Racing! One day to go to the Breeders’ Cup

Mike Smith rides Zenyatta during the Breeders' Cup Classic in 2009.
(Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

Hello, my name is John Cherwa and welcome back to our horse racing newsletter as we circle around one more time on those in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and Distaff.

As usual this Breeders’ Cup week, there’s a lot to get to. But first, in Wednesday’s newsletter, I failed to mention we had a story on the 10-year anniversary of Zenyatta’s win in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. In the story, I talk to John Shirreffs, Mike Smith, Trevor Denman and Jon White. You can read it here. You can watch the race here.

And, Thursday, we met up with Richard Mandella to talk about Omaha Beach’s hopes to win the Dirt Mile and put him in position for 3-year-old horse of the year. You can read it here.


On to the notes.

Breeders’ Cup notes

As we’ve done every day this week, we called up on the Breeders’ Cup notes team to update us on horses in the big races. Many thanks to them. This is an edited version of their report.


Code of Honor – He jogged for a while Wednesday morning, then galloped 1 ½ miles for exercise rider Lexi Pradun. Rider and horse returned to the barn area through the paddock and returned to the paddock in mid-morning for more schooling.

“It looks like to me that he gets over [the track] fine,” trainer Shug McGaughey said. “I asked Lexi too and she said fine. She took hold of him the whole way. I can’t worry about the track. … There are two really major races in the United States that I haven’t won, the Preakness and the Breeders’ Cup Classic. I’ve been close in both of them, so they’re both on my list. I hope that maybe this year we can get the one behind us.”

Elate/Yoshida – Elate and stablemate Yoshida both galloped Wednesday and went through the paddock with exercise rider Juan Quintero aboard each. “We’re throwing [Elate] in deep water,” said trainer Bill Mott. We seldom run the fillies against the colts unless we think we’ve got a top-class horse and one that would fit the race. I think she fits the conditions of the race very well and she’s proven it. Of course, we’re running against good competition so she still has to run her very best race to compete.”


Higher Power Higher Power galloped and stood in the gate Wednesday, coming to the track around 6:30 a.m. along with stablemate Ollie’s Candy. “It’s an interesting field, it’s probably a great gambling race this year because you could take a lot of horses and say they have a pretty good chance,” trainer John Sadler said. “There are a lot question marks on all of them. With Higher Power, can he repeat that performance that he had at Del Mar and do it again? Because he’s got that one. But he has to do it again. Can McKinzie go a mile and a quarter? That’s another one. Then, how do the 3-year-olds stack up against the olders? So, there are a lot of angles you can look at. [Elate] looks like she wants that distance, she’s also a Medaglia d’Oro. That’s another fascinating look at that race.”

Math Wizard – The Pennsylvania Derby winner jogged once around the Santa Anita track under assistant trainer Sabine Langvad Wednesday, the morning after arriving from South Florida. “He got in late last night,” trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. said. “He got in around 10 [p.m.]. His flight was delayed because of weather. He ate well. He traveled well. He likes to travel. Whenever he travels, he wakes up when he gets there.”

McKinzie On Wednesday morning, McKinzie jogged a mile under exercise rider Humberto Gomez.

Mongolian Groom – Trainer Enebish Ganbat sent the 4-year-old gelding for his morning exercise Wednesday and morning and had rider Jesse Cardenas jog him a mile then gallop a half-mile. “I want to do exactly what I did before the Awesome Again,” Ganbat said.

Owendale Owendale made his presence felt Wednesday, his first morning to gallop at Santa Anita since arriving Tuesday from Kentucky and his confidence carried over to his trainer Brad Cox. “He’s moving as well as he can move, looks as well as he can look,” Cox said. “It’s a step up from the Oklahoma Derby, but’s a nice horse going the right way at the right time. He hasn’t run a bad race all year. Once he took off this spring, when he won the Lexington, that was his coming out party. It showed he can run with the big horses. His training has been the exact same all year. He’s a very consistent horse and keeps getting better.”

Seeking the Soul Seeking the Soul followed his usual routine of galloping 1 ½ miles before daylight and continues to “train beautifully,” according to his trainer Dallas Stewart.

Vino Rosso – He galloped 1 3/8 miles and stood in the starting gate at Santa Anita Wednesday morning. “He’s doing great,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “He showed a lot of energy going on and off the track.”

War of Will Trainer Mark Casse is always encouraged when War of Will gets to bucking on the track. He threw in one of his playful jumps while galloping along with stablemate Got Stormy on Wednesday morning. “He needs to come with his Derby race [on Saturday],” Casse said. “Everything we’ve kind of done up to this now has been looking at how we did the Kentucky Derby. I think he came with his ‘A’ game in the Kentucky Derby. Probably a B-plus game in the Preakness. Our feeling is he’s older, he’s more mature now and why not. If he comes with his big race, then everyone will know he’s there.”



Blue Prize – She galloped 1 3/8 miles under exercise rider Hiram Rosario on Wednesday morning as she continued her preparations. “These Grade 1s are always tough and it is the same this year with five, six, seven Grade 1 winners in there,” trainer Ignacio Correas IV said. “Last year it was Monomoy Girl and this year it is Midnight Bisou. You try to be competitive going into these races and I feel very good about my horse. But there are other people that feel good, too; another 10 people.”

Dunbar Road – On Wednesday morning, the Alabama winner left Barn 48 with stablemates Sistercharlie and Bricks and Mortar and proceeded to gallop an easy 1¼ miles over the main track. “In the Spinster she didn’t get a good trip,” trainer Chad Brown said. “She was stuck on a dead rail and closer to the pace than she normally is. It just wasn’t good. If she could have been a little further back and got a clear trip, she could have won the race. If she gets a cleaner trip, I expect a much better effort this time.”

La Force – Trainer Paddy Gallagher had La Force on the track early today for a 1 ½ mile gallop as she readies for what likely will be her final start. As usual, regular rider Caesar Garcia was aboard. This will be the third Breeders’ Cup appearance for La Force.

Midnight Bisou – Midnight Bisou galloped an easy 1 ¼ miles with Angel Garcia aboard, according to trainer Steve Asmussen’s assistant Scott Blasi. “[Jockey] Mike [Smith] rides her every day and has a tremendous amount of confidence in her, so however the pace goes, he’s the one riding,” Blasi said. “Coming into the race, she gets pretty sharp. She knows it’s game time, now. Like most good horses, they get into that routine. They know what you’re doing with them and she knows she’s running this week.”

Mo See Cal – Mo See Cal galloped 1 mile at San Luis Rey Downs on Wednesday morning before arriving at Santa Anita Park around 10 a.m. “She’s doing great,” trainer Peter Miller said from San Luis Rey. “She galloped today and arrived there this morning.”

Ollie’s Candy -- Ollie’s Candy came to the track around 6:30 a.m. with stablemate Higher Power on Wednesday, putting in a gallop and standing in the gate while under the guidance of exercise rider Juan Leyva. “She was good before I got her and she ran a really nice race at Del Mar last time out in the Clement Hirsch,” trainer John Sadler said. “She won a stakes here at 3, she won the Summertime Oaks, so I think she ought to be highly competitive. She’s training very well for this race.”

Paradise Woods – In her second spin around the Santa Anita main track Wednesday, she seemed much more settled under exercise rider Cisco Alvarado. “There was a lot of traffic this morning so the first time around, she pulls. But the second time, she relaxes,” trainer John Shirreffs said.

Secret Spice – Trainer Richard Baltas supervised his stakes-winning filly Secret Spice as she schooled in the starting gate, then galloped 1 ¼ miles over the main track under exercise rider Sarafin Carmona.

Serengeti Empress –Serengeti Empress got her first feel for the main track at Santa Anita Wednesday morning, jogging under exercise rider William Chavez for trainer Tom Amoss.

Street Band – Street Band, making her first appearance on the Santa Anita track Wednesday, schooled in the gate and galloped 1 ½ mile with trainer and co-owner Larry Jones on board. She also schooled in the paddock. “She got a little antsy in the paddock, but that’s just her,” Jones said. “She galloped nicely and was perfect in the gate.”

Wow Cat – Wow Cat went to the Santa Anita Park main track with fellow Chad Brown trainees Thais and Uni and galloped 1¼ miles. “She’s training well and is coming into the race well,” Brown said. “This year we’re hoping for a good trip with her.”


Santa Anita preview

It’s not quite the lead-in card to the Breeders’ Cup you would hope for, but it is what it is. There are nine races starting at 1 p.m. There are three turf races, with a rail set at 20 feet. Expect zero feet on Friday and Saturday. There are five races for 2-year-olds.

The feature is the $70,000 Lure Stakes for horses going a mil eon the turf. There are actually some decent horses in the race who are used to racing in bigger stakes. The favorite, at 5-2, is Restrainedvengence for trainer Val Brinkerhoff and jockey Martin Garcia. He was second last out in the Grade 2 City of Hope Stakes and won the Rolling Green Handicap at Golden Gate the start before that. He is four-of-17 lifetime and one for five this year.

River Boyne is the second favorite at 7-2. He is trained by Jeff Mullins and will be ridden by Frankie Dettori. He is a strong seven-of-19 lifetime but is winless in five tries this year. He was 11thin the City og Hope last out but finished second in the Shoemaker Mile the start before that. Post time is about 4:35 p.m.

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

Ciaran Thornton’s SA pick of the day

RACE ONE: No. 3 Impossible Task (6-1)

Impossible Task was one of those rare Doug O’Neill horses that did not win at Del Mar. Last out in August, John Sadler claimed the horse and now Joel Rosario rides for Hronis racing. That’s a potent team. We see some sharp works since that last race. 6-1 is great value. Sadler removes the blinkers Thursday and he is 22% for a profit on this move. The horse was also gelded since that last race and is protected today Lots to like here.


Sunday’s result: K P All Systems Go was bet down to 5/2 at post time. For the second race in a row Mike Smith had the winning horse sitting back in Del Mar into the turn before uncorking yet another late move to finish second. Those are the rides that drive horseplayers mad! K P paid $3.40 for place.

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

Here’s our weekly look at the best racing going on at Golden Gate Fields. As with the last meeting, we’re delighted to have race caller and all-around good guy Matt Dinerman as our host for previews and other musings. So, take it away, Matt.

“Our Thursday and Sunday race cards begin at our usual 12:45 p.m. post times, while Friday’s nine-race card starts at 12:10 p.m. and Saturday’s at 11:30 a.m.

“Our feature on Saturday is a new stake, the Joseph T. Grace Stakes on turf for 3-year-olds and up. The marquee race of the week is led by Grecian Fire, who won the Grade 3 All American Stakes over this track in late May and won the California Dreamin’ Handicap at Del Mar this summer. Willam Antongeorgi III, who is currently in a three-way tie atop the jockey standings, has the call. Others figuring to get support are Mugaritz, coming off a win in the Bulldog Stakes at Fresno, his stablemate Sixes and the stakes performers Builder and Camino Del Paraiso. Nine runners are entered the 1 1/16-mile race.

“No Stronach 5 wager this Friday, but there are plenty of interesting races. The feature is the eighth, an allowance for fillies and mares sprinting on the Tapeta. Your likely favorite is recent California-bred maiden special weight winner Miss Megan, who broke her maiden at Del Mar by double digit lengths. Andy Mathis trains the daughter of Richard’s Kid, whose main competition includes Southern California shipper Stirred from the Michael McCarthy barn, the Steve Miyadi trained Ruby Bradley and Sweet Rafaela from the Isidro Tamayo barn.

“Speaking of Isidro, congratulations to the 33-year-old conditioner for picking up his first career hat trick on Friday afternoon. Tamayo won the second race with Mr. Q, the third with Passionate Reward and the nightcap with Conquest Sabre Cat. He’s an up and coming trainer that folks should pay attention to. He does a terrific job with his string of 47 horses.


“Lastly, good luck to trainer Blaine Wright, who saddles Anneau D’Or in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on Saturday. Owned by Peter Redekop, the son of Medaglia D’Oro has raced just once, resulting in an eight-length win against maidens on turf at Golden Gate. Juan Hernandez retains the mount on the $480,000 purchase, who is out of the Tapit mare and Grade 3 winner Walk Close. Santa Anita morning line maker Jon White has installed Anneau D’Or as the 15-1 morning line fifth choice.

“We’re taking a shot,” Wright said. “He’s a very talented horse and he’s doing great.”

Final thought

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

Santa Anita Entries for Thursday, October 31.

Santa Anita, Santa Anita Park, Arcadia, California. 20th day of a 23-day meet.


5½ Furlongs Turf. Purse: $50,000. Maiden Special Weight. 2 year olds.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Drasario John Velazquez122Richard Baltas15-1
2Too LateMario Gutierrez122Doug F. O'Neill4-1
3Impossible TaskJoel Rosario122John W. Sadler6-1
4Witch's VowTiago Pereira122Hector O. Palma15-1
5Smooth Like StraitGeovanni Franco122Michael W. McCarthy7-2
6Heywoods BeachJorge Velez117John W. Sadler6-1
7Dean MartiniJavier Castellano122Peter Miller5-2
8NineeleventurboFlavien Prat122Neil D. Drysdale8-1
9Phast PharoahVictor Espinoza122Jeff Bonde12-1


1 Mile. Purse: $50,000. Maiden Special Weight. Fillies. 2 year olds.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1I'm the HeroEvin Roman122Adam Kitchingman8-1
2SaralinFlavien Prat122Simon Callaghan9-5
3AntigoneTyler Baze122Simon Callaghan3-1
4GinghamJoel Rosario122Bob Baffert6-5
5Well Done SallyMartin Garcia122Kristin Mulhall12-1
6LizzarioRafael Bejarano122J. Keith Desormeaux20-1


7 Furlongs. Purse: $28,000. Maiden Claiming. 2 year olds. Claiming Price $50,000. State bred.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Carnelian HeroRafael Bejarano122Jeff Bonde4-150,000
2Include the TaxJ.C. Diaz, Jr.117Michael W. McCarthy3-150,000
3Successful CommandTyler Baze122J. Eric Kruljac8-150,000
4Wicked BlueModesto Linares122Vernon E. Aguayo15-150,000
5Baltimore BeechoAssael Espinoza122Jorge Periban6-150,000
6Papa TonyTiago Pereira122George Papaprodromou12-150,000
7Govenor CinchRuben Fuentes122Tim Yakteen6-550,000


1 Mile. Purse: $31,000. Starter Optional Claiming. 2 year olds. Claiming Price $40,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1DelpDiego Sanchez122J. Keith Desormeaux4-1
2Vastly DeepEswan Flores120Steven Miyadi3-1
3Absolute WeaponAbel Cedillo120Andrew Lerner2-1
4Destiny's JourneyAssael Espinoza119Steve Knapp6-1
5Old TraffordMartin Garcia122Simon Callaghan3-140,000
6Billy KJorge Velez114Ryan Hanson8-140,000


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

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1QuinnieGeovanni Franco125Carla Gaines12-132,000
2Gone to BaliEvin Roman125Vann Belvoir8-132,000
3SaburaiJ.C. Diaz, Jr.120Vladimir Cerin7-232,000
4South Boot ShirleyJoseph Talamo125Craig Dollase8-132,000
5Tig Tog Joel Rosario125John W. Sadler5-232,000
6Candy SwirlsTiago Pereira125William Spawr4-132,000
7Pacifica Jorge Velez117Leonard Powell10-132,000
8Wind Tartare Rafael Bejarano125Vann Belvoir4-132,000


1 Mile. Purse: $21,000. Maiden Claiming. Fillies. 2 year olds. Claiming Price $30,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1K P Cats WildAbel Cedillo122Robert B. Hess, Jr.5-230,000
2CaleseHector Berrios122Robert B. Hess, Jr.8-130,000
3Teachers Big DreamJorge Velez117Eddie Truman6-130,000
4CircleofcolorGeovanni Franco122John C. Ivory7-230,000
5Totally NormalTyler Baze122Jeffrey Metz12-130,000
6Kuda HuraaDrayden Van Dyke122George Papaprodromou4-130,000
7Vannavanna Bo BanaMario Gutierrez122Steve Knapp6-130,000
8Sharp TurnJ.C. Diaz, Jr.117Mike Harrington8-130,000


1 Mile. Purse: $50,000. Maiden Special Weight. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Catch the EyeMartin Garcia122David E. Hofmans8-1
2Mucho Macho WomanJoseph Talamo122Ronald W. Ellis4-1
3Paige RunnerJorge Velez117Gary Mandella4-1
4Saving SophieDrayden Van Dyke122Ronald W. Ellis3-1
5AmataraFlavien Prat122Richard Baltas5-2
6Full EclipseBrice Blanc122John E. Cortez20-1
7Cover VersionVictor Espinoza125James M. Cassidy6-1
8KarmicallyJ.C. Diaz, Jr.117John A. Shirreffs15-1


1 Mile Turf. Purse: $70,000. 'Lure Stakes (R)'. 3 year olds and up.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1River Boyne Lanfranco Dettori125Jeff Mullins7-2
2DeclarationofpeaceJoel Rosario121John W. Sadler8-1
3Tule FogTiago Pereira123Javier Jose Sierra30-1
4Double Touch John Velazquez125John W. Sadler6-1
5Brown Storm Javier Castellano125Michael W. McCarthy12-1
6Ritzy A. P.Flavien Prat125Dan Blacker10-1
7Lil MiloTyler Baze121Alfredo Marquez12-1
8Ronald R Drayden Van Dyke123Ronald W. Ellis10-1
9Andesh Abel Cedillo123Philip D'Amato4-1
10RestrainedvengenceMartin Garcia125Val Brinkerhoff5-2


6 Furlongs. Purse: $15,000. Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $12,500.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Busy PaynterTiago Pereira122Brian J. Koriner9-512,500
2Blew by YouHenry Lopez117Daniel Dunham20-112,500
3CoiletteMario Gutierrez122Jorge Periban3-112,500
4Hola MazumaEdgar Payeras122Vann Belvoir20-112,500
5Tribal DanceAbel Cedillo125Mark Glatt3-112,500
6Warm It UpModesto Linares125Vernon E. Aguayo30-112,500
7At the MarginAssael Espinoza122Jairo B. Monascal30-112,500
8PromnesiaRuben Fuentes125Reed Saldana12-112,500
9Secret ManeuverJorge Velez117Milton G. Pineda8-112,500
10Heart of the NileEswan Flores125Hector O. Palma8-112,500