Hello, my name is John Cherwa and welcome back to our horse racing newsletter as we’re sorry to hear that Game Winner and Maximum Security won’t be competing any time soon.
Last week I asked readers what advice they would have for Craig Fravel, the incoming chief executive for racing at the Stronach Group. He takes over after the Breeders Cup on Nov. 1-2 at Santa Anita. I’m guessing Aidan Butler, the current boss at Santa Anita, will also make some notes.
I asked that the responses be short, constructive and not mean, which many of you ignored. I’m not sure we broke any new ground, instead bringing back complaints we’ve heard before.
The most common bit of advice, submitted by many, was to stop dragging the post time. The second most common topic was returning racing to the hillside turf course. In these cases, I used the first person to send in readers’ thoughts or added a different twist to it.
So, here are some of your responses. I’ve edited them and added my own comments when I thought it was helpful.
“They need to immediately put an end to the post time dragging at TSG tracks.”
— Eric Green
“It’s great that it’s reported that [Fravel is] popular with horsemen. They have run racing here for years. How’s that working out?
— James Shepherd
“Don’t allow any compromises to horse and jockey safety. Follow Del Mar’s safety protocols assiduously as a minimum and add any others that are unique to SA’s conditions or followed at other tracks with excellent safety records.”
— Dick Bushey
(Cherwa note: Santa Anita is adopting all of the protocols of Del Mar and adding a few new ones. Del Mar originally borrowed from Santa Anita’s protocols. It’s a transformational process.)
“Post time is off time. Your customers understand the concept that wagers need to be placed in a timely manner.
— Tim Robertson
Go back to the pocket-sized program. The large program with PPs, while well intended, was popular with very few.
— Stephen Young
— Jack Liebau
(Cherwa note: Liebau is the vice president of the Los Alamitos Racing Assn.)
“Right now the credibility of the thoroughbred industry ranges from weak to nonexistent. Without credibility we will never have respect. Please [help] to reestablish respect for our sport by insisting on transparency at all times, on all matters.”
— John O’Sullivan
“Continue down-the-hill racing, please. Also, none of this buffet stuff at Front Runner on opening day. Most regular people don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on mediocre food when they can be betting it.”
— Alex Aranda
“Please do not provide that insane, idiotic roulette wagering option.”
— Norman Youtan
(Cherwa note: While I have also written that it is time to dump this bet, the easy answer for everyone is if you don’t like it, don’t bet it.)
“He should work with the CHRB for fewer racing days. At least six weeks of each year.”
— Jimmy Cowling
“Please don’t institute a quinella at Santa Anita. All it does is cannibalize the exacta pool.”
— Curt Lawson
“Rather than the approach of the last administration, learn the nuances of California racing and work with (not against) the other tracks in the state.”
— Jim Sciuto
“Get the best guy for maintaining the condition of the track you can find, including the super who was let go by the geniuses running SA into the ground this past meet.”
— Peter Canavan
(Cherwa note: I’m told by Aidan Butler that he is working hard to get Dennis Moore to stick around for the big winter-spring meeting.)
“Do whatever you can to make the field size better.”
— Eric Rickard
“Please put some effort into restoring and improving accommodations for ordinary racing fans if you truly wish to grow the sport. The conversion of the clubhouse apron section at Santa Anita to high-end (and expensive) dining is just one example of completely disregarding the average folks.”
— Sandy Wyper
“Horse racing needs to attract more owners into the sport and provide a better experience for them at the track. Santa Anita should have an owner’s lounge like Del Mar. The 100 to 1 Club facility is empty 90% of the time and would be a perfect location.”
— John Cavalli
“Demographics seems to show the average bettor as middle-aged. Should you consider shorter or more boutique meets?”
— Stanley P. Plastek
“Take action on getting rid of the breakage. Make the payouts on wagers accurate to the penny. Also reduce the takeout to 10% on all wagers at all Stronach tracks.”
— Dennis McGarry
(Cherwa note: Business and Professional Code 1961.01 says the takeout can not go below 10%, in case you didn’t know.)
“Fans at home need a real post parade where the horses walk with a full view of the horse, not the lead pony or graphics covering up part of the horse.”
— Ron Gwinn
(Cherwa note: The racing feeds used by TVG are provided by the track.)
“Use both your professional experience and personal integrity to put the well-being of horses before bottom line.
— Corrine Hanley
“TSG [needs to] acknowledge that mismanagement of the racing surface during the winter contributed to the problems there? I don’t think they’ve ever formally fessed up on that, preferring to point fingers elsewhere. The first step in solving a problem is admitting that you have one.”
— Norm Gibson
“I would plead with you to close the track to racing in inclement, continuous bad weather. Sealing the track is not the answer. The track will lose money but win in the end by not losing horses. This is Southern California; our thoroughbreds and tracks are not used to lots of rain.”
— William P. Gregory, DVM
“Fix the public address system. Turn on the volume for all off-track races. People make noise and get interested in off-track and will bet more.
— Greg Mayberry
“The facility for the average fan needs a total makeover starting with the plumbing and restroom areas. I am glad to see the track catering to the highfalutin clientele with the new suites and dining area. However, if a fan brings $100 to the track, after parking, admission, a seat and food they may be left with about half of that to bet with. I love this track and would hate to see it go the way of Hollywood Park.”
— Joe Hernandez
“The escalator from 2 to 1 in the grandstand goes too fast. I’m afraid to use it now. Slow it down. And please remove the horizontal bars in front to the tote board. You can’t read the amounts in the show pool and the third-place horse is often obscured.”
— Stuart Ray
“When I go to Santa Anita, I can rarely hear anything but noise. Please fix the PA system.”
— Steve Kerrigan
“We need bigger fields even if it means fewer races. And improve the PA system and don’t have bands playing on it while making announcements or interviewing people on the big video screen in the infield.”
— Henry W. Ortiz
“Have some nice seat packages in the clubhouse that are affordable, as they were in past years at Breeders’ Cup Santa Anita.”
— Sally Cruikshank
“Find a way to bring back the hillside turf course and get rid of its dirt crossing. It is such a unique and distinctive feature that sets Santa Anita apart from any other racetrack.”
— Aaron Bernstein
(Cherwa note: You would have to move the dirt track in order to eliminate the crossover.)
“Remember the words of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: ‘The heights by great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but they, while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night.’ He has a devoted team behind him at Santa Anita. This is a great industry, one worth laboring for.
— Millie Ball
(Cherwa note: Ball works for XBTV, which is owned by TSG.)
We’re keeping the polls open one more day on what you think about the situation with Justify and his positive test. To vote, just click here. I think we have a winning thought but it’s not like it’s a landslide. So, let us know what you think. You won’t be able to see the results yet, but we’ll reveal them on Friday.
Update on Gary and Mary West horses
It’s not particularly good news, but it could be a lot worse. Game Winner, the 2-year-old Eclipse Award winner, might have run his last race. Trainer Bob Baffert has suggested the horse be given 60 days off and Gary and Mary West, the owners, are searching for a suitable stallion location. The news was first reported by Ray Paulick of the Paulick Report.
As for Maximum Security, the disqualified winner of the Kentucky Derby, he suffered a bad case of colic but should have a complete recovery. It certainly takes him out of the Pennsylvania Derby and probably the Breeders’ Cup Classic. But he could be back in time to run in Pegasus at Gulfstream, where he won the Florida Derby.
Los Alamitos thoroughbred preview
There are nine races on Thursday’s card because a stakes race from last week didn’t fill and was moved to today. Now, don’t get fooled, as there are only eight thoroughbred races. The first race is for Arabians, going six furlongs for a $6,000 purse. But it’s a full field of nine.
The feature is the $75,000 Phone Chatter Stakes for 2-year-old fillies . The favorite, at 6-5, is Quality Response for Baffert and jockey Joe Talamo. She won her only race, a maiden special, by 7¼ lengths. The second favorite is Paid Informant at 7-5 for Richard Baltas and Flavien Prat. She won her first race, a maiden claimer, by 3¼ lengths. It’s the fifth race at around 3 p.m.
Here are the field sizes, in order: 9, 7, 7, 7, 5, 7, 7, 7, 10.
Ciaran Thornton’s Lrc pick of the day
I have two value plays for you again today with the hopes at least one of them does not scratch. That plan worked on Sunday as both our value plays raced.
RACE TWO: No. 7 Truest Reward (6-1)
Truest Reward is a first-timer whose dam has five winners from five starters including a stakes winner. We have a sharp workout for the debut. Trainer Luis Mendez has a 29% win rate debuting in maiden claimers and jockey Rueben Fuentes is winning 30% for this trainer. 6-1 is a great value backup to the favorite in this race.
RACE SEVEN: No. 1. Indy Jones (8-1)
Indy Jones won last out for trainer Val Brinkerhoff going 7 furlongs. He moves the horse up in class today and puts in a sharp workout. Jockey JR Diaz rides again and he is winning 40% for this trainer. The rail is also winning 29%. 8-1 is a great value.
Sunday’s results: A five-wide trip was of no help to Blew By You who faded in the stretch to finish fourth. Money was bet on Blew with the horse dropping to 7-2 at post time versus our expected 8-1 value price. Arctic Roll, on the other hand, tracked in second place after a nice break and battled down the stretch but could not hold off the winner and ran second. A cutback to a 6- to 7-furlong distance may be ideal for the next race.
Thornton is the handicapper for Californiapick4.com, 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 up at Golden Gate Fields. Matt’s boundless enthusiasm can be heard in his calls and seen in his writing. Take it away, Matt.
“We’ll get right to it. Jockey Irving Orozco had a weekend to remember. On Saturday, the 26-year-old journeyman guided five winners’ home to the roar of an enthusiastic crowd. Any jockey who manages to pick up five victories in one day is considered to have achieved a fantastic feat. A day later, Orozco came close to the previous day’s mark, winning four races. Doing the first-grade math, that’s nine wins in two days.
“With two more weeks to go at the current summer meet, Orozco is primed for a summer meet riding title. He has won 32 races and is 13 victories ahead of second-place rider Frank Alvarado.
“The third race on Friday catches the eye. An allowance on turf for fillies and mares, this race features the return of Rolling Green, third-place finisher Wicked Old Fashion and Golden Gate Fields turf track record holder Keeper Ofthe Stars.
“Wicked Old Fashion has won three of five starts this year. Trained by Victor Trujillo, the daughter of Colonel John is ‘all racehorse,’ with 10 career wins from 20 lifetime starts. Her most recent race, a third-place finish in the Rolling Green Stakes against males, was better than it looked. She sat well off the pace — uncharacteristic of her typical ‘close to the pace’ running style — and was caught wide on both turns before rallying for an in-the-money placing.
“Keeper Ofthe Stars, conditioned by Jonathan Wong, is a talented 3-year-old filly that has been well regarded for quite some time. After running through her conditions earlier in the year, she broke the 1 1/16-mile turf track record on June 9, defeating older allowance runners while completing the course in 1:40.55 seconds. She has run twice since then, finishing fourth in the Grade 2 San Clemente and the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks. Keeper Ofthe Stars is also well-bred, being from two-time Breeders’ Cup Sprint champion Midnight Lute. The 3-year-old sophomore is out of the mare Sociable, a half-sibling to multiple Grade 1 winner and Kentucky stallion The Factor.”
“This week, Leg C of the Stronach 5 wager goes as the fourth race Golden Gate on Friday, with a full field of 12 going six furlongs in a starter allowance. The (very) likely post-time favorite will be 3-1 morning-line shot No. 11 Passionate Reward, who has produced speed figures that suggest he may just be faster than everyone else. On top of that, he drops in class and ships up north for Hall of Famer Richard Mandella. In conclusion, I would be surprised if horseplayers did not bet this horse down to the favorite. It’s a competitive race, though, and we have plenty of solid racehorses in the Bay Area that look to take down the Southern California entrant. Among those are recent winners Autumn Day and Honeymoonz Over, the consistent Dramatic Ride and Two Bills, who comes off a third-place finish behind a winner who ‘freaked’ that day.”
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Now, the star of the show, Thursday’s entries.
Los Alamitos Race Course Entries for Thursday, September 19.
Los Alamitos Race Course, Los Alamitos, California. 7th day of a 10-day meet.
6 Furlongs. Purse: $6,000. Allowance. Arabian. 3 year olds and up.
|1||PRESTONS LADY AA||Juan Sanchez||118||Terri Eaton||4-1|
|2||WMA PLATINUM||Jose Dominguez||125||Terri Eaton||12-1|
|3||AURA MAKARINA||Hugo Herrera||118||Abel Borg||3-1|
|5||RU MYSTIFIED||Barrington Harvey||123||Helen Shelley||20-1|
|6||SLUFFYS GIZMO||Ramon Guce||122||Helen Shelley||5-2|
|7||MARSANNE MHF||John Jude||122||Simon Hobson||2-1|
|8||WHR INCENDIARY||Minor Arana||125||Ron E. White||20-1|
|9||RB HOT BUNS||Christian Aragon||120||Abel Borg||15-1|
5½ Furlongs. Purse: $17,000. Maiden Claiming. 3 year olds. Claiming Prices $30,000-$28,000.
|1||Vermeer||Jorge Velez||117||Jerry Hollendorfer||3-1||30,000|
|2||Coast of Roan||Evin Roman||120||Doug F. O'Neill||6-1||28,000|
|3||Floyd Moneymaker||J.C. Diaz, Jr.||115||Val Brinkerhoff||5-2||30,000|
|4||Credance||Assael Espinoza||122||Val Brinkerhoff||4-1||30,000|
|5||Agent Zero||Brayan Pena||122||Luis Mendez||4-1||30,000|
|6||My Boy Andy||Heriberto Figueroa||122||Charles S. Treece||20-1||30,000|
|7||Truest Reward||Ruben Fuentes||122||Luis Mendez||6-1||30,000|
1 Mile. Purse: $17,000. Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $16,000-$14,000.
|1||Sunset Seven||J.C. Diaz, Jr.||117||David E. Hofmans||2-1||16,000|
|2||Fishel||Tiago Pereira||124||Elena Andrade||20-1||16,000|
|3||Bea's Boy||Jorge Velez||112||Sal Gonzalez||12-1||16,000|
|4||Topgallant||Ruben Fuentes||121||Reed Saldana||5-2||16,000|
|5||Ooh La La Whalah||Martin Garcia||115||Peter Miller||5-1||14,000|
|6||Handsome John||Abel Cedillo||117||Mike Puype||6-1||16,000|
|7||Seau||Geovanni Franco||124||Quinn Howey||3-1||16,000|
6 Furlongs. Purse: $40,000. Maiden Special Weight. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up.
|1||Free Belief||Jorge Velez||115||John W. Sadler||3-1|
|2||Persepolis||Flavien Prat||124||Richard E. Mandella||5-2|
|3||Amatara||Ruben Fuentes||120||Richard Baltas||8-5|
|4||Surreptitious||Rafael Bejarano||120||Leonard Powell||10-1|
|5||Miss Tokyo||Abel Cedillo||120||Richard Baltas||5-1|
|6||Kohala Coast||Evin Roman||120||Martin F. Jones||20-1|
|7||True Mischief||Heriberto Figueroa||120||Richard Baltas||12-1|
6½ Furlongs. Purse: $75,000. 'PHONE CHATTER STAKES'. Stakes. Fillies. 2 year olds.
|1||Paid Informant||Flavien Prat||120||Richard Baltas||7-5|
|2||Mean Sophia||Norberto Arroyo, Jr.||122||Peter Miller||3-1|
|3||Convoluted||Geovanni Franco||120||Peter Miller||12-1|
|4||Quality Response||Joseph Talamo||122||Bob Baffert||6-5|
|5||Aqua Seaform Shame||Ruben Fuentes||118||Richard Baltas||12-1|
1 Mile. Purse: $40,000. Maiden Special Weight. Fillies. 2 year olds.
|1||Gingham||Mike Smith||122||Bob Baffert||7-5|
|2||Seahawk Lisa||Jorge Velez||117||Jerry Hollendorfer||4-1|
|3||Sentimental||Geovanni Franco||122||Jerry Hollendorfer||12-1|
|4||Colombian Gold||Tiago Pereira||122||Andrew Lerner||4-1|
|5||Lizzario||Norberto Arroyo, Jr.||122||J. Keith Desormeaux||12-1|
|6||I Give Up||Ruben Fuentes||122||Hector O. Palma||12-1|
|7||Dipping In||Mario Gutierrez||122||Doug F. O'Neill||3-1|
1 1/16 Mile. Purse: $22,000. Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $25,000.
|1||Indy Jones||J.C. Diaz, Jr.||110||Val Brinkerhoff||8-1||25,000|
|2||Street to Indy||Martin Garcia||121||Thomas Ray Bell, II||5-1||25,000|
|3||Fast as Cass||Ruben Fuentes||124||Steve Knapp||7-2||25,000|
|4||Union Station||Jorge Velez||115||Eoin G. Harty||8-1||25,000|
|5||Broke Away Grey||Tiago Pereira||124||Ronald W. Ellis||2-1||25,000|
|6||Chieftain's Lad||Geovanni Franco||124||Candelario Villamar||15-1||25,000|
|7||I Can Do This||Abel Cedillo||124||Mark Glatt||5-2||25,000|
5½ Furlongs. Purse: $17,000. Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $16,000-$14,000.
|1||According to Buddy||Eswan Flores||124||Hector O. Palma||3-1||16,000|
|2||Satori||Norberto Arroyo, Jr.||122||Martin F. Jones||4-1||14,000|
|3||The White Shadow||Abel Cedillo||120||Andrew Lerner||4-1||16,000|
|4||Older Brother||Jose Dominguez||124||Robert J. Lucas||5-1||16,000|
|5||The Party Factor||Edgar Payeras||124||Jaime H. Gomez||10-1||16,000|
|6||Mon Camo||Hugo Herrera||124||Terri Eaton||12-1||16,000|
|7||Saratoga Morning||Martin Garcia||124||Doug F. O'Neill||5-2|
6 Furlongs. Purse: $45,000. Allowance Optional Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $40,000.
|1||Breakers Isle||Edgar Payeras||124||Robert J. Lucas||30-1||40,000|
|2||Candy Zip||Ramon Guce||124||Robert A. Bean||20-1||40,000|
|3||Make It a Triple||Vinnie Bednar||122||Keith E. Craigmyle||6-1|
|4||Grinning Tiger||Heriberto Figueroa||122||Anthony K. Saavedra||15-1|
|5||J T's A. T. M.||Evin Roman||124||Martin Valenzuela, III||10-1|
|6||Coil Me Home||Flavien Prat||122||Richard Baltas||5-2|
|7||Coliseum||Joseph Talamo||118||Bob Baffert||9-5|
|8||Threefiveindia||Martin Garcia||122||Philip D'Amato||4-1||40,000|
|9||Tap the Wire||Geovanni Franco||118||Daniel Dunham||20-1|
|10||R Cha Cha||Jorge Velez||117||Charles S. Treece||20-1||40,000|