Racing! Happy New Year!
Hello, my name is John Cherwa and welcome back to our horse racing newsletter as we predict the top stories of 2020 and look back at trainer Gary Sherlock.
We don’t often have a Wednesday newsletter but Santa Anita has a special New Year’s Day card that brings us back.
Since today is the first day of 2020, what better point to come up with predictions for the new year. Some of these I feel pretty strong about, some are just a guess and some I came up with just to fill out the list.
So, here are my 10 predictions for horse racing this year. The order is of no importance.
--Synthetic course at Santa Anita. After the marathon winter-spring meeting, Santa Anita will announce that it is reconfiguring the track with a turf course closest to the grandstand and turf club and a new synthetic course on the inside of that. The downhill turf course will return with no dirt crossover.
--Jockey colony gets stronger. The Southern California jockey colony has added Umberto Rispoli, who will quickly become a crowd favorite. He’s the new Abel Cedillo, who is the new Flavien Prat, who is the new Joel Rosario. And none of those guys are going anywhere. Oh, and Mike Smith and Victor Espinoza are still around. I’ll take that lineup.
--More changes on CHRB board. Alex Solis will leave the CHRB board after gaining his trainer’s license. Gov. Gavin Newsom will replace him and the vacant spot held by Fred Maas, meaning that the only Jerry Brown appointment left will be Dennis Alfieri.
--TSG to leave safety coalition. The Stronach Group will leave the recently formed Thoroughbred Safety Coalition over differences on safety measures. TSG will say that the proposals do not go far enough and Churchill Downs will say they are too strict.
--State racing office gets traction. The idea to have a statewide racing office in California starts to become a reality. It would allow the same people to follow and know horses all year long. Tom Robbins of Del Mar will be drafted to head the office, if only on an interim basis.
--CHRB report is inconclusive. The report on the Santa Anita fatalities comes out and there is no smoking gun or commonalities. It will show most of the horses had pre-existing conditions, which is something that’s we’ve always known. But medicine and available equipment isn’t at the point to detect and prevent many of these injuries.
--Ballot initiative doesn’t get off ground. In light of new safety and veterinary regulations from tracks and the CHRB, it’s enough to keep animal rights’ activists from successfully getting a banning of horse racing as a ballot initiative in November. Plus, it’s expensive to get enough signatures.
--Ed Burgart makes hall of fame. Retired race caller Ed Burgart is the first announcer named to the quarter-horse hall of fame after an intense lobbying effort by Los Alamitos and fans of Burgart. (Get the hint, readers? Orlando, you on that?).
--Horse racing integrity act passes and then sits there. The bipartisan Horse Racing Integrity Act makes it to the floor, passes, and is forgotten. The Act, considered a Valhalla for reformers, is actually more of a concept with no real plan in how to enact the changes proposed. And Churchill Downs doesn’t support it, so that could slow any implementation.
--CHRB meeting goes less than three hours. OK, we know this is just a pipe dream, but we thought we’d throw it out there just in case.
OK, we’ll find out how smart I am or if I’m more of a Nostra-dumb-ass.
Weekly handicapping lesson
It’s been a few weeks but Rob Henie of the WCHR (West Coast Handicapping Report) and the ECHR (East Coast Handicapping Report) is back. Today’s analysis comes from the first race at Santa Anita and incorporates some handicapping angles into the mix. Rob, take it away.
“The first race of the day, but also of 2020, and things begin with a maiden special weight at a mile on the turf. These are brand new 3-year-olds, and we’re looking for horses who’ve got room to move forward early in their career, meaning, with any of the following variables aiding that process -- moving out in distance, trying the turf for the first time, perhaps running over this Santa Anita sod for the first time, and just as important, understanding who’s been facing who? For example, and as we preach often, when we can look at a prior MSW race, and know that in actuality, it was nothing more than a $30,000 group. This is a huge attribute to have on our side, while the same could be said to know whether a runner exits a race was indeed on the stronger side. That’s the case we believe with the European invader JURGEN (#5). In his lone try at The Curragh, he finished seven lengths behind Mogul, a horse who won in his second start, which came after a second-place effort in his debut when defeated by Geometrical, a runner who went on to just miss in a Group 3 Irish Futurity race next time out. Bottom line, the talent we’ve just mentioned would be 4-5 to beat this particular group here today, and now, in his second start, first try in the U.S., he’s sent long by John Sadler, adding Lasix, and here’s Joel Rosario, always a great sign for the barn. PURE CAMINE (#3) debuts for Neil Drysdale, and it was around this time in January of 2018, when Neil and Drayden Van Dyke teamed for a nice $40 debut winner as our WCHR Top Pick, also debuting on the sod. The drills are on the slow side, but that’s typical for the barn, especially for a runner by Lemon Drop Kid, while the MSW placement along with the turf assignment, both are indicative of a horse who wants longer, and likely is at least somewhat well thought of by his connections, facing a group today which is not a legitimate MSW bunch, at least outside of the top selection.
“Hot / Cold Race Trends: none
“Win Contenders (order of preference): 5-3
“X Out Runners (eliminating on the win end): 7
“2 Frasard - Lasix, strings races together for the first time, over the Santa Anita sod for the first time.
“7 Dominant Soul - Capestro is just terrible when it comes to placing her runners realistically.
“9 K P All Systems Go - Not a fan of Baze from off the pace on the turf.
“6 Above the Rainbow - If he was live at first asking, Drayden would be riding.
“Morning Line Underlays / Overlays:
“5 Jurgen - Morning Line 6-1 / WCHR Line 3-1
“TOP PICK: JURGEN (#5 6-1 Rosario) $ Selected Win Wager
“SECOND CHOICE: PURE CAMINE (#3 8-1 Van Dyke) Debut $ Selected Win Wager”
The West Coast Handicapping Report can be found at http://www.westcoasthorseracing.com It has been endorsed by leading trainers, handicappers and industry sources.
Gary Sherlock, RIP
Veteran trainer Gary Sherlock died on Sunday after fighting cancer for a while. He was 73. His 74th birthday would have been today. I did a story for our website. Just click here.
I didn’t know Gary well but often saw him at Clockers’ Corner. My memory is how he kept me from looking real stupid. Here’s the story I wrote at the time. Just click here.
Sherlock was at the Preakness in 2016 and I had talked to him on the phone in advance of meeting him in person. I go to the stakes barn where Tom Mansor, the principal owner of Uncle Lino, was holding court. Mansor and Sherlock had been friends forever and held this bond that exists in long-time friends.
Mansor, pointing into his entourage, said the mayor of Pleasanton was over there. I’m thinking, hmmm, Sherlock is from Pleasanton as is Mansor. Could make some color for my story.
I researched who the mayor was and was going to talk to him at the Preakness draw. I go up to Sherlock.
“Hi Gary, which one is the mayor?”
“Did Tom tell you the mayor was here?”
“He sure did.”
“Ah, he just made that up. You better tell me what else he told you.”
Here was a chance where Gary could have played along with the joke. (I might have.) But he didn’t, saving me from embarrassment.
It’s a pretty insignificant story but does get to what was in that heart of his.
Gary Sherlock, RIP.
Santa Anita preview
Wednesday’s 10-race holiday card starts at 11:30 a.m. It’s only the third day, so celebration is premature, but the Santa Anita racing office is writing races that seem to be drawing decent-sized fields.
Five of the 10 races are on the turf, with the rail set at 10 feet. The feature is the Grade 2 Joe Hernandez Stakes, for older horses going 5 ½ furlongs on the turf. The race would normally be held on the 6 ½-furlong downhill course but Santa Anita has shuttered that course for sprints, at least for now.
The favorite, at 3-1, is Blitzkrieg for trainer Doug O’Neill and jockey Rafael Bejarano. The O’Neill barn picked up the gelding five races ago in a claimer. He won that race and then the next three before a disappointing seventh in the Gold Cup on May 27. That was his last race. He has won five-of-14 lifetime.
True Valor is the second favorite at 7-2 for owner-trainer Simon Callaghan and Drayden Van Dyke. He won a Grade 2 and 3 before a 10th-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Mile. He started his career in Britain and Ireland. This will be his seventh race in the United States.
Here are the field sizes, in order: 11 (3 also eligible), 7, 6, 11 (2 ae), 7, 10, 7, 10 (1 ae), 9, 11 (1 ae).
Ciaran Thornton’s SA pick of the day
RACE FOUR: No. 9 Mr. Unusual (10-1)
Mr. Unusual was claimed last out by trainer John Sadler and Hronis Racing and today they stretch out to a mile and move to turf for the second career race. The dam has two winners from six starters including a turf winner. Jockey Umberto Rispoli (my new jockey to watch) who already has three seconds from six races in the ‘States gets the mount Wednesday. In that last race going six furlongs the horse came from 13 lengths back into the stretch after a slow start to run sixth, only six lengths back. On the gallop Mr. Unusual cruised on by everyone including the winner. They jump the horse up in class today and give us a sharp workout. Watch the last race replay starting in the stretch, it was impressive. 10-1 is a great value for us!
Sunday’s result: Into Chocolate dropped to 5-1 post time and under an expert ride from Abel Cedillo got the job done winning easily with a great stretch run. It is amazing what a difference a jockey upgrade and no race trouble makes. Into Chocolate paid $12.40 for the win.
If you would like to subscribe to the newsletter you can click here and sign up. Remember, it’s free, and all we need is your email, nothing more. Tell your friends, or even people you don’t like that much.
Any thoughts, you can reach me at email@example.com. You can also feed my ego by following me on Twitter @jcherwa.
Now the star of the show, Wednesday’s entries.
Santa Anita Entries for Wednesday, January 1.
Santa Anita, Santa Anita Park, Arcadia, California. 3rd day of a 60-day meet.
1 Mile Turf. Purse: $55,000. Maiden Special Weight. 3 year olds.
|1||Goalie||Flavien Prat||122||Philip D'Amato||6-1|
|2||Frasard||Rafael Bejarano||122||Leonard Powell||6-1|
|3||Pure Carmine||Drayden Van Dyke||122||Neil D. Drysdale||12-1|
|4||War Path||J.C. Diaz, Jr.||117||Bob Baffert||12-1|
|5||Jurgen||Joel Rosario||122||John W. Sadler||4-1|
|6||Above the Rainbow||Jose Valdivia, Jr.||122||Patrick Gallagher||20-1|
|7||Dominant Soul||Tiago Pereira||122||Paula S. Capestro||30-1|
|8||Too Late||Mario Gutierrez||122||Doug F. O'Neill||6-1|
|9||K P All Systems Go||Tyler Baze||122||Jeff Mullins||7-2|
|10||Spanish Count||Umberto Rispoli||122||Richard Baltas||12-1|
|11||Forever Poe||Mike Smith||122||Don Chatlos||5-1|
|12||Governance||Abel Cedillo||122||Richard Baltas||4-1|
|13||Fredericktown||J.C. Diaz, Jr.||117||Michael W. McCarthy||20-1|
|14||Ekklesia||Mario Gutierrez||122||Peter Eurton||20-1|
6 Furlongs. Purse: $23,000. Maiden Claiming. 3 year olds. Claiming Price $30,000.
|1||Taco Waco||Joel Rosario||122||Victor L. Garcia||3-1||30,000|
|2||Golden Victory||Agapito Delgadillo||122||Victor L. Garcia||6-1||30,000|
|3||Handsome Michael||Edwin Maldonado||122||George Papaprodromou||2-1||30,000|
|4||Affirmracer||Eswan Flores||122||Steven Miyadi||8-1||30,000|
|5||Shootin Money||Tiago Pereira||122||Philip A. Oviedo||4-1||30,000|
|6||Lizzario||Rafael Bejarano||117||J. Keith Desormeaux||4-1||30,000|
|7||Code Gray||Juan Ochoa||122||Jack Carava||20-1||30,000|
1 Mile. Purse: $59,000. Allowance Optional Claiming. 4 year olds and up. Claiming Price $62,500.
|1||California Street||Flavien Prat||122||Patrick Gallagher||3-1|
|2||Platinum Equity||Tiago Pereira||122||Steve Knapp||7-2|
|3||Justinian||Drayden Van Dyke||122||Bob Baffert||2-1|
|4||Federal Case||Abel Cedillo||122||Michael W. McCarthy||6-1|
|5||Potantico||J.C. Diaz, Jr.||117||Vladimir Cerin||6-1|
|6||Instagrand||Joel Rosario||122||Don Chatlos||4-1|
1 Mile Turf. Purse: $36,000. Maiden Claiming. 3 year olds. Claiming Price $75,000.
|1||Landaa||Drayden Van Dyke||124||George Papaprodromou||20-1||75,000|
|2||Time to Testify||Donnie Meche||124||J. Keith Desormeaux||20-1||75,000|
|3||Royal Suspect||Joseph Talamo||124||Mark Glatt||12-1||75,000|
|4||Champers||Abel Cedillo||124||Robert B. Hess, Jr.||3-1||75,000|
|5||Rip City||Mario Gutierrez||124||Richard Baltas||5-2||75,000|
|6||Drasario||Joel Rosario||124||Richard Baltas||6-1||75,000|
|7||Big Hoof Dynamite||Brice Blanc||124||Jay Nehf||5-1||75,000|
|8||Jamason||Evin Roman||124||Robert B. Hess, Jr.||30-1||75,000|
|9||Mr. Unusual||Umberto Rispoli||124||John W. Sadler||10-1||75,000|
|10||Kadesh||Geovanni Franco||124||Ryan Hanson||10-1||75,000|
|11||Extremely Wicked||Flavien Prat||124||Philip D'Amato||10-1||75,000|
|12||Brother Reid||J.C. Diaz, Jr.||119||Vladimir Cerin||8-1||75,000|
|13||Blues Rapper||Geovanni Franco||124||Carla Gaines||8-1||75,000|
6 Furlongs. Purse: $33,000. Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 4 year olds and up. Claiming Price $25,000.
|1||Tapitha Bonita||Tiago Pereira||122||William Spawr||7-2||25,000|
|2||No Wine Untasted||Joseph Talamo||122||J. Eric Kruljac||6-1||25,000|
|3||Drift Away||Flavien Prat||124||Andrew Lerner||7-2||25,000|
|4||Love a Honeybadger||Joel Rosario||122||Peter Miller||3-1||25,000|
|5||Time for Ebby||Assael Espinoza||122||Steve Knapp||8-1||25,000|
|6||South Boot Shirley||Edwin Maldonado||122||Craig Dollase||6-1||25,000|
|7||Nomizar||Tyler Baze||124||Ryan Hanson||4-1||25,000|
1 1/8 Mile Turf. Purse: $57,000. Allowance Optional Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 4 year olds and up. Claiming Price $40,000.
|1||Courteous||Joseph Talamo||122||Richard E. Mandella||7-2|
|2||Seaside Dancer||Abel Cedillo||122||Peter Miller||5-1|
|3||Peter's Kitten||Joel Rosario||124||John W. Sadler||4-1|
|4||Coldwater||Mike Smith||122||Patrick Gallagher||15-1|
|5||Kittyhawk Lass||Drayden Van Dyke||122||Mike Puype||8-1|
|6||Opus Won||Mario Gutierrez||124||Richard Baltas||5-1|
|7||Mulhima||Flavien Prat||124||Anna Meah||20-1|
|8||Out of Balance||Geovanni Franco||124||David E. Hofmans||5-1|
|9||Prima Valentina||Brice Blanc||124||George Papaprodromou||15-1|
|10||Doc Yco Cheeks||Rafael Bejarano||124||Peter Eurton||8-1|
1 1/16 Mile. Purse: $38,000. Claiming. 4 year olds and up. Claiming Price $40,000.
|1||Kenzou's Rhythm||Heriberto Figueroa||122||Jeff Mullins||5-1||40,000|
|2||Boogalute||Flavien Prat||122||Mike Puype||4-1||40,000|
|3||Royal Insider||Tiago Pereira||122||Steve Knapp||10-1||40,000|
|4||Secret Touch||Abel Cedillo||122||Peter Eurton||6-1||40,000|
|5||Full of Luck||Eswan Flores||122||Steven Miyadi||5-1||40,000|
|6||Winning Element||Rafael Bejarano||122||Doug F. O'Neill||8-5||40,000|
|7||Cabin John||Joel Rosario||122||Anthony K. Saavedra||6-1||40,000|
5½ Furlongs Turf. Purse: $200,000. 'Joe Hernandez Stakes'. 4 year olds and up.
|1||Tribalist||Ruben Fuentes||120||Blake R. Heap||10-1|
|2||Double Touch||Victor Espinoza||120||John W. Sadler||8-1|
|3||Grinning Tiger||Jose Valdivia, Jr.||120||Anthony K. Saavedra||12-1|
|4||Texas Wedge||Flavien Prat||120||Peter Miller||6-1|
|5||Oiseau de Guerre||Geovanni Franco||120||Michael W. McCarthy||15-1|
|6||True Valour||Drayden Van Dyke||124||Simon Callaghan||7-2|
|7||Captain Scotty||Joel Rosario||120||Peter Miller||5-1|
|8||Legends of War||Abel Cedillo||122||Doug F. O'Neill||6-1|
|9||Blitzkrieg||Rafael Bejarano||122||Doug F. O'Neill||3-1|
|10||Carnivorous||Mario Gutierrez||120||Steve Knapp||20-1|
|11||Bay Muzik||Tyler Baze||120||Ari Herbertson||12-1|
1 Mile. Purse: $55,000. Maiden Special Weight. 3 year olds.
|1||Kiss Today Goodbye||Tiago Pereira||122||J. Eric Kruljac||20-1|
|2||Opus Equus||Donnie Meche||122||J. Keith Desormeaux||30-1|
|3||Don V.||J.C. Diaz, Jr.||117||David E. Hofmans||15-1|
|4||Snap Chap||Mike Smith||122||Don Chatlos||5-1|
|5||Tizamagician||Victor Espinoza||122||Richard E. Mandella||8-5|
|6||Divine Armor||Joel Rosario||122||John W. Sadler||3-1|
|7||Midnight Luck||Geovanni Franco||122||Adam Kitchingman||8-1|
|8||Blue Jays||Jose Valdivia, Jr.||122||J. Keith Desormeaux||30-1|
|9||Much More Halo||Drayden Van Dyke||122||Bob Baffert||7-2|
1 1/8 Mile Turf. Purse: $57,000. Allowance Optional Claiming. 4 year olds and up. Claiming Price $40,000.
|1||Musawaat||Umberto Rispoli||122||Mike Puype||9-2|
|2||Soberano||Tyler Baze||124||Thomas Ray Bell, II||20-1||40,000|
|3||Farquhar||Jorge Velez||119||Vladimir Cerin||12-1|
|4||Golden Birthday||Victor Espinoza||124||James M. Cassidy||8-1|
|5||Shining Through||Flavien Prat||124||Dan Ward||5-1|
|6||Crystal Tribe||Abel Cedillo||124||Jeff Mullins||15-1|
|7||Southern King||Joel Rosario||124||Peter Miller||10-1|
|8||Storm the Bastille||Tiago Pereira||122||William Spawr||6-1|
|9||Red King||Aaron Gryder||122||Philip D'Amato||5-1|
|10||M Town Gem||Rafael Bejarano||122||Mike Puype||4-1|
|11||French Getaway||Evin Roman||124||Robert B. Hess, Jr.||12-1||40,000|
|12||Real Master||Brice Blanc||124||Thomas Ray Bell, II||20-1||40,000|
Get our high school sports newsletter
Prep Rally is devoted to the SoCal high school sports experience, bringing you scores, stories and a behind-the-scenes look at what makes prep sports so popular.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.