Horse racing, Santa Anita

With Gomez out, Matos reunites with Nakatani

          From Ed Golden of the Santa Anita publicity department:

 The fallout continued Friday morning in the aftermath of Garrett Gomez saying he “didn’t want to ride for a while,” leaving his agent, Tony Matos, without a premier jockey.

Effective today, Matos will be agent for veteran Corey Nakatani, whom he represented as an apprentice when he was Southern California’s leading “bug” rider nearly a quarter century ago. Nakatani, who had been represented by agent Jim Pegram, will be 43 on Oct. 21.

“Surprised” is how Pegram described his primary reaction on hearing the news from Nakatani that he was parting company. “I got a hint of it last night, but not officially until this morning,” said Pegram, who once upon a time also represented Gomez.

Matos, who also represents jockey Alonso Quinonez, currently recovering from injuries in a spill at the recent Fairplex Park meet, said Friday he “hasn’t heard from” Gomez since receiving a text from him on Wednesday.

“He’s going through personal problems,” Matos said Thursday. “He texted me yesterday and said he didn’t want to ride for a while.”

Matos expects Quinonez to resume riding before the meet ends on Nov. 3. “He was out here yesterday,” Matos said. “He’s going to start swimming, he’s going to start therapy and I would say he’ll be back in two weeks.”

Del Mar, Horse racing

Updated Del Mar picks for Wednesday, Sept. 4

FIRST RACE (The C.E.R.F): 1. Madame Cactus, 2. Wednesday, 3. Big Honey Bee. LONG SHOT: Gypsy Robin.

MADAME CACTUS has been on the sidelines since last Novemeber, but trainer Peter Eurton figures to have her fit and ready to run. WEDNESDAY and BIG HONEY BEE come out of a key race that has produced two winners so far.


SECOND RACE: 1. Pebble Beach Baby, 2. Bas, 3. Lady Rosamond. LONG SHOT: Explosive Argument.

Trainer Mike Puype has had a fairly quiet Del Mar meet after a big Hollywood Park, but his horses might be ready to cycle around. PEBBLE BEACH BABY, a daughter of Rock Hard Ten, is dropping in class off a middle-of-the-road effort. The key here is Puype is cutting her back from a route to a sprint and he does very well with that angle. It also doesn’t hurt jockey Garrett Gomez jumps aboard.  EXPLOSIVE ARGUMENT has been scratched.


THIRD RACE (Oak Tree Juvenile Turf): 1. Diamond Bachelor, 2. Station House, 3. Ontology. LONG SHOT: Home School.

DIAMOND BACHELOR and STATION HOUSE were two of the most impressive winners at the meet, both scoring at first asking on the grass and around two turns as 2-year-olds. ONTOLOGY is bred to love the grass and could be the upsetter but it will tough to beat the top two.


FOURTH RACE: 1. KARMA KING (best bet), 2. Candy Anniversary, 3. Big Medicine Man. LONG SHOT: Maxx the Kid.

Trainer Craig Dollase is deadly with first-time starters (36 percent the last two years) and even more so with 2-year-olds at Del Mar. KARMA KING, a son of Pure Prize, has a bullet work show on Aug. 23 (best of 42) and should be ready to do some serious running. Once again, Gomez jumps on and he has been one of the meet’s hottest jockeys the last two weeks.


FIFTH RACE (Pirate’s Bounty ): 1. Private Zone, 2. Roman Threat, 3. So Brilliant. LONG SHOT: Koast.

This is a tough race and I even left out graded stakes winner RAIL TRIP, who I’m just not sure he’s ready to go all out in this spot to win. PRIVATE ZONE is making his first start since running in Dubai and trainer Doug O’Neill figures to have him ready to go.


SIXTH RACE: 1. Magic Channel, 2. Quiet Force, 3. Warrant. LONG SHOT: Somethings Unusual.

MAGIC CHANNEL is going for the hat trick as he has two wins over the grass already. The son of English Channel was claimed last time out by Jerry Hollendorfer, who is 27 percent first off the claim.


SEVENTH RACE: 1. Crystalline Indy, 2. Hanserella, 3. That’s a Bingo. LONG SHOT: Heavens Stairway.

CRYSTALLINE INDY hasn’t raced since July 13 at Hollywood Park, but she has been training well over the Del Mar Polytrack. Trainer Phil D’Amato, Mike Mitchell’s assistant, is 43 percent second time out. here’s hoping he gets his first win of the meet on closing day.


EIGHTH RACE (Del Mar Futurity) 1. Indexical, 2. Dance With Fate, 3. Can the Man. LONG SHOT: Skydreamin.

The big race of the final day is this 7-furlong affair for 2-year-olds. It’s tough to pick against trainer Bob Baffert and Can the Man because Baffert has won this race so many times, but we’re going with INDEXICAL. The son of Latent Heat improved a ton while breaking his maiden 18 days ago. He gets a nice outside post and will be able to spy the speed inside. DANCE WITH FATE also improved second time out and figures to only get better as the distances grow.


NINTH RACE: 1. Appealing Tale, 2. Amazing Hearted, 3. Omega Star. LONG SHOT: Derringer.

APPEALING TALE has been away since January but you have that magic team of trainer Peter Miller and jockey Garrett Gomez, who have hit for more 36 percent winners the last two years at Del Mar.


10th RACE: 1. Serene Melody, 2. Nicegirlsfnishlast, 3. Fanticola. LONG SHOT: Switched Up.

Trainer John Shirreffs mainly plies his trade in New York, but Zenyatta’s conditioner left a few horses out West. SERENE MELODY is one of those as she is owned by the Lewis Trust and out of the mare Serena’s Song. This daughter of Street Cry will be trying the grass for the first time and going two turns, too. Shirreffs can get them ready off the layoff.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

Del Mar, Horse racing

Updated Del Mar picks for Saturday, Aug. 17

FIRST RACE: 1. Legacy, 2. Indygo F M A, 3. Jazz On The Beach. LONG SHOT: Playful Humor.

Leading trainer John Sadler won two races on Friday he looks tough here with LEGACY. Jockey Julien Leparoux jumps aboard and he’s one of the best turf riders around.


SECOND RACE: 1. Cal Gal, 2. Meinertzhageni, 3. Singleinthelast. LONG SHOT: Good Proof.

CAL GAL comes from the red hot Doug O’Neill barn. The trainer won two more races on Friday to give him 12 in the last eight racing days. CAL GAL finished third in her debut and leading jockey Rafael Bejarano keeps the mount.


THIRD RACE: 1. Hard Buns, 2. Chestnut Moon, 3. Sharp Bella. LONG SHOT: Jaya Roo.

Trainer Vann Belvoir claimed HARD BUNS out of a winning effort last time. The 3-year-old filly faces winners for the first time, but Bejarano stays on.


FOURTH RACE: 1. Candy Boy, 2. Yes Yes Yes, 3. Can the Man. LONG SHOT: Flying Open.

CANDY BOY is a son of Candy Ride, who loved Del Mar. Sadler trains and CANDY BOY has been training well for his debut. YES YES YES is by the top sprint sire City Zip and trained by Peter Eurton, whose only win first time out came earlier in the meet via disqualification.


FIFTH RACE: 1. Lil Bit O’ Fun, 2. Gab Power, 3. Kid Edward. LONG SHOT: Bio Pro.

LITL BIT O’ FUN was claimed by trainer Richard Baltas, who won three races Sunday and Wednesday. Baltas is 29 percent first off the claim and jockey Garrett Gomez takes over.


SIXTH RACE: 1. Gravity Force, 2. Hoosier Dada, 3. New Year’s Day. LONG SHOT: Little Shack.

GRAVITY FORCE is from the O’Neill barn and it puts jockey Patrick Valenzuela aboard. They teamed up to win Friday’s first race. GRAVITY FORCE is by the awesome first out sire Malibu Moon and this colt has been training well for his debut. HOOSIER DADA is interesting because jockey Edwin Maldonado jumps on after riding HI FASHIONED to a second place finish last time. HI FASHIONED could very go favored in this race, but it looks wide open.


SEVENTH RACE: 1. Marchman, 2. Know More, 3. Germany Bay. LONG SHOT: Master Clip.

MARCHMAN turned in a decent third place run in his Del Mar debut last time and now Bejarano jumps aboard. Beware.


EIGHTH RACE (Grade I Del Mar Oaks): 1. Kitten’s Dumplings, 2. Discreet Marq, 3. Wishing Gate. LONG SHOT: Pearlside.

The Oaks is full of shippers from the East Coast and Europe looking for that Grade I placing for breeding purposes. KITTEN’S DUMPLINGS has done little wrong for owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey. She won the Regret at Churchill Downs and then the Lake George at Saratoga. The Ramseys also have EMOTIONAL KITTEN in the race, too. The other Kitten just finished second in the Grade I American Oaks for trainer Wesley Ward. DESCREET MARQ ships in after winning two straight at Belmont for trainer Christophe Clement.


NINTH RACE: 1. HEAVEN AND EARTH (best bet), 2. Say’s Who, 3. My Lucky Rose. LONG SHOT: Too Obvious.

HEAVEN AND EARTH is a first-timer starter from the Jerry Hollendorfer barn and he gets Leparoux to ride. The daughter of Ministers Wild Cat has been training well at Del Mar and is bred to be a sprinter.


10th RACE: 1. Star Vesta, 2. Twelve Folds, 3. Showgirl Form. LONG SHOT: Corlett Drive.

STAR VESTA just won for fun and moves up for Hollendorfer and Bejarano. The daughter of Master Command also has a big work since her big win. She looks tough right back.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

Del Mar, Horse racing

Del Mar picks for Wednesday, Aug. 14

The  last five racing days trainer Doug O’Neill won seven races from 20 starters to make the trainer’s race a four-man battle between John Sadler (14 winners, 2-for-16 for the week),  Bob Baffert (12, 0-for-13), Jerry Hollendorfer (11, 4-for-12) and O’Neill (10).

Rafael Bejarano continues to pull away in the jockey’s race. He had eight wins on the week and has 29 for the meet. Former Kentucky Derby winning jockey Mario Gutierrez had an outstanding week with six wins from 17 mounts. Of course, Gutierrez rides a lot for O’Neill.

Jockey Julien Leparoux was 4-for-18 last week while Martin Garcia was 3-for-19 and Edwin Maldonado was 3-for-25. On the flip side, Joe Talamo continues to struggle as he went 1-for-30 for the week. Tough to bet on him these days, especially when he gets out-finished by the likes of apprentice Irving Orozco.

Don’t forget jockey Garrett Gomez is back in the mix and Hall of Fame rider Gary Stevens returns from riding in Europe last week.

FIRST RACE: 1. Bubba Fizz, 2. Jets to Brazil, 3. Manewal. LONG SHOT: Zippingaroundtown.

Maldonado and trainer Adam Kitchingman have hit with an amazing 41 percent of their mounts over the last two years from 44 mounts. BUBBA FIZZ returns to sprinting after a failed effort at Santa Rosa going long on the grass. He also takes a drop in class.


SECOND RACE: 1. TANGERINE TICKLE (best bet), 2. Atta Girl Anna, 3. Promiscuoussuances. LONG SHOT: Ziva the Diva.

TANGERINE TICKLE just lost to Glorious Luck, who won impressively on Saturday at Del Mar. This Tribal Rule filly will stalk the pace and let’s hope Talamo gets out of his funk.


THIRD RACE: 1. Scary Fast, 2. Secret Memo, 3. Calameera. LONG SHOT: Spritzy.

The big Pick 6 carryover off more than $255,000 will start here. I wanted desperately to like SPRITZY in this spot for Bejarano and trainer Vann Belvoir, and she could very well win, but her works just haven’t been sensational for her debut. Then, again, maybe Belvoir is trying to hide something. Instead, we went with SCARY FAST, who just finished third at this level and has a good work since that race over the Del Mar Polytrack. Beside, we all know now that trainer Carla Gaines isn’t really suspended and she’s watching all her horses run in the afternoons.


FOURTH RACE: 1. Pawn Shop, 2. Bonita Star, 3. Bas. LONG SHOT: Lindz Winz.

Bejarano jumps on PAWN SHOP for little-known Northern California trainer Genaro Vallejo. They have hit 1-of-2 connections like this in the last year with a huge ROI of $15.30. Bejarano’s agent only puts him on horses that have a shot to win. LINDZ WINZ comes from the Dallas Keen barn, which just got off the 0-for-48 schneid on the Polytrack on Sunday.


FIFTH RACE: 1. Keldy, 2. Patriot C H, 3. Coconut Cream Pie. LONG SHOT: Cravin the Heat.

KELDY is one of six horses in this race going from turf to Polytrack. This 3-year-old daughter of Benchmark finished third at Hollywood Park and secures the services of Stevens for this race.


SIXTH RACE: 1. Cosmic Heat, 2. Unbridled Giant, 3. Frenemy. LONG SHOT: Somewhere With You.

COSMIC HEAT is first off the claim for Ron Ellis, who is 40 percent with this move. We tried this angle last week and got burned by a bad ride on the part of Agipito Delgadillo. Unfortunately, he’s riding here again so let’s hope he doesn’t get trapped on the rail again and no way to get through.


SEVENTH RACE (The Green Flash Handicap): 1. Boat Trip, 2. Wiredfortwotwenty, 3. Distinctiv Passion. LONG SHOT: Circa’sgoldengear.

There’s lots of speed in this race so we’ll go with the closer BOAT TRIP, who is 1-for-1 at the distance and 4-of-6 on the grass.


EIGHTH RACE: 1. Frannie’sspirittoo, 2. Dolphin Shorts, 3. Janes Ship. LONG SHOT: Reclusive.

FRANNIE’SSPIRITTOO has third-place finish over the track and may have the right style today. DOLPHIN SHORTS had a tone of trouble in her debut for trainer Mike Mitchell, who is 20 percent second time out. RECLUSIVE has been training well at Hollywood Park, but trainer Eric Kruljac is just 3-for-56 with first-time starters. He admitted in an interview that he tends to give a horse a race before fully cranking them up.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter


@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter


The news never seems to end at seaside oval.

+ Jockey Garrett Gomez held a 90-minute meeting with track stewards Sunday morning in hopes of getting permission to begin exercising horses on Wednesday.

That isn’t going to happen.

Gomez, who admitted to falling off the wagon and drinking again, had his follow up meeting with the Del Mar stewards moved from Wednesday morning to Friday afternoon.

Did Gomez fail his drug/alcohol test? Only time will tell.

Will the stewards play hard ball with Gomez because he failed to show up on opening day and honor his commitments (also for Thursday and Friday)?

The bigger issue might be that Gomez made no attempt to contact the stewards when two weeks ago when he was asked to do so. If Gomez had called to say, he fell off the wagon and was in a rehab a program, the stewards might have a different view of the situation.

As things stand now, the earliest Gomez will be able to get on a horse would be next Saturday and the first possible mounts he might be able to accept would be a week from Wednesday.

We’ll find out on Friday, what the latest chapter is.

+ Further news on the jockey front, trainer Bob Baffert announced Joel Rosario will ride Game On Dude in the Pacific Classic.

Regular rider Mike Smith will be at Saratoga that day to ride Royal delta for trainer Bill Mott, which means Rosario and Smith will pass each other in the air somewhere in the middle of the country.

The news also means defending Pacific Classic champion Dullahan will have a new jockey. Rosario rode him to victory last year.

However, Ron Anderson, Rosario’s agent, told Del Mar media officials “Game On Dude may be the best horse in the country and I would think he’d be a huge favorite (for the Classic).”

The move brought a classic response Dale Romans, Dullahan’s trainer.

“No one monkey stops my show,” said Romans.

+ The Grade I Bing Crosby was interesting on several levels.

Trainer Tim Yakteen scored his first Grade I victory with Points Offthebench ($8.80), who edged Goldencents by a head.

Funny after the race, TVG personality Greg Wolfe interviewed winning jockey Smith. It just so happens Yakteen is married to HRTV handicapper Millie Ball.

Also in the Bing Crosby, the plunger showed up for the second time this weekend and for the second time lost a $200,000 show wager made at Santa Anita.

On Saturday, the loss came in the Fleet Treat Stakes. On Sunday, the wager was on Comma to the Top, who finished fifth.

The show payoffs weren’t as large as the Fleet Treat, but they were nothing to sneeze at: $8.40, $6.60 and $7.20.

+ The Del Mar jockey colony had better be ware of Julien Leparoux when he goes to the lead on the turf course.

Twice on Sunday, Leparoux went wire-to-wire scoring with Pontchatrain ($9.40) and Horizontalyspeakin ($15) in the 10th race.

Leparoux normally rides from behind on the grass, but he was loaded on both horses and nobody pressured him.

Points Offthebench and jockey Mike Smith, right, hold off Goldencents (Kevin Krigger), left, to win the Grade I, $300,000 Bing Crosby Stakes, Sunday, July 28, 2013 at Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, Del Mar CA. BENIOT PHOTO

Points Offthebench and jockey Mike Smith, right, hold off Goldencents (Kevin Krigger), left, to win the Grade I, $300,000 Bing Crosby Stakes, Sunday, July 28, 2013 at Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, Del Mar CA.

Del Mar, Horse racing

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Del Mar, Horse racing

Wednesday’s updated Del Mar picks

Sorry haven’t been posting much in the last week, but been battling kidney stones since Friday afternoon.



Jeff Nahill’s picks for Wednesday, July 17


FIRST RACE: 1. Casa de Cambio, 2. Titian, 3. Husband’s Folly. LONG SHOT: Golden Mexico.

Defending training champion Peter Miller received a shipment of horses from New Mexico for Del Mar’s “Ship and Win” program and he’s starts right off in the first race with CASA DE CAMBIO. He gets the nation’s leading jockey, Joel Rosario, to ride and inside is always good going a distance of ground on the Polytrack.


SECOND RACE: 1. This One’s for Mel, 2.Sinfully, 3. Bipartisan. LONG SHOT: Keep Movin’

Could be a Miller daily double to start the meet off with. THIS ONE’S FOR MEL has inside speed and gets a key jockey switch from apprentice Orozco to Garrett Gomez.


THIRD RACE: 1. Katy’s Star, 2. Wink and Wish, 3. Bluegrass Ellie. LONG SHOT: Say Say.

KATY’S STAR ships down from Golden Gate into a mediocre field and gains the services of defending riding champion Rafael Bejarano.


FOURTH RACE: 1. Gab Power, 2. Cyclometer, 3. Duke of Doom. LONG SHOT: Huntsville.

Went a little bit out of my comfort zone when it comes to post position on the turf course, but GAB POWER has Joe Talamo riding on the turf and we love that. Basically on Del Mar’s turf you want to be in one of the first five gates, but Gab Power starts from No. 7 here.


FIFTH RACE: 1. Moving Desert, 2. My Lucky Rose, 3. Cause Ur My Baby. LONG SHOT: Betty Bing Bing.

Owner John Harris loves to win races and on opening day at Del Mar would be just fine with MOVING DESERT, who has shown speed in her first two races. Bob Baffert’s MY LUCKY ROSE has a big work showing for her debut and so does BETTY BING BING, but Betty’s trainer, Peter Eurton, is 0-for-31 with first-time starters.


SIXTH RACE (OCEANSIDE STAKES, First division): 1. Undrafted, 2. Gervinho, 3.Examen. LONG SHOT: Greeley Awesome.

UNDRAFTED is owned by Denver Broncos receiver Wes Welker and trained by Wesley Ward. He was on the Triple Crown trail for a while this spring, but wasn’t good enough. GREELEY AWESOME could be the upsetter. He was claimed for $40,000 by John Sadler and has been working well for this spot.


SEVENTH RACE: 1. Royal Meridian, 2. Chasing the Heat, 3. Legal Separation. LONG SHOT: Peacenik.

Del Mar is a “horse-for-courses” track and you won’t go wrong betting those which have done well here in the past. ROYAL MERIDIAN is 2-for-2 on the Polytrack.


EIGHTH RACE: 1. Bro’s Bro, 2. Love de Car, 3. Senor Snickers. LONG SHOT: In Excessiveness.

BRO’S BRO showed speed in his debut and switches to Talamo. He figures to improved off that effort. LOVE DE CAR could be a sneaky sort and may have races under his belt at unrecognized Utah tracks. Be careful.


NINTH RACE (Oceanside Stakes, second division): 1. Den’s Legacy, 2. Joelito, 3. Rosengold. LONG SHOT: Gabriel Charles.

DEN’S ELGACY comes out of the best races and draws the cozy No. 3 post. JOELITO has shown potential all along on the turf and ROSENGOLD is undefeated on the surface, but draws on the outside.


10TH RACE: 1. BIG MACHER (best bet), 2. Promissoryexchange, 3. Jimmy the Whip. LONG SHOT: Valid But True.

Trainer Miller is 28 percent first first-time starters at Del Mar the last three years and he gets Rosario to ride here. Joel could be heading to dinner rather than ride a maiden claimer so this one must be live.