Racing! CHRB to take up new racing dates

Jockey Flavien Prat and horse Hollywood Hills at Del Mar last month.
(Hayne Palmour IV / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Hello, my name is John Cherwa and welcome back to our horse racing newsletter as we ponder fewer racing dates in 2020.

Is it too soon to think about next year’s racing schedule? Actually, it’s a little late.

On Thursday, the California Horse Racing Board plans to meet at Del Mar to discuss the racing dates for the southern part of the state — or in other words: us.

Now, it’s unclear if the dates are chiseled in stone and any discussion is a mere formality and the fix for approval is in. Or, is there actually the opportunity to allow comment, discussion and maybe change or compromise. We’re guessing the former.

According to a letter entered into the record for Thursday’s meeting, Alan Balch, executive director of the California Thoroughbred Trainers (CTT), claims his group was excluded from “serious private discussions resulting in recommendations to the California Horse Racing Board.”


He also went on to say, if you read between the lines, that the foal crop today can no longer sustain the amount of racing that currently is being held in California. He didn’t state it that directly, but we are guessing that’s where he was headed.

Also feeling excluded was Los Alamitos, who, through vice president Jack Liebau, demanded to know who the stakeholders were that requested this be put on the meeting agenda. In the letter, he also said Los Alamitos requested dates similar to those it had this year. Right now, it doesn’t have them.

The exclusion was more Santa Anita, Del Mar and the Thoroughbred Owners of California (TOC) dissing the CTT and Los Alamitos. The meeting with the CHRB, in which the CTT was invited but didn’t attend, was a working session and not open to the public, as opposed to a meeting in which decisions are made and recommendations to the full board are made.

Vice-chair Madeline Auerbach and commissioner Fred Maas were the only board members in attendance.

“Since this was less than three persons, it was not acting as a state body and therefore not subject to notice and public meeting requirements,” said Mike Marten, CHRB spokesman.

Then, the two main tracks and the TOC have private conversations and, poof, you have next year’s racing schedule all set, we think.

Now, we’re not saying that the dates are bad or unfair. We’re just wondering how all the stakeholders aren’t present or, in the case of the private meetings, even invited. And then there’s the case of you and me, the public, who don’t get a look behind the curtain, especially if this is presented to the Board as fait accompli.

Too much insider talk? OK, let’s get to what is on the table for next year.

Santa Anita: Its dates are Dec. 18 to June 23, however, actual racing won’t begin until Dec. 26. But the extra dates are important because Santa Anita gets the simulcast revenue. Now, during that time there is supposed to be four days racing a week but there will be 12 cancellation dates, be they because of weather (you won’t believe the amount of perceived weather on Thursdays) or shortage of horses. The second meeting will be Sept. 9 to Oct. 27. During September they will race three days a week and four in October.

Del Mar: Its dates are July 8 to Sept. 8, with July 8 to 17 to be only simulcast money dates. Now, this really isn’t an extension of an end date, but there is a late Labor Day next year (Sept. 7). The summer meet will be five days a week and likely will benefit because there is no racing the week before the track opens. The fall meeting will go from Oct. 28 until Dec. 1. Now, and this is a big change, the track will run only three days a week in the fall except Thanksgiving week.


Los Alamitos: This track took the biggest hit as far as dates. The facility is down to about four weeks. So, that leaves Los Alamitos with three-day-a-week racing somewhere in the period from June 24 until July 7. The first week belongs to Los Alamitos and the second week is the L.A. County Fair. The Fair also has another meeting from Dec. 2 until Dec. 15, but it will be four days a week.

So, what does all this mean? Less racing, but not by a lot.

What no one really can predict is how the horse population will rebound after Santa Anita’s sport-altering meeting this year. There’s a new guy in charge at Santa Anita, Aidan Butler, and to say his task is Herculean would be an understatement.

Again, all this is what’s proposed. We’re not even sure who will be running the meeting. Chuck Winner’s term on the board has expired, but he can hang around another 60 days or until the governor appoints another board member.

We’ll also be listening to hear if Auerbach is named to the chairman job, as everyone expects. This would come a couple weeks after she was ensnared in an appearance of conflict of interest that the CHRB attorneys said was legal. She was business partners with Tim Ritvo, former Santa Anita boss and someone she regulated, in the ownership of a horse.

California racing can make even the simplest transactions interesting, and we don’t always mean that in a good way.

By the way, Northern California dates are not on the table, yet.

Del Mar preview

The Wednesday card is seven races starting at 2 p.m. There a stakes, and allowance and three maiden races. The feature is the $85,000 Harry F. Brubaker Stakes for horses going a mile.

The favorite, at 5-2, is Dr. Dorr for trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Joe Talamo. He’s five for 17 lifetime and has been lightly raced recently. He finished fifth in last year’s Pacific Classic, followed by a second in the San Carlos and a third in the Kona Gold.


The second favorite is Isotherm at 3-1. He’s trained by Phil D’Amato and will have leading rider Flavien Prat aboard. He is three for 23 lifetime and hasn’t won since Feb. 4, 2017. He was ninth in the Breeders’ Cup Mile. This is his first race of the year.

Here are the field sizes, in order: 10, 6, 8 (4 also eligible), 8, 8, 6, 8 (1 ae).

Bob Ike’s Dmr pick of the day

SEVENTH RACE: No. 4 Hartel (4-1)

Returns from Midwest for “Ship & Win” money as this Peter Miller-trained sophomore tries to regain his best form. Showed ability over this course as a 2-year-old last summer and reunites with Flavien Prat, who rode him to his only victory. Although he comes back quickly (12 days) after a cross-country ship, he should be very formidable as he drops back in with sophomores.

Sunday’s result: Ameerah B was in the right spot turning for home but spit it out badly through the stretch to finish far back in a disappointer.

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

Final thought

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

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

Del Mar Entries for Wednesday, August 21.

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; $2 Pick 6 last 6 races; $1 Place Pick All; $1 Super High Five last race. Trifecta needs 4 betting interests; Superfecta needs 6. 25th day of a 36-day meet.


1 Mile Turf. Purse: $61,000. Maiden Special Weight. Fillies. 2 year olds. State bred.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Nina En FuegoFlavien Prat120Tim Yakteen8-1
2Warrior's MoonDrayden Van Dyke120Peter Eurton7-2
3Going to ShaboomsGeovanni Franco120Andy Mathis20-1
4Warren's ShowtimeJorge Velez115Craig Anthony Lewis3-1
5Very BoisterousJ.C. Diaz, Jr.113Steven Miyadi20-1
6SassyserbAbel Cedillo120Anna Meah12-1
7CircleofcolorAgapito Delgadillo120John C. Ivory20-1
8LakayaEvin Roman120Robert B. Hess, Jr.6-1
9NocherylikemycheryRafael Bejarano120Mike Harrington4-1
10BayonceJoseph Talamo120Peter Eurton6-1


1 Mile. Purse: $25,000. Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $20,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1WhirlingRafael Bejarano123George Papaprodromou4-120,000
2Beyond PleasureFlavien Prat123Richard Baltas2-120,000
3FracasEdwin Maldonado123Craig Dollase6-120,000
4Atina Joseph Talamo123Andy Mathis3-120,000
5CimarronAbel Cedillo120Robert B. Hess, Jr.5-220,000
6All Tea All ShadeGeovanni Franco120Jorge Periban12-120,000


5 Furlongs Turf. Purse: $61,000. Maiden Special Weight. Fillies. 2 year olds.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Secret SquareRuben Fuentes120John W. Sadler4-1
2Scoot the MoonAssael Espinoza120Val Brinkerhoff10-1
3LaceTiago Pereira120Richard E. Mandella10-1
4Totally NormalRafael Bejarano120Doug F. O'Neill5-1
5Beautiful ThunderAaron Gryder120Brian J. Koriner10-1
6Wakes Up HappyAbel Cedillo120Doug F. O'Neill5-1
7Nu Pi LambdaVictor Espinoza120Carla Gaines7-2
8Mind OutFlavien Prat120Simon Callaghan3-1
Also Eligible
9Golden MelodieJorge Velez115Craig Anthony Lewis4-1
10Establish JusticeDrayden Van Dyke120Mike Puype5-1
11EclairDrayden Van Dyke120Bob Baffert5-2
12Greg's DivaFlavien Prat120Philip D'Amato2-1


1 Mile. Purse: $61,000. Maiden Special Weight. 3 year olds and up.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Noble PursuitJorge Velez118John W. Sadler6-1
2Still in the GameMario Gutierrez120Ben D. A. Cecil5-1
3Mongolian HeroAbel Cedillo120Enebish Ganbat20-1
4Gate SpeedKent Desormeaux120Mark Glatt7-2
5Caribbean Brice Blanc123John A. Shirreffs6-1
6Go for a RideFlavien Prat120Peter Miller5-2
7Commanding ChiefVictor Espinoza120John W. Sadler3-1
8PotanticoJ.C. Diaz, Jr.113Vladimir Cerin20-1


1 Mile Turf. Purse: $35,000. Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $32,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Buckstopper KitKent Desormeaux123Robert B. Hess, Jr.7-232,000
2Very Very StellaMartin Garcia123Doug F. O'Neill5-132,000
3Terrys Tom CatMario Gutierrez123Tim McCanna12-132,000
4Murad Khan Flavien Prat123Leonard Powell5-232,000
5Unusually GreenAbel Cedillo123Jonathan Wong3-132,000
6FabozziJoseph Talamo123Mark Glatt10-132,000
7Eldritch Jorge Velez118Mark Glatt15-132,000
8Caymans CobraAaron Gryder123Richard Baltas6-132,000


1 Mile. Purse: $85,000. 'Harry F. Brubaker Stakes'. 3 year olds and up.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1LomboGeovanni Franco119Philip D'Amato8-1
2Dr. DorrJoseph Talamo119Bob Baffert5-2
3IsothermFlavien Prat119Philip D'Amato3-1
4Leading ScoreMartin Garcia123Bob Baffert4-1
5Line JudgeRafael Bejarano121Peter Miller7-2
6Two Thirty FiveAbel Cedillo119Richard Baltas4-1


5 Furlongs Turf. Purse: $64,000. Allowance Optional Claiming. 3 year olds. Claiming Price $80,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Capture the SeaDrayden Van Dyke120Craig Dollase6-1
2Order and LawJoseph Talamo120Vladimir Cerin5-1
3Prodigal SonMario Gutierrez122Doug F. O'Neill3-1
4HartelFlavien Prat120Peter Miller4-1
5Boa Nova Edwin Maldonado120Anna Meah7-2
6Prince PierceMartin Garcia122Kevin Eikleberry15-1
7Oil Can KnightAbel Cedillo120Doug F. O'Neill4-1
8Tap the WireGeovanni Franco120Daniel Dunham20-1
Also Eligible
9No Bang No Boom Victor Espinoza122Wesley A. Ward5-280,000


6 Furlongs. Purse: $40,000. Maiden Claiming. 2 year olds. Claiming Prices $100,000-$85,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1RailsplitterRafael Bejarano120Doug F. O'Neill7-2100,000
2OctopusJoseph Talamo120Peter Eurton12-1100,000
3Prince RickyJorge Velez115Craig Anthony Lewis8-1100,000
4HowbeitEswan Flores117Luis Mendez6-185,000
5Impossible TaskAbel Cedillo120Doug F. O'Neill5-2100,000
6Final FinalGeovanni Franco120Bill McLean8-1100,000
7Carpe NoctemEdwin Maldonado120J. Keith Desormeaux20-1100,000
8Bean and the BugEvin Roman120J. Keith Desormeaux20-1100,000
9BamboozlerTiago Pereira120Tim Yakteen6-1100,000
10NuckyFlavien Prat120Peter Miller3-1100,000