Horse racing

Del Mar selections for Friday, Aug. 26 (First post 3:30 p.m.)

Preview: How will the main track play for this late afternoon is anybody’s guess. On Saturday, there was a strong closer bias, which made California Chrome’s wire job even more impressive. On Sunday, there was an outside bias. They usually work the main track after training on Fridays to beware.

Race 1: 1. Rim Ditch, 2. Pacific Song, 3. Caan Me. LONG SHOT: Westmont.

Race 2: 1. Papacoolpapacool, 2. A Red Tie Day, 3. Forever Juanito. LONG SHOT: Poshsky.

Race 3: 1. Six Cider, 2. Bernin Sensation, 3. What’sontheagenda. LONG SHOT: A. P. Zona.

Race 4: q. #8 Big Finish (20-1), 2. El Koreano, 3. Swiss Minister. LONG SHOT: Nusret.
This 3-year-old has been facing tougher, including Eric the Trojan and Navy Hymn which both won over the weekend. Trainer Molly Pearson puts the blinkers back on so she wants this gelding on the engine early and good gate jockey Martin Pedroza rides back. Plus there is a good work showing since his last race, presumably in the blinkers.

Race 5: 1. Yellow Bonnet, 2. Untouchable U, 3. Escapee. LONG SHOT: Dama Fina.

Race 6: 1. Hot Market, 2. Jazzy Josh, 3. Wildfire Kid. LONG SHOT: Zuri Chop.

Race 7: 1. #9 Who’s Out (3-1), 2. Accererate, 3. Taman Guard. LONG SHOT: Touched by Autism.
Kind of ironic that trainer Jerry Hollendorfer has a big shot to win the Shared Belief Stakes here. This 3-year-old likes this track and goes around two turns for the first time. Hollendorfer is 23% when going sprint-sprint-route. Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith rides.

Race 8: 1. #5 Yavrig (3-1) BEST BET, 2. If You Believe, 3. Buzzer Beater. LONG SHOT: Tanager.
It’s now or never for this filly. She lost at a mile and finished second at 6 1/2 furlongs so this 7-furlong race should hit her right between the eyes. Trainer Richard Baltas is 24% third off the layoff.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

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.


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

Horse racing, Los Alamitos

Los Alamitos thoroughbred picks for Thursday, July 3

Well a new adventure with the start of the Los Alamitos Race Course thoroughbred meet on Thursday. I would say thread lightly until you get a feel for the new layout.

FIRST RACE: 1. Kid Rollins, 2. I’m No Patsy, 3. Fiesta Express. LONG SHOT: Mon Petite.


SECOND RACE: 1. Desert Third, 2. Sweet Mz. Poppet, 3. Take Back Spring. LONG SHOT: Fortune’s Daughter.


THIRD RACE: 1. Citizenship, 2. Here’s Bella, 3. Twenty Six Acts. LONG SHOT: Doodetta.


FOURTH RACE: 1. Regally Soul (best bet), 2. Star Rocker, 3. Dewrag. LONG SHOT: Magic Beam.

Jockey Fernando Perez appears to have had his choice of a couple of horses in this race and chooses this 4-year-old gelding, REGALLY SOUL (15-1). The new Los Alamitos thoroughbred layout will feature a long home stretch, which might be right up this horse’s alley. Trainer Walther Solis has had a tough year, winning just five times from 58 starters, but his horses have been training at Los Al so it might prove to be an advantage.


FIFTH RACE: 1. Storm the Heavens, 2. Chattering Class, 3. Voluntary. LONG SHOT: Angel Charge.

STORM THE HEAVENS (8-1), a 3-year-old returns, after a nine-month layoff, but comes out of a key race that has seen four horses win their next races. Drops to the bottom of the maiden claiming ranks and it won’t take a world beater to take this. Jockey Alonso Quinonez takes the ride for trainer Peter Eurton, who is 11% with horses coming off a layoff of more than 180 days. Trainer Peter Miller’s CHATTERING CLASS will be tough to beat here, but the odds should be worth it on STORM THE HEAVENS.


SIXTH RACE: 1. Cinco de Mario, 2. Time for a Hug, 3. Shining Son. LONG SHOT: Backstreet Boss.

Looks like trainer Doug O’Neill might want to win the first Los Al training title as he drops CINCO DE MARIO from $22,500 to $8,000 claiming ranks and changes jockeys to Elvis Trujillo. TIME FOR A HUG beat CALIFORNIA CHROME in their maiden debuts on April 26, 2013. Yes, the colt beat the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner by a length. However, he has been away from the races for more than a year and returns at this low level. Either trainer Walther Solis is playing poker or this one still has some serious issues.


SEVENTH RACE: 1. Rousing Sermon, 2. Full Dancer, 3. Storm Fighter. LONG SHOT: Rock Me Baby.


EIGHTH RACE: 1. Bea’s Bench, 2. Itsherprerogative, 3. Sheza Eyeopener. LONG SHOT: Sweet Silica.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

Horse racing, Kentucky Derby, Triple Crown

Coburn: Still a Dumb Ass (Partner)

Despite his “apology” Monday on ABC’s “Good Morning, America,” California Chrome co-owner Steve Coburn is still a Dumb Ass, just like his stable name (Dumb Ass Partners) says.

I love how a lot of people are lauding Coburn for finally stepping up to rectify the situation he created after Saturday’s Belmont Stakes loss when he basically called the owners of Tonalist and Commissioner “cheaters” for not running in the other two legs of the Triple Crown.

The man didn’t rectify anything.

Did you see the interview with Robin Roberts? The man was choking on every word he said. He had a hard time getting them out because he didn’t believe them. He was bullied into Monday’s apology. Check it out here:

The time to apologize for Saturday’s rant on national television was Sunday morning. Instead, Coburn went back on national TV and compounded the situation by stating the situation was akin to him playing basketball against a child in a wheelchair. How does one defend that? That was so wrong, it’s unbelievable.

The Triple Crown is meant to be hard. That’s why we haven’t had a winner of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont in 36 years. A super horse hasn’t been born to do it. So be it.

In last week’s build up to the Belmont, I was still amazed Real Quiet lost his Belmont to Victory Gallop. I covered Real Quiet’s Preakness that year and for him to lose by a nose in New York still is unfathomable.

But back to the point at hand, even if Coburn and others associated with California Chrome were complaining about the Triple Crown system and dates of the races beforehand, you knew what you were getting into when you started the journey. Three wins in five weeks. I didn’t hear anyone complaining about all the new shooters in the Preakness.

Now after losing, Coburn is bitching and moaning.

I don’t feel sorry for Coburn one bit.

I feel sorry for the man’s wife, who tried to reel him in on Saturday, but was rebuffed. The woman must be a saint.

I feel sorry for others like trainer Art Sherman and his son, Steve, a trainer in his won right who stayed with Chrome on the East Coast for five weeks. I feel for the exercise rider and other barn personnel.

There is a long way to go this year, but if California Chrome ends up not winning the Eclipse Award for top 3-year-old, it might end being Coburn’s fault, and that’s just not right. I don’t have a vote, but I guarantee that if it comes down to coin flip, there will be voters who don’t vote for the horse due to Coburn’s ignorance.

One reporter tweeted on Saturday that after meeting Coburn earlier on the Triple Crown trail, he knew it was just a matter of time before the man blew up.

There’s no doubt, Steve Coburn has lived up to his barn’s name: Dumb Ass (Partners), and no apology is going to change that.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

Sunday’s top choice winners: 3 (Magna Warrior $5.60, first race; Babe’s Journey $10.40, fifth; Soi Phet $7.40, sixth)

Sunday’s second choice winners: 5 (Elegant $6.40, second; Natalie Paige $6.40, fourth; Red N Black Attack $6, seventh; Unusual Heatwave $16.80, eighth; Nothing to Hide $4.40, ninth)

Sunday’s third choice winners: 0

Sunday’s long shot winners: 1 (Myrna Lou $8.80, first)

Horse racing, Santa Anita, Triple Crown

Belmont Park selections for Saturday, June 7

Belmont Stakes (11th race)

2 California Chrome

4 Commanding Curve

5 Ride On Curlin

7 Samraat

10 General A Rod

3 California Chrome: Drew great post, can be used a little to get position, will be in great spot turning for home and his Triple Crown immortality.


FIRST RACE: 1. Forever Thing, 2. Jimmy Connors, 3. Wabbajack, 4. Catholic Cowboy. LONG SHOT: Bernardo.


SECOND RACE: 1. Life in Shambles, 2. Misconnect, 3. No Surrender, 4. Legend. LONG SHOT: Kid Cruz.


THIRD RACE: 1. Micromanage, 2. Ground Transport, 3. Ever Rider, 4. Golden Soul. LONG SHOT: Eriugena.


FOURTH RACE: 1. Marchman, 2. Positive Side, 3. Ben’s Cat, 4. Spring in the Sky. LONG SHOT: Upgrade.


FIFTH RACE: 1. Kobe’s Back (15-1), 2. Top Fortitude, 3. Pure Sensation, 4. Coup de Grace. LONG SHOT: Tonito M.

Tough to explain last race by KOBE’S BACK other than got off bit slow and the pace wasn’t as hot as he needs with his come-from-behind style. That shouldn’t be a problem here and jockey Joel Rosario, who is the last one to win with him, returns to saddle for trainer John Sadler.


SIXTH RACE: 1. Artemis Agrotera, 2. My Miss Sophia, 3. Fiftyshadesofgold, 4. Sweet Whiskey. LONG SHOT: Euphrosyne.


SEVENTH RACE: 1. Beholder, 2. Close Hatches, 3. Princess of Sylmar, 4. Antipathy. LONG SHOT: Belle Gallantey.


EIGHTH RACE: 1. Better Lucky, 2. Coffee Clique, 3. Somali Leomnade. 4. Strathnaver. LONG SHOT: Dame Marie.


NINTH RACE: 1. Palace Malice, 2. Goldencents, 3. Normandy Invasion, 4. Romansh. LONG SHOT: Vyjack.


10TH RACE: 1. Rookie Sensation (12-1, best bet), 2. Hey Leroy, 3. Imaging, 4. Grandeur. LONG SHOT: Chamois.

ROOKIE SENSATION had a ton of trouble in Grade III Last Tycoon at Santa Anita when got stuck on rail in the stretch, had to wheel out and finished third. One horse has already come back to win out of that race and Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith stays aboard.


11TH RACE: Belmont Stakes (see above)


12TH RACE: 1. Ghurair, 2. Artic North, 3. Inchcape, 4. North Star Boy. LONG SHOT: Shining Copper.


13TH RACE: 1. Protocol (6-1), 2. Slan Abhaile, 3. In Trouble, 4. Confrontation. LONG SHOT: Celebrator.

PROTOCOL won his first condition in impressive fashion at Santa Anita three months ago and resurfaces here for trainer John Shirreffs. Been training in New York for couple weeks with a few good works and should love the 7-furlong distance.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

Del Mar, Horse racing, Kentucky Derby, Santa Anita, Triple Crown

California Chrome’s connections fine with No. 5 draw in Derby

Jockey Victor Espinoza was more than happy when Kentucky Derby morning-line favorite California Chrome (5-2), who trains at Los Alamitos Race Course in Orange County, drew the No. 5 post for Saturday’s Run for the Roses in Louisville, Ky.

“It’s my lucky number,” said Espinoza.

Espinoza won the Kentucky Derby aboard War Emblem from post No. 5 for trainer Bob Baffert in 2002.

California Chrome also won the Santa Anita Derby from post five in his last start and the 3-year-old, trained by Art Sherman, will be looking for his fifth straight victory on the track.

With California Chrome’s tactical speed, the No. 5 post should not prove a problem as Espinoza should be able to get out quickly and place him where he wants.

“He’s an amazing horse to ride,” said Espinoza. “I let him do his own thing. I think that’s why he’s running so great.”

Sherman obviously didn’t want to draw the No. 1 hole like Louisiana Derby winner Vicars In Trouble (30-1) did or the outside post in the 20-horse field like Wood Memorial winner Wicked Strong (8-1).

“I like it fine,” said Sherman after the draw. “Victor says he likes it. I’m happy and I feel no pressure.”

California Chrome has been a step slow in two of his last five starts, but Sherman isn’t worried.

“We’re going to school (from the gate Thursday),” said Sherman. “(In a race) he’ll be standing there perfect and just before he gets anxious. When he puts those blinkers on he gets anxious because he knows it’s a whole new ballgame (race day).”

Arkansas Derby winner Danza (10-1) drew just inside California Chrome in the No. 4 post.

Other California horses drew toward the outside in Hoppertunity (6-1) at No. 11, Dance With Fate (20-1) at No. 12, Chitu (20-1) at No. 13 and Candy Boy (20-1) at No. 18 for trainer John Sadler and jockey Gary Stevens.

Hoppertunity, who finished second to California Chrome in the Santa Anita Derby, was made the second choice on the morning line after Wicked Strong drew the outside post.

However, four of the last six Derby winners have come from the auxiliary gate (post No. 15 and out) and the last three in a row have come from there.

Baffert trains both Hoppertunity and Chitu. He was fine with the draw for both.

“I’m happy with the way the horses are training and that’s more important,” he said. “The only disadvantage is that Hoppertunity is going to have to wait in the gate for a long time, but I’d rather wait in the 11-hole than wait in the one-hole. I think he’s second choice because he’s gotten the closest to California Chrome this year.”

Chitu is expected to be part of the speed in the 1¼-mile race.

“You don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Baffert. “The speed horses, you don’t know who’s going to break, who’s going to go, what if the pace isn’t fast? What if it’s a War Emblem pace and they keep going? I think nobody knows. We’re all assuming a lot of stuff but, this Derby, aside from that California Chrome has proven he’s a really good horse, there’s a lot of horses in there that are pretty close. There’s a lot of parity in this field so that’s why we have 20 horses, because everybody might have a chance. He’s fast. (Jockey) Martin Garcia thinks he can do it so he’s real confident about the horse.”

Trainer Peter Eurton didn’t have a problem with Blue Grass winner Dancer With Fate’s draw.

“I am thrilled with it,” he said. “There is a lot of speed to the inside of us rather than outside and that should give us a good chance to pick a spot.”

Sadler said he doesn’t worry about post draws.

“It’s OK,” Sadler said. “I’d rather be outside than in. And I don’t put a lot of energy into things I can’t control. We’ll figure out a strategy and go from there. I think we’ll be fine.”

Stevens said he was already planning a strategy as the draw progressed, but he wasn’t giving away any trade secrets.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

Horse racing, Kentucky Derby, Santa Anita

What to watch for this week at Santa Anita

It’s Kentucky Derby week so that means a lot of top jockeys will be out of town and it means it’s time for the second-stringers to make some money while the big guys are gone.

You won’t see guys like Mike Smith, Gary Stevens, Corey Nakatani, Victor Espinoza and Rafael Bejarano will be in Louisville most of the week or thinking about Saturday’s race. (Note: Even though Bejarano was named on Wildcat Red some time back, it appears he was taken off.)

You could say they already started thinking about it as Espinoza, who will ride favored California Chrome in the Derby, was just 1-for-12 last week while Bejarano was 2-for-17 and Nakatani was 2-for-12.

Jockeys to watch for in Arcadia this week are Joe Talamo, who started the new spring/summer meet by going 5-for-20, followed by Edwin Maldonado (3-for-14), apprentice Drayden Van Dyke (3-for-15) and apprentice Gonzalo Nicholas (3-for-9).

Tyler Baze was 1-for-21 last week but look for a rebound by him and riders like Agapito Delgadillo (1-for-10) and Fernando Perez (1-for-10).

On the training side, Jerry Hollendorfer, Doug O’Neill, John Sadler, Ron Ellis and Bill Spawr all recorded two wins last weekend.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

Sunday’s top choice winners: 0

Sunday’s second choice winners: 4 (Queen of the Hill $6.40, first race; Mal Verde $7.20, second; Fly to Freedom $3.60, fifth; Shared Image $6.60, ninth)

Sunday’s third choice winners: 2 (Vicki Victoria $6, third; Parranda $6.40, eighth)

Sunday’s long shot winners: 1 (Not Too Shiny $5.20, sixth)