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Last Weekend of Racing in Pleasanton This Summer

24 Jul

By Dennis Miller

It is down to the last three days of racing in 2020 for the Alameda County Fairgrounds, with cards taking place Friday through Sunday

The post time each day is 2:45 p.m.

The 6-week run started with four weeks of racing under the banner of the Alameda County Fair, then has been followed by two weeks of racing allotted to the California State Fair.  The State Fair opted to run its two weeks of racing at Pleasanton, allowing for a 6-week stretch where the horsemen would be at one place.

Here is a look at the three days of racing, split into the three different days.

Friday: My day will start with the second race with Big Hoof Dynamite (No. 4, 2/1). The Eddie Truman runner has hit the board 4-of-7 starts this year against tougher competition he faced down south. Now he comes north and picks us the dependable Kyle Frey for the ride. He should sit just off the lead in the route race and be ready to roll in the lane.

In the third my play is with Buttie (No. 3, 9/2). A nice medium value play for a race she seems poised for a big run for trainer Isidro Tamayo. Buttie is making her second start off a break, an angle where the barn is hitting at 24 percent. Draw a line through the last start which came on the turf at Golden Gate Fields. The horse draws the services of William Antongeorgi and has won three times in seven starts on the dirt and has won 40 percent of her starts at the distance.

I will skip to the fifth race next where it looks like a two-horse race between Maxinamillion (No. 1, 7/2) and Kona Coast (No. 3, 3/1). The morning line favorite is Top of the Game (No. 6, 2/1) but I think this is a great spot to knock off the favorite. Maxinamillion blew down the lane on the track two weeks ago to get the win in his first start on the dirt. He gets the services of Frey, who appeared to have choice of a couple of mounts in this race. Tamayo is the conditioner and hits at 24 percent when coming off a win in the last start. Kona Coast is coming off a break for trainer Jonathan Wong and the barn does his at 24 percent in first off, a break. Antongeorgi jumps into the irons for the seventh straight race, the last two were wins. The horse has hit the board in six of 10 career starts on the dirt.

My last play of the day will come in the seventh and final race of the day. I am going to close the day with another value bet, playing the outside horse Crimson Cloud (No. 9/5-1). Trained by Roger Hanson, the horse has hit the board all three starts over the Pleasanton track, including a third on June 27 against better. The 9-year-old mare is easily the career earnings leader in the field and gets a big upgrade with Frey taking the call. Although you have to go back to June 18, 2018 for the last win, this will be the softest spot the horse has seen in some time and I am thinking the old gal will have enough gas in the tank to get it done.

Saturday: The 8-race card features another running of the $50,000 Everett Nevin Stakes, a 5-1/2-furlong sprint for 2-year-olds and is one of my favorite races each year of the Pleasanton meet. It gives us a chance to see who some of the top 3-year-olds may be in Northern California next year.

I will start with the stake which is the sixth race and set for a 5:11 p.m. post.

The winner sure seems like they will come from one of three horses. Top Harbor (No. 1, 3/1) comes from the Tim McCanna barn and won in straight maiden race on June 20 at Pleasanton. The horse broke well, stayed just off the pace then came home with the one-length win. Frank Alvarado had the mount that day but is now under quarantine so Antongeorgi takes the mount.

Hendavid (No. 5, 7/2) comes up from the south where he broke in his debut at Santa Anita for trainer Luis Mendez. The horse was well bet in his debut and proved worth, winning by over three lengths.

Finally, Tom’s Song (No. 6, 5/2) runs for Steve Specht. The horse also got a win in the debut, clearing the field at Golden Gate Fields by over two lengths on May 24. Alvarado also rode this one, with Frey now picking up the mount.

I went back and forth on this one. It is tough to split up three horses that have all won in their initial starts. All took action at the window and all produced. The tote will be key here as it will be interesting where the money goes to the three favorites right around the same odds on the morning line.

At this point, I am leaning towards the rail horse Top Harbor. The horse was in the toughest duel in the lane of the three and dug in to pull out the win. The others did not have the battle in the stretch and while they may have heart as well, I will look to the one that has shown it.

Earlier in the card, I like Take Me for a Spin (No. 1, 9/5). Wong trains and Frey rides a horse that has hit the board in both starts.  After winning in his debut in straight maiden company he came back, found trouble, finished second and then was moved to third. That was at Pleasanton June 21 and now a month later – an angle the barn hits at 25 percent – I think there is every reason to see a win. Ricky Gonzalez has the two previous mounts, but he’s gone to Del Mar.

In the seventh race, take a good look at Myangelcindy (No. 3, 3-1) and Carrie’s Success (No. 6, 2/1). Myangelcindy has put a plus-70 Beyer figures in five straight races, with three of those races exceeding 80. In her last start she wired many of these over the Pleasanton track in an allowance race at the same distance for trainer Clifford DeLima with Alvarado up. David Lopez takes the mount.

Carrie’s Success is a Wong/Antongeorgi combination that is also coming off a win at Pleasanton, but in a different style, circling the field five-wide before pulling away for the win in the claiming race. A bit of a step forward, but nothing to phase me for a horse that has hit the board in all five starts this year and in 15-of-20 in her career.

I probably will not play the eighth race, but if you are so inclined one of interest figures to be Simply Charming (No. 3, 4/1). How this 5-1/2-furlong $5,000 claimer finishes up is anyone’s guess, but I will tell one thing – Simply Charming will go to the lead and should be out front at the top of the lane. From there the question is whether she can hold on or not. I did have this horse at 30-1 a couple of years back and he got the lead and was not caught for a nice pay day. Two wins in 34 starts does not lead to a lot of confidence but you might catch lightning in a bottle twice!

Weekend Picks – July 17 – 18

17 Jul

By Dennis Miller

Three more days of races in Pleasanton kick off today at the Alameda County Fairgrounds with a 2:45 p.m. post.

After four weekends of racing under the banner of the Alameda County Fair, the next two weeks will be part of the California State Fair as they elected to run their allotted days of racing in Pleasanton.

The highlight of the weekend of racing will come Saturday with the running of the California Governor’s Handicap, a six-furlong sprint for fillies and mares, 3-years-old and up.

The race is set for the 8th on Saturday with a 6:12 p.m. post time. The morning line favorite for the race is Mother of Dragons (2/1), a runner owned and trained by Andreas Psarras.

Julien Couton is up for the second straight race and is coming off a win in a $40,000 optional claimer at Golden Gate Fields on May 31. The horse had been off for almost two years before coming back in January of this year.

She ran third in her debut and followed with a fifth, both in allowance races. Following another allowance race in March where she finished second, but was dropped to third after a review, Mother of Dragons came back with the win in the optional claimer.

Now after a break she is back here taking on five other runners. The last two starts she has shown the propensity to go to the lead, but history shows she can win from just off as well.

She has five wins in 11 career starts.

Princess Vivian (3/1) is the second choice and hails from the Sergio Ledezma barn.  Ridden by Catalino Martinez, the last start was a fourth over the turf in the Camila Urso at Golden Gate Fields on May 30.

This will be the first start on the dirt for the horse and is a move the barn rarely makes. The horse likes to come from off the pace and will need some serious pace out front to have a legit shot.

Misirlou (7/2) is trained by Steve Specht and will have the services of Frank Alvarado, a jockey that has hit at 36 percent in Pleasanton this year. The horse has one start on the dirt, a second-place finish in her debut in Santa Rosa last year.

That was followed by three straight wins and after the last of that run in early November, she was sent to the bench before returning May 31 with a third-place run in an optional claimer at GGF in the race that Mother of Dragons was the winner.

Since then there has been a series of good works and I look for a much stronger conditioned horse here.

Doug O’Neill will send Biddy Duke (6/1) north for the race and will have Kyle Frey in the irons. With 15 career starts over the dirt, Biddy Dukes has almost double the dirt experience from the rest of the field combined.

She has four wins in those starts and has hit the board in nine runs on the main track. The last start was a third-place effort in a stake at Santa Anita, the first start for O’Neill after his connections claimed the horse for $40,000 in the previous race.

The horse has the outside post and figures to be the one that sprints out to the lead and will certainly be right there at the very least.

Left Alone (5/1) runs for Manny Badilla gets William Antongeorgi for the ride. The winner of two of four starts this year, this will be another to push the pace, but not set it. The last start resulted in a poor seventh in the Camilla Urso where the horse never got going over the turf at GGF.

Badilla’s runners fare decent with the turf to dirt angle and Left Alone did a have bullet work on July 11, the best of 64 runners at five furlongs that morning.

Finally, Blue Diva (6/1) runs for Isidro Tamayo and has Francisco Monroy to handle the reigns. After a pedestrian sixth – last place – in the Golden Poppy at GGF in early June, Blue Diva came back to run fourth in an allowance race in Pleasanton on June 28.

The horse has shown to be more of a stalker than a pace setter and cuts back from a route to a sprint here. Not sure she has enough speed to stay close enough here.

My pick: This is a race where I will not go to the window until just before the race starts. If the early speed is holding is the case in Pleasanton, then my money would find its way to the outside with Biddy Duke. I just think the horse has seen much better races than the others and as one of only two 3-year-olds in the race, she is still getting better.

If the track has shown to set up for closers, I would be chasing who I think will get first run on the leaders and that would be Misirlou. The horse will sit closer than the other closers and hitting the lane first could be the key!

Friday’s card (7 races, 2:45 p.m. post)

The feature appears to be the second race at one mile and 70 yards and will go off at 3:22 p.m.

The $62,000 optional claimer will have a field of five, two of which will run for a tag.

Touched by Autism (3/1) has been a favorite of mine for awhile now. Owned by Johnny Taboada and trained by Marcia Stortz, the horse has been off for a year before returning to run last in the four-horse field of the Oak Tree Sprint on July 4.

Now he is back here and figures to be much stronger as he stretches out under the ride of David Lopez. This is the first non-stakes start in the last races and only the second non-stakes in the last 11 starts.

I just think there is too much here.

Arch Prince (2/1) and Builder (5/2) are the two favorites on the morning line. Arch Prince is trained by Samuel Calvario and is coming off a fifth in the Grade III San Francisco Mile over the turf on June 14 at GGF.

Builder runs for Tamayo and was the winner of a route over the turf at GGF on June 11. The barn is decent on the turf/dirt move, but he only has one win in 10 turf starts.

Sunday card (9 races, 2:45 p.m. post)

The most interesting race for me on Sunday to me is the 7th, a 5-furlong sprint for 2-year-olds.

It is these races during the summer Fair’s that give us a glimpse into what horses may be among the elite Northern California 3-yeard-olds next year.

Only three of these nine runners have a start, so it is tough to get any rhythm for this field.

Jonathan Wong is the top conditioner in Northern California and has a pair of first-time starters for Tommy Town Thoroughbreds and both should be ready to go for Wong, whose horses hit 19 percent in first stars.

Who You Say I Am has Lopez riding, with Lightinthedarkness has Alvarado up for the ride in his debut.

Of the ones with a start, Felix Rondan’s Champagne Pegasus looked the best, running third over the track in Pleasanton earlier in the meet. Catalino Martinez is back for the second start. The horse ran even in the debut but had no boost in the tank when they got to the lane. Expect more here.

In The Grandstand

16 Jul

By Chris Griffin

Growing up in Southern California, it was always a highlight to head to the races with my Dad. We would go through the turnstiles, I had to go under them, and embark on a wagering journey with the racing ahead. As a youngster, I couldn’t bet at a machine, or speak to a teller about the trifecta box I wanted. It was just me and Dad watching some races. Sure I would pick out a jockey with the silks that jumped out, I was a big Chris McCarron fan. Whenever he was riding I would always be rooting for him, I remembered taking a picture with him at the now closed Bay Meadows. I was around 9 years old, my Dad swung us by the track, and there he was, my favorite jockey. Snapped a picture and don’t remember ever going back to Bay Meadows again.

But I do remember from that day on, I always took notice at the racing in Northern California. I would watch jockey Russell Baze win race after race. However I remember another name in the program, jockey Frank Alvarado.

The 51 year old, has been riding in Northern California for decades. From Panama City, Panama, Frank Alvarado continues to win in Pleasanton. Alvarado has ridden 3,717 career winners to date, his 2020 win total sits at 59. Alvarado continues to prove age isn’t something that defines a top rider and athlete. Jockeys are the hero in one moment and criticized in the next, but Frank Alvarado delivers in Pleasanton day after day. It is very familiar to see Alvarado in the Mr. and Mrs. Larry Williams silks. Racing fans will recall McCann’s Mojave after multiple victories up and down California. A notable victory came in the G3 Berkeley with Frank Alvarado aboard.

It was last week, Alvarado had 4 winners in one day. I caught up with him at a safe social distance and you could see the joy on his face. It’s the same thrill we experience when our horse crosses the wire first. He said “I miss the Fair, I miss my people”, it echoes how I have felt during this 2020 season. I, we miss everything about the Fair and the races. The crowds who pack the grandstand and enjoy a family day in Pleasanton, I miss it. After his big day, I took a moment and thought about the kid who took a picture with his favorite jockey. When I was kid, these jockeys were superheroes to me, and the more I think about it as an adult and track announcer that feeling has never changed. Their superhero suit may change from race to race, but the jockey and horse deliver in Pleasanton every time the gates open.

So when we are back in 2021. When we welcome everyone back to the Fair. I’ll be reminded of the kid waiting outside the jock’s room, to take a picture. Maybe this time, that kid will find Frank Alvarado.

Saturday is History, Now let’s Look at Sunday

12 Jul

By Dennis Miller

Saturday was one of those days when I couldn’t hit the ocean from the beach! I gave out one winner and one exacta and they came in the same race, so it was one of those days when you cashed in one of the eight races.

Well, the key to being a handicapper is a short memory when you hit a bad day, which means as of right now, Saturday is history as we turn all our attention to Sunday!

Let’s go cash some tickets today!

Race 1 (5-1/2 furlongs, 2:45 p.m. post): Starting off with an Arabian race! Madjestic (No. 1) already has a win over the track during this meet, beating Dream Pearl, a 16-time winner, by four lengths in the process. Arabian horses tend to run in streaks and this one looks in very good form right now for Terri Eaton. Dream Pearl (No. 4) just burned a ton of cash in her last start. Also from the Eaton barn, the 9-year-old took some time to get going last year and this being her second start of the year I am thinking better things are coming down the line. It will be interesting to see the odds this one goes off here. Prestons Lady (No. 6) is making her first start of the year for trainer Ron White. That means at least one start will be necessary to find her stride, but after a 2019 season with three wins and two seconds in 6 starts, she is worth of at least a look. My picks: 1-4-3.

Race 2 (One mile and 70 yards, 3:22 p.m.): This might be an interesting race to see how the form holds. Moon Rocket (No. 5) steps up here and gets in a non-winners of two by flying through the conditioning for races less than $10,000 don’t count. Three career wins in 19 starts and most importantly, has speed that has held at Golden Gate Fields, which should translate nicely here. Moonshine Annie (No. 2) is he favorite, but I have to step back when looking at that 2-28 career mark in wins. Does she have the talent in a relative way to this field? Sure, but it just seems like she doesn’t like to win races. Novella (No. 4) will be making its second start for the Jeff Bonde barn. Earlier in this meet she stumbled out of the gate, then proceeded to run an even a last-place fourth around the track. A clean break here will see the horse either on or pushing the pace. That could lead to a much run, but what gives me cause for pause is the horse seems to have been a disappointment throughout her career with only two wins in 12 starts. My picks: 5-2-4.

Race 3 (5-1/2 furlongs, 3:52 p.m.): Not a very strong field here which leads to my analysis that I am looking for a horse making a career low start. That’s Rob’s Got Game (No. 6) out of the Isidro Tamayo barn.  Tamayo claimed the horse after his last start and the barn hits at 31 percent for first start off a claim. In addition, this is a low mark as the tag has been cut in half here. The horse has two wins in 12 career starts, which as bad a percentage as some of the others. Askin’ for Trouble (No. 4) has four wins in 32 starts but does have speed and that could be a key at this level as it appears, he has a chance to run and hide from the field. Sierra Dance (No. 2) is 3-29 but has hit the board 5-of-7 over the dirt and does have a win over the Pleasanton track. Sierra Sunset is the sire and his offspring have shown a propensity to run well on dirt. My picks: 6-4-2.

Race 4 (5 furlongs, 4:22 p.m.): Got some babies running here as 2-year-old fillies . He will be taking to the track with four of the six making their debuts. In these cases, I will look for someone that has a start to their resume and here is find Jasmine Chieftain (No 4). Owned by Scott Herbertson and trained by Tamayo had a third here earlier. In that spot she broke slow, drifted during the race, yet still fought to get up ad hit the board. A better effort out of the gate here may be enough to get to the win. Lawyer Proof (No. 5) has to figure here with local owner Allen Aldrich teaming with trainer Quinn Howey. Aldrich loves to have horses run well in the town he grew up in. He could have picked other spots to make a debut, but they are here so, take a good look. Nova Star (No. 1) is worth a glance in her debut with the jockey/trainer connection of Kyle Frey and Andy Mathis. In the last two years they have hit a 38 percent clip.

Race 5 (6 furlongs, 4:52 p.m.): There are six horses in this race and it looks to me like a lot of them have a chance to win this. When I run into a race like this I try to find the best value play in the field. I am going to take shot with And Counting (No. 6). The horse won over this track earlier this meet after getting caught in a speed dual before drawing off, showing not just talent but heart. Francisco Duran is back to ride for Ed Moger. Galwalksintoabar (No. 2) comes off a race here in Pleasanton where she sat just off the pace and then blew by the field in the lane, winning by almost three lengths. Steps up a bit but seems well placed with these for trainer Steve Myadi. Point Hope (No. 1) is the enigma here. The horse has the board in 11-of-19 career starts (two wins) against tougher fields, but comes here never having raced on the dirt, with her five previous starts coming on the turf. Easily the career earnings leader of this group, this seems a bit perplexing of a placing. She could easily win for Blaine Wright and jockey David Lopez but I just think at 9/5 for the morning line, there are better options. My picks: 6-2-1.

Race 6 (1-1/16 miles, 5:22 p.m.): When I see a race like this for non-winners of two I have a system of looking for the horses that have not lost as many races as the others. Here that is Proud to Shoyu (No. 6) for Steve Sherman. The horse only has five starts and is coming off a maiden score in her last start. Obviously, this is a step up to face winners for the first time but with the rest of the field a combined 6-for-91, it’s not the toughest spot to step into. I think there are enough horses in this field that will try to push the pace that it could set up well for Kyle Frey to pick them off in the lane. Tooley Tunes (No.2) has shown speed at Golden Gate Fields before falling off late, but now comes to a track where the front-end speed holds better than that could end up keeping her in the hunt. Charlie’s Belle (No. 3) will make her first start on the dirt and continues to climb down the claiming ladder for Ellen Jackson Also will be another late runner. My picks: 6-2-3.

Race 7 (1-1/16 miles, 5:52 p.m.): The feature race of the day is a $25 optional claimer. Muralist (No. 1) makes the trip north for the race for trainer Dan Blacker. Here’s a key – if Blacker is on site for the race, hammer the horse. I have used tis in the past and it’s always paid off. If he stays down south, I think the horse still has enough to get it done. Only one win in six starts, but that came in his last start May 23 at Santa Anita. He had a great work on June 28 at Santa Anita, the followed with a maintenance work before shipping north. Kyle Frey takes the mount for Blacker. Time to Win (No. 2) was seventh in his last start, a run over the turf at GGF that I think you can draw a line through. Since then he has two big works for trainer Quinn Howey and this being his second start coming off a long break, he should be much better conditioned which I think is evident from the works. Cimple Man (No. 6) could be a bit of a surprise here but will add some value to the exotics. He hasn’t been on the dirt in over two years and is 0-for-2 over the surface, but this is an easier spot for the Jed Josephson runner who has some solid races against better fields. Perhaps not a potential winner but could add some spice to the exotics.

Race 8 (5-1/2 furlongs, 6:22 p.m.): Ending the day with a $5,000 maiden claimer usually has me heading to the parking lot, but now that I do most of my wagering from home, why not take a shot here! Flying Him (No. 2) has two starts, with both being okay and improvement shown in the second start for trainer Andy Mathis. A fourth-place debut where she showed speed then weakened was followed by a third-place finish where she had some late run. The first two finishers from that race have come to win in their next starts and this should the third to do so. Caribou Chianti (No. 3) is another that looks to fit here well. Finished second here earlier in the meet at the same level which makes the horse an obvious contender. Kevin Orozco returns to ride for trainer Jeff Maz. Lost Freedom (No. 6) debuted here June 28 and didn’t run a lick finishing last in a field of seven, beating 15 lengths for trainer Marcia Stortz. There is no where to go but up and I am looking for a much better performance here. This will add some spice to my exotics here. My picks: 2-3-6.





Saturday’s Picks, July 11, 2020

11 Jul

By Dennis Miller

I jumped back in to handicapping the cards at Pleasanton for the last three days of their meet before the meet turns over to the California State Fair, even though the six days of racing over two weeks will be run at Pleasanton.

It felt great to be looking depth at Pleasanton after spending the last year focusing nationally at the major tracks.

I also gave a more detailed analysis than in years gone by. In the past it was my top three picks for each race with a few words as to why, with this year featuring a write-up on each race with me picks at the end.

Writing up a race is something I have enjoyed on the national races for years.

Friday was decent day as in the seven races I had three winners and three exactas.

I hope you enjoy!

Let’s run through Saturday’s races!

Race 1 (350 yards QH, 2:45 p.m.): A maiden quarter-race – nope, not guessing here!

Race 2 (5-1/2 furlongs, 3:15 p.m.): Not a big fan of Arabian races, but I will take a shot here. Only two of the horses in the field have a start this year. Zachs Travellin Man (No. 4) is the favorite and rightfully so. The only start came Jan. 20 in Houston and it was a winner. Now the horse is in California and under the guidance of trainer Terri Eaton. Eaton traditionally gets the best of the out of state Arabians when they come west. Aurum Rex (No. 5) hit the board in five of nine races last year and faced some decent company in those outings. Abele Borg is the conditioner. Borg another runner here by the name of Wma Fantom (No.2) was on the board in six of seven starts last year, including a second-place finish in the Arabian stake in Fresno. My picks: 4-2-5.

Race 3 (One mile and 70 yards, 3:45 p.m.): This race will feature some of the lowest value plays of the day. Miss Indefaitgable (No. 1) comes in as the 9/5 morning line favorite and may get bet even lower. The horse has always been well bet – has been 2-1 or better in the last six starts and only finishing off the board once in the string. The last start was a surprising seventh place finish where she got caught in a speed duel and weakened. The horse was claimed by the Isidro Tamayo barn, a barn that wins at 31 percent first time off the claim. Girlsintheoffice (No. 2) has win over the inside horse in their last meeting, so will she be able to pull it off again? Tough call, but in the last effort the Steve Specht trained runner stepped up from recent form to get the win, so I don’t think so. Frank Alvarado has the call again. Euphemistic (No. 3) rounds out the top three. The Melanie McDonald runner has won over the track twice, including earlier in this meet. The 7-year-old mare sat mid-pack before getting up late to win a close one. My picks: 1-2-3.

Race 4 (5-1/2 furlongs, 4:15 p.m.): Canada (No. 5) has been on the board four of five starts this year, including the last four starts for Tamayo. Alejandro Gomez has the mount for the sixth straight time and has ridden the horse to three straight 70-plus Beyer figures, the best in the field. Vastly Deep (No. 1) has been favored in his last six starts but has all of one win which means – burning a lot of cash. Marcia Stortz trains the horse that is fully capable of winning, but sure seems to be happier as the bridesmaid. Neptune’s Spear (No. 6) finished second in his return after a seven-month break. He has every right to improve here. My picks: 5-1-6.

Race 5 (One mile and 70 yards, 4:45 p.m.): There are two things I like about Spider Rico (No. 6). First, her wired the field here earlier in the meet, and two, he was in a battle in the lane and he gutted out the win, showing he has guys. Catalino Martinez returns to ride for Reid France. Hardly Chisel (No. 4) went wire-to-wire her on June 20 at 38-1 to light up the tote board. I doubt the Daniel Franko can win again and the price won’t be as high, but his speed will keep him touch and I wouldn’t be shocked to see him get a slice. Pepper Sings (No. 1) has hit the board in two of three starts this year for trainer Jose Bautista and finds himself in a softer spot than the last two and on a surface where he has hit the board in four of six career starts. My picks: 6-1-4.

Race 6 (1-1/16 miles, 5:11 p.m.): Connie’s Promise (No. 2) had a promising debut, closing to finish third, but then had a disappointing 11th on the turf at Santa Anita. Now back up north in a softer spot with a smaller field, I expect to see William Antongeorgi get the job done for Aggie Ordonez. Overwhelming Love (No. 5) was a pedestrian sixth in her debut, but there’s every reason to expect a Jonathan Wong trained horse that draws the services of Frank Alvarado to step forward in her second start. Stars In The Sky (No. 1) will make her first start on dirt in just her second start in the United States after coming over from Great Britain. In the U.S. debut, she was third for trainer Simon Callaghan and I expect another step forward. My picks: 2-5-1.

Race 7 (6 furlongs, 5:37 p.m.): Reginella (No. 4) comes from the highly touted Blaine Wright barn and comes to California after running most of 2019 at Emerald Downs in Washington. Kevin Orozco has the mount and has the experience, riding the horse twice in Washington. Juan Hernandez had the mount in the last start at Golden Gate Fields but has since taken his tack to Southern California. Vronilla Parfait (No. 5) is coming off the best last race, finishing second in her first race off a rest, posting an 80 Beyer. Frank Alvarado is up for trainer Sergio Ledezma. The horse has hit the board in three of five starts this year. Gotham Desire (No. 2) is coming off a 6th place finish in a stake race at Golden Gate Fields, and now returns to what should be a far more comfortable spot for Ed Moger. My picks: 4-5-2.

Race 8 (5-1/2 furlongs, 6:03 p.m.): Jeff Bonde sends out Pack Twelve (No. 3), a horse that makes a monster class plunge dropping from a maiden $50,000 at Santa Anita to a $5,000 maiden race here. The horse hopped at the start and never got going in that debut, beaten 21 lengths. Dave’s Gift (No. 4) has run off five races where he was second or third and is reunited with Antongeorgi for trainer Jesus Ramos. Gregs City Zip (No. 5) has early speed for Cliff Delima and has hit the board two of three starts this year. Figure that early speed will keep him close enough to be in contention. My picks: 3-4-5.



Let’s Take a look at Today’s Card

10 Jul

By Dennis Miller

Welcome to the last three days of the Alameda County Fair racing meet in Pleasanton!

There will still be racing the next two weeks at the track, but it will be under the flag of the California State Fair after the group decided to run its allotted two weeks of racing in Pleasanton.

Post time today is 2:45 p.m. for the seven-race card.

Let’s take a look at today’s card:

Race 1 (One mile and 70 yards, 2:45 p.m.): Uber Star (No. 3) appears to be the one to beat here. Trained by Jonathan Wong and ridden by William Antongeorgi, the horse has two career starts over the Pleasanton track, winning here last year. Has two career starts on the dirt, with the last 10 at Golden Gate Fields. Will take a lot of action because of the connections and drops into a much easier spot than his last start. Lovenseek (No. 5) came back after being off for over a year and was sixth against similar at Golden Gate Fields, a surface where the horse has won five of 11 career starts. Trained by Jack Steiner and ridden by Catalino Martinez, we are willing to give him a pass for the last race. He has a solid work tab since the return and now stretches out to a route. River of Champagne (No. 4) runs for Frank Lucarelli and is coming to the dirt off a disappointing turf effort where on the pace, then faded late. Silvio Amador has the ride for a horse that has had a good work tab since fading on the grass. My picks: 3-5-4.

Race 2 (5-1/2 furlongs, 3:20 p.m.): Winter Fog (No. 3) runs for Billy McLean and has two wins in five starts, with none of them coming on the dirt. Very likely to be up near the front here under the guidance of David Lopez. Powers Times Two (No. 4) has been off over a month for trainer John Martin, but the barn hits at 25 percent with 31-60 days off. Silvio Amador has the call for a horse with two career starts at Pleasanton, one of which was a win. Mr. Diplomat (No. 5) will be a late runner for trainer Isidro Tamayo. The horse was sixth here earlier in the meet in a route and now cuts back to a sprint, one of the few weak angles for the barn. Joejoe’s Kingdom (No. 6) comes in with the best last race Beyer and looks ready to run for trainer Quinn Howey and jockey Alejandro Gomez. Expect some early speed here as the horse has a pair of 870-yard, Quarter-horse starts under his belt. My picks: 6-4-3.

Race 3 (5-1/2 furlongs, 3:50 p.m.): A less than inspiring field of six here, with the horses having never won two races. John’s Intuition (No. 4) I think will be the post time favorite for trainer and Pleasanton boy Jeff Bonde. The horse was running in $30,000-$50,000 maiden races down south, then dropped to $20,000 at Santa Anita in May where he was 11th. Bonde shipped the horse north, went into an $8,000 maiden race and scored a front running win at Golden Gate in his last starts, and now the $50,000 horse is running for a $8,000 tag. Wink and a Dream (No. 5), also broke in an $8,000 maiden race two back at Golden Gate Fields for trainer Debbie Winick. Two pedestrian starts followed the win and now the horse drops into the lower claiming race. Jazz Street (No. 6) also won a $8,000 maiden, this one on June 20 when he wired the field at Golden Gate for trainer Greg James. I have always been a fan of James and with the horse hitting the board in three of six career starts, he figures to take plenty of action. The Filter (No. 1) broke two back at $12,500 for trainer Ed Moger with a front-running win, something that always plays well in Pleasanton. With William Antongeorgi up and breaking from the rail, look for the horse to get out quick. My picks: 4-1-6-5.

Race 4 (One mile and 70 yards, 4:20 p.m.): This one has the best runners of the day. Gratzie (No. 3) has not been out of the exacta in her last five starts, all with Antongeorgi up for trainer Manuel Badilla. The horse has shown the ability to come from way back or sit close and pounce in the lane. A $5,000 purchase, the 9-year-old mare has $237,000 in career earnings. Northwest Factor (No. 6) has 12 career dirt starts, hitting the board in nine of them. Statistically that looks well suited for Pleasanton and the 4-year-old filly has run in five stakes races the last year at either Emerald Downs or Turf Paradise. A tougher field? Probably, but this is the second start off a six-month layoff for trainer Tim McCanna. Draws the services of Frank Alvarado, which makes the horse an even bigger threat as he is hitting at 38 percent in Pleasanton. Hal’s Buddy (No. 5) will go from turf to dirt for trainer Billy McLain. The horse has hit the board once in three starts this year but has come in the money five times in seven career starts in Pleasanton. Big concern is she’s been solidly beaten by Gratzie in the last two starts. My picks: 3-6-5.

Race 5 (1-1/16 mile, 4:50 p.m.): Papa Do Run (No. 4) will be the favorite and with four runs in the exacta in five starts this year, the horse is obviously in good form for trainer Angelo Tekos. Kyle Frey gets the call on a horse that has one career start over the Pleasanton track, that coming last year when he crossed the line first but was subsequently disqualified. He will be on or near the lead. Turnaround (No. 6) was third here against better earlier in the meet. D. Wayne Baker has seen the horse hit the board in three of his last four starts. Will also be a pace factor. Classic Champ (No. 2) sees trainer Ed Moger retain the services of Alvarado for the horse’s dirt debut. He appears to be better coming off the pace and should get a decent one to run at. If you want to take a long shot play, you find one here with Bernardos Hideaway. Quentin Miller trains for George Schmitt for this runner that was sired by Sierra Sunset, a sire that sees his offspring produce solid dirt runners. The horse has hit the board in 11 of 25 career starts, with six of those coming in nine dirt starts. My picks: 4-1-2.

Race 6 (6 furlongs, 5:20 p.m.): Carrie’s Success (No. 7) has every right to be the favorite here for trainer Jonathan Wong. Four starts this year and four times hitting the board with one win, a pair of seconds, and one third. Has been under 3-1 in her last eight starts, winning three times. Antongeorgi gets the call here. Bounty of Gold (No. 5) figures to be the pace setter for Steve Sherman and jockey Julian Couton. Rickey Gonzalez had the call for the last three races – a win and two seconds – but he’s taken his tack to Del Mar. Cozze Kid (No. 4) has a perplexing past. After breaking her maiden two years ago in an impressive debut, she came back and ran in a pair of 2-year-okd stakes races for trainer Jamey Thomas. It has been an uninspiring run since then with a pair of wins surrounded by bad runs. Still in this field she may be tough. Maycee Jo (No. 6) may need a race since she has been off since October a series of poor efforts. The return works for trainer Billy McLean have been nothing to get excited about. Only one win in 15 career starts, but it did come over the Pleasanton track in 2018. My picks: 7-5-6.

Race 7 (One mile and 70 yards, 5:50 p.m.): This looks like the first two might come from the Isidro Tamayo barn. Speed Saver (No. 4) may have the advantage here with 12 starts over the dirt, of which five times he hit the board. Three solid races in a row, including the best last race Beyer, as well as cutting his tag in half makes this one to watch. Maxinamillion (No. 8) has not started on the dirt before, but was claimed last time by Tamayo, a barn that hits at 31 percent first off, a claim.  He has run well against better but has to take to the dirt. Giant Mark (No. 7) could be the pace setter for trainer Samuel Calvario and owner Johnny Taboada. He has hit the board 50 percent of his starts on dirt, so he’s worth watching in this race. My picks: 4-8-7.

Place a Bet on your Mobile Device at the Races or at Home

10 Jul

By Dennis Miller

Those of you that are fans of the Northern California Fair Racing circuit that takes place each summer, must be pleased that Alameda County Fair and the California State Fair are having their meets run in Pleasanton until July 26.

Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, spectators are not allowed for the races unless you are an essential employee or take advantage of the Trackside Terrace Outdoor Patio Dining.

Since outdoor dining is allowed in Alameda County, it is possible to safely enjoy dining while watching the races. Guests must stay in the Trackside area and must wear masks when not eating or drinking. The betting windows and self-betting machines are closed; leaving the only way to wager is through wagering apps online, your phone or tablet.

To many it can be done somewhat intimidating, much the same way the self-wagering machines have been as opposed to going to a mutual clerk at the track.

On the surface, it does appear daunting, but the reality is, wagering online on an app is easy to learn and makes it more convenient to wager, be it away from the track or even at the track, where you have the option to place a bet without leaving your seat.

Most of my gambling friends wager online or on an app, which makes sense. Wagering online allows the horse racing fan to bet from their house and not spend the entire day gone from your house and your family, especially on the weekends.

There is always going to be a honey-do list on the weekend and if you can blow through the list, while getting your bets in, as well as watching the races, then it is a win-win!

It is the biggest question facing Off Track Betting facilities, and to a lesser extent, live racing. If I can bet at any track and be able to watch the race as well from home, why leave?

During the work week, it is easy to place a bet on your phone, then watch the race on your phone as well, all easily done quickly, without disturbing your workday.

Betting apps have increasingly gotten popular, with horse racing getting more attention. According to least one study, horse racing has garnered the third most wagering on apps, trailing only football and basketball.

There are a variety of betting apps, and each is good. It comes down to which app you are comfortable using to place your bets.

The first consideration would be is that app compatible with your phone. Some are made for iOS, some for Androids and some that will work on either.

I have been using a TVG app and online platform and it works well for my purposes. Xpressbet, DRF, and TwinSpires are a few of the other apps available.

While it can be confusing to someone using for the first time, if you just read the screen and follow the prompts, you will be an expert in no time!

When you get on the app, there is a menu that allows you to select the track you want to play. When you get to the track, select the race you want, once again following the prompts on the screen.

Once you are at the race where you want to place a wager, there is a menu above the horses that asks for which type of wager you would like to make. Say you want to make a win wager.

You select win, then are given the options of win, win/place, or win/place/show (which is known as an “across the board” wager).

After you pick which win option you want, then select the horse from the program type list on your screen. At that point you input the amount you want to wager, then submit it and your wager is placed.

The same can be done for any type of wager, be it a straight win, place or show bet, or your full options of exotic wagers like exacta or trifectas to name a couple.

Do not be intimidated when thinking of wagering on an app. It is something to be easily mastered and is something that allows you greater opportunity to follow and wager on the races.

And most important right now, if you get down to the Alameda County Fairgrounds and see the races from the Trackside Terrace, it is the only way you will be able to wager.

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.