Turning $2 into $27K on the amazing Zenyatta

As everybody knows, Zenyatta is the greatest thing to happen to Southern California racing since the Pick 6.

And her popularity is only rising. During the 2009 Clement L. Hirsch Stakes last year, 20,335 racetrackers showed up at Del Mar.

But after Zenyatta’s scintillating Breeder’s Cup Classic win at Santa Anita last November and her 17-for-17 record, undefeated Zenyatta went for number 18 before 32,536 people in Saturday’s running of the Hirsch.  And Big Z didn’t disappoint.

Although floated six paths wide on the turn, Zenyatta rallied into a brutally slow pace to prevail by a neck. Afterward, jockey Mike Smith paraded her up and down the front stretch, while tens of thousands of transfixed onlookers wildly applauded the 6-year-old mare from the Del Mar grandstand, YouTube videos showed.

The post-race celebration came together like a scripted scene from “Seabiscuit.” But it wasn’t.

It was reality.

Paris Hilton

In fact, Zenyatta has now become a celebrity on par with Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian. Zenyatta won’t be hosting any night club openings in Vegas, but like Hilton and Kardashian, Zenyatta’s mere presence attracts huge crowds of exuberant followers.

With the victory, owner Jerry Moss pocketed another $180,000 to bring Zenyatta’s career earnings to $6.25 million. But what about the betting public? Can they make any money by betting Zenyatta?

It seems the logical answer is “not much” because Zenyatta’s odds return so little to winners. But Del Mar’s morning line maker Russell Hudak figured out that a measly $2 parlay of Zenyatta’s 18 victories would have returned $27,248.28.

Of course, whoever had this kind of amazing foresight into Zenyatta’s career would also need to be wired with nerves of steel. That’s because the Zenyatta parlay would have required that the bettor plunk down $24,768 before Saturday’s win.

Indeed, the concept of compound interest is so powerful it has turned teenagers with nothing into billionaires by age 60. And I’m sure that even investor Warren Buffett would be one of Zenyatta’s biggest fans if the horse helped him roll $2 into $27K.

Sunday, Del Mar Race 4 — 3:30 pm post time

Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden Special Weight, 6-1/2 furlongs, 2 yo fillies

Possible overlays             Morning line

#2 Dixie’s Sandals                     8/1
#3 Seriously                             3/1
#4 Star of Sapphire                   4/1
#5 Vivacious Anna                    8/1

Although #6 Imperatriz showed good speed in her debut and lasted for second, this filly had an easy trip yet didn’t run anywhere close to the median winning Beyer Speed Figure of 80 for this class.

If the public sends Imperatriz off at close to her 5-to-2 morning line then I will enthusiastically bet against both her and #7 It Tiz, a first time starter who is 4-to-1 on the early line.

Much better potential wagers are #2 Dixie’s Sandals, #4 Star of Sapphire and #5 Vivacious Anna. Also, the Bob Baffert-trained #3 Seriously obviously has a decent shot, but she may be overbet.

Jockey Mike Smith rode Seriously in her debut, but now he shows up on Star of Sapphire, who’s been working out well. Star of Sapphire has a few good betting angles going for her.

Doug O’Neill saddles #5 Vivacious Anna and O’Neill has done well with this type of maiden in the past. Finally, Dixie Sandals has mostly slow workouts, but she fits the profile of a winning debuter — but only if she falls into the 10/1 to 19/1 betting range.

I will bet $250 to win on #4 Star of Sapphire at 7/2 to 19/1; $150 on #5 Vivacious Anna at 5/1 to 19/1 and $150 on #2 Dixie’s Sandals at 10/1 to 19/1.

If the public goes overboard on Star of Sapphire and bets her below 7-to-2, then I will instead substitute $200 to win on #3 Seriously at 5/2 to 7/1 only.

Results, Del Mar Thursday Race 8 — lost $200

Trainer Mike Harrington wishes every field was soft at the one Towser beat in the 8th on Thursday.

Trainer Mike Harrington wishes every field was as soft at the one Towser beat in the 8th on Thursday.

Most races for Southern California maidens are fairly competitive with at least half the field eligible to win. However, that was not the case in Thursday’s eighth race, which had an 11-horse field.

After #11 Ministerfrommiami was scratched when running off at the gate, realistically this was just a two-horse race. And in what race caller Trevor Denman termed “a romp,” #10 Towser won to nobody’s surprise at 3-to-5.

Other than first-time starter #8 Danceuponthestars, the field was full of colts and geldings that typically dawdled out of the gate and offered no rally. The past performances for these horse were full of single digit speed figures and Beyer donuts.

As the race began, Towser shot to the front with #2 Bartok’s Bonus pressing the pace from the inside. Jockey Mike Smith, who sat with #8 Danceuponthestars in third place, was probably hoping Towser got tired.

But in the stretch, Towser pulled away to win by 5-1/2 lengths. The real race was for second where Bartok’s Bonus, who ran his eyeballs out at 19-to-1, got nailed on the wire by Danceuponthestars.

I lost $200 on Danceuponthestars at 4/1.

To watch a replay of this race, go to www.calracing.com.

2 1 Bartok’s Bonus (CA) Sorenson D Meredith D 19.40 3
3 2 My Royal Cat (CA) Santiago Reyes C Polanco M 11.80 6
4 3 Venito (CA) Atkinson P Mendoza J 55.70 10
5 4 Warrens Temptation (CA) Quinonez A Gutierrez J 14.70 5
6 5 El Ranchero (CA) Stra K Craigmyle K 17.90 8
7 6 Mr. Collen (CA) Kaenel K Polanco M 40.40 7
8 7 Danceuponthestars (CA) Smith M Moger, Jr. E 4.10 2
9 8 Quillotano (CA) Delgadillo A Sierra C 45.10 11
1 9 Lucero Negro (CA) Blanc B Zamora R 23.60 4
10 10 Towser (CA) Baze M Harrington M 0.60 1
12 11 El Chapo (CA) Arambula P Gonzalez F 39.50 9
SCR Ministerfrommiami (CA) Baze T Sadler J
SCR Google Me (CA) Garcia M Zamora R
Pgm Win Place Show
10 $3.20 $2.20 $2.20
8 $3.40 $3.00
2 $6.00
Exotic Payoffs
$1.00 Consolation Pick 3 paid $22.50 (3-7-11)
$1.00 Exacta paid $5.20 (10-8)
$1.00 Pick 3 paid $39.80 (3-7-10)
$1.00 Pick 4 paid $186.90 (1-3/9/10/11-7-10/11)
$1.00 Place Pick All paid $2972.70 (8 OF 8)
$1.00 Super High Five paid $502.00 (10-8-2-1-5)
$1.00 Superfecta paid $202.30 (10-8-2-1)
$1.00 Trifecta paid $36.60 (10-8-2)
$2.00 Consolation Double paid $5.80 (7-11)
$2.00 Daily Double paid $13.40 (7-10)
$2.00 Pick 6 paid $13456.40 (8-11-1-3/9/10/11-7-10
$2.00 Pick 6 paid $154.00 (8-11-1-3/9/10/11-7-10/1
$2.00 Quinella paid $7.00 (8-10)
Fractional Times
22.83, 46.65, 58.85, 1:05.36

Thursday, Del Mar Race 8 — 5:30 pm post time

Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden claiming $40,000, 5-1/2 furlongs, 2 year olds

Possible overlays             Morning line

#8 Danceuponthestars           7/2
#10 Towser                          9/5

This field of 12 is full of very bad horses that can be easily eliminated. The median winning Beyer Speed Figure is 67, but nine of the 10 experienced runners entered in here have yet to crack 40. Furthermore, the odds on seven of them have been less than 20-to-1 only twice in 17 races with the average odds of these 17 races being 53-to-1.

Single digit speed figures and Beyer donuts populate the racing form page. I guess that’s why the morning line maker hung odds of 7-to-2 on #8 Danceuponthestars, a first time starter who has been training slowly at Golden Gate Fields.

Realistically, I can see only three horses winning this race: #8 Danceuponthestars, #10 Towser and #11 Ministerfrommiami. Any other horse would be a complete shocker.

Owned and trained by Ed Moger, Danceuponthestars is switching circuits and jockey Mike Smith has won five times and placed five times in 19 chances with 2-year-old first time starters. Although most of them were in the maiden special weight ranks.

Towser showed a good burst of speed on June 12 and trainer Mike Harrington upgrades the jockey from Felipe Valdez to Michael Baze. Towser should be near the early lead, but his odds may be no better than even money.

Finally, John Sadler sends out #11 Ministerfrommiami who ran in spurts in his July 3 debut. This gelding is running in his second lifetime race, but I like Danceuponthestars better.

At 5/2 or more, I will bet $200 on #8 Danceuponthestars and at 2/1 or better I’ll put $200 on Towser.

Rachel Alexandra may be great, but her win payoff was not

In the days after Rachel Alexandra won the Preakness Stakes on May 16, several friends and acquaintances wondered how it was humanly possible for me not to bet this sensational filly to win the second jewel of horse racing’s Triple Crown.

One insinuated to me that I must be humbled by selecting against Rachel Alexandra. But I told him that I am proud of myself for developing the discipline to lay off the best horse in the race because her price was too low.

Not many of the horseplayers that I know would do that.

Another critic claimed that I wasn’t giving Rachel Alexandra enough credit. He said she was an obvious standout based on her 20-plus length victory in the May 1 Kentucky Oaks, the subsequent purchase by owner Jess Jackson for $10 million, and jockey Calvin Borel’s decision — made without hesitation — to jump off Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird to ride her.

All over the TV, newspapers and the Internet, horse racing analysts spent the days leading up to the Preakness touting Rachel Alexandra as something special. So, why, why, why, didn’t you bet her, people asked me.

It’s true that Rachel Alexandra looked formidable coming into the race. She had tactical speed, the best last race Beyer Speed Figure, she was working out superbly and was ranked first out of 13 horses on my pace handicapping software printout. Pundits and horseplayers alike were raving about her from Suffolk Downs to Emerald Downs.

But in a post on this site, I took a stance against Rachel Alexandra. I wrote that she was coming back on short rest, she was acclaimating to a new training team, and most importantly that the other jockeys were likely to box her in, keep her wide or bump her around with their mounts to make  her trip a miserably difficult one.

It made sense. If owners and trainers were focused on keeping her out of the race by using the underhanded tactics of filling the gate with bad horses, then why wouldn’t jockeys be focused on making Rachel Alexandra lose by “race riding?” Do riders have stronger ethics than trainers or owners?

So, instead of betting Rachel Alexandra in the Preakness, I opted for $200 to win on these three runners #3 Musket Man — who finished third at 11/1, #7 Papa Clem at 14/1, and #9 Pioneerof the Nile at 6/1. Then I put $100 on #11 Take the Points at 18/1.

“I don’t understand,” wrote Jimmy in a comment to this site. “The obvious choices were the top two finishers. It just seemed like a safer investment of $700, instead of a stab to strike it rich. 

He went on: “Can you explain why you would not bet the exacta: Rachel Alexandra-Mine That Bird or (to) win on Rachel Alexandra.”

Well, my main reason for not betting Rachel Alexandra was that at 9-to-5 her price had no value. And I almost never bet exactas because the takeout is some 30 percent higher than the win pool and, besides, I’m not that good at figuring out who will finish second.

But what I do have are lots of statistics on Southern California maiden races and I’ve uncovered plenty of money-making angles over the years. Some return $1.50 for every $1 bet, and others more than $2.

However, even when examining the greatest of handicapping angles, whenever I enter <2/1 into the data base filter, the analysis almost always shows the bet to be a money loser.  About the only way I would consider betting a horse at less than 2-to-1 is if it’s a Mike Mitchell-trained maiden claimer.

As post time for the Preakness was closing in, I looked up at the tote board and was surprised to see Rachel Alexandra, the 8-to-5 morning line favorite, at 2-to-1. And I started asking myself at what price would I abandon the long shots and put all of my money on her.

I decided that at 3-to-1, I was going to rearrange my bets so I’d have enough on her to break even, but if she clicked up to 7-to-2 or better then I would unload everything on Rachel and forget the others. Instead of drifting up though, her odds dropped to 9-to-5 with a couple of minutes to post and that’s where they stayed. 

One of Rachel Alexandra’s backers told me that she was a good bet because he believed she had a 65 percent chance to win the Preakness. But it is very difficult for me to give any horse more than a 40 percent chance to win a race.

I don’t know. Maybe it’s because I was among the 44,186 at Del Mar’s Pacific Classic in 1996 who watched 39-to-1 shot Dare and Go stop Cigar’s record-tying winning streak at 16.

Cigar hadn’t lost a race in two straight years and, of course, like Rachel Alexandra Cigar had a great chance to win his race. But I wasn’t going to take short odds on Cigar either. Instead, Dare and Go looked OK, so I put a few dollars on him and was rewarded with a win payoff of more than $80.

During big racing days like the Derby, Preakness, Belmont and Breeders’ Cup, the racing press greatly influences betting patterns of casual fans who show up in droves. In the recent past, racing writers compared colts like War Emblem, Smarty Jones  and Big Brown to Secretariat in the same way that NBA scribes compare Kobe Bryant and LeBron James to Michael Jordan.

But dominating championship athletes like Jordan and Secretariat come around about once in a lifetime, so comparisons seem to always end in disappointment. And even Secretariat, generally considered the greatest modern racehorse of them all, didn’t go undeafeated as you can see by watching the 1973 Whitney Stakes below.

If you’re a horseplayer, what’s bad for the dramatic story line, is good for the wallet. That’s because when War Emblem, Smarty Jones and Big Brown all lost the Belmont Stakes at minuscule odds, whoever had the winner was  rewarded with payoffs ranging from $74 to $142.50. Last year, I played three horses against standout Big Brown in the Belmont and cashed for $79 when D’Tara hit the wire first. So, when a celebrity horse looks like it can’t lose, it pays to take a dissenting view then try to beat it with multiple horses. 

In the running of the Preakness, Rachel Alexandra was carried wide by Big Drama on the first turn, but got a much better trip than I thought she would. However, she paid just $5.60, which I believe was a fair price, but was in no way an overlay.

In fact, jockey Mike Smith said second-place finisher Mine That Bird, who Smith rode, would have likely won the Preakness had he stayed out of trouble and gotten a clean trip.

So, saying Rachel Alexandra had a 65 percent chance to win sounds extremely optimistic to me.

Furthermore, because Rachel Alexandra paid so little, most of the bettors who cashed tickets on her probably lost all of their Preakness winnings after betting the next two races.  So, seriously, is a horse like Rachel Alexandra going to help you make a profit for the month, or the year? It’s doubtful.

Sure, the people who bet Rachel Alexandra say how great she looked and how obvious it was that she’d win the race. But almost all favorites look good, or else they wouldn’t be the favorite.

And if the obvious horse won every race, we’d all be calling our bets in from our boats at the Newport Beach Yacht Club.   

Yes, Rachel Alexandra had a great chance to win the Preakness, and she  paid a fair price. But I am looking to bet great horses at great prices. And if I can’t find one, then I’ll bet several runners against any type of short-priced horse, even if that means wagering against a great horse.

Because that’s the only way I’ve found to make long-run profits in this game.

© Copyright Maiden King, 2009. Written exclusively for www.maidenking.wordpress.com. Not to be duplicated or reprinted, especially by a website called Our Blogs Kentucky Derby Everything You Need To Know.

Results, Santa Anita Sunday Race 9 — lost $300

Trainer Bill Spawr won for the eighth time in 28 starts when using jockey Mike Smith

Trainer Bill Spawr won for the eighth time in 28 starts when using jockey Mike Smith

Trainer Bill Spawr dropped #6 Jimmy Two Times slightly in class, kept jockey Mike Smith aboard, and the colt responded by stalking the pace and pulling away in the stretch. 

Spawr, who also owns a part of Jimmy Two Times, has a winning percentage of 19 so far this year, but when Smith rides for him Spawr’s a 28 percent trainer.

Jimmy Two Times, 5-to-2, was making his second lifetime start. In his debut back on March 6, he established a clear lead in a $40,000 maiden claiming race before quitting badly in the stretch.  On Sunday, Jimmy Two Times ran behind pace setter #4 Barney Bass for the first half mile then put him away in the stretch.

At 7-to-2, I bet $200 on #4 Barney Bass and another $100 on first-time starter #8 Self Defense.

To watch a replay of this race, go to www.calracing.com.

1 1 Astoria Renter (CA) Delgadillo A Dunham D 3.70 6
2 2 Such a Shame (CA) Garcia M Freeman E 24.00 2
3 3 Rio Romeo (CA) Bejarano R Dominguez C 5.20 4
4 4 Barney Bass (KY) Rosario J Vienna D 3.70 3
5 5 Hesitate (KY) Talamo J Greely C 7.10 12
6 6 Jimmy Two Times (CA) Smith M Spawr W 2.80 1
7 7 King Farha (CA) Rios J Metz J 60.60 5
8 8 Self Defense (CA) Baze T Lewis C 17.80 8
11 9 Talkthatalkpeter G (CA) Cedeno O Sticka R 25.40 9
12 10 Motto’s Brat (CA) Potts C Wicker L 40.80 11
13 11 Rockin the City (CA) Quinonez A Byrd A 28.80 7
14 12 Kayakityak (CA) Arambula P Periban J 71.80 10
SCR Strong Belief (KY)    
SCR Indian Love (KY)    
Pgm Win Place Show
6 $7.60 $4.80 $3.20
2 $19.60 $11.00
4 $4.00
Exotic Payoffs
$1.00 Exacta paid $60.40 (6-2)
$1.00 Pick 3 paid $272.00 (9-7-6)
$1.00 Pick 4 paid

Results, Santa Anita Sunday Race 3 — lost $200

Mike Smith broke #3 Patriotic Soldier quickly from the gate then won a photo

Mike Smith broke #3 Patriotic Soldier quickly from the gate then won a photo

On Feb. 1, #3 Patriotic Soldier debuted at 6-1/2 furlongs as part of an entry that went off at 7-to-2. But when the gate opened, Patriotic Soldier hopped in the air and was quickly some 10 lengths behind the field.

He made up some ground as the field entered the stretch, but jockey Mike Smith did not push him too hard in the lane.

In the six weeks between then and Sunday, trainer Bruce Headley gave Patriotic Soldier five workouts and three of them were quick ones. So, obviously we saw a different animal on Sunday.

In Sunday’s race, Patriotic Soldier broke with the leaders, held an advantage into the stretch, then battled gamely with #7 Raise the River to the wire where he won the head bob at 9-to-1.

My bets were focused on Raise the River and #8 Ribald who needed to be at least 3/1. I ended up with $200 to win on Ribald at 9-to-2.

To watch a replay of this race, go to www.calracing.com.

1 1 Drake Lake (CA) Gomez G Sadler J 5.10 10
2 2 Mountain Guide (CA) Garcia M Harrington M 20.70 7
3 3 Patriotic Soldier (CA) Smith M Headley B 9.80 1
4 4 Justice Reigns (CA) Solis A Lewis L 38.10 5
5 5 Mendota Bay (CA) Rosario J Barba A 19.40 4
6 6 Sherry’s Reddy (CA) Scott J Aguayo V 109.30 9
7 7 Raise the River (CA) Bejarano R Gaines C 2.20 2
8 8 Ribald (CA) Rios J Sherman A 4.70 6
9 9 Philly Slew (CA) Quinonez A Gregory W 31.80 8
10 10 Charlie and Chris (CA) Baze T Zucker H 2.50 3
Pgm Win Place Show
3 $21.60 $8.60 $4.60
7 $4.00 $2.80
10 $2.80
Exotic Payoffs
$1.00 Exacta paid $46.00 (3-7)
$1.00 Pick 3 paid $824.10 (2-5-3)
$1.00 Superfecta paid $1672.60 (3-7-10-5)

TV’s “Jockeys” is a winning ride. But why muzzle Trevor?

The TV show  “Jockeys” is an exciting behind-the-scenes look at what it’s like to ride top Thoroughbreds on the lucrative and ultra-competitive Southern California racing circuit.

I watched back-to-back half-hour episodes on Animal Planet Feb. 27 where the story focused on jockeys Joe Talamo, Brendon Meier, Alex Solis and Solis’ son, bloodstock agent Alex Solis II.

Being that Talamo, Meier and Solis II are all less than 24 years old, the program was obviously slanted toward youth, at least in these episodes. The first show entitled “May the Horse Be With You” opened with the narrator telling us that Talamo, who won the 2007 Eclipse Award as the nation’s top apprentice, was losing lots of races lately.

“I’m on a cold streak and you always want to win,” said the 19-year-old Louisiana native. “I really want to win one today.”

Reckless riding

Talamo was then shown, in three consecutive races, losing control of his horses as they swerved into the path of other runners. To display how damaging a horse fall can be, the producers showed footage of jockey Mike Smith getting tossed from a horse in 1998. Smith, who almost died from the accident, was in a body cast for a month, he said.

The jockeys on the program all seem to get along well, but they don’t take riding mistakes lightly. Bad rides can easily lead to crippling injuries or death. 

After Talamo’s reckless incidents, one jockey put a white message board above Talamo’s locker, drew a racing oval and added a zig-zagged line throughout the oval. Above the drawing read: “Talamo’s path to the winner’s circle.”  And another sign written by a rival above Talamo’s locker read, “What goes around comes around.”

Talamo summoned to stewards

When a horse impedes another, the jockey goes before three stewards who serve as the judge and jury for riders. They review the race replays and the rider explains what happened. If the stewards think the jockey was at fault, they are suspended for a few days and can’t make any money.

Jockeys are paid 10 percent of the owners share of the purse for winning a race, and 5 percent for second and third. Purses generally start at about $15,000 in Southern California for maiden claiming races and dramatically increase to millions of dollars for stakes races. The winning owner gets 60 percent of the purse, second place is 20 percent and third pays 10 percent.

So, riders make $900 for winning  a race with a $15,000 purse and $60,000 if they win a $1 million stakes. Not bad for a couple of minutes work, but they spend hours every morning exercising horses and cultivating trainer relationships. Also, jockey booking agents take 20-25 percent of the rider’s pay.

Talamo met with the stewards and they watched his races together. The panel, who told Talamo they have no tolerance for careless riding, expected quicker reactions from Talamo when his horses were swerving during his races. 

However, Talamo was riding inexperienced and sometimes unpredictable 2-year-old horses, so the stewards didn’t penalize him. “I think it’s fair to say that he was very close to suspension,” said steward Scott Cheney. “He could have acted a little bit faster.”

Smith takes Talamo under his wing

Viewers learn that these jockeys try to beat each other every day, but after the races they go out to dinner together, workout together and socialize with each other. During one scene, a table full of jockeys — at least the ones older than 21 — were sipping wine during dinner at an upscale restaurant. (And I thought all these guys drank was water and ate nothing more than a  peanut or two a day.)

The conversation turned to how young jockeys are getting mounts on good horses today, whereas 10 or 20 years ago they would have to pay their dues first.

“It takes a long time to get good,” said Mike Smith, who won the 2005 Kentucky Derby aboard Giacomo. “You ain’t that good Joe. You aren’t going to get that good until you are in your 30’s” 

In another scene, Smith had a party at his house and the wine glasses were full again. Gary Stevens attended and Talamo was amazed that he’d watched Stevens in the movie “Seabiscuit” just three years ago, and now he was hanging out at parties with him.

When Smith started riding, the veterans helped him out. So, Smith now advises Talamo and works out with him. They were shown jogging on the Santa Anita track. Afterward, he told Talamo to work hard and let trainers and owners know that he wants opportunities to ride good horses. But when given the the chance, he better make the most of it, Smith added.

“One good horse will make you famous,” Smith told Talamo.

Alex Solis II, 23, bloodstock agent

At the beginning of the second half hour, entitled “Hands Down,” viewers are introduced to Alex Solis II, a 23-year-old bloodstock agent. Solis II, who was involved with the aquisition of Sham Stakes winner The Pamplemousse, purchases horses and solicits investors to buy shares in his runners.

If a bloodstock agent makes a good buy and the runner wins a stakes race, then the horse could be worth millions of dollars as a breeder. But pick the wrong horse, and investors can lose lots of money.

Apprentice can’t seem to get started

Minutes into the second half hour, viewers also meet Brandon Meier — an apprentice jockey who won 58 races in three months at Arlington Park. Meier, 20, is the son of jockey Randy Meier, who is the all-time leading rider at Sportsman’s Park and Hawthorne. But Brandon is having trouble getting mounts at Santa Anita.

The stewards keep a close eye on new riders like Meier and many trainers won’t use inexperienced jockeys, even though they get a 5-pound weight break.

“I use apprentices,” said trainer Bob Baffert. “But if you have a high profile horse, you want a veteran rider.”

In a dramatic moment, Meier finally got a mount that had a strong chance to win. His horse looked so good that, while jockey Jon Court was sitting around in the jockey’s room, he bet Aaron Gryder a Gatorade that Meier’s horse would defeat the one Talamo was riding.

Meier, who was on One Time at Band Camp, had the lead in the stretch, but Return of the King with Talamo came rolling home in the stretch to nail him by a nose.

To make matters worse, Meier drifted out in the lane, so he was summoned to the stewards office the next day for an explanation. Luckily, Meier didn’t get suspended.

Alex Solis rides for son

One of Solis II’s horses, Lavender Sky, was ready to run and his father Alex Solis was looking forward to riding this classy animal, who trainer Dan Hendricks estimated to be worth at least $500,000.

“Normally your kids want to do great for you,” said jockey Solis, who is also the regular rider for The Pamplemousse. “I want to do great for him.”

But Solis couldn’t get Lavender Sky to run and she finished dead last.

“Too many good jockeys”

In a couple of scenes, Meier’s girlfriend was pressuring him to come back to Arlington Park. Meier told her that if business didn’t pick up at Santa Anita then he’d think about making a move.

Journeyman jockeys either catch on or move on. And for Meier, business didn’t pick up, so he decided that after three weeks he’d had enough. He  packed up his truck, said his goodbyes, and was off to the Churchill Downs/Keeneland circuit where he had some contacts.

“There are not enough horses and too many good jockeys here,” Meier said.

Show does Trevor no justice

To horseplayers at simulcast centers watching races on TV screens, every horse looks like every other horse and the jockeys all look the same too. What a show like “Jockeys” does, is to put a human face on the game while shining a light on various racing interactions and subtleties.

But one thing I do not like about this show are the ridiculous race calls by track announcer Trevor Denman, which sound like they’re straight from an outdated video game. Denman has become one of America’s all-time great race callers because of the excitment and drama he adds that almost nobody can match. But on “Jockeys” he speaks in a monotone with lots of dead air while using riders names instead of horses names.

The show does him no justice.

Otherwise, for fans of horse racing and competitive sports, “Jockeys” is a winning ride.

“Jockeys” airs at 9 p.m Pacific Time Friday on Animal Planet. On March 6, the first half-hour “Legend of the Fallen” is about retired jockeys risking it all in one last comeback race. Also, Chantal Sutherland faces a difficult decision. The second half hour “Go Big or Go Home” sees 2007 Horse of the Year Curlin arriving at Santa Anita for the Breeders’ Cup. 

Friday, Santa Anita Race 1 — 1 pm post time

Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden claiming $40,000, 5-1/2 furlongs, 3-year-olds

Possible overlays                              Morning line

# 3 Panda                                               15/1
#4 De Brief Me                                         8/1
#6 One Vote                                            9/5
#8 Jimmy Two Times                            5/1

The median Beyer Speed Figure for this type of race is 71 and two runners in here have recently earned a 70: #6 One Vote and #9 Belongs to Gotham.

I give One Vote the edge out of these two because this gelding appears to have better speed, but it’s probably a moot point because both will likely  be bet below 2-to-1.

That leads us to first timer #8 Jimmy Two Times who has a few good workouts on display. I especially like the 59-1/5 second 5 furlongs he worked on Dec. 20, which was the sixth fastest of 104 horses who exercised at that distance.

The connections are also a positive for Jimmy Two Times, as both jockey Mike Smith and trainer Bill Spawr win at decent 16 percent rate. However, the last 24 times Smith rode for Spawr the percentage spiked to 29 percent, as they won seven races together.

Other first times who may be worth a wager if the price is right are #3 Panda, #4 De Brief Me and #5 You’re No Good.

I will bet $300 on #6 One Vote at 2/1 and up and $250 on #8 Jimmy Two Times at 7/2 to 19/1.

Also, I want $150 to win on any of these horses that fall between the odds of 10/1 to 19/1: #3 Panda, #4 De Brief Me and #5 You’re No Good.

Gomez’ chances to dethrone Bailey crashed with horse


Suffered broken teeth, scrapes and bruises

Garrett Gomez made his name by finishing first.

And to a competitive jockey like him, it had to be frustrating to watch three of the horses he was slated to ride on Sunday win their races at Santa Anita while he recuperated from being thrown from his mount in Saturday’s Eddie Logan Stakes.

Gomez lost a few teeth when Back At You tried to jump the stretch rail while leading Santa Anita’s seventh race Saturday, causing both man and horse to crash to the ground. But no doubt Gomez’ biggest loss during this freak occurrence was the opportunity to break Jerry Bailey’s earnings mark of $23,354,960 set in 2003, which Gomez would have almost certainly done on Sunday.

But now, even though Gomez is back riding again, it seems his chances of eclipsing Bailey crashed when Back At You went down.

However, champions don’t quit and, although time is running out, Gomez seems determined to set the record for earnings in one year. 

As of Tuesday, Gomez’ 2008 mounts have earned $23,275,879 for their owners, which puts him just $79,081 shy of Bailey’s total. Gomez’s amount would have topped Bailey’s total Sunday if he was the one riding Proudinsky in the $150,000 San Gabriel Handicap as scheduled, instead of Rafael Bejarano. Proudinsky, a German-bred, was the 7/5 favorite in the 1-1/8 turf race and he defeated six other rivals by 3/4 of a length, earning $90,000 for owner Johanna Louise Glen-Teven.

Also, two horses that Gomez was named to ride on Sunday also won the two races that preceded the San Gabriel Handicap: In the sixth race, Wild Diplomat, ridden by fill-in jockey Joe Talamo, won $22,200 for owners E. Smith & Sterling Stable, and in the seventh Unusual Spirit’s victory by rider Mike Smith was worth $28,800 to owner-trainer Jerry Fanning.

It’s safe to assume that there was no possible way Gomez could strap his body to the back of a horse on Sunday. Because if Gomez, who won two races Monday, rode those three winning horses on Sunday then he would have shot by Bailey with 2008 purse earnings of $23,416,879 — or $61,919 more than Bailey’s 2003 money won.

During Saturday’s Eddie Logan Stakes, Back At You had a clear lead in the stretch, but the lightly-raced 2-year-old tried to jump the inner rail as he approached a large shadow of the grandstand that darkened the turf course. According to Bloodhorse.com, Gomez, who was taken to the hospital, broke several front teeth, cut his knee and one of his hands was swollen. Gomez had cosmetic dental surgery and took off his mounts Sunday, but on Monday he was back in the saddle, winning the third race on Suit Yourself and the fifth on Trainspotting.

As for the fallen horse, Back At You didn’t suffer much major damage. Trainer Eddie Truman told Daily Racing Form that Back At You’s wounded leg was stitched up and the trainer could find no other injuries. Truman speculated that his horse was confused by the shadows from the grandstand covering the front stretch of the turf course after racing in bright sunshine on the backstretch and far turn.

Back At You will resume training in less than a month after resting for a couple of weeks, Truman said. 

Santa Anita Park next races on Wednesday, which is the last day of the year. Gomez, who still has an outside shot of beating Bailey, is named to ride four horses in races with purses totaling $185,000. The winning owner earns 60 percent of the purse.

To set the record, Gomez will need to win both the $56,000 sixth race on #2 Kynishka at 3/1, and the seventh on #8 Baroness Thatcher, a 4/1 shot, in the $70,000 Kalookan Queen Handicap — which carries $21,000 in added money.

If he loses either one, then Gomez finishes second in this race for the record — albeit to Jerry Bailey, one of the all-time greats.

Results Santa Anita Saturday Race 9 – lost $600

ahhhhhh-by-rock-and-racehorses3I had a three-headed monster running for me here with #6 Joe Carl, #8 Day with Desi and #9 Silent Trick with post-time odds that put them all in play. But my runners came up empty as second-timer #3 Devil Cat M D pressed the pace and drew away in the stretch. The winner was was bet to 7/2 for this one, and the low price came even though when Devil Cat M D ran the first time he earned just a 48 Beyer Speed Figure. On that day, jockey Mike Smith kept him at least 10 lengths back throughout, but obviously Devil Cat M D was a better horse than that. And, after the form darkening debut, the money run came when trainer Kathy Walsh added blinkers and dropped her horse from maiden special weight to maiden claiming. 

To watch a replay of this race go to www.calracing.com

1 1 Always Trying (CA) Sutherland C Velasquez D 33.20 8
2 2 Dial Four Peace (FL) Bejarano R O’Neill D 1.10 4
3 3 Devil Cat M D (KY) Smith M Walsh K 3.70 1
4 4 Vague Notion (MD) Solis A Lewis L 19.50 3
5 5 Ma I’m Home (KY) Quinonez A Gonzalez J 16.20 6
6 6 Joe Carl (KY) Garcia M Cerin V 12.10 2
7 7 Rockin the City (CA) Stra K Byrd A 18.70 7
8 8 Day With Desi (KY) Baze M Eurton P 5.70 5
9 9 Silent Trick (KY) Talamo J Biancone P 11.20 9
10 10 My Ticket to Ride (CA) Couton J Shidaker D 54.10 10
Pgm Win Place Show
3 $9.40 $4.80 $4.00
6 $10.00 $5.60
4 $8.60
Exotic Payoffs
$1.00 Exacta paid $43.10 (3-6)
$1.00 Pick 3 paid $70.00 (7-4-3)
$1.00 Pick 4 paid $1448.30 (5-7-1/4/8/9-3)
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