Horse racing, Santa Anita

Santa Anita opinions for Thursday, May 5

Preview: There is a chance of rain for the return to Santa Anita so the turf races could be in danger of coming off. It’s looks like Rafael Bejarano is new top rider for the Bob Baffert barn after a falling out with jockey Martin Garcia. Also top jocks will be missing for much of this week to ride in Kentucky for the Oaks and the Derby.


Race 6 – SA

#3 Emmzy (5-2): This filly from the Bob Baffert barn cuts back a half-furlong, which is a little surprising knowing haw the trainer likes to stretch them out. Rafael Bejarano takes the mount and he’s tough to beat in the stretch.


Race 7 – SA

#4 Tribal Again (6-1): There is a ton of speed in this race and this gelding seems like the only one that come from off the pace. There is a big jockey upgrade to Flavien Prat, who is 24% with trainer Peter Miller.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

Horse racing, Santa Anita

Santa Anita opinions for Saturday, Feb. 20

Preview: Interesting card with the highly anticipated debut of Ziconic, a son of Zenayata, set to run in what looks like a tough maiden race in the third.


Race 2: #4 Decisive Triumph (turf only) (8-1) 

Trainer Graham Motion doesn’t have a win at the meet yet, but he’s too good not to score eventually. This son of Kitten’s Joy should love this distance and surface. Motion adds Lasix and he’s 23% first time he does that plus he adds leading jockey Rafael Bejarano.


Race 3: #2 Fast Munny (6-1)

This is the race with Zenyatta’s son, Ziconic, plus two horses trained by Bob Baffert and one trained by Jerry Hollendorfer so this could turn out to be a key race. We’re going with the son of Munnings and trained by Craig Dollase, who is 26% with first-time starters. I know the connections are high on this 3-year-old colt, but like I said it’s a tough heat. Flavien Prat rides and he’s 2-for-4 with Dollase.


Race 7: #9 I’m Zonin (8-1) 

This gelding is in the money 60% (3 for 5) at this distance. Trainer Richard Baltas is 30% going sprint-route-sprint meaning that this 4-year-old should have plenty of stamina. Veteran jockey Stewart Elliott gets the mount.



Race 11 (Grade II Risen Star Stakes: 1.#4 Bistraya (15-1), 2. #10 Airoforce (5-2), 3. #13 Candy My Boy (15-1), 4. #6 Gun Runner (6-1). LONG SHOT: #7 Its All Relevent (15-1).

It’s time for the 50-point races on the Kentucky Derby trail so a win in any of these races pretty much gets you in the starting gate on the first Saturday of May. We’re going with an upset here as Bistraya ships in off a maiden victory in Southern California. Jockey Edwin Maldonado comes along for the ride. Candy My Boy is interesting but that post is a killer.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter


Horse racing, Santa Anita

Santa Anita opinions for Monday, Feb. 15

Preview: Five-day a week cards are tough here but at least we get to see Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Nyquist today begin his Road to the Kentucky Derby. I like Exaggerator to give him all he wants today.


Race 2: #8 Adios Princess (5-2)

There are a lot of first-timers in this maiden claimer, but the proven commodity is this 3-year-old filly, which is dropping from a MSW. Jockey Flavien Prat jumps on for trainer Mike Puype and they are 20% together.


Race 4: #4 Souper Knight (5-1) 

Trainer David Jacobson is starting to get the hang of things in Southern California.Tyler Baze jumps on this gelding, which holds the top Brisnet Prime, Class and Late Pace numbers.


Race 9: #5 Holiday Mousse (8-1)

This gelding was bought for 185K and now is offered for $30K in a maiden claimer. Trainer Doug O’Neill is 29% going from MSW to MC and he switches to speed jockey Edwin Maldonado which probably means a send from the gate.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

Horse racing, Santa Anita

Santa Anita opinions for Sunday, May 3

Well at least I almost gave out the superfecta cold in the Kentucky Derby. I was rooting hard for Firing Line, but he never switched leads. Still great race. Hope all top three horses are healthy and on to Pimlico. Hope some of you out there made some money.


Race 4: #7 Lindante (8-1)

This 4-year-old might have scored last time at 38-1 if not for some trouble like getting steadied at the quarter-pole. Jockey Tyler Baze stays aboard and the gelding has a good work coming into this race.


Race 7: #5 Honey Ride (3-1)

Jockey Tyler Baze had his choice of three horses in this race and sticks with this 4-year-old filly. She has tactical speed and should be able to handle the class rise. Baze is 22% with trainer John Sadler.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

Horse racing, Santa Anita

Santa Anita selections for Friday, Jan. 30

FIRST RACE: 1. Vocalist, 2. Sidepocket Run, 3. Cin City Lady, LONG SHOT: Lethal Story.


SECOND RACE: 1. Next Right, 2. Mr. Itkins, 3. Willy Be Wild. LONG SHOT: Mr. Pete Got Even.


THIRD RACE: 1. The Gomper (best bet), 2. St. Joe Bay, 3. Iancol. LONG SHOT: Prospect Park.

Trainer Ron Ellis rarely wins first time out, but he did with this son of Sky Mesa, THE GOMPER (4-5), and then came back with a good second to a good sprinter named Serbian Syclone. However, going two turns is really what this 3-year-old wants to do and a big win here could mean a trip on the Kentucky Derby trail.


FOURTH RACE: 1. Regally Soul, 2. Oligarch, 3. Sacred Ovation. LONG SHOT: Los Bambinos.


FIFTH RACE: 1. Something Awesome, 2. Nowalking, 3. The Custodian. LONG SHOT: J Serino.


SIXTH RACE: 1. I Heart You, 2. Chia Love, 3. Swiss Jet. LONG SHOT: Lob City.


SEVENTH RACE: 1. Shopping Savannah, 2. Susan B Good, 3. Carrick Bay. LONG SHOT: Sweet Boss.


EIGHTH RACE: 1. Ruby N Diamonds, 2. Ski’s Copper Penny, 3. Quick Navigator. LONG SHOT: Profit Motive.

Off a pair of third-place finishes at the level, this 4-year-old filly, RUBY N DIAMONDS (6-1), gets a huge jockey change from C. Aragon to Edwin Maldonado, who is known as one of the better speed riders on the circuit. From the outside post, Maldonado should be able to get the jump on the competition and put them away early.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

Thursday’s top choice winners: 3 (Bad Ju Ju $4.60, first race; Rattataptap $5.60, third; Spring Action $4.40, fourth)

Thursday’s second choice winners: 2 (Whiskey Wild $4, second; Wicked Heat $14, seventh)

Thursday’s third choice winners: 1 (Silent Ruler $6, eighth)

Thursday’s long shot winners: 1 (Humoristica $19.40, fifth)

Breeders' Cup, Horse racing, Santa Anita

Santa Anita selections for Friday, Oct. 31 UPDATED (Breeders’ Cup Day 1)

FIRST RACE: Allowance/optional claiming

  1. #11 Intoxicating Move (8-1)
  2. #7 Night Song (3-1)
  3. #8 Hide My Heart (4-1)
  4. #5 Starry Skies (6-1) SCRATCHED New pick: #3 Blingismything

Intoxicating Move has been in the money 6-of-8 times on the downhill turf course with two wins. She just missed last time and gets a preferred outside post. Night Song makes her U.S. debut for trainer Simon Callaghan. She has been away from the races for a year, but Callaghan is 27% with long layoffs and Jamie Spencer, from across the pond, rides and she is coming out of a key race (three next out winners).


SECOND RACE: Grade II Las Vegas Marathon

  1. #7 Sky Kingdom (5-1)
  2. #9 Cary Street (10-1)
  3. #3 Irish Surf (4-1)
  4. #6 Mystery Train (4-1) SCRATCHED New pick: #8 Volkonsky

Sky Kingdom could just be the start of a big weekend for trainer Bob Baffert. This 5-year-old horse has been off form but he loves these marathon distances. He has three wins from six tries at Santa Anita and could be ready for a big effort. Mystery Train is the real mystery here after showing high speed in the Pacific Classic and Awesome Again. Maybe he wanted to go this far all along.


THIRD RACE: Golden State Juvenile Fillies

  1. #4 My Fiona (2-1)
  2. #6 Joylicious (12-1) SCRATCHED New pick: #9 Tatum’s Gold
  3. #7 Ashley’s Sassy (3-1)
  4. #1 Stormy Adieu (9-2)

My Fiona has done little wrong in Cal-bred company, having never been off the board in four lifetime starts. Southern California leading jockey Rafael Bejarano takes over for the daughter of Ghostzapper. We might get a clue how the Santa Anita oval is playing in this 7-furlong event. Joylicious just broke her maiden in Northern California and could be the upsetter.


FOURTH RACE: Grade II Twilight Derby

  1. #8 Flamboyant (6-1)
  2. #11 Ring Weekend (3-1)
  3. #10 Long On Value (6-1)
  4. #5 Patriots Rule (12-1)

This race is wide open and any of the 12 horses could win it, especially since the favorite, Ring Weekend, is parked in an outside post. Flamboyant didn’t like Del Mar’s grass, but showed an affinity for the Santa Anita course in winning his U.S. debut in April. Word on the street is that he has been training well for this spot and jockey Joel Rosario keeps the mount.


FIFTH RACE: Damascus Stakes

  1. #3 Chitu (4-1)
  2. #2 Midnight Hawk (7-2)
  3. #12 Unbridled’s Note (8-1)
  4. #11 Bahamian Squall (4-1)

Trainer Bob Baffert could legitimately hit the trifecta here as in addition to the top two horses he has Declassify (6-1) in the race, too. Chitu and Midnight Hawk were on the Kentucky Derby trail this spring but only Chitu got there (finishing ninth to California Chrome). Both horses have been training well for their return with Midnight Hawk slightly better, however, Chitu beat him twice this spring so we’ll stick with that.


SIXTH RACE: Juvenile Turf

1. #2 Daddy D T (15-1)

2. #14 Danny Boy (20-1)

3. #5 Hootenanny (3-1)

4. #7 War Envoy (9-2)

Trainer John Sadler experimented last time by putting this 2-year-old Daddy D T on the dirt. Big mistake. This ridgling is a turf horse, scoring a stakes win over the green stuff at Del Mar. Jockey Corey Nakatani is reunited with the horse, who should get a nice inside run from the No. 2 hole.



1. #8 Fed Biz (7-2)

2. #1 Goldencents (6-5)

3. #6 Golden Ticket (15-1)

4. #2 Carve (15-1)

Fed Biz just lost to Shared Belief, who will be the odds-on favorite in Saturday’s BC Classic. The Bob Baffert-trainee can either press the pace or come from off of it. Goldencents is the defending champ and will be tough in this spot.



1. #3 Sunset Glow (7-2)

2. #14 Qualify (5-1)

3. #4 Lady Eli (6-1)

4. #6 Sivoliere (12-1)

Sunset Glow has done well in Europe and then came over to win the Del Mar Debutante, but trainer Wesley Ward thinks she is best on turf and who are we to argue. Qualify, an import from Europe, has a tough post but is quality. Sivoliere is jockey Gary Stevens’ first start back from knee replacement surgery.



1. #10 Untapable (5-2)

2. #2 Tiz Midnight (10-1)

3. #11 Close Hatches (3-1)

4. #8 Valiant Emilia (20-1)

Untapable will be everyone’s Pick Six single and with good reason. She has been training lights out and with Beholder out of the race Untapable will be less than 2-1. Love the way Tiz Midnight is coming up to the race for Bob Baffert and it’s tough to figure out Close Hatches’ last race.


10TH RACE: Allowance optional claiming

  1. #11 Whine for Wine (8-1)
  2. #2 Day of Fury (6-1)
  3. #7 Jimmy Bouncer (9-2)
  4. #5 Test Ride (12-1)

How wide open is this race? Jimmy Bouncer is the morning-line favorite at 9-2. Whine for Win is one of our tophorses, coming out of a race with four next out winners. Day of Fury just broke his maiden for trainer Bob Baffert and has been training well for his initial try against winners. Jockey Gary Stevens, he of the knee replacements, takes the mount.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

Del Mar, Horse racing

Elliott could flourish on Del Mar Polytrack

Here’s the first betting hint of the upcoming Del Mar Thoroughbred Club’s summer meet, which opens on Thursday: Give horses ridden by Stewart Elliott extra consideration on the Polytrack.

Elliott is the veteran jockey who won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes with Smarty Jones a decade ago. He has kicked around the sport over that time, but rose to prominence again this spring at the Keeneland meet in Lexington, Ky.

Elliott rode a lot for Canadian-based Mark Casse.

Elliott finished second in the jockey standings with 15 wins from 73 mounts good for $557,650 in purses. The veteran rider showed a propensity for getting to the winner’s circle on the Polytrack as he tied for most synthetic winners (14). Elliott was just 1-for-16 on the grass.

So when Casse decided to bring a string this summer to Del Mar for the first time, Elliott was asked if he wanted to come west, too.

“We were trying to decide whether to go to Saratoga or Del Mar,” said Nelson Arroyo, Elliott’s agent, on Monday. “We have a good relationship with Mark and didn’t put any pressure on him. He just said if we wanted to come to Del Mar, come.”

There is no agreement for Elliott to ride first string for all of Casse’s horses, which number at least 36 so far at the seaside oval.

“We’re going to ride a lot of them,” said Casse. “Mark is really fair. If she’s another jockey fits a horse better, he will ride them.”

Jay Privman of the Daily Racing Form reporter via Twitter Monday that Victor Espinoza will ride Casse’s Conquestadory in Saturday’s San Clemente on the new turf course.

But Arroyo isn’t worried.

“I didn’t know anyone here two days ago,” said Arroyo, who is a former jockey himself, “but business is picking up quickly. We’ve working horses for John Sadler and Peter Miller.”

Arroyo booked mounts with trainer Barry Abrams for Thursday and Friday.

Arroyo said Elliott loves riding the Polytrack, the synthetic surface that will be making its final appearance this year before a return to dirt next year.

“He gets along with the Polytrack well,” said Arroyo. “He can put a horse on the lead or he can come from off the pace. It’s very easy to ride for him.”

Del Mar’s has rarely been called easy to ride since it seems sensitive to the weather, whether it’s warm or cooler due to the coastal overcast.

“I asked John Sadler how it plays,” said Arroyo, “and he said, ‘That’s a trick question.’

“Stewart likes to play it by ear. That’s why he’s so good on it. He gets a feeling for the horse and how he’s handling it and a feel for the track. He adapts each race.

“At Keeneland this spring, he won the first race on the lead on the fence, but by the third race he went to the outside. He told me during the second race, he could tell the rail was dying and getting deeper.”

Elliott will face similar conditions at Del Mar.

Hope he figures it out. Quickly.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter