Sunday, Santa Anita Race 5 — post time 2:34 pm

Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden claiming $20,000, 5-1/2 furlongs, 4-yo’s and up

Median winning Beyer Speed Figure: 70

Possible overlays                               Morning line

#1 Joburg Star                                       7/2
#3 Our Last Monte                                    3/1
#8 Brite Dreamer                                     8/1

Since Santa Anita opened on Dec. 26, I’ve been betting on nothing but 6-1/2 and 7-furlong maiden races on this blog. But that doesn’t mean I’ve been ignoring shorter sprints at the wagering window in real life.

In fact, I’ve hit quite a few nice-paying horses in the last month.

Last night I looked at the third race, which is a 6-1/2 furlong maiden claimer for 3-year-old females. Since I couldn’t find any solid plays in there, I decided to replace that race with this 5-1/2 furlong dash instead. One reason I like this race better is that two horses in this race are being saddled by trainers who I cashed many juicy tickets with over the recent years.

In my opinion, Darrell Vienna is one of the best horsemen on the grounds when it comes to winning maiden races with horses that the public overlooks. In this race, Vienna starts #3 Our Last Monte and he has given this gelding all slow workouts. A 4-year-old, Our Last Monte is running in his third race back off an 11-month layoff and can likely run better than the mid-60 Beyer Speed Figures he’s hung up in his last two runs.

Our Last Monte, who is making his seventh lifetime start, has demonstrated good early speed in most of his past races. The early foot will hurt this horse’s price, but he stands an excellent chance of winning today at a square mutuel.

Trainer Rafael Becerra won with only 5 of his 70 starters in 2011, so he doesn’t have much of a following. However, he has shown in the past that he’s excellent at winning races with maiden claiming sprinters that are coming off of long layoffs. Of his last 18 runners like this, Becerra won with seven of them, or 39 percent. Each $1 wagered on these animals returned $3.27.

On the rail, #1 Joburg Star ran well as a 2-year-old against maiden special weight company. But he hasn’t raced in one-and-a-half years. It would be no surprise to see Peter Miller getting his photo taken with Joburg Star in the winner’s circle, but I expect the presence of jockey Joel Rosario to drag this horse’s odds well below 7-to-2.

My betting strategy: I will put $300 to win on #3 Our Last Monte at 2/1 or more. Also, I want $250 on #8 Brite Dreamer at 3/1 to 14/1, but only $100 at 15/1 to 19/1.

Results, Hollywood Park Sunday Race 2 — lost $300

Trainer Darrell Vienna did a difficut thing: He won first time out with an older maiden.

Trainer Darrell Vienna did a difficult thing: He won first time out with an older maiden.

Darrell Vienna is a bettors’ best friend. He is low profile, has a decent winning percentage, and his horses pay well when they hit the wire first.

And that’s no accident. Vienna, who has a psychology degree from UCLA, was profiled in the DRF’s Simulcast Weekly on April 19 where I learned that he trains all of his horses on Santa Anita’s dirt training track, which is inside the turf course.

On the SA training track, the times are often slower than those on the main track and fewer horses work out for each distance. When Vienna’s inexperienced runners, or those coming off layoffs, show up at the races their published training track workouts look slow and odd.

And that’s a good thing because horseplayers not only don’t like playing unproven horses, but they like unproven ones with all slow workouts even less. That converts easily to cash for Vienna and his followers: In the Simulcast Weekly, it showed that Vienna had long-term money making statistics in 18 of 25 categories where he had 10 starters or more.

Who knew that Vienna’s psychology degree would be this useful at the horse track?

In Sunday’s second race, Vienna trained first time starter #11 Good Night Gyrene, who was ridden by Garrett Gomez. First off all, debuting horses in races for older maidens are generally very bad longterm bets. At odds of less than 20-to-1, they win only five percent of the time.

However, even though Good Night Gyrene had all slow-looking training track workouts, she must have impressed Vienna otherwise he could not have convinced Gomez to ride. Over the last 2-1/2 years, Gomez has only ridden two older maiden claimers in their debut races, according to my records.

So the only reason Gomez would be on Good Night Gyrene was because Vienna, who is also an attorney, persuaded Gomez agent Ron Anderson that the horse was going to win.

Anderson and Gomez do well with first time starters when they getting some betting action. Gomez has won with 12 of 50 debuters over the last 2-1/2 years at odds of 2/1 to 9/1 for a return of $1.43 for every $1 bet.

So in retrospect, the evidence was there for Good Night Gyrene’s win, which paid $17.80. The keys were knowing that 1.) Vienna is cagey 2.) Gomez is very selective about the debuters he climbs aboard and 3.) Gomez performs well when the first timers he’s riding are bet below 10-to-1.

So why didn’t I have it? Because I almost automatically throw out all first-time starters in races for older maidens because I save a lot of money that way. However, some trainers are so good that they can break the rules — and maybe I am starting to see that Vienna is one of those.

Instead, I played $300 to win on #1 Brilliant Response who had the lead for a while and lost a photo finish for second place.

To watch a replay of this race, go to

1 1 Brilliant Response (CA) Bejarano R Gaines C 2.60 3
2 2 Itsakiss (CA) Couton J Locke T 52.20 7
4 3 Unusual Treat (CA) Baze M Ivory J 42.10 6
5 4 Hannah’s Moment (CA) Baze T Periban J 5.00 8
6 5 Raining Money (CA) Flores D Vargas J 44.30 5
7 6 Youknowwhatilike (CA) Arambula P Martinez S 8.30 9
8 7 Mom’s Gift (CA) Charlton C Montes D 119.40 11
9 8 Angel of Mystery (CA) Rosario J Marquez A 4.90 2
10 9 Warrens Stormymoon (CA) Pedroza M Gutierrez J 54.60 10
11 10 Good Night Gyrene (CA) Gomez G Vienna D 7.90 1
12 11 Lady Alex (CA) Gryder A Koriner B 2.70 4
SCR Terra Bella (CA) Navarro D Rickerd P
Pgm Win Place Show
11 $17.80 $7.80 $4.60
9 $7.40 $4.40
1 $3.20
Exotic Payoffs
$1.00 Exacta paid $53.80 (11-9)
$1.00 Superfecta paid $711.00 (11-9-1-12)
$1.00 Trifecta

Results, Hollywood Park Saturday Race 5 — lost $400

Jockey David Flores rallied in the stretch with #6 Embroiled

Jockey David Flores rallied in the stretch with #6 Embroiled

Something seemed to be amiss with #1 Extended as she ran down the backstretch. Jockey Joe Talamo had her under restraint as she tracked pace setter #5 Eclipse Syrah.

Extended, who was coming off an 11-month layoff, eased to the lead at the top of the stretch, but then quit badly about a furlong from the wire. Meanwhile, first-time starter #6 Embroiled rallied gamely in the center of the lane at 13-to-1 to mow down Eclipse Syrah.

Embroiled’s trainer, Darrell Vienna, is a cagey conditioner who works his horses out on Santa Anita’s dirt training track. Very few runners use that track and the odds on Vienna’s stock are usually overlaid because handicappers find it difficult to gauge whether the works were good or not.

Extended had a lot of positives going for him, so I bet $400. And lost. 

To watch a replay of this race, go to

© Copyright Maiden King, 2009. Written exclusively for Not to be duplicated or reprinted.

1 1 Extended (CA) Talamo J Koriner B 2.30 8
2 2 Angel of Mystery (CA) Gryder A Marquez A 32.00 5
3 3 Samantha Rocks (CA) Martin G Sayler J 17.10 6
4 4 Brilliant Response (CA) Bejarano R Gaines C 2.80 4
5 5 Eclipse Syrah (CA) Baze T Sherlock G 4.60 2
6 6 Embroiled (CA) Flores D Vienna D 13.00 1
7 7 Flashy Traveler (FL) Valdez F Metz J 25.70 10
8 8 Desired Rose (CA) Vergara O Perez M 121.50 9
9 9 Dee Dee’s Flight (CA) Scott J Sierra C 87.90 7
10 10 Flash Dance (CA) Solis A Becerra R 3.20 3
Pgm Win Place Show
6 $28.00 $11.40 $5.80
5 $7.00 $3.80
10 $3.20
Exotic Payoffs
$1.00 Consolation Pick 3 paid $48.60 (4-2-6)
$1.00 Exacta

Results, Santa Anita Sunday Race 10 — won $1,750

imgres2Some trainers know the betting tendencies of the public and they use the information to help get prices on their horses.

In the April 19 Daily Racing Form Simulcast Weekly, Darrell Vienna was the profiled trainer. In a chart labeled “Vital Statistics,” Vienna’s training numbers were broken down into 37 categories. And Vienna had long-term money making statistics in 18 of the 25 categories that showed him with 10 starters or more.

In the body of the story, it hinted that one reason Vienna’s horses pay so well is that he works his runners out on the deeper dirt surface of the Santa Anita training track rather than the main track that most use. The horses get fit, but their times are slow, which may cause bettors to stay away.

On Sunday, Vienna brought #3 Chic Chick off a nine-month layoff to win the tenth race. This 5-year-old mare had run decently versus maiden special weight company last year and was now dropping into $25,000 maiden claiming, yet she still paid $9.

The public, in general, doesn’t like risking their money on horses that were laid off for long stretches. And I’m sure they like these comebackers even less if their workouts are all slow or nondescript.

Sunday’s race by Chic Chick was only a race until midstretch when jockey Joel Rosario found a seam and, as race caller Trevor Denman enthusiastically described, “exploded thorough on the inside.” 

Chic Chick then pulled away from the pack and closed out the meet in style.

I bet $500 on #3 Chic Chick and was prepared to bet $200 on #7 Hannah’s Moment, but she was bet below my minimum 3/1 price. I collected $2,250 and profited $1,750. 

To watch a replay of this race, go to

1 1 Christy’s Bullet (CA) Solis A Dominguez C 2.50 2
3 2 Chic Chick (CA) Rosario J Vienna D 3.50 1
4 3 Judge in the West (CA) Baze T Schiewe P 13.80 5
5 4 A Fine Time (KY) Talamo J Robbins J 24.00 8
6 5 Classic Demand (CA) Garcia M Eurton P 5.10 3
7 6 Hannah’s Moment (CA) Bejarano R Periban J 2.90 4
11 7 Girl of Mine (CA) Rios J Knapp S 10.50 7
12 8 She’s a Single (CA) Sorenson D Bernstein D 14.00 6
SCR Cee’s Harmony (CA)    
SCR Sister Lucy (CA)    
SCR Ms Honkytonk Woman (CA) Martin G Shidaker D
SCR Ata Honour (KY) Gryder A Burnison E
Pgm Win Place Show
3 $9.00 $4.40 $3.20
1 $3.60 $2.80
6 $4.00
Exotic Payoffs
$1.00 Consolation Pick 3 paid $11.90

Friday, Santa Anita Race 3 — 2:03 p.m. post time

Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden claiming $32,000, 5-1/2 furlongs, 3-year-old fillies

Possible overlays                                           Morning line

#4 Sky Marni                                                       8/1
#7 Holychoir                                                       7/2
#8 Not So Plain Jane                                           8/1

In this 11-horse field, seven first-timers are going as well as four fillies running for the second time that were all trounced by more than 10 lengths in their first races.

The best-looking debut horse is #7 Holychoir who has been working out well and is the daughter of Swiss Yodeler. Another bettable first-timer is #4 Sky Marni, while second-time starter #8 Not So Plain Jane is trained by Paul Aguirre, who won with six of his last 16 horses running  for the second time.

Many capable trainers are in this race, so it would not surprise me to see Ron Ellis, Darrell Vienna or Craig Lewis getting their photo snapped in the winner’s circle at about 2:10 p.m PST. But I can’t bet their horses in this spot, so if they beat me, I will just move on to race eight. 

At the betting window, I will put $250 on #7 Holychoir at 7/2 to 19/1, $150 on #4 Sky Marni at 10/1 to 19/1 and $100 on #8 Not So Plain Jane from 3/1 to 8/1.

Wednesday, Santa Anita Race 4 — 2:34 p.m. post time


Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden claiming $32,000, 5 1/2 furlongs, 2-year-olds

Possible overlays                             Morning lines

#2 Jet Set Lass                                           20/1
#4 Susananda                                             9/2
#6 Betterthanfiction                                 15/1
#8 Hypnotizing                                         10/1
#10 Bajan Kitty                                           5/1
#11 Gone Punk                                           12/1

This 10-horse field looks wide open and a decent price is likely, as several first-time starters are entered and the favorite looks vulnerable. I will bet more than one horse in here trying to beat #5 Strapless, #9 Suarez and #4 Susananda, if she’s bet too low.   

It appears that #9 Suarez, who is 7/2 on the morning line, will get lots of betting action because she led for most of her last two races and she’s showing the best two Beyer Speed Figures in the race. However, this late in the year, 2-year-old fillies typically win these types of races with Beyer numbers in the high 60s and low 70s and Saurez’  best is only a 61.

Furthermore, if she gets the lead by the quarter pole, Suarez will have to work hard, as #2 Jet Set Lass and #10 Bajan Kitty figure to be gunning too. Also, one of the first timers is very likely to have early foot.  

Of the debut runners, #11 Gone Punk is the best bet and two others — #4 Susananda and #8 Hypnotizing — have some things to like.  The owners of #4 Susananda, Chandler & Graham, have had six debuting runners in my records over the last two years. They won at 11/1 odds on Dec. 17, 2006 and at 7/2 on Feb. 14, 2007.  However, recently trainer Matlow has been winning second time out.

Trainer Craig Lewis, who is saddling Hypnotizing, has won with 2 of his last 9 Larry The Legend-sired debuters and he struck at odds of 12/1 and 13/1. Both won in January 2007, so maybe it’s getting to be that time of year for Lewis. 

Both #2 Jet Set Lass and #6 Betterthanfiction look like automatic throw outs in the Daily Racing Form, but Jet Set Lass flashed good speed to the quarter pole last time and that’s important in a 5-1/2 furlong race. Betterthanfiction broke slowly in her two races, but last time she made up seven lengths very quickly on the backstretch. She then accelerated four wide on the turn while coming within a few lengths of #9 Suarez before quitting in the stretch. Both of these fillies figure to be monster prices.

Trainer Michael Machowsky is excellent when bringing horses off long layoffs. He missed last time with #10 Bajan Kitty, but is adding blinkers and dropping her in class today, so this one looks live if the odds are right. 

At the betting window, I want $200 to win on #11 Gone Punk if post time odds are 7/2 to 19/1 and I’ll bet $200 on #10 Bajan Kitty but only if she’s 2/1 to 7/2.

Also, I’ll put $150 on both #8 Hypnotizing at 7/2 to 15/1, and #4 Susananda at 7/1 to 20/1. Additionally, I’ll take $50 on both #2 Jet Set Lass and #6 Betterthanfiction at 10/1 or more.

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