Del Mar, Hollywood Park, Horse racing, Santa Anita

Allred: Hollywood Park not involved with Los Alamitos

Los Alamitos Race Course owner Ed Allred said in an email Tuesday afternoon that Hollywood Park isn’t involved in any way, shape or form with the Orange County track and its agreement to take over thoroughbred racing dates from Fairplex Park in Pomona.

“Hollywood Park is in no way involved directly or indirectly in any dates that will be run at Los Alamitos,” said Allred. “My good friends, Richard Shapiro and Jack Liebau (former Hollywood Park president) are included in our 9 member board of directors. I repeat Hollywood Park will have absolutely no involvement in any sense of the word in Thoroughbred racing at Los Alamitos Race Course.”

Word in the industry was that Hollywood Park was involved in the movement of dates to Los Al in order to keep its company associated with the sport so that it wouldn’t have to pay out pensions right now to employees who were left without jobs when the track held its final thoroughbred meet last December.

The California Horse Racing Board isn’t expected to vote on the change of September dates until its May meeting.

If approved, thoroughbreds will run at Los Alamitos for two weeks before Del Mar’s summer meet and 11 dates after Del Mar, and right before Santa Anita’s autumn meet. Thoroughbred racing at Los Alamitos will be run on an extended one-mile dirt track. Los Alamitos doesn’t have a turf course giving trainers a built in break for grass horses.

Los Alamitos will run thoroughbreds during the day and its highly successful quarterhorse meet at night.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

Del Mar, Hollywood Park, Horse racing, Santa Anita

Is there more to the Fairplex/Los Alamitos deal?

As most people know by now, Fairplex Park in Pomona is going out of the horse-racing meet business.

On Monday, it was announced Fairplex’s dates were moving to Los Alamitos. It was a story Southern California public handicapper Bob Ike (@bobike1) broke 10 days ago on Twitter.

This is now the third set of dates Los Alamitos has picked up for its new one-mile oval, which will feature thoroughbred racing in the daytime and quarterhorses at night. Previously, Los Al picked up two weeks right before Del Mar’s summer meet and three weeks after Del Mar’s new fall meet.

But that might not be the whole story.

The word on the street is that Hollywood Park’s old regime might have something to do with the dates shift from Fairplex to Los Al.

Yes, Fairplex wasn’t the best place, at least for fans of the thoroughbred game. I went once to experience it and never wanted to go back again.

Yes, Fairplex wasn’t willing to upgrade its facilities for just three weeks of racing a year. Understandable? Probably.

However, this is where it might get interesting and the California Horse Racing Board needs to pay attention.

If Hollywood Park is some how involved in this switch of dates and attaches its name to the new meet in any way, shape or form, it may not be good for former employees of the track in Inglewood.

You see Hollywood Park is on the hook for the pensions of the employees it laid off when it closed it doors to live racing. If it continues to run a meet, even at Los Alamitos, it doesn’t have to make those payoffs right now and that’s just not right. The CHRB needs to investigate this and not allow it. Those people who worked at Hollywood Park, and were laid off, are entitled to their money.

Two things bothered me regarding a release from the Thoroughbred Owners of California about the situation.

The release said the two tracks along with other “California horse racing industry leaders,” were in discussions on the dates transfer for several weeks.
Then there was the statement in the release from Los Alamitos.
“Naturally we are excited about the prospect of adding additional dates to our 2014 thoroughbred racing calendar, and we are very appreciative to Fairplex for the opportunity to conduct and manage their race meet here at Los Alamitos,” said Brad McKinzie, who is the Los Alamitos Racing Association’s vice president. “We plan to immediately work with the CHRB and other industry stakeholders to make sure these racing dates are used to add value to the California Thoroughbred racing calendar.”
The words “industry leaders” and “industry stakeholders” seem to throw up a red flag.

I hope Hollywood Park isn’t involved, and I hope the CHRB isn’t involved, either. It should have more compassion to people who gave their lives to the industry for all those years.

The CHRB is not expected to take up the issue before its May meeting.

There also may be some changes to the 2015 Southern California horse racing schedule. If Santa Anita’s new spring/summer meet doesn’t go well, or there are problems with overuse of the turf course, you could see Los Al get more dates in June next year and trade those dates back to Santa Anita in the fall right after Del Mar closes.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

Del Mar, Horse racing

Del Mar’s Pacific Classic returning to national TV

Build it and they will come or maybe card it and they will televise it, eventually.

After several years of not being on national television, other than TVG (which is a sponsor of the race), the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club’s $1 million Pacific Classic has returned to the national airwaves, it was announced Monday.

The 1 1/4-mile race on the main track (Polytrack for its final year) will be shown by NBC Sports Network (NBCSN, Channel 65 on Cox Cable) from 5-6 p.m. PDT on Sunday, Aug. 24. That means the race will probably remain the ninth or 10th race on an 11-race program with a first post of 1 p.m. for the full card.

Over the years, the Pacific Classic has been shuffled around on the card to meet the needs of national television (mainly ESPN). It has been run earlier on the card and it has been run as late as 6:45 p.m. one year.

After the ridiculous practically night time post, Del Mar officials, starting with track president Joe Harper, decided to end the madness and run the race where they wanted, eschewing national exposure.

Now, Del Mar gets to keep its traditional post time and return to national television at the same time. A win, win in its eyes.

Personally, I think running the biggest race of the meet that late in the day defeats the purpose because some fans begin leaving the track after the fifth or sixth races due to the early first post. Plenty of fans never see the race at all due to that factor, but for Del Mar to be back on national TV is a good thing.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

Sunday’s top choice winners: 3 (Cuneo $3.60, second race; Safety Belt $19.60, seventh; Beholder $2.20, eighth)

Sunday’s second choice winners: 4 (New Nature $9.60, first; Stoney Fleece $10.60, third; Happy Idea $6.20, sixth; Bench Light $6, ninth)

Sunday’s third choice winners: 0

Sunday’s long shot winners: 0

Horse racing, Santa Anita

Santa Anita picks for Easter Sunday, April 20 (updated)

Not sure how I accomplished it, but had all nine winners in my selections (eight in the top three) on Saturday, but managed to not win any money at Santa Anita. Bad bettor.

FIRST RACE: 1. Que Sorpresa, 2. New Nature, 3. Chasing Hope. LONG SHOT: She’s Flush.


SECOND RACE: 1. Cuneo, 2. Askingfortrouble (SCRATCHED), 3. Lovmeister (SCRATCHED). LONG SHOT: Mary Helen’s Storm. NEW PICKS: 1. Cuneo, 2. Mary Helen’s Storm, 3. Warren’s Tyler S. LONG SHOT: Minister of Trade.


THIRD RACE: 1. Abbey Vale, 2. Stoney Fleece, 3. American Act. LONG SHOT: Irish Surf.


FOURTH RACE: 1. Alexis Tangier, 2. Spy Girl, 3. Faith Hope love. LONG SHOT: Enchanted Fortune.


FIFTH RACE: 1. Nazareth (best bet), 2. Not a Love Song, 3. Tough Business. LONG SHOT: Secret Appeal.

Trainer Mike Puype seems like “king of the downhill” with all the winners he seemingly gets over the unique course. This 3-year-old filly, NAZARETH, tries for a third time over the layout with one key change: she’s dropping into a maiden claimer for the first time and Puype is 18% with that move. Jockey Tyler Baze takes over.


SIXTH RACE: 1. Good Samurai, 2. Happy Idea, 3. Seeking Asylum. LONG SHOT: Betting McCann Can.

Trainer Mike Mitchell is going into semi-retirement after this race, turning his stable over to assistant Phil D’Amato, so this will be the final horse to officially run in Mitchell’s name. GOOD SAMURAI, a 3-year-old colt, broke his maiden in impressive fashion and might be able to make the step up with ease as jockey Martin Garcia keeps the mount.


SEVENTH RACE: 1. Safety Belt, 2. Royal F J, 3. Rangi. LONG SHOT: Zenji.


EIGHTH RACE: 1. Beholder, 2. Magic Union (SCRATCHED), 3. City At Dawn. LONG SHOT: Eblouissant (SCRATCHED). NEW PICKS: 1. Beholder, 2. City At Dawn, 3. Legacy. LONG SHOT: Moulin de Mougin.


NINTH RACE: 1. Proud Boss, 2. Bench Light, 3. Affrettando. LONG SHOT: Hawk’s Eyes.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

Saturday’s top choice winners: 2 (Yahilwa $3.80, third race; Glitter of Silver $4.40, ninth)

Saturday’s second choice winners: 1 (Valley Cat $5.60, first)

Saturday’s third choice winners: 5 (Back to Bako $22, second; Rhonda Rocks $10, fourth; Aqua Revelation $4.40, sixth; Doctor Dempsey $7.80, seventh; Flamboyant $15, eighth)

Saturday’s long show winners: 1 (Among the Stars $14, fifth)

Horse racing, Santa Anita

Santa Anita selections for Saturday, April 19

FIRST RACE: 1. Timeless Indy, 2. Valley Cat, 3. Half Strike. LONG SHOT: Harlington Night.


SECOND RACE: 1. Valdirone (best bet), 2. Boozer, 3. Back to Bako. LONG SHOT: Love Rules All.

VALDIRONE tired in his return to the races last month, but was hardly disgraced, finishing fourth at this level. Jockey Joe Talamo will have him forwardly placed early and that style has been working down the hill.


THIRD RACE: 1. Yahilwa, 2. Fleet of Gold, 3. Sagebrush. LONG SHOT: Melasistic.


FOURTH RACE: 1. Born Lucky, 2. Fiesta Express, 3. Ronda Rocks. LONG SHOT: Quinnette.


FIFTH RACE: 1. Ruff Proof, 2. Mia’s Storm, 3. Silk in Silver. LONG SHOT: Among the Stars.


SIXTH RACE: 1. King of Jazz, 2. Powerful, 3. Aqua Revelation. LONG SHOT: Lord Lochinvar.

KING OF JAZZ, a son of Giant’s Causeway, must overcome a couple of obstacles in his career debut: running long on the turf. Still, we think trainer Hector Palma will have this 4-year-old ready to go, especially off the last two works showing. On top of that, Palma owns a piece of the colt.


SEVENTH RACE: 1. Midnight Storm, 2. Sooner Born, 3. Doctor Dempsey. LONG SHOT: Shakahari.


EIGHTH RACE: 1. Home Run Kitten, 2. Enterprising, 3. Flamboyant. LONG SHOT: Excessive Kid.


NINTH RACE: 1. Glitter of Silver, 2. Gospel Music, 3. Bart the Barrister. LONG SHOT: Tavern Law.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

Hollywood Park, Horse racing, Santa Anita

Santa Anita break wasn’t thought through

If case you didn’t realize it, Santa Anita won’t race again until Saturday and Sunday.

On top of that, it won’t race next week until Friday.

Say what?

As one Santa Anita executive explained to me, the track was concerned about its horse inventory since it took over most of Hollywood Park’s dates after the demise of the Inglewood track. Perfectly understandable. Santa Anita began asking Northern California horsemen to send entries south to Arcadia a couple of months ago if they thought they would be competitive and it has shown in the entries.

Here’s my problem with Santa Anita’s current hiatus: the winter/spring meet will end THIS Sunday with mandatory payouts in wagers like the Pick Six and the “new” spring/summer meet will begin on April 25.

If Santa Anita was truly concerned about filling races at this time of the year, and in the next two months, it would have ended the traditional meet LAST Sunday and given the sport an 11-day break.

Yes, I know the sport is year-round, but an extended break would have allowed for some mini-vacations for some backstretch workers and given the horses some needed days off. It also would have allowed gamblers to build up bankrolls.

It also would have given the Santa Anita turf course a break. It would have given it time for some rejuvenation and maybe a little extra water.

But God forbid, we take a weekend off when we could be making some money, sport be damned.

Del Mar, Horse racing, Santa Anita

Del Mar: Casse coming from Woodbine

The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club spent the last week talking to horsemen about coming to its annual summer meeting, looking to beef up a horse population that shrinks yearly. The efforts are working.

Woodbine trainer Mark Casse recently told Del Mar officials he will bring 30 to 40 horses this year for the first time. In Hot Springs, Ark., trainer Cody Autrey told Del Mar he will be back and hopefully earlier like during the the Los Alamitos meet.

Del Mar officials then moved on to Lexington, Ky., and the Keeneland meet to tell more horsemen about the third year of the “Ship N Win” program which gives horses a starting gate and purse bonus in their initial start of the meeting as long as their last start was out of state.

The big get is Casse, who started Delegation in last year’s Pacific Classic.

“He came close to coming last year,” said Tom Robbins, executive vice president/racing. “He was all set and then they had a virus outbreak and there was no movement into the United States. We’re excited. We have our fingers crossed.”

“That’s the plan,” said Casse on last week’s NTRA teleconference. “I’ve been in communications with Del Mar.  I’ve cleared it with my owners and the plan is currently to bring probably between 30 and 40 horses to Del Mar, and then probably stay there maybe for who knows how long; a long time.”

The key with Casse is that he has a lot of allowance horses, which will help increase the quality of Del Mar’s races.

“He liked what he saw last year, and he has California owners,” said Robbins, “but the key is he’s planning on staying beyond our meet and that’s good for the industry.”

Casse won nine races and $368,653 from 84 starters this winter at Gulfstream Park. In the first week of the Keeneland meet, he has a 27-5-3-5 record with earnings of $305,312 and during the first weekend of racing at Woodbine (in Toronto) Casse was 7-2-1-1, earning $86,193.

Another key to the Casse move is that Keeneland and Woodbine have Polytracks, a similar surface which will be making its swan song at the seaside oval this summer before being replaced by dirt next year.

Jockey Luis Contreras rides many of Casse’s top horses at Woodbine and rode Delegation (poorly, I might say) in last year’s Pacific Classic, but don’t expect him to come to Del Mar as the barn rider.

“No, I don’t think so,” said Casse.  “You know, Luis does really well at Woodbine.  It would be kind of crazy for him to come out there.  I don’t know who.  Somebody may come with me.  I mean there’s plenty of good riders in California.  I don’t think I really have to bring anybody.  You know, (Hall of Fame jockey) Mike Smith and we go back probably 25 or 30 years, and so there are a lot of good riders.  We’ll just have to wait and see.

“So far we’ve been very lucky recently at Keeneland with Stewart Elliott, and, you know, we’ll just have to see how things are going. I like the way he rides, and him and I have a good relationship, but we may or may not bring somebody.  That just remains to be seen.  But like I said, I’m not concerned.  There’s a lot of good riders in California.”

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

Sunday’s top choice winners: 2 (Queen of the Hill $5.20, third; Cat Burglar $5.20, fifth)

Sunday’s second choice winners: 1 (Kid Rollins $7, ninth)

Sunday’s third choice winners: 1 (Stormy Lucy $5.40, fourth)

Sunday’s long shot winners: 1 (Remind Mee $8.40, seventh)

Note: Racing resumes at Santa Anita on Saturday/Sunday for the close of the winter/spring meet. There will be mandatory Pick 6 and Super High 5 payouts on Sunday. The spring/summer meet opens Friday, April 24.)