Blog from the Booth

3 Jul

When I traveled the globe with the “World Famous Harlem Globetrotters”, never would I have imagined I’d be in the booth entering another year of my horse racing career. 

 

It was a conversation with track announcer Frank Mirahmadi (also called races in Pleasanton) about announcing a horse race if an opportunity presented itself. Well as things turned out, I ended up with a job. It was at the Humboldt County Fair, a two-week opportunity at a job. I spent weeks studying and preparing for six furlong races, two turn races, a mile and a sixteenth race. So of course, when I arrived in Ferndale the first race was, you guessed it, a 220 yard mule race. Wasn’t fully prepared for this and at 1/9 thought Bad News Bubba couldn’t lose. So wrongfully I prepared to call the name Bad News Bubba as a clear winner. They loaded in the gate and with shaking knees, one big gulp. The gates popped open and Bad News Bubba broke LAST from the rail. Quickly running through the names of other mules in the field, I see a streaking mule with big floppy ears rolling on the inside. 

 

It was at that moment it all came back to me. I was a fan of this sport! The adrenaline rush of seeing, in this case a mule, charging next to the rail to win by a nose was the perfect way to start my career. Since then there have been many moments. Exciting races and photo finishes. The mechanics have adapted, the knees don’t shake as much, but the thrill remains the same. 

 

As I come back to Pleasanton, it is obviously different. The empty grandstands are part of a new reality we are all learning together, just like I have learned with each race in my career. The fair brings people together to enjoy heart pounding action accompanied by smiles and families. We miss crowds this year, we will remember this next year when we hopefully get back to packed grandstands. I walk through the gates and head upstairs on the elevator. It is quiet and peaceful, but when the horses are on the track, the rush comes back. The excitement flows and I work to bring the action to those watching from the comfort of their homes. In a year where there has been uncertainty, one thing I am certain of is Pleasanton is one of the most majestic and historic treasures in Northern California. There will be a time when the gates will open again, when we will have the rides, the games, and oh yeah the thrill of the horse races. I’d be honored to call the action that day. 

California Roundup

11 Mar

With rain in the forecast, Santa Anita has cancelled racing for Friday and will resume racing on Saturday, when it features the $400,000 Beholder Mile (G1) and $100,000 San Simeon Stakes (G3-T). The Beholder Mile is expected to be the next step for the budding star, Hard Not To Love, who’s making her two-turn debut after winning both the La Brea (G1) and Santa Monica Stakes (G2) for trainer John Sheriffs.

Los Alamitos has also cancelled its Friday night card due to expected heavy rainfall.

Closer to home, Golden Gate Fields will race Friday and boasts the second largest Jackpot in the land – $217,217 – heading into Thursday’s program. Without Santa Anita racing Friday, Golden Gate has moved its Friday post time to 1:15pm. All other days will jump at its usual 12:45pm post time.

 

 

Derby Fever Trio of Stakes this Saturday!

11 Mar

Our Derby Fever Handicapping Contest kicked off last Saturday with five players tabbing Fountain of Youth Stakes winner Ete Indien at odds of 3/1. If you weren’t among them, fear not! You still have plenty of chances to qualify for the $1,200 Grand Prize on Kentucky Derby day, as well as compete for $200 in Qualifying Round prizes.

And with three Kentucky Derby prep races on tap this Saturday, there’s no better time to get started!

This week’s Derby Fever qualifying races are as follows:

$400,000 Tampa Bay Derby, 11th race at Tampa Bay Downs at 2:32pm
$300,000 Gotham Stakes, 10th race at Aqueduct at 2:42pm
$400,000 San Felipe Stakes, 8th race at Santa Anita at 3:01pm

To play, pick up your FREE entry with paid admission or CHRB license at Pleasanton OTB this Saturday, and turn it in with your picks in all three races before the 2:32pm deadline. It doesn’t matter if you didn’t attend last weekend – anybody can qualify for the Final Round on Kentucky Derby day by picking just ONE winner in any contest race.

Congratulations to last week’s winners:

Arturo Abalos
Kevin Gagnon
Eugenio Mariveles, Jr.
John Nixon
Randall Seeley

For each winner you select in the 14 Qualifying Round races, you earn one point toward the Qualifying Round prizes. At the end of the Qualifying Round on April 11, the players who select the most winners will win the following cash vouchers:

$100 for most winners
$60 for 2nd most winners
$40 for 3rd most winners

Any player who selects at least one winner in the 14 qualifying races may compete for the Grand Prize of $1,200 by picking the winner of the Kentucky Derby on May 2. The more winners you pick in the 14 qualifying races, the more money you can win on Kentucky Derby day (see the OTB Front Desk for Official Rules and Prizes).

 

Stakes and Steaks Fuel Derby Fever

11 Mar

With two weeks of Derby Fever in the books, Randall Seeley finds himself alone atop the Leaderboard with three winners from four races. 22 players find themselves well within striking distance with two wins, and 60 are tied for third with a win apiece.

There’s two races on the docket this Saturday, the $1,000,000 Rebel Stakes (G1) at Oaklawn Park and the only race named after a steakhouse, the $250,000 Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) at Turfway Park. While both races award qualifying points to the Kentucky Derby, it’s the Rebel that is drawing serious contenders like the Bob Baffert-trained Nadal, recent Southwest Stakes (G3) winner, Silver Prospector, Smarty Jones winner, Gold Street, and Grade I Hopeful winner, Basin – the latter trio hailing from the powerful barn of Steve Asmussen.

Toss in the unbeaten Lousisiana-bred No Parole and American Pharoah (G2) runner up, American Theorem, and we’ve got a serious horse race for a million bucks and 85 Kentucky Derby points, with 50 going to the winner.

While the Jeff Ruby Steaks at Turfway might rank a notch or two below the Rebel on the Derby Prep totem pole, it counts the same in Derby Fever, so you will want to spend just as much time trying to identify the winner. That might be a big more difficult, given the nuances of Turfway’s Polytrack surface and an expected large field.

Among the notable contenders are Invader, who won the local prep, the John Battaglia Memorial for trainer Wesley Ward, recent Grade III turf winner Field Pass for trainer Michael Maker, and Fair Grounds shipper Finnick the Fierce, who’ll try the poly after a pair of off-the-board finishes in the Lecomte (G2) and Risen Star (G2) for trainer Rey Hernandez.

PleasantonOTB will be taking the full Rebel card from Oaklawn and a partial Ruby Steaks card from Turfway Park. OTB doors open at 9:45am.

Be sure to pick up your FREE entry to our Derby Fever contest with admission or CHRB license. Even if you haven’t picked a winner yet, or haven’t even played, you can still qualify to win cash on Kentucky Derby day by picking a winner in either the Rebel Stakes or Jeff Ruby Steaks this Saturday at Pleasanton OTB.

Monster Big ‘Cap Card On Tap Saturday!

5 Mar

Five stakes worth $1.675 million highlight a 12-race card on Big ‘Cap day at Santa Anita this Saturday. If you’ve been waiting for some juicy field sizes at the GRP, this is the day you’ll want to play, as Saturday’s card is averaging nine starters per race before scratches.

The Early Players’ Pick 5, featuring a 14% takeout, boasts fields of 10, 9, 14, 6 and 10. It features three on the grass, starting with a trio of maiden races and ending with the $200,000 San Carlos Stakes (G2) at seven furlongs on the main track, and the $400,000 Frank Kilroe Mile (G1). The latter has attracted the stalwart 5-year-old mare, Got Stormy, last year’s winner, Ohio, and recent Thunder Road (G3) winner, River Boyne, in a competitive field of 10.

A full field of 14 in the $75,000 China Doll Stakes, disputed at a mile on the turf, kicks off the second half of the card, and opens the West Coast Rainbow 6, which covers races 7-12. The current jackpot stands at $140,715 heading into Friday’s card. Field sizes for the Jackpot Pick 6 races are 14, 7, 14, 8, 12 and 9 before scratches.

The big local Derby prep, the $400,000 San Felipe Stakes (G2), follows as the 8th race on the program. A pair of recent Grade III stakes winners trained by “Derby” Bob Baffert, Authentic (8/5) and Thousand Words (2/1), loom boldly in a field of seven set to dispute the 1 1/16-mile test for the West Coast’s top three-year-olds. Impressive maiden-breaker Honor A. P. (4/1) and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile champ, Storm the Court (6/1), are also seeking to move forward on the Triple Crown trail with a victory worth 50 qualifying points toward the Kentucky Derby.

Ft. McHenry (25/1), a $1-million sibling to California Chrome, recent Turf Paradise Derby winner, Swagsational (30/1), and Wrecking Crew (12/1), who was last seen finishing fourth in the Los Alamitos Futurity (G2), round out the field for the co-featured San Felipe, which kicks off the Late Pick 5 (8-12).

The popular Late Pick 4 (9-12) kicks off with another full field of 14 slated for a mile on the turf course, and includes the main event, the $600,000 Santa Anita Handicap (G1), as the 9th race on the program. Victorious in the Grade II, San Antonio Stakes on opening day, Gift Box (6/5) has been tabbed as the morning-line favorite in a field of eight. He expects to face stiff competition from the horse drawn to his immediate outside, Midcourt (2/1), who followed up a third-place finish behind Gift Box, with an authoritative victory in the San Pasqual Stakes (G2) on Feb. 1.

Out of town shippers include the Bill Mott-trained Hofburg (6/1), who arrives off a 7th place finish in the Mineshaft Stakes at Fair Grounds, and the Kiaran McLaughlin-trained Goldolphin runner, Endorsed (6/1), who ships in off an AOC victory at Gulfstream Park. Brown Storm (20/1), Combatant (12/1), Multiplier (20/1), and Two Thirty Five (12/1) round out the field for the “Big ‘Cap,” which goes to post at approximately 4:03pm.

Special early post time for the 12-race Big ‘Cap program is 11:30am.

$100,000 Golden Hour Double Saturday

5 Mar

The Golden Hour Double linking the nightcaps at Santa Anita and Golden Gate Fields will feature a $100,000 guaranteed gross pool on Big ‘Cap Saturday at Santa Anita.

Boasting a 15% takeout and a $5 minimum, last week’s Golden Hour Double paid $48.50 on Saturday and a whopping $282.50 on Sunday. Saturday’s Golden Hour Double races are as follows:

12th race at Santa Anita (MCL, 1 mile, field of 9) at 5:04pm
10th race at Golden Gate (AOC, 1 mile, field of 10) at 5:19pm

You can wager on the Golden Hour Double by asking your teller for the Daily Double that begins in the last race at Santa Anita, or by pulling up the last race at Santa Anita on any self-service terminal at Pleasanton OTB, and selecting Daily Double. Remember, the minimum bet amount is $5.

Golden Double

KY Derby Future Wager Is Back!

5 Mar

The 3rd Kentucky Derby Future Wager pool and only Kentucky Oaks Future Wager pool will be offered simultaneously this weekend at Pleasanton OTB. A third pool, the Kentucky Derby and Oaks Future Double will also be available, challenging patrons to pick the winner of both the Oaks and Derby on the same Daily Double ticket nearly two months in advance of the first Saturday in May.

Check out the FREE links below for programs and past performances for both the Kentucky Derby and Oaks Future Wager pools.

Kentucky Derby and Oaks Future Wager Odds Sheet

Kentucky Derby Future Wager Past Performances – courtesy of Brisnet

Kentucky Oaks Future Wager Past Performances – courtesy of Brisnet

Going into the third Derby Future Wager pool, the field of “All Other 3-year-olds” has been installed at the 9/2 morning-line favorite. Sackatoga Stable’s Tiz the Law is the second choice on the board at 8/1.

All pools will be open for betting by 12pm Pacific Time, Friday.

The Kentucky Derby Future Wager pool will close for betting at 3pm Pacific Time, Sunday.

The Kentucky Oaks and Double Future Wagers will close for betting at approximately 3:30pm PT, Sunday.

Future Wager

Catch Derby Fever at Pleasanton OTB!

27 Feb

2224-OTB-Derby-Fever-1045-x-393-FBC

Saturday’s $400,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes (G1) kicks off the seven-week Derby Fever Handicapping Contest at Pleasanton OTB, which culminates with the 146th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 2. It marks the first of 14 chances players have to qualify for the Final on Kentucky Derby day, when they can claim a share of $1,200 in cash prizes.

All you have to do is pick Saturday’s Fountain of Youth winner to earn a shot at the Grand Prize on Kentucky Derby day. Pick as many winners as you can in the contest over the next seven weeks to give yourself a chance to earn the most money on the first Saturday in May. The more you play, the more you can win, and you can only win if you enter in person at Pleasanton OTB. See the Front Desk for Official Rules and Prizes.

Entry is FREE with paid admission. Entries for Saturday’s first contest race, the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park, are listed below:

FOY Graphic

The Fountain of Youth is scheduled as the 14th and final race on Saturday’s Gulfstream Park program and will go to post at approximately 3:04pm Pacific Time. Pleasanton OTB will pick up the 14-race card from Gulfstream in progress, starting with the 5th race, at approximately 10:27am. In addition to the main event, you can watch and wager on seven stakes races worth an additional $1.3 million on Saturday’s card, right here at Pleasanton OTB.

Finally, don’t miss your chance to earn a share of up to $1,400 in cash prizes by playing the big Kentucky Derby prep races every weekend at Pleasanton OTB. The dates and races for the Qualifying Round of the Derby Fever Handicapping Contest are listed below:

Saturday, February 29 – $400,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park
Saturday, March 7 – $300,000 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct
Saturday, March 7 – $400,000 Tampa Bay Derby at Tampa Bay Downs
Saturday, March 7 – $400,000 San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita
Saturday, March 14 – $200,000 Jeff Ruby Steaks at Turfway Park
Saturday, March 14 – $1,000,000 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park
Saturday, March 21 – $1,000,000 Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds
Sunday, March 22 – $700,000 Sunland Derby at Sunland Park
Saturday, March 28 – $1,000,000 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park
Saturday, April 4 – $750,000 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct
Saturday, April 4 – $1,000,000 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland
Saturday, April 4 – $1,000,000 Santa Anita Derby at Santa Anita
Saturday, April 11 – $200,000 Lexington Stakes at Keeneland
Saturday, April 11 – $1,000,000 Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park

All you have to do is pick at least one winner in the 14 races during the Qualifying Round to advance to the Final Round on Kentucky Derby day. However, the three players who pick the most winners will win cash vouchers of $100, $60 and $40, respectively. And the more winners you pick during the Qualifying Round, the more cash you can earn by picking the Derby winner in the Final Round.

Here’s how the prizes are awarded:

Qualifying Round – $200 in prizes

Most winners over 14 races – $100 voucher
2nd most winners – $60 voucher
3rd most winners – $40 voucher

Final Round – $1,200 Grand Prize

Each player who selects at least one winner in the Qualifying Round may participate in the Final Round. Each player may earn up to 14 shares of the Grand Prize, depending on how many winners s/he selects in the Qualifying Round. For example, if a player selects three winners in the Qualifying Round, s/he can win three shares of the Grand Prize by selecting the winner of the Kentucky Derby.

The Grand Prize is awarded proportionally, by the total number of shares earned by all players who select the Derby winner. For example, if the total number of shares earned by players who select the Derby winner is 12, then each share is worth $100.

If you picked three winners in the Qualifying Round, and also picked the Derby winner, you would win $300. Official Rules and Prizes are available at the OTB Front Desk.

Golden Hour Double Debuts Saturday

27 Feb

A new low takeout Daily Double linking the nightcaps at Santa Anita and Golden Gate Fields debuts this Saturday with a $50,000 Guaranteed pool. The “Golden Hour Double” features a 15% takeout and a $5 minimum, per combination. Ask your mutuel teller for the “Golden Double” or look for it on any self service betting terminal at Pleasanton OTB, starting Saturday, Feb. 29.

Saturday”s Golden Hour Double will consist of the following races:

Santa Anita 9 – Allowance Optional Claiming, 1 1/8 miles Turf – 4:30pm
Golden Gate 9 – Maiden Special Weight, 5 1/2 furlongs Tapeta – 4:45pm

Don’t miss your chance to get down on the Golden Double every day Santa Anita and Golden Gate are racing live.

Golden Double

$167,951 Stronach 5 Carryover Friday!

27 Feb

There’s a $167,951 Carryover going into Friday’s Stronach 5 – the multi-track, 12% takeout, $1 Pick 5 wager. The industry-low takeout combined with a sizable carryover makes the Stronach 5 a virtual “must play” for serious bettors and we’ve got it covered Friday at Pleasanton OTB.

Friday’s Stronach 5 races are as follows:

LEG A – Laurel Park – Race 8 – 12:49pm Pacific Post Time
LEG B – Gulfstream Park – Race 8
LEG C – Golden Gate – Race 3
LEG D – Santa Anita – Race 3
LEG E – Gulfstream Park – Race 10

Check out the weekly All Star ticket put together by the good folks at Gulfstream, Golden Gate, Laurel and Santa Anita.

STronach Five