Golden Gate Fields News and Notes: Thursday, February 23, 2023


There was always something attractive about now 8-year-old gelding America Great, a son of Ghostzapper out of the Dynaformer mare Formal Affair. As a yearling in 2016, America Great was purchased for a whopping $650,000 by owner Vern Dickman.

Dickman and trainer Jeff Bonde had to be patient. Very patient. Several unspecified hiccups resulted in the connections putting a hold on America Great’s racing career. After a long, multi-year journey to the races, America Great made his first lifetime start at Golden Gate in July of 2021. He sat close to the pace and powered home for a convincing win against $16,000 maiden claiming sprints.

Following the maiden win, America Great was unable to get back to the winner’s circle in a series of runs against starter allowance company. A drop in class was needed. On February 6, 2021, Bonde put America Great in for a claiming tag, and he easily defeated a field of sprinters as the odds-on favorite. Bonde and Dickman traded a horse for a win. Trainer Isidro Tamayo and owner Johnny Taboada claimed the bay gelding for the $12,500 tag.

“When we claimed him, we looked at his breeding and thought he’d be better going [two turns],” said Tamayo. “He had only run once routing and didn’t run bad at all.”

It’s been a fruitful claim for Tamayo and Taboada. To date, America Great’s form is better than ever. He has steadily climbed the last class ladder and earned just under $100,000 in one calendar-year for his connections.

In his two most recent starts, America Great picked up the win check in a pair of first level allowance races: one at a mile and a quarter and the other, most recently on February 3, traveling the flat mile distance. Tamayo credits an equipment change as one of the major reasons for America Great’s form.

“We changed his blinkers,” said Tamayo. “That seemed to really help him. I talked about it with [jockey] Irving Orozco. He was wearing full cup blinkers and he was sort of waiting on horses. So, we put cheater blinkers on him, which almost eliminates that cup, and he got more competitive. If he ran without blinkers, he’d probably be fine, honestly.”

America Great cuts back to a new distance in Friday’s featured seventh race: a first level allowance at one mile and an eighth on the Tapeta. Not surprisingly, America Great is tabbed as the 2-1 morning line favorite. Irving Orozco has been aboard for all but one start since moving to the Tamayo barn and will be back in the saddle on Friday.

“[America Great] is feeling really good,” said Tamayo. “He’s done well for us.”

Among the main contenders challenging America Great this Friday include Secret Club and Ward ‘n Jerry, the second and third place finishers in the February 3 race won by America Great. Ottawa Fire was claimed out of a $20,000 claiming victory by trainer Jonathan Wong two starts ago and suffered a wide trip in his most recent start at this level. He re-unites with pilot Assael Espinoza, who was aboard for two career wins earlier in the year but was not atop Ottawa Fire in his most recent afternoon appearance.

First post on an 8-race card this Friday is 1:15 PM.

Race 7 on Friday (First level allowance at one mile and an eighth on Tapeta for 4-year-olds and up)

#1 Big Flame (Jockey Santos Rivera…Trainer Victor Trujillo…8-1 morning line odds)

#2 Ward ‘n Jerry (Frank Alvarado…Steve Specht…4-1)

#3 C’Mon Man (William Antongeorgi…Bill McLean…10-1)

#4 Gallant Warren (Hugo Herrera…Tim Bellasis…12-1)

#5 Secret Club (Alejandro Gomez…Ed Moger Jr…6-1)

#6 America Great (Irving Orozco…Isidro Tamayo…2-1)

#7 Loafers Boy (Kevin Radke…Leanna Ekstrom…15-1)

#8 Ottawa Fire (Assael Espinoza…Jonathan Wong…3-1)


Per the Daily Racing Form’s Steve Anderson, trainer Ed Moger Jr. is pointing 2023 El Camino Real Derby winner Chase the Chaos to the March 4, Grade II $400,000 San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita. The mile and one-sixteenth contest will be Chase the Chaos’s first try over a projected fast dirt surface. Last summer, Chase the Chaos placed second in a maiden race over a sloppy, wet track at Canterbury Park in Minnesota.

“I know it’s a huge jump,” Moger told Anderson earlier this week. “We’ll go from synthetic to dirt and we can find out where we’re at.”

Chase the Chaos is expected to face a salty group of entrants in the San Felipe. Impressive maiden winner Geaux Rocket Ride is on schedule to compete for trainer Richard Mandella. Bob Baffert is also expected to have multiple entrants. Like the El Camino Real Derby, the San Felipe awards the top five finishers points to the Kentucky Derby. The winner of the San Felipe picks up 50 Kentucky Derby points, followed by 20 points for the second-place finisher, 15 for third, 10 for fourth, and 5 for fifth.

On Monday morning, Chase the Chaos recorded his first timed workout since the El Camino Real Derby. The Pennsylvania-bred by Astern drilled four furlongs in an easy 50 seconds flat. He’ll have one more workout before shipping to Santa Anita next week.

Also on March 4 at Santa Anita, Moger sends out 5-year-old gelding Stilleto Boy in the $500,000 Grade I Santa Anita Handicap. Stilleto Boy was last seen finishing third in the Pegasus World Cup on January 2. The son of Shackleford has worked twice and, like Chase the Chaos, has one final morning drill before shipping south with his stablemate.


Trainer Manny Badilla had little to say when asked about Signorina Merisi and Topanticipation, his two routers who make up two of the seven runners in Saturday’s featured eighth race, a second level allowance for fillies and mares at one mile and a sixteenth on Tapeta.

“They’re both doing well in the barn,” said Manny with a nod and a smile. “We’ll go with that.”

As the old phrase goes, ‘Sometimes, no news is good news.’

Signorina Merisi appears on paper as the one likely to get more support in the wagering than her stablemate. A daughter of Caravaggio, Signorina Merisi has won two races to kick off her United States campaign: a decisive maiden special weight win on January 7 and, four weeks later, a first level allowance victory. Signorina Merisi is a perfect 2 for 2 on the Tapeta. She ran eight times on turf when overseas and failed to win. The Great Britain bred was purchased for $20,803 at the Tattersalls Horses in Training sale of 2022 last August in Europe.

Topanticipation, on the other hand, sports polar opposite form. She has only hit the board once in four tries over a synthetic surface. Both career victories came over turf. A Great Britain bred by Mount Nelson, the 6-year-old mare makes her 2023 debut after a handful of losses in England last fall. She makes her first start in the U.S. since being purchased at auction for $25,344 by owners Ron Charles and Sam Gordon, who also campaign Signorina Merisi.

Another new shooter to the Golden Gate Fields second level allowance condition is Dramatizer, who was eased in her last two starts against tougher company in Southern California and ships north for trainer Keith Desormeaux. Her last victory came three starts ago against first level allowance foes on turf at Santa Anita. Armando Ayuso takes the reins for the first time.

Rev Ree and Shezaghost finished 1-2 at this level on January 27. Rev Ree, sent off at 8-1 odds, got the better of 12-1 price Shezaghost. They clash again and appear as a formful pair for their local connections. Rev Ree is trained by Steve Sherman, who also sends out Undisturbed. The grey/roan mare was last seen finishing fifth on January 27 and makes her second start off a two and a half month freshening. Campaigned in Kentucky last year, Undisturbed was a half-length short of winning the Ellis Turf Distaff in July.

Stakes placed Clockstrikestwelve finished fourth in the same January 27 event and was sent off as the 2-1 post time favorite. A deep closer, the daughter of Breeders Cup winner New Years Day will attempt to do her best work in the later portions of the race. Late last year, she placed third in the Miss America Stakes while suffering a rough trip.

9 races comprise the Saturday overnight: first post is 1:15 PM.

Race 8 on Saturday (Second level allowance at one mile and a sixteenth on Tapeta for fillies and mares 4-year-olds and up)

#1 Rev Ree (Jockey Julien Couton…Trainer Steve Sherman…6-1 morning line odds)

#2 Clockstrikestwelve (Brayan Pena…Jonathan Wong…3-1)

#3 Topanticipation (Irving Orozco…Manny Badilla…10-1)

#4 Shezaghost (Santos Rivera…Sammy Calvario…8-1)

#5 Dramatizer (Armando Ayuso…Keith Desormeaux…4-1)

#6 Undisturbed (William Antongeorgi III…Steve Sherman…5-1)

#7 Signorina Merisi (Assael Espinoza…Manny Badilla…2-1)


Below is a list of claims from last week:


Race 4: Ecologist (New trainer Sammy Calvario…new owner Johnny Taboada)

Race 6: Excessive Cat (Owner/Trainer Jesus Uranga)

Race 7: Imperial Creed (Sammy Calvario…Huntertown Farm LLC and Calvario)

Race 7: Scherzo (Owner/Trainer Sammy Calvario)


Race 2: Gator Shining (Cesar DeAlba…Balderas Ranch LLC)

Race 3: Danny Michael (Isidro Tamayo…Leon Scott)

Race 3: Luck Is Golden (Jonathan Wong…Madden Racing)


Race 6: Hans Gruber (Reid France…Hat Trick Racing)

Race 6: Roister (Mark Glatt…Ron Glatt and Mark Glatt)

Race 6: Sugar Beets (Monty Meier…Brown Cattle Co. and William Branch)

Race 7: Supersonic Flyer (Guillermo Preciado…Danuario Ramirez Garcia)

Race 8: How About a Fresca (Sammy Calvario…Yolanda and Sammy Calvario)


Race 1: Big Stick (Miguel Ramirez…Al Pitchko)

Race 7: Redstwirlingdancer (Blaine Wright…Blaine D. Wright Racing Stable LLC)

Race 9: Chris Fix (Guillermo Preciado…Preciado and Jerry Puertas)

Race 9: Zippy Baby (Victor Trujillo…James McIntyre and Colin Murray) 

FINISH LINES: Per trainer Isidro Tamayo, 4-year-old California-bred gelding Crazy Dreams is pointing towards the inaugural $75,000 McCanna’s Mojave Stakes at 9 furlongs on Saturday, March 18 after an upset victory over Grade 3 Berkeley Handicap winner Lammas last Sunday…2022 California Oaks winner Anthony’s Cleopatra is back on the work tab for trainer Tim McCanna. The daughter of Constitution has not raced since an off the board finish in the Grade 2 San Clemente at Del Mar over the summer. She sports six workouts, including a pair of five-furlong drills…9 races are on the docket on Sunday afternoon. First post is 1:15. Race 8 is the signature race of the day: a first level allowance for routers at one mile. A full field of 10 is entered…In the nightcap on Sunday (Race 9), popular trainer Graham Motion sends out 4-year-old filly Sareeha in a maiden special weight…Santa Anita Park has canceled their three live race cards this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday owing to projected unforeseen poor weather conditions. With that, Golden Gate Fields is the only California thoroughbred racetrack in play during the afternoons this week…$4,134 is carried over into the Golden Pick Six jackpot wager on Friday.