Racing! McKinzie looking for a new jockey


Hello, my name is John Cherwa and welcome back to our horse racing newsletter as we try and figure out the jockeys for the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Trainer Bob Baffert is making a switch and taking jockey Mike Smith off likely Breeders’ Cup Classic favorite McKinzie. The move came just a couple days after McKinzie finished second to Mongolian Groom in the Awesome Again Stakes on Saturday.

The news was first reported by Jay Privman of the Daily Racing Form. You can read his story here.


“I’m still going to use Mike on horses,” Baffert told Privman. “But for the Classic, I’m going to make a change. I let Mike know now, because I want to give him a chance to get something else.”

Baffert was unhappy with McKinzie’s trip in the Metropolitan Mile, where the horse was continually in trouble and finished second. Smith has ridden McKinzie in all 13 of his races.

Smith, it seems, didn’t see the jockey switch coming, based on what he said after the Awesome Again.

“I thought I could go with the two outside horses, but they seemed like they were determined to get it,” Smith said Saturday. “So, I let them go figuring they’d entertain each other and we’d do what we do. That horse (Mongolian Groom) ran a huge race [Saturday]. We lost the battle, but this ain’t the war. Hopefully we’ll come back and be ready.”

Even though the Awesome Again was a win-and-you’re-in race Mongolian Groom did not get the free pass to the race. The rules state: “The winning horse in a Challenge Race shall receive automatic selection into the Championship race that corresponds with the division of the Challenge Race won, provided the horse is Breeders’ Cup nominated before the Championships pre-entry deadline.”

Mongolian Groom was not nominated, so it’ll be a $200,000 supplemental entry fee is they want to run the horse.


McKinzie was atop the Breeders’ Cup Classic Rankings for the 17th straight week, despite losing the Awesome Again. When you realize that Baffert and the owners might bring McKinzie back as a 5-year-old, this could be a very attractive ride for a jockey. You might see McKinzie spending some time in Saudi Arabia and Dubai. A lot of money to be had.

So, let’s look at the BCC rankings.

1. McKinzie. Jockey TBD.

2. Code of Honor. John Velazquez. Johnny V rode both of Baffert’s 2-year-old Grade 1 winners on Friday. Would he be willing to give up Code of Honor for McKinzie?

3. Vino Rosso. Irad Ortiz, Jr. Not likely.

4. Elate. Jose Ortiz. Elate runs Saturday in the Spinster Stakes at Keeneland. She’s the only mare in the field. Probably not on the short list for McKinzie plus Ortiz has a choice to make.

5. Yoshida. Joel Rosario. He’s ridden Game Winner for Baffert and it mostly went well. While no decision has been made, there is a good chance that Joel will be coming back West for the winter/spring meeting. And, that’s where McKinzie will be stabled at the start. I think it would be a good fit, but it’s what Baffert thinks that matters.

6. Higher Power. Flavien Prat. Prat is solidly committed to the John Sadler horse.

7. Mongolian Groom. Abel Cedillo. If he’s going to supplement his way in, don’t see a change of jockey here.

8. Preservationist. Junior Alvarado. Not very likely.

9. Maximum Security. He’s still in the rankings but out of the Classic picture.

10. Tacitus, Jose Ortiz. If Ortiz stays with Elate, then there is a spot open.

There are some other options for Baffert. Guessing he won’t stay local with either Drayden Van Dyke or Joe Talamo, both of whom are talented and work a lot of Baffert horses. Baffert used Florent Geroux last year on Roadster in the Kentucky Derby, but that didn’t go so well. Plus, Geroux might be tied to Owendale, winner of the Oklahoma Derby on Saturday.

Guess we didn’t clear much up.

Trainer John Martin is suspended

John Martin, who runs mostly at Golden Gate Fields was suspended up to one year when three of his horses tested positive for an illegal drug.

Mike Marten of the CHRB, no doubt with help from Dr. Rick Arthur, chief equine medical director for the CHRB, explains the drug this way.

“Ergoloid mesylates, which are salts of the ergot alkaloids dihydroergocristine, dihydroergocornine, and dihydroergocryptine, are used in human medicine to treat Alzheimer’s and certain mood disorders. The trade name of the FDA approved formulation is Hydergine. Ergoloid mesylates are thought to be used in racing as an anti-bleeding treatment. That possibility, and due to their potential to affect cognitive function, the Association of Racing Commissioners classified the drug as Class 2/A.”

The penalty is officially a year and a $20,000 fine. But, if Martin doesn’t have any positives it will be reduced to half-a-year through a stay.

The reason this bears mentioning is when the positives were collected. One was for Ground Rules, who finished third at Golden Gate on March 21; Ralph Jacobs, who won at the Fresno Fair meet on Oct. 4, 2018 and Ruled by Girls, who finished third on Oct. 4, 2018.

Today, as you know, is Oct. 3, 2019. So, it’s almost a year before final adjudication.

It harkens back to the much talked about positive for scopolamine by Triple Crown winner Justify and the timing of things. Does anyone really think the process could have been resolved in less than two weeks to keep him out of the Kentucky Derby? If you remember the Jerry Hollendorfer positive for scopolamine many years ago took 18 months to reach a resolution. Justice is not a swift creature, although I do think it should take a lot less time to exonerate someone than to convict them.

Santa Anita preview

So, here we are on Thursday of the second week of Santa Anita and we’re down to a seven-race card. Rewind to Saturday, when we had an 11-race card. There is a shortage of horses, and on day two there are 11 races? And, wedged in between three graded stakes races (seventh, ninth and 10th) is the fateful eighth race where there was the gruesome breakdown of Emtech in the home stretch. And guess what? Because of its position, it’s broadcast on national TV over NBCSN.

Sure, hindsight is 20-20, but you wonder if there were, say, a nine-race card, maybe that eighth race wouldn’t have been there. Maybe the painful side of horse racing wouldn’t have been on national display. Maybe the race would have been on a different day or at least a different time and, who knows, in a fantasy world, maybe Emtech might still be around. I know, a lot of maybes, but I bet if you were to ask Santa Anta executives if they had to do it all over again, something would be different.

OK, there are, as we said, seven races beginning at 1 p.m. Four of the races are on the turf. Five of the races are claimers. The feature is an allowance/optional claimer for fillies and mares going a mile on the turf for a purse of $53,000.

Great Return is the favorite at 9-5 for trainer Richard Mandella and jockey Drayden Van Dyke. She has won two of her five races, with one second and two thirds. She’s been running at this level and won two back. The second favorite, at 5-2, is K P Slickem for Jeff Mullins and Mike Smith. This 3-year-old filly must have felt like Jed Clampett coming to Beverly Hills after coming to Del Mar and now Santa Anita after stops at Sunland and Zia Park. She has won two-of-nine lifetime with four seconds and two thirds. This is only her third turf race. Post is around 3:05 p.m.

Here are the field sizes, in order: 7, 5, 10 (2 also eligible), 6, 7, 7, 10 (2 ae).

Ciaran Thornton’s SA pick of the day

RACE THREE: No. 8 Appolina (10-1)

Appolina was finally claimed away from Bob Baffert after running second going shorter five times in a row before winning for the first time last out. New trainer Dallas Keen puts in a couple of workouts and now moves the horse to turf for the first time and also sends the horse routing. When Baffert gets rid of horses it’s for a reason but this horse has five seconds and a win and has turf in the bloodlines. Must use in exotics at this 10-1 morning line. Dam has one winner on turf and we get a sharp workout.

Sunday’s Result: Mongolian Humor was just over-matched in this race but after our big upset the day prior the value was too good to ignore.

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

Final thought

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

Santa Anita Entries for Thursday, October 3.

Santa Anita, Santa Anita Park, Arcadia, California. 4th day of a 23-day meet.


5½ Furlongs Turf. Purse: $50,000. Maiden Special Weight. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Cellar DoorAaron Gryder125Jeff Mullins5-2
2Factor of TwoMario Gutierrez122Doug F. O'Neill6-1
3Miss Stormy DGeovanni Franco122Carla Gaines3-1
4Be a SheroFlavien Prat122Jeff Mullins3-1
5Chocolate SpeightsJorge Velez117Jonathan Wong12-1
6Miss TokyoAbel Cedillo122Richard Baltas6-1
7RaneemJ.C. Diaz, Jr.115Bob Baffert6-1


6½ Furlongs. Purse: $20,000. Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $16,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1RattleTiago Pereira125Leonard Powell2-116,000
2ErebuniEswan Flores125Sam J. Scolamieri7-216,000
3WinsinfashionJorge Velez120Charles S. Treece3-116,000
4All Tea All ShadeGeovanni Franco122Jorge Periban8-116,000
5Be Lifted UpFlavien Prat122Mark Glatt9-516,000


1 Mile Turf. Purse: $29,000. Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $25,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1A Dime for MeBrayan Pena122Jerry Wallace, II15-125,000
2Lucky StepperGeovanni Franco122Carla Gaines5-125,000
3Fort LoveRafael Bejarano125Patrick Gallagher2-125,000
4Muthhila Abel Cedillo122Anna Meah5-225,000
5Greater GloryTiago Pereira125Neil A. Koch10-125,000
6Heart of the NileEswan Flores125Hector O. Palma8-125,000
7Avalon RideJ.C. Diaz, Jr.115Craig Anthony Lewis15-125,000
8AppolinaAssael Espinoza122Dallas E. Keen10-125,000
9Chalky Brice Blanc125Jay Nehf20-1
10Girl Can PartieJorge Velez117Val Brinkerhoff15-125,000
Also Eligible
11Discreet DivaFlavien Prat122Vann Belvoir5-125,000
12Lil Bit DangerousVictor Espinoza125James M. Cassidy7-225,000


6½ Furlongs. Purse: $22,000. Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $25,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Incredibly LuckyTiago Pereira125William Spawr2-125,000
2And CountingJ.C. Diaz, Jr.118Rafael Becerra8-125,000
3Any Two CardsRuben Fuentes122Andrew Lerner8-125,000
4ZillindaEdwin Maldonado125Bruce Headley6-125,000
5FuegaVictor Espinoza125Vann Belvoir4-125,000
6Sheza FactorEvin Roman125Vann Belvoir8-525,000


1 Mile Turf. Purse: $53,000. Allowance Optional Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $62,500.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1FoxtailJorge Velez118John W. Sadler12-1
2Poster Girl Tiago Pereira123Matthew Chew4-162,500
3AnimosityRuben Fuentes125Patrick Gallagher15-1
4Great ReturnDrayden Van Dyke123Richard E. Mandella9-5
5Lucky PeridotAbel Cedillo120Peter Miller5-1
6K P SlickemMike Smith120Jeff Mullins5-2
7Don't Blame JudyVictor Espinoza123J. Eric Kruljac5-1


7 Furlongs. Purse: $17,000. Maiden Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $20,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1R B EyeEvin Roman122Vann Belvoir12-120,000
2New SaluteJorge Velez117Ruben Gomez8-120,000
3Go Sammy GoMartin Pedroza122Jorge Periban8-120,000
4An American JetGeovanni Franco122Gary Sherlock9-520,000
5My JourneyRafael Bejarano125Richard Baltas2-120,000
6OhtaniTiago Pereira122William Spawr5-220,000
7Starship ChewyEswan Flores125Howard L. Zucker30-120,000


1 Mile Turf. Purse: $28,000. Maiden Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $50,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1SunriserVictor Espinoza125J. Eric Kruljac6-150,000
2So Much HappyTiago Pereira122George Papaprodromou12-150,000
3Bella Figura Drayden Van Dyke125Richard Baltas5-250,000
4KatsarosJorge Velez117John W. Sadler6-150,000
5TinnieFlavien Prat122Richard E. Mandella7-250,000
6WillowgladeDonnie Meche122Paula S. Capestro50-150,000
7Daddy's MelodyAbel Cedillo125Craig Dollase20-150,000
8Sapori GirlJoseph Talamo122Tim Yakteen8-150,000
9Dulverton DarlingRuben Fuentes122Andrew Lerner5-150,000
10PranceRafael Bejarano122Neil D. Drysdale8-150,000
Also Eligible
11Morning CynnAbel Cedillo122Doug F. O'Neill10-150,000
12Decorated for GoldBrayan Pena122Genaro Vallejo20-150,000