Horse racing newsletter: Remembering Prince Philip

Prince Philip
Britain’s Prince Philip in July 2020.
(Adrian Dennis / Associated Press)

Hello, my name is John Cherwa and welcome back to our horse racing newsletter as we think the best racing at Santa Anita this weekend will be on simulcast.

I know this is an odd topic for the newsletter, but when you think about it, not really. The world learned Friday morning of the death Prince Philip, husband of Queen Elizabeth II. He was 99. If you’ve been around long enough, you’ll remember he had a connection to the Olympics, which had equestrian events at Santa Anita in 1984.

Alan Balch, a longtime Santa Anita executive and currently executive director of the California Thoroughbred Trainers, was the competition director for equestrian events in the Games and got to know His Royal Highness. So, I asked Alan to share some of his recollections. (Admit it, you folks watched “The Crown” just like me.)


Alan, take it away.

“According to the Guardian newspaper in the United Kingdom, the late Prince Philip once described himself as ‘a discredited Balkan prince of no particular merit or distinction.’

“Those of us at Santa Anita who worked alongside him for several years knew him as anything but.

“I had joined the management of the track in 1971, after meeting Robert Strub, then its president and son of Santa Anita’s founder, while managing the Forum International Horse Show the year before. His vision was to make all kinds of equine performance (not just thoroughbred racing) part of the Santa Anita experience, from the Clydesdales pulling the starting gate, to the high-steppers taking officials out in carriages, to exhibitions of jumping and dressage, and finally to the multi-breed Santa Anita National Horse Show. At the first of those, in 1977, having learned about the Olympics possibly coming back to Los Angeles in 1984 for the first time since 1932, Strub endorsed the idea of our becoming the equestrian venue.

“In 1980, I traveled to London for a major indoor horse show just before Christmas, even though opening day beckoned, because a meeting was to be scheduled with the president of the international equestrian federation, Prince Philip. On my way, I learned it wasn’t.

“So, I literally looked up Buckingham Palace in the phone book, called the single number listed, and asked for Prince Philip’s office. Put through to a secretary, I told her my plight. I remember her saying, ‘Oh, my word,’ over and over again. But presently she called me back, and said he would see me that evening at 5:30, for just a few minutes. Solve the problem, now . . . that was Prince Philip.

“We spent nearly an hour together that first time. He had done all his homework on Santa Anita and our plans, knew the geography, our stabling, the summer climate and smog, peppered me with questions and asked my opinions. Installing a proper equestrian stadium where the track is only 90-feet wide was an engineering challenge, as was enclosing it on three sides with temporary seating, and changing the footing appropriately for each event. That was just for starters.


“His name derives from the Greek for ‘horse-loving,’ and he lived up to it, as the longest-serving president of the international federation. He literally invented the discipline of competitive carriage driving. While at the Games, with our team of starting gate Clydesdales delivering the medal podium into the stadium for presentations, we worked secretly to have him drive the six-horse team himself for the last ceremony, where the USA ultimately won individual gold and silver in jumping.

“When announced he was at the reins, the capacity crowd of more than 32,500 roared with delight as they galloped in, closing the most successful of any Olympic equestrian events held to that time. Santa Anita then posted its greatest racing season attendance ever the following year, no doubt owing in part to the worldwide exposure of the Games.

“When I found him a rare photo of his driving exploits, he wrote back that ‘it was such an unlikely event that I needed some proof it actually happened!’ And added his hope that we had gotten back to our racing without too much difficulty after the Olympic ‘disruption.’

“The Duke of Edinburgh was a man of vast, varied, infinitely curious experience. Racing was primarily his wife’s interest and avocation. But when he first visited Santa Anita, looking at the sweeping Art Deco façade and then out over the San Gabriel panorama, he turned to me and said simply, ‘awe inspiring.’ He was one of us then.”

Thanks, Alan.

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Who goofed, I’ve got to know?

Got a few comments from people on Chris Wade’s Friday Los Alamitos pick in which the name of the horse and race was not mentioned. That’s on me. You know how things get lost in cutting and pasting? I’ll take the blame, as I should have caught it. In case you wondered, it was No. 2 Banze No Oeste in the second race.

Santa Anita preview

This has to be about as bad a Saturday card as Santa Anita has had in recent memory. There are nine races, starting at 1 p.m., and all of them have some claiming component to them. Actually, six are straight claimers. There are no turf races. Santa Anita decided to suspend Friday racing for two weeks to give the turf course a break. So, rather than taking a two-week break, the track will be running lower-level programs for two weeks. We’re not going to go into a lot of detail, but there is allowance/optional claimer for older horses going a mile for a purse of $65,000. Bold Endeavor is the 5-2 favorite for trainer Mark Glatt and jockey Flavien Prat. He won two back at about this level. Post is around 4:51 p.m.

Here are the field sizes, in order: 6, 5, 5, 6, 6, 7, 6, 8, 12.

Ciaran Thornton’s SA pick of the day

SIXTH RACE: No. 7 Golden Star Rock (15-1)

Golden Star Rock is the other Peter Miller horse in here and Juan Hernandez rides. This tandem is winning 29% at the meet. The lone victory for this horse was on dirt going a mile back East under trainer Wesley Ward. Third start off the layoff and Miller adds blinkers. We are getting a 15-1 morning-line value in a race with an 8-5 favorite with Mike Smith riding who runs on late usually to miss. I am looking to best this favorite in my Pick 4 spreading deep.

Sunday’s result: Square Root was bet down to 2-1 at post time. Tracking nicely in second throughout ‘Root faded badly deep stretch to run fourth of six. This horse may be well served going five furlongs next out.

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

Golden Gate preview

Matt Dinerman is back for another week of Golden Gate Fields racing. The genial race caller is the host for our weekly previews and other musings. So, take it away, Matt.

“The biggest news of the week is that fans will be welcomed back to Golden Gate Fields on a limited capacity beginning Friday, April 16. Fans must purchase tickets online at beginning early next week. I can’t wait to see you back on track.

“There are nine races on Saturday and Sunday this week. We’ve got plenty of ground to cover, so let’s get to it. The co-feature races on Saturday are the sixth and eighth, both allowances for filly and mare sprinters. The sixth features razor-sharp Toni Two Pocket, an Ed Moger Jr. trainee that comes off a decisive win at this condition three weeks ago. Because she is a California-bred, she is eligible to win at this condition once more. Sheza Girl ran second to her last time out and looks to turn the tables while Cheap Cheap Cheap, making her first start for Jamey Thomas, has run two bang-up races against hard-knocking company since moving here from Southern California. She is also protected from a tag. Any other winner would be an upset.

“In the eighth on Saturday, the morning-line favorite is Away from the Sun, a Blaine Wright trainee who has been super impressive in two lifetime starts. After breaking her maiden on turf, she returned to our main track Tapeta surface and trounced winners. She has won by a combined 11 lengths in her first two starts ... impressive. Southern California shipper Over Attracted makes her first start in Northern California after several solid efforts against first-level allowance company at Santa Anita and Del Mar. The slightly easier competition in Northern California should aid her chances of winning at this condition. My Legal Bet, always well regarded, broke her maiden from the rail while dealing with adversity and makes her first start against winners here. Marilyn’s Smile, a mare who comes off two straight wins against high-level claiming company, rounds out the field. She bumps up in class but fits at this level with her best effort.

“The feature on Sunday, for male sprinters, features Let’s Reyjoyce and Square Deal. Both runners exit a race at this condition where they finished second and third, respectively, with the latter gelding outfinishing the former for second. The Little H Man is an Andy Mathis-trained gelding who was extremely impressive breaking his maiden last time out and looks like an intriguing one-turn prospect. Another recent maiden winner, Cowboy Kisses, figures to add additional pace.

“We end this week’s write-up with a reminder that live racing for the next two weeks will be three days: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.”

Big races preview

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

12:15 Oaklawn (5): $105,000 allowance/optional claimer, 4 and up, 1 1/16 miles. Favorite: Impossible Task (3-1)

12:55: Oaklawn (6): $250,000 Carousel Stakes, fillies and mares 4 and up, 6 furlongs. Favorite: Frank’s Rockette (7-5)

12:32 Aqueduct (3): $100,000 Top Flight Invitational, fillies and mares 4 and up, 1 1/8 miles. Favorite: Horologist (7-5)

1:24 Keeneland (7): Grade 3 $150,000 Ben Ali Stakes, 4 and up, 1 1/8 miles. Favorite: Night Ops (1-1)

2:19 Aqueduct (8): $100,000 Danger’s Hour Stakes, 4 and up, 1 mile on turf. Favorite: Zoomer (3-5)

2:30 Keeneland (9): Grade 3 $00,000 Lexington Stakes, 3-year-olds, 1 1/16 miles. Favorite: Proxy (6-5)

2:49 Oaklawn (9): $400,000 Oaklawn Mile, 4 and up, 1 mile. Favorite: By My Standards (5-2)

3:03 Keeneland (10): Grade 1 $300,000 Jenny Wiley Stakes, fillies and mares 4 and up, 1 1/16 miles on turf. Favorite: Micheline (2-1)

3:29 Oaklawn (10): $105,000 allowance/optional claimer, 3-year-olds, 6 furlongs. Favorite: Mighty Mischief (2-1)

4:05 Oaklawn (11): Grade 3 $500,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap, 4 and up, 6 furlongs. Favorite: Whitmore (9-5)

4:41 Oaklawn (12): Grade 1 $1 million Arkansas Derby, 3-year-olds, 1 1/8 miles. Favorite: Concert Tour (1-1)

Chris Wade’s LA pick of the day

EIGHTH RACE: No. 2 Apolitical Glory JQM (6-1)

Let’s go to the finale on Saturday evening and roll with a top-notch jockey/trainer combo winning at 17%. Apolitical Glory JQM exits a troubled speed sharpening effort at 110 yards 22 nights ago. In that effort, this gelding broke a little slow and inward to brush the runner-up Up To Hit away from the gate. He was then taken up harshly nearing the wire when placed in tight quarters by the top two finishers. Still, with all the strife factored in, this runner performed admirably and with a typical performance and an elusive clean trip tonight, this entrant should be a contender for all the board placings and at a nice price.

A final thought

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

Santa Anita Entries for Saturday, April 10.

Santa Anita, Santa Anita Park, Arcadia, California. 48th day of a 81-day meet.


6 Furlongs. Purse: $42,000. Claiming. 4 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $40,000-$35,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1AntitheticalEmily Ellingwood111Steven Miyadi8-135,000
2Single Me OutTyler Baze122Gary Stute5-140,000
3OwningTiago Pereira120Javier Jose Sierra20-135,000
4PosterizeGeovanni Franco122Daniel Azcarate5-240,000
5Handsome CatJose Valdivia, Jr.122Steven Miyadi2-140,000
6LittlebitamedalFlavien Prat122Doug F. O'Neill9-540,000


1 Mile. Purse: $35,000. Maiden Optional Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $50,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1My Summer DreamTyler Baze118Anthony K. Saavedra5-1
2Phantom DanceRicardo Gonzalez126Philip D'Amato8-5
3Lone ScoutJuan Hernandez118Robert B. Hess, Jr.5-2
4Royal OrbGeovanni Franco118Ruben Gomez5-1
5PapaleFlavien Prat118Mark Glatt5-2


5½ Furlongs. Purse: $35,000. Maiden Claiming. 3 year olds. Claiming Prices $50,000-$45,000. State bred.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1No MaliceHeriberto Figueroa123Walther Solis9-250,000
2Gerlach'sAbel Cedillo119Vladimir Cerin5-245,000
3Sir Williams DreamAlexis Centeno116Ricardo Zamora12-150,000
4Luckys Last StandTiago Pereira123Dean Pederson6-550,000
5Gordy's BoyTyler Baze119Alexis Barba5-245,000


6 Furlongs. Purse: $24,000. Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 4 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $20,000-$18,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Stormin RangerEdwin Maldonado124Adam Kitchingman5-1
2Bella RenellaKent Desormeaux124Rafael DeLeon4-120,000
3ChollimaAbel Cedillo122Lorenzo Ruiz6-118,000
4Saving SophieEmily Ellingwood117Ryan Hanson5-220,000
5It's a RiddleJuan Hernandez122Robert B. Hess, Jr.3-118,000
6Your Royal CoilRuben Fuentes124Andrew Lerner3-1


5½ Furlongs. Purse: $22,000. Maiden Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $25,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Dancing in ParisRuben Fuentes126Salvador Orozco20-125,000
2Moon MischiefFlavien Prat126John W. Sadler9-525,000
3Stir the PotAlexis Centeno119Steve Knapp5-225,000
4Count AlexeiCerapio Figueroa126Jorge Rosales8-125,000
5Prince MagicianJuan Hernandez126Hector O. Palma2-125,000
6TowingHeriberto Figueroa126Carlo Vaccarezza5-125,000


7 Furlongs. Purse: $63,000. Allowance Optional Claiming. 4 year olds and up. Claiming Price $40,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1ExaultedMike Smith124Peter Eurton6-5
2Wrecking CrewFlavien Prat124Peter Miller8-1
3HowbeitAbel Cedillo124Mark Glatt5-1
4Colt FictionTiago Pereira124William Spawr3-1
5TizhotndustyJessica Pyfer117J. Eric Kruljac6-1
6California StreetRicardo Gonzalez124Patrick Gallagher8-140,000
7Golden Star RockJuan Hernandez124Peter Miller15-1


1 Mile. Purse: $31,000. Claiming. 4 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $20,000-$18,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1ContagionRuben Fuentes122Andrew Lerner4-120,000
2Conquest CobraFlavien Prat122Vann Belvoir3-120,000
3Swamp SouffleEdwin Maldonado120Reed Saldana12-118,000
4CauseididitmywayKent Desormeaux124Sal Gonzalez7-220,000
5Truth SeekerAbel Cedillo122Steven Miyadi5-220,000
6ColosiJuan Hernandez122Mark Glatt3-120,000


1 Mile. Purse: $65,000. Allowance Optional Claiming. 4 year olds and up. Claiming Price $62,500.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1TaishanAbel Cedillo122Richard Baltas4-1
2LambeauEdwin Maldonado122John A. Shirreffs5-1
3CharlitoJessica Pyfer115Richard E. Mandella4-1
4EkklesiaJuan Hernandez122Peter Eurton6-1
5Sash Geovanni Franco124Mark Glatt5-1
6Bold EndeavorFlavien Prat122Mark Glatt5-2
7Royal ActMike Smith122Peter Eurton10-1
8Heywoods BeachTyler Baze122John W. Sadler20-1


6 Furlongs. Purse: $25,000. Maiden Claiming. Fillies. 3 year olds. Claiming Prices $30,000-$28,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Big Al's PrincessJessica Pyfer116Victor L. Garcia5-130,000
2Life's EmotionsGeovanni Franco123Daniel Azcarate15-130,000
3Best of ShowAlexis Centeno114Steven Miyadi8-128,000
4Lulu D' OroRuben Fuentes123Victor L. Garcia6-130,000
5Ensleys DreamEdwin Maldonado123Brian J. Koriner5-130,000
6Evening AnchorTyler Baze123Sean McCarthy15-130,000
7Medusa's GazeRicardo Gonzalez123Kristin Mulhall4-130,000
8MolokiniEmily Ellingwood114Richard Baltas20-128,000
9Kind But She LiesKent Desormeaux121J. Eric Kruljac7-228,000
10Phillips LaneAbel Cedillo123Sean McCarthy15-130,000
11Brio Is AwesomeEswan Flores121Lorenzo Ruiz30-128,000
12Season to RememberJuan Hernandez123Craig Anthony Lewis20-130,000