Horse racing, Los Alamitos

Los Alamitos RC opinions for Friday, Sept. 19

Race 2: #10 Z Z Thunder (6-1)

This 3-year-old makes his second start off the layoff and first start in the maiden claiming ranks. If you look at whom he faced in his first two career races (Chitu, The Admiral and Bayern) then he would seem to hold a real class edge on the drop. He pressed the pace in his last before tiring and should be in better shape for trainer David Hofmans and Hall of Fame jockey Alex Solis.

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Race 6: #10 Stood Up (7-2)

Trainer Art Sherman will be busy with some horse named California Chrome in Philadelphia, but the barn has this runner ready for her debut. The filly is owned by Ed Allred, who just happens to own Los Alamitos. You don’t think the “house” horse was pointed for this spot on purpose?.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

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Del Mar, Horse racing

Week that was: Ragin’ Cajun back in form at Del Mar

In reality it wasn’t a very good week the last five racing days at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club.

Too many horses died, including the freakish death of the very good 3-year-old Dance With Fate, and too many jockeys ended up on the dirt or turf. The vibe, I hear from colleagues, wasn’t good on Sunday. Luckily, none of the jockeys who were involved in the incidents appear to have suffered serious injuries.

Del Mar made the right decision in cancelling turf racing on Sunday after a rash of deaths the first two weeks of the meet on the new surface. I’m sure when racing resumes on Wednesday, Joe Harper will make the right decision again, if problems persist.

I’ll tell anyone who will listen that the first two weeks of any race meeting, and it seems particularly Del Mar, is when horses are at most risk because they are changing surfaces. It seems that trainers who get to Del Mar early, don’t have as much of a problem, but the fact is horses have to get used to new surfaces.

As for the action on the track, jockey Kent Desormeaux has rocketed to the top of the riding standings after two weeks with nine victories from 41 mounts. The Hall of Fame jockey from Louisiana is riding as well as I have seen him recently. He was real good back in the day and then hit a rough patch due to personal issues and the like. Let’s hope that is all past him and he’s back in his glory days again.

Jockeys Tyler Baze and Elvis Trujillo, second and third in the current standings, continued strong campaigns so far. For the week Baze was 5-of-40 and Trujillo 4-of-29. Joe Talamo was 3-of-33 but it doesn’t seem like he’s riding well, to me. Talamo seems to be making big moves on the Polytrack turn for home and then flattening out. Maybe it’s just my imagination, but he seemed to ride the same way last year.

Martin Garcia was just 1-for-14, but he did miss Sunday to ride Bayern to victory in the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park.

Apprentice Drayden Van Dyke was 0-for-19, but we’ll cut him huge slack after getting dumped twice in races. He took Sunday off to recuperate.

A couple of other jockey notes, Tiago Pereira, who has earned the nickname “Mr. Long Shot” at the meet with victories on two 50-1 shots, begins a three-days suspension on Wednesday. Victor Espinoza isn’t named on horses on Friday. Brian Beach, Espinoza’s agent, said the horse his jockey was suppose to ride in the stakes didn’t enter and they didn’t have any other calls that day.

On the training end, Peter Miller, a Carlsbad resident, just keeps on trucking and is now a top the standings. Miller has seven wins for the meet and was 4-for-17 last week.

Doug O’Neill is second in the standings with five wins but he was just 1-for-21 on the week.

On the other end, John Sadler had a very frustrating week as his barn went 0-for-20. Look for a rebound soon.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

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Horse racing, Santa Anita, Triple Crown

Weak that was: very, very weird

Usually when the big money is on the line, you can count on the top trainers at Santa Anita to be in the winner’s circle.

Such wasn’t the case last week, which was highlighted by California Chrome’s win in the Santa Anita Derby.

The top five trainers in the overall standings were a staggering 1-for-61 last week in Arcadia. That’s right one win out of 61 starters.

Here are the ugly numbers:

Jerry Hollendorfer 0-for-13

Bob Baffert 0-for-7

John Sadler 0-for-11

Peter Miller 0-for-11

Doug O’Neill 1-for-19

Now add in the likes of Tom Proctor (1-for-4) and Mike Puype (1-for-10) for a truly stunning week.

The stars of the week were Javier Sierra, who won three races, and Jim Cassidy (despite his New York Yankees loving ways), who won two races on Sunday.

Miller is in a prolonged slump and hasn’t won a race in at least a month. Better wait until he gets a win or two to start betting him again.

On the jockey’s side, victories were pretty well spread out.

As usual Rafael Bejarano led the way with five wins from 28 mounts. However, I’d bet most people couldn’t come up with the jockey who had the second most victories on the week … that’s right, journeyman Brice Blanc had four wins from 16 mounts. Blanc is more known for winning on the grass, but he won on the dirt, too.

Otherwise, three was the magic number as Joe Talamo rebounded from a winless week to go 3-for-26 followed by Tyler Baze (28 mounts), Victor Espinoza (13), Mike Smith (14), Edwin Maldonado (18) and Gary Stevens (seven) all had three victories.

Speaking of Stevens, he announced on Twitter Tuesday that he wouldn’t be tweeting again until June and the tweet featured a photo of Bayern, who is trained by Baffert and will run in this Saturday’s Arkansas Derby. I’m not sure what that’s about because Stevens has been active on Twitter, but it sounds like he’ll stop corresponding until after the Triple Crown.

Of course, Baffert did Stevens one better as he completely deleted his Twitter account (@midnightlute) apparently on Monday. The only rumor I heard was Baffert had a horse breakdown on Sunday and might have received at least one unkind comment.

But it also appears Bob’s wife, Jill, who has never been shy on social media either has disappeared on Twitter, too. At least, I couldn’t find her handle (@jillbaffert) on Tuesday afternoon.

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Horse racing, Santa Anita

Santa Anita picks for Friday, March 7

FIRST RACE: 1. War Politics, 2. Londinium, 3. Paseo Alegro. LONG SHOT: Unstopper Topper.

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SECOND RACE: 1. Rprettyboyfloyd (best bet), 2. Party Time, 3. Vegas Strip. LONG SHOT: Shackleford Banks.

We’re going to give the ridgling RPRETTYBOYFLOYD one more shot after he finished third in the Grade II San Vicente as a maiden. He has now lost to Bayern, Chelios and Kobes Back, all quality sophomores. He drops back into the maiden ranks and tries two turns for the first time plus jockey Rafael Bejarano stays aboard. This horse is also entered in Saturday’s San Felipe and with the scratch of Bayern, the connections will probably run there, but we think it’s a mistake and they should stay here in this maiden race.

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THIRD RACE: 1. Rhagori, 2.Highly Rated, 3. Miss Well Molded. LONG SHOT: Silver Hustler.

Trainer Simon Callaghan has a nice pipeline from Europe and he has another invader here in this 5-year-old mare, RHAGORI. Callaghan is 31% first time in North America and 25% first time with a new horse in his charge. He also gets leading rider Bejarano to sign on so all systems might be go.

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FOURTH RACE: 1, Too Fast to Pass, 2. Great Friends Rule, 3. Limited Response. LONG SHOT: Stretch.

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FIFTH RACE: 1. Sweet Red Cat, 2. Kathleen Rose, 3. Tap the Magic. LONG SHOT: High Junks.

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SIXTH RACE: 1. Appealing Resume, 2. Our Pure Creation, 3. Sweet Factory. LONG SHOT: Fanny Brice.

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SEVENTH RACE: 1. Intoxicating Move, 2. Callous Effect, 3. Heavens Stairway. LONG SHOT: Ascription.

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EIGHTH RACE: 1. Take a Risk, 2. Tale of Power, 3. Old Pueblo. LONG SHOT: Rob’s Pal.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

Thursday’s top choice winners: 1 (Oh Daddy Oh $4.60, fourth race)

Thursday’s second choice winners: 4 (Dubai Ruler $17.80, first; Candiz $5.80, second; I’m No Patsy $7.80, third; Number Five $7.40, fifth; Copperpolis $10.40, sixth)

Thursday’s third choice winners: 2 (Joelito $11, seventh; Yesterday Sings $5.80, eighth)

Thursday’s long shot winners: 0

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Horse racing, Santa Anita

Santa Anita picks for Sunday, Feb. 16

FIRST RACE: 1. Snaps, 2. Crucero, 3. Scarly Charly. LONG SHOT: China Girl Lover.

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SECOND RACE: 1. Paseo Alegro, 2. Truelee Scrappin, 3. Gal Has to Like It. LONG SHOT: Street Car.

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THIRD RACE: 1. Life Is a Joy (best bet), 2. Red Outlaw, 3. Gangnam Guy. LONG SHOT: Royal Banker.

Look who this 3-year-old gelding LIFE IS A JOY has been losing races to: California Chrome, Tamarando and Better Bet. Now he makes his turf debut here and tries down the hill. Jockey Mike Smith takes the mount for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer and they are a 57% proposition at Santa Anita.

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FOURTH RACE: 1. Pass the Pico, 2. Awesome Indy, 3. Sheriff Ryan. LONG SHOT: Shackbamalama.

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FIFTH RACE: 1. Rprettyboyfloyd, 2. Kobe’s Back, 3. Roger Rocket. LONG SHOT: Cherubim.

RPRETTYBOYFLOYD, a son of Bluegrass Cat, was entered on Saturday but trainer Denise Breuer decided to run this maiden here in the San Vicente at 7 furlongs. The 3-year-old has finished second in his first two tries to Bayern, who came back to win an allowance race Thursday by a ton, and Chelios, a promising sophomore from trainer Tom Proctor. The Bayern race is proving to be one of the top key maiden races of the year.

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SIXTH RACE: 1. Autumn View, 2. Warren’s Cracker, 3. Van Dien Avenue. LONG SHOT: Heavens Stairway.

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SEVENTH RACE: 1. Fifteen Black, 2. Whine for Wine, 3. Nooten. LONG SHOT: Cinematic Cat.

We were hoping this son of Bertrando would run a couple weeks ago, but FIFTEEN BLACK didn’t draw in. He was the 4-5 favorite last summer at Pleasanton, but obviously must have come out of the maiden race injured. He returns here for trainer Jeff Bonde, who puts the blinkers on and this 3-year-old has been training lights out in the mornings. He draws a nice outside post and jockey Martin Garcia jumps on.

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EIGHTH RACE: 1. Journey On, 2. My Gi Gi, 3. Bee Brave. LONG SHOT: Oscar Party.

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NINTH RACE: 1. Violate, 2. Natal, 3. Capers N Wine. LONG SHOT: Rambunchkie.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

Saturday’s top choice winners: 2 (Chat n’ Cut $8.60, first race; Iotapa $6.40, eighth)

Saturday’s second choice winners: 1 (Seeking the Sherif $3.80, fourth)

Saturday’s third choice winners: 2 (Awesome Prospect $8.60, second; Teacher Teacher $5, ninth)

Saturday’s long shot winners: 0

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Horse racing, Santa Anita

Santa Anita picks for Saturday, Feb. 15

FIRST RACE: 1. Chat n’ Cut, 2. Omar Little, 3. Gold Tie Please. Long shot: No Ez Money.

It won’t take a world beater to win this maiden claimer for older horses so why not go with a fresh face? This 4-year-old gelding CHAT N’ CUT is trained by Craig Dollase, who has outstanding numbers with first-time starters (40%) and debut maiden claimers (60%). He puts red-hot Tyler Baze aboard and the son of Include has a couple of nice works leading up to this debut.

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SECOND RACE: 1. Wonderful Union (best bet), 2. Caramuru, 3. Awesome Prospect. LONG SHOT: Salutos Amigos.

This is an interesting placement by trainer Ron Ellis because he is running a maiden against winners in this starter allowance. Again, there are no world beaters in here, but Ellis obviously wants to get this 4-year-old gelding WONDERFUL UNION around two turns for the first time and the maiden claiming races must not be filling. Ellis is 59% from 17 starts in horses running between 61 and 180 days plus he’s 25% with jockey Edwin Maldonado.

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THIRD RACE: 1. Death Star, 2. Presenceofagenius, 3. Rangi. LONG SHOT: Cacau.

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FOURTH RACE: 1. Macias, 2. Seeking the Sherif, 3. Master Chef. LONG SHOT: Close to the Edge.

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FIFTH RACE: 1. Cowtownmary, 2. Bury Pacer, 3. Go Black Tie. LONG SHOT: Crushed It.

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SIXTH RACE: 1. Footstepsinbronze, 2. Vegas Strip, 3. Superlooper. LONG SHOT: Simon Kenton.

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SEVENTH RACE: 1. Bajan, 2. Famous Alice, 3. Susans Express. LONG SHOT: Soresca.

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EIGHTH RACE: 1. Iotapa, 2. Fiftyshadesofhay, 3. Let Faith Arise. LONG SHOT: Ondine.

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NINTH RACE: 1. Kid Rollins, 2. Itsabeautifulday, 3. Teacher Teacher. LONG SHOT: Cassie’s Harbor.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

Friday’s top choice winners: 2 (Magic Mark $4, second race; Head South $6.20, third)

Friday’s second choice winners: 0

Friday’s third choice winners: 1 (Peace and Justice $5.80, fifth)

Friday’s long shot winners: 3 (A Toast to You $12.20, first; Browsing $9.80, sixth; Valtari $16.60, seventh)

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