
6Jeanne BBrandon Boulanger122Charles R. Stutts20-1
7Coco's JoyDrayden Van Dyke122J. Eric Kruljac5-2
8Ten the Smart WayRicardo Gonzalez122Andy Mathis8-1
9Zu Zu FlynnRuben Fuentes122Steven Miyadi12-1
10Amazen GrazenGeovanni Franco122Ed Moger, Jr.12-1
Also Eligible
11Military PrincessEdgar Payeras122John Cisneros30-1
12Complete ControlAbel Cedillo122Edward R. Freeman5-2