Del Mar, Hollywood Park, Horse racing, Santa Anita

Watch out! It’s Miller time at Santa Anita

Trainer Peter Miller started off the year hot at Santa Anita, but went into a horrendous slump in March.

Now, all is right with the world.

Miller, who is the darling of HRTV on replays of the races as he roots his horses home, went a sparkling 6-for-13 last week in Arcadia.

Maybe Miller’s slump was a combination of his horses running through their conditions and adjusting to life at San Luis Rey Downs, again.

Years ago, Miller trained out of the Bonsall training center, but then as he got more horses he stayed on track, training a lot at Hollywood Park. Since the Inglewood track closed in January for good, Miller is once again training out of the Northern San Diego County center and his horses are responding.

His horses are also out of the limelight and away from clockers so Miller’s horses have been getting some nice prices.

Miller looks like he has a couple good shots again on Friday and the 2-year-olds are just getting in the starting gate. Look for an all out assault at Del Mar.

Miller had the most training wins last week and moved into second in the spring/summer Santa Anita standings.

Leader Doug O’Neill went 2-for-10 and third place Jerry Hollendorfer was also 2-for-10. Bob Baffert is slumping and went 0-for-7.

With Rafael Bejarano out, Joe Talamo is atop the jockey standings and he went 6-for-27 on the week. Tyler Baze (33 starts) and apprentice Drayden Van Dyke (26 mounts) had five wins each. Kent Desormeaux is making in-roads as he was 4-for-14 and import Elvis Trujillo is showing he is one to watch.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

Monday’s top choice winners: 3 (Lost Bus $7.40, first race; Cyclometer $4, second; Stormin Lute $6.40, sixth)

Monday’s second choice winners: 1 (Candy’s Sunrise $10, third)

Monday’s third choice winners: 1 (Says Who $10, eighth)

Monday’s long shot winners: 1 (Miss Serendipity $29.80, seventh)

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

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.

Breeders' Cup, Del Mar, Hollywood Park, Horse racing

Big changes coming to Del Mar

With the evolution of the Southern California racing calendar due to the loss of Hollywood Park, there will be big changes at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, it was announced today.

Change No. 1, will be a Thursday opening day this season (July 17) due to a late closing of the fair and the change in surface from Los Alamitos’ dirt to Del Mar’s Polytrack. The extra day will give horses another day of training over the synthetic surface. In the past, many fatalities have occurred when the circuit moved from Hollywood Park to Del Mar so track officials are trying to avoid that.

This will be the first time since 1999 the track has opened its summer season on a Thursday. The previous times were 1969 and 1956.

This year’s meet will end on Sept. 3, a Wednesday, but it will likely be the last Wednesday closing in the history of the track.

Del Mar announced its 2015 summer dates will be Wednesday, July 15, to Monday, Sept. 7 (Labor Day). The track gains an extra week of racing (41 days instead of 37 due to the calendar).

According to sources, the Labor Day closing will likely remain the norm, instead of having a dark day (Tuesday) and then closing with the traditional closing day on Wednesday, including the Grade I Del Mar Futurity for 2-year-olds.

Here’s hoping executive vice president/racing Tom Robbins makes the Futurity the last race on the card. Robbins has talked in the past about running stakes at the end of the program but has been overruled by the operations department. Maybe a new tradition can be started.

Some details on Del Mar’s new fall meet were released.

While first post in the summer will remain 2 p.m., except on Fridays (4 p.m.), in the fall the first race will be at noon, except on Thanksgiving (11 a.m.).

Del Mar’s first fall meet will be Nov. 7 to Nov. 30. The meet will be 15 days long with a Friday opening and traditional Sunday closing. Del Mar will race Thursday-Sunday the other weeks of its meet.

“Our fall race meeting starting this year will be totally separate from our summer session,” said Del Mar president and CEO Joe Harper in a press release. “They will be two different animals. We know our summer meet is a winner; we’ve proven it over and over again. And we expect our autumn run can be special, too, in its own way. With the backing of our horsemen and all our many racing fans in the San Diego area, we think we can put on a first-rate show here in the fall and help to keep racing in Southern California strong and successful.”

In 2015, Del Mar gains an extra week in the fall, opening on Oct. 28 in hopes of gaining the Breeders’ Cup although the chances of that happening are highly unlikely at this point. Churchill Downs seems to be the frontrunner in 2015 after Santa Anita has hosted the event several years in a row. Del Mar’s best chance might be in 2016.

Breeders’ Cup officials have been told Del Mar would have to run any 1¼ mile races on its new turf course would need to be contested at 1 3/8 mile due to the configuration. According to sources, BC officials don’t have a problem with that.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

Hollywood Park, Horse racing

“That’s a wrap!’


Woodman’s Luck and Corey Nakatani won the finale at Hollywood Park as the Inglewood oval hosted its last race card on Sunday, Dec. 22, before closing the doors for good. The city of Inglewood has approved plans to demolish the “track of lakes and flowers”, and build nearly 3,000 homes on the 238-acre site along with retail outlets, offices, and a park. BENOIT PHOTO


A few quotes courtesy of the Hollywood Park publicity department following the final race at the historic track on Sunday:

Jockey Corey Nakatani on winning the final race on Woodman’s Luck:

“Well, I made history.  I won the last race and got the last set of days (he received a three-day suspension from the stewards earlier Sunday) at Hollywood Park.  Kind of bittersweet.  That was really emotional.  It’s hard to really say that much.  This has always been such a great place to be.  After winning a bunch of races here, it’s hard to see it go.  It’s pretty sad.”


Jockey Rafael Bejarano on winning the final riding title:

“It feels great to win the last title.  It means a lot to me.  When I came back to the winner’s circle, I could hear everyone cheering and I was just so happy.”


Trainer Vladimir Cerin on winning the final race:

“I almost would have taken a four-horse dead heat there and let everyone have a piece of the last race.  When they were coming down the stretch, all I could think of is how sad that it was over. I didn’t think he could win from where he was.  Nakatani has given us some fantastic rides this meet. I think this is the second photo finish he’s won for us like this.  Tama County (a winner Nov. 17) was also owned by (David and Holly Wilson) and he had no chance, like this horse, at the sixteenth pole, but won it.  Oddly enough, Gary Stevens won a race for me here on Christmas Eve (Dec. 24, 2000) on a horse named Jingle Bell Hop and that was the last race on the card.  It’s almost hard to enjoy the win when you think this is the last race at this race track.  When I started training here, I think it took me a year to win my first race and to have it end like this just seems surreal.”


Kudos to Hollywood Park track announcer Vic Stauffer for his final race call in Inglewood. It was great.

“That’s a wrap.”


Saturday’s top choice winners: 3 (Katie’s Garden $5, fourth race; Sensationalize $16, seventh; Swiss Lake Yodeler $3.80, 10th)

Saturday’s second choice winners: 0

Saturday’s third choice winners: 0

Saturday’s long shot winners: 3 (Christopher Street $13, first; Courtside $18.60, second; Anniversary Kitty $14, 11th)


Sunday’s top choice winners: 3 (Handsome Dennis $11.20, fourth race; Moon Ride $4.40, sixth; Koukla $5.60, eighth)

Sunday’s second choice winners: 3 (Maxx the Giant $11.60, first; Woodlandsway $6, second; Califoornia Chrome $6.40, 10th)

Sunday’s third choice winners: 0

Sunday’s long shot winners: 1 (Jet Blue Girl $5.40, fifth)

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

Hollywood Park, Horse racing

Hollywood Park picks for Sunday, Dec. 22

Remember everything has to be paid out Sunday, the final day ever at Hollywood Park. Big carryover in the Pick Sux. Good luck.

FIRST RACE: 1. Aqua Revelation, 2. Maxx the Giant, 3. Wicked Finance. LONG SHOT: Apostle Paul.


SECOND RACE: 1. Warren’s Assassin, 2. Woodlandsway, 3. Hugger of Trees. LONG SHOT: Sky Angel.


THIRD RACE: 1. Highly Rated, 2. Love Tale, 3. Prettypriceygirl. LONG SHOT: Warren’s Internet.


FOURTH RACE: 1. Handsome Dennis, 2. Boss of Me, 3. Wistfullee Mine. LONG SHOT: Captain Salt.


FIFTH RACE: 1. One Magical Girl, 2. Mia Isabel, 3. Warren’s Judy. LONG SHOT: Jet Blue Girl. 

Jockey Kayla Stra has had a great Hollywood Park meet with limited opportunities and she scored on a bomber again on Friday. Here she picks up the mount on this 4-year-old filly ONE MAGICAL GIRL, trained by Northern California-based John Martin. However, this filly has won before at Hollywood Park and looks to do it again for a 28% winning trainer.


SIXTH RACE: 1. Moon Ride (best bet), 2. Miss Go Free, 3. Frannie’sspirttoo. LONG SHOT: Red Red Door.

Rafael Bejarano is trying to win another riding title and figures to be riding with zeal on the final day at Hollywood Park. Trainer Mike Puype puts blinkers on and drops this 3-year-old filly MOON RIDE to her lowest level ever looking to break her maiden.


SEVENTH RACE: 1. Dixieland Blues, 2. Major Magic, 3. Gal has to Like It. LONG SHOT: Relentless Heat.


EIGHTH RACE: 1. Koukla, 2. Zensational Beauty, 3. Steal the Lute. LONG SHOT: Mia Luccia.


NINTH RACE: 1. Pulpit Express, 2. Full Instinct, 3. Wings of Majave. LONG SHOT: Volkonsky.


TENTH RACE: 1. Alpine Luck, 2. Pray Hard, 3. Aotearoa. LONG SHOT: California Chrome.


ELEVENTH RACE: 1. Danderek, 2. Depreciable, 3. Poshsky. LONG SHOT: Tommy Danzigger.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter