Thursday, Santa Anita Race 8 — post time 4:38 pm

Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden claiming $30,000, 7 furlongs, 3-year-olds

Median winning Beyer Speed Figure: 68

Possible overlays                 Morning line

#1 Mr Pappagiorgio                     15/1
#2 King Bill                           10/1
#3 The Black                           2/1
#4 I Know That                         8/1
#5 Airplane Mode                       12/1
#8 Patriotic Lion                      4/1
#9 Jamakagoodsense                     8/1
#10 Papa P B                           3/1

Without a doubt, the strongest horse in this race is #3 The Black. Trained by Doug O’Neill, this colt has run in enough races to build the stamina necessary to survive 7 furlongs and his 74 Beyer Speed Figure — albeit earned on the grass — stamps him with the ability to get the job done today. The switch from Blanc to Bejarano should also help lead to good things.

But all of O’Neill’s plans with The Black today could easily be foiled if #8 Patriotic Lion shows the dominant early speed that he’s capable of. On Oct. 1 at 5-1/2 furlongs, Patriotic Lion outbroke eight others in a maiden special weight race while rolling through brilliant fractions of 21-2/5ths seconds for the quarter mile and 44-2/5ths seconds for the half. In Patriotic Lion’s next two races — at 7 furlongs and 1 mile — he unimpressively pressed the pace then faded badly.

And what happened with Patriotic Lion last time he ran is anybody’s guess. On Jan. 21, jockey Freddie Lenclud took Patriotic Lion to the back of the pack then rallied mildly to finish a well-beaten third. On that day, maybe trainer Patrick Biancone was trying to teach Patriotic Lion to rate and it may all pay off today with a wire-to-wire score.

Looking over the past performances, I can’t see any horse that can keep up with Patriotic Lion down the backstretch. Unless one of the first or second time starters surprise by gunning for the lead, then Patriotic Lion should get away with easy early fractions. The only question that will then remain is whether this runner can ration his energy across seven furlongs.

 This colt looks like a horse to use on top in the gimmicks, but not for second or third as he may pop and stop.

Of the five second-time starters, the best bets to hit the board look like #4 I Know That and #10 Papa P B.

In I Know That’s debut on Jan. 21, he trailed down the backstretch over a wet-fast track then was very wide into the lane while passing a few horses to finish seventh. He doesn’t look like much, but adding blinkers today may aid in the dramatic improvement he would need to win. With the other talent in this race, I would need at least 5-to-1 to consider him. 

The far outside horse — Papa P B — has a good chance to run well because trainer Dan Hendricks does better as the sprints get longer. The Daily Racing Form reports that Papa P B has flashed early speed in the morning, but he broke slowly in his only race. This colt is 3-to-1 on the morning line and I will need at least 5-to-1 before I reach into my pocket.

The first time starters have hidden angles in here, so they may fire at big prices. Breaking from the rail, #1 Mr Pappagiorgio has the type of debut breeding that wins 6-1/2 and 7-furlong maiden claiming races. And this gelding’s trainer, Kristin Mulhall, does well in spots like this.

Bertrando, who is the sire of the other firster #5 Airplane Mode, is winning with more than 20 percent of his debut horses on the circuit with post-time odds of less than 20-to-1. Every $1 bet on these runners returned $1.54.  But Airplane Mode’s trainer Tim Yakteen usually does best with horses making their second starts. At odds of 10/1 to 19/1, however, both he and Mr Pappagiorgio may be worth the risk.

If The Black or Patriotic Lion do not fire, then Golden Gate invader King Bill looks like he could pick up the pieces at a fat price. In his last, jockey Russell Baze took King Bill five paths wide on the turn and they drifted into the seven path while entering the stretch. I bumped King Bill’s Beyer Speed Figure from 58 to 65 to make up for the lost ground and just a slight improvement would win most races at this class.

My betting strategy: I am betting $350 to win on #3 The Black at less than 2/1 and $500 to win on him at 2/1 or higher. I will try to hit a decent exacta by excluding #8 Patriotic Lion from the second spot while playing some others. I want $20 exactas 3 with 1, 2, 4, 5.  If #4 I Know That is 5/1 or better, then I will take another $10 exacta box 3,4. And at the same 5/1 or better odds, I will take $100 to win on #4 I Know That.

At 10/1 or more, I want a $10 exacta box 2, 3 and $100 to win on #2 King Bill.

Patriotic Lion may dominate this race, so as a hedge I want a $10 trifecta 8 with 3 with 1, 2, 4, 5.  And a $5 trifecta 8 with 2 with 1, 3, 4, 5.

Finally, at odds of 10/1 to 19/1, I will put $100 on both #1 Mr Pappagiorgio and #5 Airplane Mode.

Facial fractures may keep Baze out of saddle 3-to-8 weeks

Tyler Baze, who was hurt when his mount Night Justice reared at the gate July 24, remained at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla Sunday with orbital fractures around his eye and a broken nose.

Dr. Jeff Umansky, who worked on similar injures suffered by jockey Rafael Bejarano last July, said that Baze may need surgery after the swelling goes down, according to the BloodHorse.  When Night Justice reared, Baze’s face slammed into the back of the horse’s head and the horse stepped on Baze’s calf before running off.

Baze was taken by ambulance to the hospital on Saturday and after the races Bejarano came to support Baze.

“Rafael was holding Tyler’s hand and he had his other hand on Tyler’s forehead,” Baze’s agent Vic Stauffer told the BloodHorse. “When bleeding from Tyler’s broken nose would develop, Rafael would take a tissue and wipe it away. It was amazing; he got Tyler to become much more comfortable with the situation.”

Results, Santa Anita Saturday Race 5 — lost $450

Trainer Bob Baffert gave a leg up to jockey Rafael Bejarano on 4-to-5 shot Excellent News

Trainer Bob Baffert gave a leg up to jockey Rafael Bejarano on 4-to-5 shot Excellent News

Almost all of Bob Baffert’s horses are bred to win stakes races, so they can dominate a field of maiden special weight sprinters at any moment.

Rafael Bejarano rode #10 Excellent News in her third lifetime race after she spun an 82 Beyer Speed Figure in her second race on Aug. 29. Since the median winning Beyer Speed Figure for this race was just an 80, Excellent News was a standout — especially considering that the next highest Beyer was just a 69.

There were no secrets with this filly. She had the top Beyer, a top jockey and a top trainer. It was easy to see her outstanding qualifications and it was no surprise that the public knocked Excellent News’ odds to 4-to-5.

But with odds this low, horses need to win some 70-to-80 percent of the time to make a bet worthwhile. And all of us bettors are all dealing with incomplete information, so it’s tough to find angles that work seven out of 10 times.

A couple of first timers in this race — #4 Stunning Ally and #7 Carrie Rose — had strong long-term angles working for them. And I also took a chance on second-time starter #5 Evening Jewel.

However, Excellent News won like a 4-to-5 shot should win.

At the window, I wagered $200 on Stunning Ally at 9/1, $100 on Evening Jewel at 5/1 and $150 on Carrie Rose at 8/1.

To watch a replay of this race, go to

1 1 Dance the Dance (CA) Talamo J Hofmans D 37.50 6
2 2 Shesoprovocative (CA) Espinoza V Becerra R 13.20 5
3 3 Pocatello Wild Kat (CA) Baze M Fanning J 63.20 8
4 4 Stunning Ally (CA) Quinonez A Canani J 9.50 4
5 5 Evening Jewel (CA) Smith M Cassidy J 5.40 2
6 6 Giveme Onereason (CA) Santiago Reyes C Solis W 35.10 3
7 7 Carrie Rose (CA) Gomez G Mitchell M 8.30 9
8 8 Tiz Cee’s Ballet (CA) Martin G Locke T 57.40 10
9 9 High Five Gal (CA) Rosario J O’Neill D 7.00 7
10 10 Excellent News (CA) Bejarano R Baffert B 0.80 1
Pgm Win Place Show
10 $3.60 $2.40 $2.40
5 $4.60 $4.20
6 $8.60
Exotic Payoffs
$1.00 Exacta paid $8.80 (10-5)

Masked man

Jockey Rafael Bejarano will ride with a protective face mask when he returns from injury Aug. 28.

Jockey Rafael Bejarano will ride with a protective face mask when he returns from injury Aug. 28. Bejarano broke his jaw, cheek and nose when his mount Mi Rey went down on Del Mar's Opening Day.

Sunday, Hollywood Park Race 2 — 1:30 pm post time

Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden claiming $40,000, 6 furlongs, 3 yo and up, F

Possible overlays               Morning line

#1 Brilliant Response                  3/1
#5 Hannah’s Moment                  6/1
#9 Angel of Mystery                   6/1
#12 Lady Alex                           7/2

Jockey Rafael Bejarano chooses to keep the mount on #1 Brilliant Response after that one ran poorly coming off a nine-month layoff on May 23.  The filly, who is trained by Carla Gaines, has positive long-term angles going for it if betting action shows up.

Also, Gaines’ is only a 12 percent trainer this year, but she wins at 29 percent over the last two years when Bejarano rides.

Two second-time starters look good at the right price. Both #9 Angel of Mystery and #12 Lady Alex have been working out well and they ran decently in their debuts.

Finally, #5 Hannah’s Moment deserves a chance because she has the kind of good early speed that wins at 6 furlongs.

At 2/1 to 7/2, I will bet $300 on #1 Brilliant Response. If she falls out of the betting range, then I will put $150 on #5 Hannah’s Moment at 3/1 or higher, and $200 on both #9 Angel of Mystery and #12 Lady Alex at 5/2 to 7/1 only.

Saturday, Hollywood Park Race 5 — 3 pm post time

Maiden King conquers So. Calif. maiden races

Maiden King conquers So. Calif. maiden races

Maiden claiming $40,000, 5-1/2 furlongs, 3 yo’s +

Possible overlays                         Morning line

#1 Extended                                 3/1
#4 Brilliant Response                       5/2

There are two $40,000 maiden claiming races for fillies and mares today and the Harris Farms-Carla Gaines-Rafael Bejarano team has a good shot to win them both.

Gaines trains #4 Brilliant Response, who ran decently in two maiden special weight races last summer at Del Mar. Today, she’ll try to win off a nine-month layoff.

Gaines is OK off a layoff, but trainer Brian Koriner is outstanding when the layoff horses he saddles are getting bet. Koriner trains #1 Extended, who has been idle for almost a year, but looks to have the best early speed and that’s important at 5-1/2 furlongs.

I will bet $400 to win on #1 Extended at 2/1 to 7/2, but $200 at 4/1 or better. If #4 Brilliant Response is in the 2/1 to 7/2 range then I will bet $300 to win on her, but only if Extended is either 4/1 or more or 9/5 or less.

© Copyright Maiden King, 2009. Written exclusively for Not to be duplicated or reprinted, especially by the notorious website “Our Blogs Kentucky Derby Everything You Need To Know.”

Saturday, Hollywood Park Race 1 — 1 pm post time

Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden claiming $40,000, 6-1/2 furlongs, 3+, f&m

Possible overlays            Morning line

 #4 She’s Very Rare                   5/1
#6 Asanti                                  5/2
#9 Gold Image                            8/5

 Of the nine horses going to post, three of them are first-time starters. I will let them beat me if they’re good enough.

Two fillies in here look strikingly similar. Both #6 Asanti and #9 Gold Image are coming off long recent layoffs, they’ve run close to the median winning Beyer Speed Figure for this class, and both have the right running style.
Gold Image has great connections. Over the years, the Harris Farms-Carla Gaines team won plenty of maiden claiming sprints in Southern California, but they have recently underperformed. Also, jockey Rafael Bejarano won on 15 of the last 51 horses he’s ridden for Gaines, or 29 percent.
But Gold Image is likely to be overbet, which is why I’ll probably have my money on Asanti.
Another possibility is #4 She’s Very Rare. She was off slowly in her only start and now Garrett Gomez takes the mount. Also, trainer Donald Warren won with four of his last 17 second-time starters.
I will bet $250 to win on #6 Asanti or #9 Gold Image at 2/1 to 7/2 only. If both fall into the betting zone, then I will put my money on whoever is longer and wager nothing on the lower-priced one.
Also, I want $100 on #4 She’s Very Rare regardless of the prices on Asanti and Gold Image.

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

Results, Hollywood Park Saturday Race 4 — lost $450

Rafael Bejarano pressed the pace then drew off with #4 Sweetpea

Rafael Bejarano pressed the pace then drew off with #4 Sweetpea

Of this bunch, she seemed like the most likely winner and #4 Sweetpea didn’t disappoint her backers as this 8-to-5 shot stalked the leader then poured it on in the stretch. 

In the betting, Sweetpea was the second choice to #7 Sindyfromsantacruz for most of the betting period. But in the final flash, Sweetpea’s odds declined to 8-to-5 favoritism. Sindyfromsantacruz ran a terrible race. She sat in mid pack and did not respond when jockey Tyler Baze whipped her entering the stretch.

As the race began, #1 Mum Z shot to the front and held the lead until the stretch. But that’s when Sweetpea came a-calling and kicked it into high gear. By the time she hit the wire, her widening margin had reached 7-1/2 lengths over second-place finisher #5 Lion Princess.

I bet $300 on #7 Sindyfromsantacruz and $150 on #1 Mum Z.

To watch a replay of this race, go to

© Maiden King, 2009. Written exclusively for Maiden King. Not to be duplicated or reprinted, especially by website Our Blogs Kentucky Derby Everything You Need To Know.

1 1 Mum Z (KY) Smith M Shirreffs J 5.50 7
3 2 She’s Very Rare (CA) Gryder A Warren D 24.70 3
4 3 Sweetpea (FL) Bejarano R Ayers R 1.80 1
5 4 Lion Princess (KY) Rosario J West T 4.10 2
6 5 St. Rosalind (KY) Hill C Headley G 58.10 6
7 6 Sindyfromsantacruz (KY) Baze T Mitchell M 1.90 4
8 7 Guided Wave (KY) Sorenson D Gallagher P 11.00 5
SCR Always Pretty (FL) Talamo J Meredith D
Pgm Win Place Show
4 $5.60 $3.00 $2.40
5 $4.00 $3.20
3 $6.40
Exotic Payoffs
$1.00 Consolation Pick 3 paid $6.60 (1-2-4)

Sunday, Hollywood Park Race 1 — 1 pm post time

Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden claiming $40,000, 4-1/2 furlongs, 2-year-olds

Possible overlays                          Morning line

#1 Swiss Record                               2/1
#2 Gate to Wire                                5/2

In these 4-1/2 furlong races the turn comes up real quickly so the inside four post positions have a tremendous advantage over the others.

In fact, over the last two years only one out of 50 first time starters won breaking from a post position outside of gate 4. And that horse was even money.

So, although I would love to play #6 Suitcase Simpson or #7 Seeuat Sticknstein, I won’t do it because their post positions nullify their great connections. The only horses that I will consider are #1 Swiss Record and #2 Gate to Wire.

Swiss Record has several quick workouts and is breaking from stall #1. Sire Swiss Yodler is known for dropping precocious horses and jockey Joel Rosario can get the job done. Just outside of him, #2 Gate to Wire got body checked hard at the start of his April 2 debut then ran on well. Now trainer Caesar Dominguez switches from no-name rider Pedro Arambula to Rafael Bejarano, who led the Santa Anita jockey standings and won five races at Hollywood Park on Saturday.

I will bet $200 to win on #1 Swiss Record at 3/2 to 4/1, but if his odds are not in that range I will instead put the $200 on #2 Gate to Wire at odds of 2/1 or more.

Results, Hollywood Park Saturday Race 10 — won $1,745

imgres3I wonder how many people looked at their racing forms after this one and wondered how the heck a lightly-raced maiden trained by Mike Mitchell and ridden by Garrett Gomez could go off at 12-to-1.

The money stayed away, I believe, because #12 Grazen was coming into its second lifetime race off a seven-month layoff and had only one swift workout. The $26.60 payoff shows you that when a horse isn’t being bet, then everyone believes its dead on the board and stays away. 

And in most cases, that’s the right thing to do. But great trainers like Mitchell win at such a high percentage that they always need to be respected.

The favorite #9 Raise the River was 7-to-2 on the morning line, but his 92 Beyer Speed Figure in his last race was like a flashing neon sign that screamed “Bet Me.” He went off at 8-to-5 and Rafael Bejarano was trying to earn his sixth victory of the day, but all he and Raise the River could muster was a second-place finish.

Recently, the Gomez-Mitchell duo has been gold together. Coming into this race, anybody who bet on all of the last 56 horses these two combined on got back $1.29 for every $1 bet.

And that’s strong.

In the race, Gomez broke with #10 M One Rifle and the two dueled down the backstretch. Grazen shook him off in the stretch and drew off to win convincingly.

I bet $150 to win on #12 Grazen and $100 to win on #13 Charlie and Chris. I collected $1,995 and profited $1,745.

To watch a replay of this race, go to

2 1 Quick Vic (CA) Talamo J Koriner B 28.70 9
3 2 Kaptain Kordough (CA) Espinoza V Garcia O 7.40 5
4 3 Warrens Wild Thing (CA) Baze M Gutierrez J 63.70 12
5 4 Teamwork (CA) Rosario J Sise, Jr. C 10.70 4
6 5 Mendota Bay (CA) Solis A Barba A 24.00 13
7 6 Cork Creek (CA) Quinonez A Sayler J 56.50 11
8 7 Star Redeemer (CA) Flores D Sadler J 8.80 8
9 8 Raise the River (CA) Bejarano R Gaines C 1.60 2
10 9 M One Rifle (CA) Smith M Headley B 7.30 3
11 10 Mountain Guide (CA) Garcia M Harrington M 45.80 10
12 11 Grazen (CA) Gomez G Mitchell M 12.30 1
13 12 Charlie and Chris (CA) Baze T Zucker H 5.30 7
14 13 Top Biker (CA) Gryder A Mitchell M 39.00 6
SCR Premiere Flyer (CA)    
Pgm Win Place Show
12 $26.60 $11.00 $6.80
9 $3.40 $2.60
10 $5.60
Exotic Payoffs
$1.00 Exacta paid $46.10 (12-9)
$1.00 Pick 3 paid $553.00 (3-3-12)

Saturday, Hollywood Park Race 10 — 5:05 pm post time

Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden Special Weight, 6-1/2 furlongs, 3 yo’s and up

Possible overlays                            Morning line

#9 Raise the River                                7/2
#12 Grazen                                               6/1
#13 Charlie and Chris                          6/1

It seems to me that horses coming off layoffs don’t do well in races like this and neither do first time starters.That leaves me with one big stick out here: #9 Raise the River.

In his last race, Raise the River ran a 92 Beyer Speed Figure while missing by a nose. In seven races, his odds have never been higher than 5-to-2, so the 7-to-2 morning line looks a bit unrealistic even in a 13-horse field. I think bettors will see that big last race Beyer and knock him below 3/1. Bejarano, who has won on 15 of the last 46 Carla Gaines horse he has ridden, will not help the price either.

Mike Mitchell trains #12 Grazen and his second-time starters win at a 39 percent clip, although most of them are maiden claimers. Also, rider Garrett Gomez has won on 21 of the last 56 Mitchell horses he has ridden.

With any improvement and a good trip, #13 Charlie and Chris can get there. He ran an 83 Beyer Speed Figure on Feb. 26, which fits in well here as the median figure needed to win this type of race is an 86.

I will bet $200 to win on #9 Raise the River at 2/1 and up and $150 to win on #12 Grazen at 3/1 or higher. If Raise the River falls below 2/1 then I’ll bet $100 on #13 Charlie and Chris at 7/2 or higher.

Results, Santa Anita Sunday Race 6 — lost $650

Trainer Carla Gaines and jockey Rafael Bejarano won with 14 of their last 43 horses

Trainer Carla Gaines and jockey Rafael Bejarano won with 14 of their last 43 horses

What threw me off on #3 Indomitable was she was showing a purchase price of $210,000, but she was dropping into a race for $32,000 claimers.

And it’s not like she had run five times and never came close. This was only her second start and she showed speed in her debut, yet the owner was still giving up on her.

No question that Indomitable had a couple of things in her favor, as trainer Carla Gaines has won regularly with second timers over the last decade, and Gaines has a high winning percentage when using jockey Rafael Bejarano.

But, at 2-to-1 on Indomitable, I instead opted for #5 To Hot for You, who was coming off an eight month layoff for Mike Mitchell. Also, I liked #10 Humane who ran a monster race in her Feb. 5 debut, but hasn’t duplicated it now in three tries.

In the race, both Humane and To Hot for You were plugging away four lengths behind #2 Touch Me Babe, who set the pace until the top of the stretch. Indomitable, who tracked the leader all the way, then moved strongly to the lead while both Humane and To Hot for You tried fruitlessly to catch her.

I bet $400 on #5 To Hot for You at 5/2 and $250 on #10 Humane at 5/1.

To watch a replay of this race, go to



1 1 Where’s My Limo (CA) Sorenson D Sahadi J 37.80 9
2 2 Touch Me Babe (KY) Baze T Miller P 6.10 6
3 3 Indomitable (KY) Bejarano R Gaines C 2.10 1
4 4 Maeve (CA) Solis A Becerra R 16.60 8
5 5 To Hot for You (FL) Gryder A Mitchell M 2.80 3
6 6 Poolside (CA) Quinonez A Periban J 29.60 4
7 7 Sand Bridled (CA) Cedeno A Stein R 27.10 5
8 8 Hostile Reaction (CA) Stra K Martinez S 45.10 7
9 9 Kristen’s Lil Lady (CA) Talamo J Yakteen T 6.10 10
10 10 Humane (CA) Baze M Meredith D 5.40 2
Pgm Win Place Show
3 $6.20 $4.00 $3.00
10 $5.80 $3.80
5 $3.20
Exotic Payoffs
$1.00 Exacta paid $18.60 (3-10)
$1.00 Pick 3 paid $265.30 (3-8-3)
$1.00 Superfecta

Results, Santa Anita Saturday Race 10 — no bets

Leading jockey Rafael Bejarano won aboard #2 Foreign Taurean for trainer Steve Knapp

Leading jockey Rafael Bejarano won aboard #2 Foreign Taurean for trainer Steve Knapp

My horse in this race, #5 Victory Knock, was scratched in the morning, so I didn’t have any bets.

Victory Knock was the 2-to-1 morning line favorite and without him in the race, #2 Foreign Taurean was bet down to even money.

And Foreign Taurean, who is trained by Steve Knapp, won like an even money shot should win. He took the lead down the backstretch on a slow pace, remained in front on the turn, then pulled away in the stretch.

The win added to Bejarano’s lead in the jockey standings on the next to last day before the prestigious Santa Anita winter meet ends. As of April 15, Bejarano had a 93-to-86 lead in wins over Garrett Gomez.

However, in defense of Gomez, the 2007-2008 Eclipse Award winner leaves town more than Bejarano to ride in stakes races on the East Coast and Midwest.

To watch a replay of this race, go to

1 1 Class Dismissed (KY) Rosario J Dunham D 5.70 3
2 2 Foreign Taurean (KY) Bejarano R Knapp S 1.00 1
3 3 Self Defense (CA) Gryder A Lewis C 4.10 4
4 4 Llamada Perdida (CA) Garcia M Garcia V 54.40 5
6 5 Joshomo (CA) Rios J Metz J 15.70 6
7 6 Brahms Medal (KY) Gavica G Dahl T 49.30 8
8 7 Kitty Caliente (CA) Hill C Matties G 3.90 2
9 8 Papa Doowop (NY) Nakatani C Truman E 16.70 7
SCR Victory Knock (KY) Solis A Gallagher P
Pgm Win Place Show
2 $4.00 $2.60 $2.20
8 $4.20 $3.60
1 $3.00
Exotic Payoffs
$1.00 Exacta paid $8.60 (2-8)
$1.00 Pick 3 paid $102.00 (4-1-2)
$1.00 Pick 4 paid $401.30 (8-4-1-2/5)

Results, Santa Anita Sunday Race 3 — won $330

faqIt seems to me that there is no more realistic trainer in the game than Mike Mitchell. A few years ago, I remember a horse owned by Overbrook Farm that ran several times at maiden special weight, but just wasn’t good enough to win at that class. Since Overbrook Farm is mainly a breeding operation, the owners were reluctant to enter their horse in a claiming race and risk losing him.

And gelding him? That was completely out of the question.

Enter Mike Mitchell.

Mitchell talked one of his owners into buying the horse in a private sale. The trainer quickly gelded the animal, dropped it into a claiming race, and watched it win convincingly.

So, it’s no coincidence that Mitchell is winning with 37 percent of his maiden claimers. He knows how to get the job done.

In this race, #11 Bostoner was running in his tenth lifetime start, but nine of those were in maiden special weights. Zayat Stables, Bostoner’s owners, paid $360,000 for the horse as a yearling in 2006 and were very patiently waiting for him to learn how to run.

Dale Romans trained Bostoner on the East Coast and Mid West during 2007-2008, then Zayat sent the 4-year-old colt to Mitchell this January. Mitchell seemingly tried everything to appease the powerful Zayat Stables, who also owns Pioneerof The Nile: He ran Bostoner once on the grass, once in a main track route and then tried him in a sprint against lower quality maiden special weight horses at Golden Gate.

In his nine races, Bostoner never finished better than third and never broke 80 on the Beyer scale. So, it seemed painfully obvious that Bostoner wasn’t going to suddenly wake up and start winning stakes races.

Bostoner was nothing more than a claimer and Mitchell knew it. Although the colt couldn’t win at higher levels, he ran fast enough in a majority of his previous races to win most low-level maiden claimers in Southern California.

So, on Sunday, Mitchell dropped Bostoner into a $25,000 maiden claiming sprint where the colt was finally running where he belonged.

In the race, jockey Rafael Bejarano battled for the lead down the backstretch, Bostoner took over in the lane then hung tough to the wire. When it was over, Zayat Stables had moved Bostoner out of the maiden ranks, while Mitchell fattened up his already bloated winning percentage even more.

But Bostoner only paid $4.40 because all of Mitchell’s live ones seem to be bet to 5/2 or below. On the site, I wagered $400 to win on #11 Bostoner and $150 on #6 Don’t Forget Mug at 4/1. I profited $330 after collecting $880.

To watch a replay of this race, go to

1 1 Heywatchulookingat (CA) Gladney D Montes D 112.00 8
2 2 Figo (CA) Williams D Bradvica L 71.40 11
3 3 Little Bro (CA) Enriquez I DeLima J 26.30 2
5 4 Ask George (CA) Baze T Mulhall K 17.70 5
6 5 Don’t Forget Muq (CA) Rosario J Monteleone F 4.10 6
7 6 Precaper (CA) Vergara O Avila A 54.50 7
8 7 Lethal Dose (CA) Stra K Martinez S 12.00 3
9 8 Leavin in a Limo (CA) Gryder A Koriner B 2.70 4
11 9 Bostoner (KY) Bejarano R Mitchell M 1.20 1
12 10 Thunder Bubbles (CA) Martin G Flores F 144.00 10
14 11 Lenador (KY) Hill C O’Neill D 14.90 9
SCR Warrington (CA) Arambula P Becerra R
SCR Degreko (CA) Garcia M Periban J
SCR Delicato (KY)    
Pgm Win Place Show
11 $4.40 $3.40 $2.80
3 $17.80 $11.00
8 $5.80
Exotic Payoffs
$1.00 Exacta paid $45.70 (11-3)
$1.00 Pick 3 paid $177.40 (2-4-11)
$1.00 Superfecta

Results, Santa Anita Saturday Race 1 — lost $600

Jockey Victor Espinoza on #13 Lanie's Way eeks out victory over #11 Fine Time to Leave

Lanie's Way, #13, eeks out victory over #11 Fine Time to Leave

Coming into this race Mike Mitchell, the trainer of #11 Fine Time to Leave, had won with 24 of his last 66 maiden claimers and anybody who was on them all made 24 percent on their money.

So, even though Fine Time to Leave had not run a Beyer Speed Figure in the 60’s, she figured to make an impact. Jockey Rafael Bejarano broke Mitchell’s filly in the middle of the pack then made a five-wide move on the turn. She rallied on the outside in the stretch, but couldn’t run down #13 Lanie’s Way, who held on by a head.

Lanie’s Way had almost the same exact trip as Fine Time to Leave. The only difference was that jockey Victor Espinoza moved earlier on the turn and was always a couple of lengths ahead of Fine Time to Leave until the very end.

I bet $400 on Fine Time to Leave at 2/1 and $200 on #3 Latego Light at 4/1.

To watch a replay of this race, go to

2 1 Sister Derek (CA) Nakatani C Hess, Jr. R 38.10 10
3 2 Latego Light (FL) Baze M Eurton P 4.10 5
4 3 Misstrailcityzone (CA) Quinonez A Nettles K 108.40 11
5 4 Runway Starlet (CA) Baze T O’Neill D 6.00 6
6 5 Fleet Royale (KY) Blanc B French N 54.90 3
7 6 Champagneforchelle (CA) Stra K Lewis G 63.00 13
8 7 Coatcheck Girl (KY) Gryder A Marquez A 6.60 4
9 8 My Reality (CA) Russell C Mendoza J 94.40 12
10 9 Minor Issues (CA) Sorenson D Semkin S 10.40 7
11 10 Fine Time to Leave (KY) Bejarano R Mitchell M 2.30 2
12 11 Warrens Sweetheart (CA) Valdivia, Jr. J Gutierrez J 42.20 9
13 12 Lanie’s Way (KY) Espinoza V Kitchingman A 4.50 1
14 13 Swingin Storm (FL) Garcia M Harty E 18.00 8
SCR Poolside (CA)    
Pgm Win Place Show
13 $11.00 $5.00 $3.40
11 $3.80 $3.00
6 $17.60
Exotic Payoffs
$1.00 Exacta paid $21.60 (13-11)

Results, Santa Anita Sunday Race 7 — lost $550

Trainer Carla Gaines teamed with jockey Rafael Bejarano to win with a first timer

Trainer Carla Gaines teamed with jockey Rafael Bejarano to win with a first timer

While watching the tote board during the betting of this race, I was curious about why the odds on #5 Irridescent Red were so high. I commented to someone that #6 Humane was 6-to-1 and she had run a 59 Beyer Speed Figure in her only race, while Irridescent Red was nearly 20-to-1 and she probably had better early speed and ran a 67 Beyer in her debut.

If Irridescent Red looked that bad then somebody should have told the horse, because this 19-to-1 shot had winning on her mind. Jockey Aaron Gryder made a clear easy lead with her on the backstretch, then  turning for home, race caller Trevor Denman said encouragingly “Irridescent Red goes on, leads it by three.”

But then first-time starter Excessive Blend, at 9-to-2,  started gobbling up ground with huge strides and by midstretch it was clear that nobody was going to beat her. Irridescent Red, however, held onto second.

Carla Gaines, who trains Excessive Blend, worked this filly out slowly, but the horse did go a quick 4 furlongs in 48 seconds on March 3. In my opinion — after looking at the breeding, the connections and the workouts in the DRF —  Excessive Blend’s odds were much too low for a wager.

I bet $150 on Irridescent Red at 19/1, $250 on #7 Asanti who finished third and $150 on #11 Past Curfew at 8/1.

To watch a replay of this race, go to

1 1 Irish Pepper (CA) Gomez G Sadler J 3.40 6
2 2 Suances Sweetheart (CA) Rosario J Vienna D 22.10 9
3 3 Excessive Blend (CA) Bejarano R Gaines C 4.70 1
4 4 Imadethecashcall (CA) Flores D Kitchingman A 25.50 10
5 5 Irridescent Red (CA) Gryder A Becerra R 19.60 2
6 6 Humane (CA) Baze T Meredith D 7.30 8
7 7 Asanti (KY) Quinonez A Gonzalez J 3.00 3
8 8 Bell Canyon Road (CA) Solis A Abrams B 12.50 5
9 9 Mary the Princess (CA) Nakatani C Periban J 46.70 11
10 10 Gifted Gina (CA) Delgadillo A Periban J 10.20 7
11 11 Past Curfew (CA) Smith M Puype M 8.40 4
Pgm Win Place Show
3 $11.40 $8.00 $5.60
5 $17.40 $7.80
7 $3.40
Exotic Payoffs
$1.00 Exacta paid $84.10 (3-5)
$1.00 Pick 3 paid $138.30 (4-3-3)
$1.00 Superfecta

Jockeys playing basketball? Fun to watch, bad to bet

Psst. Here’s a tip: Don’t bet on the Santa Anita jockeys basketball team.

Wagering on jockeys Joe Talamo, Cory Nakatani and Rafael Bejarano might be a good idea while these guys are holding a whip and a horse’s reins. But when they tie up their Nike Air Zooms and pick up a basketball, gamblers should keep their money in their pockets. 

Oh sure, these riders are nice people and it’s fun to watch jockeys like Brice Blanc, David Flores and Kayla Stra scamper around the court. But why would a group of grown-ups who stand just over 5-feet tall and weigh 115 pounds spend much time honing their basketball skills?

They wouldn’t. And they don’t.

That much was evident Thursday at La Salle High School in Pasadena when the Santa Anita jockeys lost to a group of eighth graders from Holy Angels School in Arcadia 35-19. 

It’s easy to see that these jockeys don’t play much ball by watching the one-minute You Tube video below of the game, which was shot by SA blogger Mary Forney.

We see Nakatani clanking a couple of free throws, the ref moving another mistaken jock off the key during the shots, and a Santa Anita field goal try that went bad after a sweet set-up move. I don’t know, maybe their coach TV’s Kurt Hoover was to blame.

But what I do know is that if this match was a horse race, it was as dominant a victory for the school kids as Smarty Jones’ 11-1/2 length win in the 2004 Preakness Stakes.

The riders might have lost, but as usual, the annual game seemed to be a hugely popular and entertaining event. The jockeys play the Holy Angels every year to raise money for the school’s athletic department.

Results, Santa Anita Friday Race 4 — lost $200

Workout analyst Bruno De Julio is part owner of #4 Shantika's Dream, who won her debut at 17/1.

Workout analyst Bruno De Julio is part owner of #4 Shantika's Dream, who won her debut at 17/1.

Bubbley Blonde, #2,  was just too irresistible for bettors. She showed several fast workouts and had leading jockey Rafael Bejarano aboard, so the crowd hammered her to 9/5 even though she had never raced before this.

She ran admirably, leading until the top of the stretch, but #4 Shantika’s Dream stalked the pace and drew off in the stretch. Winning trainer Adam Kitchingman worked Shantika’s Dream slowly leading up to the race, which he usually does with his debuters. And he was able to get 17/1 with low-profile jockey Chantal Sutherland riding.

Workout analyst Bruno De Julio is part owner of Shantika’s Dream and this was the second time in five starts that one of the horses he owned won when running for the first time.

I ended up playing $200 on #5 Malibu Artiste, who showed speed in her last, but in this race unsuccessfully tried to rate from just off the lead.

To watch a replay of this race, go to

1 1 I. B. Stormin (KY) Court J Saavedra A 8.40 6
2 2 Bubbley Blonde (KY) Bejarano R Walsh K 1.90 2
3 3 She’s Our Ten (KY) Rosario J Sadler J 6.20 5
4 4 Shantika’s Dream (WA) Sutherland C Kitchingman A 17.10 1
5 5 Malibu Artiste (KY) Sorenson D Aguirre P 2.30 3
6 6 Bella Bubbles (CA) Potts C McKaughan A 15.40 7
7 7 Lunar City (FL) Pedroza M Chew M 4.30 4
Pgm Win Place Show
4 $36.20 $14.80 $7.40
2 $4.20 $3.00
5 $3.20
Exotic Payoffs
$1.00 Exacta paid $59.10 (4-2)
$1.00 Pick 3 paid $352.20 (6-2-4)
$1.00 Pick 4 paid $1926.90 (2-6-2-4)
$1.00 Trifecta paid $208.20 (4-2-5)
$2.00 Daily Double paid $121.40 (2-4)

Friday, 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 $100,000, 6 furlongs, 3-year-olds

Possible overlays                           Morning line

#2 Bubbley Blonde                            7/2
#5 Malibu Artiste                              5/2

Jockey Rafael Bejarano rides #2 Bubbley Blonde who shows lots of good workouts. But it seems that all of Kathy Walsh’s first timers work out well, get bet, then run poorly in their debuts.

But I still like the filly at 7/2 or higher.

Malibu Artiste, the #5 horse, seems to be the speed. She dueled three-wide on the turn Dec. 5 and hung in there for second. Trainer Paul Aguirre won with six of his last 17 second-time starters and Malibu Artiste has shown some life in morning workouts.

I will bet $150 on #2 Bubbley Blonde at 7/2 to 19/1 and $200 on Malibu Artiste at 2/1 or higher. However, I expect the public to bet one of these two below the odds range, so I’ll likely end up with only one wager.

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