Racing! More on Justify’s positive drug test

Justify runs during a morning workout at Churchill Downs before last year's Kentucky Derby.
Justify runs during a morning workout at Churchill Downs before last year’s Kentucky Derby.
(Charlie Riedel / Associated Press )

Hello, my name is John Cherwa and welcome to our horse racing newsletter as we get ready for the second of three weeks at the L.A. County Fair meeting.

Not much question that the big news of the day, if not the week, was that Justify failed a drug test after the Santa Anita Derby. The original story was broken by the New York Times. Good for them for finding something that was hidden for almost a year. I hear a lot of race track rumors, but had never heard that one.

However, there was a lot that was left out of the story that bears repeating and reporting. We have a story that goes pretty much in depth on the topic. Just click here.


Here are some things to consider about the situation.

--Justify was not the only positive. There were six other horses, who also tested for levels of scopolamine, which would indicate feed contamination as opposed to a rogue trainer.

--The drug is not a performance enhancer, according to top-shelf vets.

--If a positive were found and upheld in a super-fast manner, Justify would still be the winner of the Santa Anita Derby because as a 4c drug in California there is no disqualification. (This interpretation may still be open to some legal wrangling.)

--Anyone who expects a fast resolution to a drugging case is kidding themselves. (Although the zilpaterol case, and 48 positives, was disposed of in a month.)

--It actually wasn’t classified as a drugging case but a poisoning, because of the manner it was ingested.

Lots to think about.

My colleague Bryce Miller of the San Diego Union-Tribune also drove this story forward and looked at the conflicts of interests that the CHRB must constantly deal with. Just click here.

Is this a one-day story or does it have legs? Guess we’ll find out soon enough.

Los Alamitos daytime preview

The first day of the second week of the L.A. County Fair Meet at Los Alamitos seems to be hanging on with some OK fields and some short ones. There are three five-horse fields on the eight-race card beginning at 1 p.m. We’ll watch the weekend but I have to wonder if next Thursday’s card in the only four-day week of the three-week meeting will be able to fill. We can hope so.

The feature on Friday is $48,000 allowance/optional claimer for fillies and mares going six furlongs. The 8-5 favorite is Kim K for trainer Peter Miller and jockey Norberto Arroyo, Jr. Kim K is two-for-seven lifetime and won last year’s Barrett’s Debutante at Los Alamitos. Has been running at the graded stakes level lately.

Artistic Diva is the 9-5 second choice for John Sadler and Ruben Fuentes. She was second in the Miss Preakness Stakes at Pimlico and won the Anoakia Stakes at Santa Anita. She is two-of-three lifetime.

Here are the field sizes, in order: 5, 6, 5, 9, 7, 5, 8, 10.

Ciaran Thornton’s Lrc pick of the day

RACE SEVEN: No. 3 Whatsittoya (8-1)

Whatsittoya won last out at this distance to a horse who returned to get caught on the line going a furlong further. We are getting 8-1 morning line today for a horse with the top speed in the race and a validation of the last win. Moving up in class Abel Cedillo rides and he is winning 23% for the trainer. Cedillo picked this horse over the favorite. This is excellent value today, the best on the Friday card.

Sunday’s result: Navy Queen was a scratch on Sunday.

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

Matt Dinerman, the race caller at Golden Gate, is back with his weekly look at what’s happening at Golden Gate Fields. Matt’s boundless enthusiasm can be heard in his calls and seen in his writing. Take it away, Matt.

“Handicappers who like to analyze and bet turf races are in for a treat on Friday with five-of-eight races are on the turf. In fact, Leg C of the Stronach 5 wager is one of those races. First post the next three days is 1:15 p.m.

“A 60-1 winner in Leg E (Gulfstream Park, Race 9) of last week’s Stronach 5 wager prompted a $96,906 carryover in the industry low 12% takeout wager.

“The fourth race, Leg C at Golden Gate, has 13 starter allowance fillies and mares set to sprint five furlongs on the turf. The 9-5 morning-line favorite is No. 13 Unchaining Melody, coming off an easy maiden $20,000 claiming win at Santa Rosa. That said, ‘Melody will need three defections to draw into the race as she is third on the also eligible list of the 10-horse field.

“The second morning-line favorite draws the rail, 7-2 shot No. 1 Quick Song, who has run at the starter allowance level for quite some time but has failed to win at that level. She has hit the board seven of her last nine race at this level. No. 8 Gas Can comes off an easy $8,000 maiden claiming win on the Tapeta for trainer Andrew Lerner and is protected from being claimed in this spot while No. 9 Jaimi James cuts back in distance after routing and finishing fourth behind next out winner Oyster Shooter on Aug. 17. Both fillies figure to get bet, along with the Victor Trujillo trained No. 3 Starza, the Tim McCanna conditioned No. 7 Waverly Way and undefeated No. 10 Ixtapa’s Finest, overseen by trainer Bill McLean. I give the nod to Jaimi James.

Irving Orozco has 20 victories and sits atop the jockey standings after 17 days of live racing. Frank Alvarado and Kyle Frey are tied for second with 16 wins apiece. Jonathan Wong continues to win at a high rate and remains at the top of the trainer standings with 15 winners circle appearances. Victor Trujillo is next with eight wins.

David Duggan, vice president and general manager at Golden Gate Fields, has been asked to throw out the first pitch at the Oakland Athletics game on Tuesday night vs. the Kansas City Royals. Start time of the game is about 7:10 p.m. Tuesday is ‘Irish Heritage Night’ so it makes sense that Duggan will be throwing out the first pitch as he was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, where much of his family still resides.”

Los Alamitos nighttime weekend preview

It’s time to turn things over to marketing and media guru Orlando Gutierrez, who will tell us about the upcoming weekend at Los Alamitos. Orlando, the floor is yours.

“Derby finalists Ladys A Cartel, No Telling and Jess Motions will be joined by La Pacifica Handicap winner Striver, the ultra-quick Easily Lethal and multiple allowance winner Anas Image when these 3-year-old fillies enter the starting gate for the $15,000 Champagne Lane Handicap at 350 yards on Friday night at Los Alamitos. First post is 7 p.m.

“The Pick 6 carryover is $14,470 and starts in the second race. The total Pick 6 pool, with new money, could be around $60,000.

“Ladys A Cartel will make her first start since a sixth to Powerful Favorite in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Winter Derby on Feb. 9. The Five Bar Cartel filly finished with promise and was not far from a fifth-place finish. She had previously raced in three other stakes races at Los Alamitos, including the $137,000 Wild West Futurity. She also won the Pot O’ Gold Futurity at Sun Downs last year.

“Four sophomores from the Grade 2 Golden State Derby final reunite to compete in the first of three trials to the Grade 3, $150,000 PCQHRA Breeders Derby on Saturday at Los Alamitos. First post is 6 p.m.

“The field includes Conquering Marie, who took advantage of a beautiful start and troubled trips for several of the other top contenders, to score a surprising victory in the Golden State final. The Oklahoma-bred filly by Coronado Cartel would go on to win the Golden State at 30-1 and will headline the first 400-yard trial. While that derby victory was unexpected, Conquering Marie has been a top performer throughout her career. She finished third to Grade 1 All American Derby finalist Valiant Tiberias in the Adequan Ruidoso Derby Challenge and she competed in last year’s PCQHRA Breeders Futurity final. Mike Robbins will saddle Conquering Marie, who’ll be ridden by Ruben Castro.

“Conquering Marie will be facing a field in the trials that is loaded with talent. Leading the way is the terrific sophomore Chocolatito, who was the 3-5 favorite in the Golden State final before having a nightmarish trip, including getting bumped hard at the start. Chocolatito was eighth during the early going, but made a tremendous late run to improve to fifth place. Unbeaten in his previous three starts of the year, Chocolatito will be ridden by Vinnie Bednar for trainer Scott Willoughby in the final. Delayed Steal, who was disqualified from sixth and placed ninth in the Golden State final after veering sharply, and Ali Babe Foose, sixth in the Golden State final, will also compete in the opening trial. The final is Friday, Oct. 4.

“Sunday has the trials to the $355,000 PCQHRA Breeders Futurity. The 10 fastest times will return for the final on Saturday, October 5. The 2-year-olds include Grade 1 Ed Burke Million Futurity winner Flokie, Grade 2 Kindergarten winner Chayito Cartel and Governor’s Cup Futurity winner Pitbull.”

Chris Wade’s LA pick of the day


She is a trouble-prone runner deluxe who has very competitive figures when race trouble is factored into the track variant. She’s racing for a 21% jockey/trainer combo. Filly finished a much-better-than-looked third in her last outing versus a solid group of allowance runners despite a less than stellar stride. Her gallop outs have also been impressive and should be a contender for a top placing with a clean start this evening.

Final thought

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

Los Alamitos Race Course Entries for Friday, September 13.

Los Alamitos Race Course, Los Alamitos, California. 4th day of a 12-day meet.


1 Mile. Purse: $15,000. Maiden Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $20,000-$18,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Gallantlystreaming Francisco Orduna-Rojas120Oscar Heredia3-120,000
2Lucky Brite EyeTiago Pereira118Martine Bellocq5-218,000
3Cat's DesireJorge Velez119Nestor M. Capitaine8-520,000
4Laker JetEdgar Payeras120Robert A. Bean4-120,000
5English EmpressJ.C. Diaz, Jr.111Vladimir Cerin6-118,000


6½ Furlongs. Purse: $18,000. Maiden Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $40,000-$35,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1ClaudelleJorge Velez115John W. Sadler9-540,000
2Thought I'dmissyouGeovanni Franco118J. Eric Kruljac6-135,000
3Destiny's StormMario Gutierrez118Dallas E. Keen10-135,000
4BuybackEdwin Maldonado120Jeff Bonde4-140,000
5Busy PaynterTiago Pereira120Brian J. Koriner7-240,000
6Morning CynnAbel Cedillo120Doug F. O'Neill3-140,000


1 Mile. Purse: $25,000. Starter Allowance. 3 year olds and up.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Cabin JohnMartin Garcia124Dean Pederson9-5
2Platinum EquityRuben Fuentes124Steve Knapp8-5
3Plum DandyAssael Espinoza124Sal Gonzalez6-1
4ImplicitlyJ.C. Diaz, Jr.117Jorge Periban5-2
5Oh ManJorge Velez119Jerry Wallace, II8-1


5½ Furlongs. Purse: $40,000. Maiden Special Weight. Fillies. 2 year olds.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Too Much HeavenGeovanni Franco122J. Eric Kruljac12-1
2Golden MelodieJorge Velez117Craig Anthony Lewis8-1
3She Loves KaraokeBrayan Pena122Luis Mendez12-1
4Well Done SallyMartin Garcia122Kristin Mulhall10-1
5EclairJ.C. Diaz, Jr.115Bob Baffert8-5
6Go Big Blue NationRuben Fuentes122Jeff Bonde6-1
7Lady AgathaAssael Espinoza122Joshua M. Litt5-1
8Charging HomeAbel Cedillo122Doug F. O'Neill6-1
9Bye Bye BeautifulTiago Pereira122J. Eric Kruljac8-1


6½ Furlongs. Purse: $18,000. Maiden Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $40,000-$35,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Git On Your PulpitGeovanni Franco124Kathy Walsh6-140,000
2AlvaaroMartin Garcia120Doug F. O'Neill3-1
3NorskiEswan Flores120Hector O. Palma5-240,000
4High FiveJ.C. Diaz, Jr.113Vladimir Cerin7-240,000
5ZorichAbel Cedillo120Mark Glatt4-140,000
6RineshaftRuben Fuentes120Hector O. Palma6-140,000
7Son of a QueenEdgar Payeras120Ricardo Zamora20-140,000


6 Furlongs. Purse: $48,000. Allowance Optional Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $62,500.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Artistic DivaRuben Fuentes122John W. Sadler9-5
2Tip Top GalGeovanni Franco118Marcia Stortz12-1
3Devils DanceJorge Velez113Craig Anthony Lewis3-1
4Kim KNorberto Arroyo, Jr.118Peter Miller8-5
5Smiling TigressAbel Cedillo122David Bernstein4-1


5½ Furlongs. Purse: $25,000. Starter Allowance. 3 year olds and up.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1AcedJ.C. Diaz, Jr.117Vann Belvoir7-2
2Restless RamblerJorge Velez119Peter Miller3-1
3WhatsittoyaAbel Cedillo120Robert B. Hess, Jr.8-1
4IncensedEvin Roman124Vann Belvoir5-1
5EmtechMario Gutierrez120Steve Knapp12-1
6Toothless WonderEdwin Maldonado120Anna Meah20-1
7HeartfullofstarsEswan Flores124Gary Sherlock7-2
8Annie's CandyHeriberto Figueroa124Jerry Hollendorfer9-2


5½ Furlongs. Purse: $12,000. Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $6,250.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Tengs WonderRamon Guce124Jerry Wallace, II6-16,250
2Millie JoelFrancisco Orduna-Rojas124Justin B. Clark4-16,250
3Mergie TroidFrank Johnson124Santos R. Perez20-16,250
4XerneasJorge Velez119Marcia Stortz8-16,250
5California AppealAbel Cedillo120Mark E. Hall7-26,250
6Scott's Best BethChristian Aragon124Salvador Naranjo5-16,250
7AsemFelipe Martinez124Kelly Castaneda10-16,250
8Copper CowgirlBrayan Pena124Patricia Harrington8-16,250
9PanshirJose Dominguez124Mark E. Hall10-16,250
10Time for KissesEdgar Payeras120Gary Sherlock3-16,250