TALBOT BAY READY FOR BEST IN OPENING DAY FEATURE
On the Golden Gate Fields backstretch just after 10 AM this past Thursday morning, trainer Jorge Bautista gazed at his 15 horses who had just completed their morning training. This writer asked Bautista if he was happy to be back home at Golden Gate.
He nodded his head and smiled with assuredness.
Opening Day of the 2023 Summer Meet at Golden Gate Fields commences Saturday afternoon with an eight-race card. First post is 1:45 PM. Bautista could kick off his summer meeting with a “bang” right away as he saddles four-year-old Talbot Bay in the featured finale on Opening Day, a first level allowance at six furlongs on the main track Tapeta. Talbot Bay is listed at 8-1 on the morning line.
Talbot Bay’s last appearance on the Golden Gate Tapeta surface came two and a half months ago, when he scored a runaway, three and a half-length win at the same first level allowance condition he competes at this weekend. A repeat of that effort is good enough to win this weekend. Most recently, the California-bred by Northern Causeway placed third in a five-furlong turf dash at Santa Rosa.
“He ran well that day [at Santa Rosa],” said Bautista. “The jockey said he ran fine. I think the distance was just too short.”
The Rozamund Barclay homebred has won 4 of 8 lifetime starts on Tapeta, with two of those victories coming at the six-furlong distance. One could make a solid case that he has not run a bad race since his career debut last year.
“I think he needed his first race,” said Bautista. “Since then, he’s done great. A horse like him isn’t hard to train. You just have to keep him fit and he’ll run well because he’s just a good horse.”
Bautista noted that, in all his prior synthetic track races, Talbot Bay did not race with hind shoes on. He will be fitted with hind shoes on Saturday.
“When you run on the turf, you have to wear the hind shoes,” said Bautista. “So, when he ran at Santa Rosa, we had them on. We decided to keep them on for this race on Tapeta and see how he does.
Some horses don’t travel as well with the hind shoes on. Others are fine with it. He’s a very sound and healthy horse, but we’ve always kept them off [until his last start on turf].”
Talbot Bay faces seven other rivals on Sunday. Morning line favorite The Little H Man makes his second start of the year after a stalk and pounce victory on dirt at Santa Rosa. His final start in 2022 also ended with a win. He seeks his third winners circle appearance in a row while taking a bump up in class. Alexander Chavez rides for trainer Brendan Galvin.
Colonel Vargo is the second choice on the morning line at 3-1. The Leobardo Rivera trainee beat a group of $20,000 claimers at Del Mar in his last afternoon showing on July 23. A versatile type, Colonel Vargo can either go to the front-those tactics were employed at Del Mar-or he can stalk the pace. Evin Roman will be in the saddle.
Blazing Jamie figures to get support in the wagering after two strong efforts at this first level allowance condition on the fair circuit. On July 4 at Pleasanton, the 5-year-old gelding was a gritty victor over Our Bold Prince and Saint Ives, both who are also entered in Saturday’s nightcap. Blazing Jamie was last seen finishing as the runner up against a salty group of allowance foes at Sacramento. Francisco Duran and Cliff Delima team up with the son of Haynesfield, who is listed at 4-1 on the morning line.
This meet, Golden Gate runs on a Saturday, Sunday, Monday basis. First post is 1:45 PM each day unless otherwise noted.
Race 8 on Saturday (First level allowance at six furlongs on Tapeta)
#1 Blazing Jamie (Jockey Francisco Duran…Trainer Cliff Delima…Morning line odds of 4-1)
#2 The Little H Man (Alexander Chavez…Brendan Galvin…2-1)
#3 Colonel Vargo (Evin Roman…Leobardo Rivera…3-1)
#4 Grazen Sun (Irving Orozco…Blaine Wright…12-1)
#5 Our Bold Prince (William Antongeorgi III…Eddie Rich…5-1)
#6 Talbot Bay (Santos Rivera…Jorge Bautista…6-1)
#7 Saint Ives (Catalino Martinez…Jose Bautista…10-1)
#8 Counting Cards (Brayan Pena…Victor Trujillo…15-1)
CONSISTENT STOIC LUNA STEPPING UP FOR CLASS TEST ON SUNDAY
It isn’t often that 5-year-old mare Stoic Luna runs a poor race. It also isn’t often that she fails to garnish significant money in the betting pools. In her last seven races, she has either gone off as the favorite or second choice in the wagering.
In Sunday’s third race, a second level allowance for fillies and mares at one mile and a sixteenth on turf, more things stay the same. The 8-5 morning line favorite makes her third start since being claimed by Jack Steiner and enters Sunday’s marquee event fresh off a decisive starter allowance win at Santa Rosa when sent off as the 1-2 favorite. On speed figures and class, she fits in this second level allowance group.
“She won easily in the starter allowance race the other day, so we’re taking a step up,” said Steiner.
Stoic Luna is wheeling back in just two weeks. Steiner says all signs indicate Stoic Luna is ready to run back on short rest.
“She’s been eating everything in her feed tub and is training with good energy. Those are the things you look for that tell you how a horse is doing after a race,” said Steiner. “We could either run in this race or wait three or four weeks until the next condition book comes out. This is the only race for her in the [first] condition book and she’s doing well, so we’re going to run.”
Stoic Luna competed at this level two starts ago on July 9 at Pleasanton, where she stalked the pace and wound up third, beaten a length and a quarter behind Madeira Wine and Twilight Empire. Both mares are also entered in Sunday’s fifth race. Interestingly, Stoic Luna went off at even money in the Pleasanton event and grinded along down the stretch after sitting off an extremely slow pace. Jockey Evin Roman rides on Sunday.
Although the Manny Badilla trained Madeira Wine needs the right set up to win at this level-that set up meaning a clear lead-it appears she’ll receive it on Sunday. She enters as the lone front runner on paper in the field of six. The daughter of English Channel can run effectively on any surface and drops in class after a sixth-place finish in the Luther Burbank Stakes at Santa Rosa. Jockey Santos Rivera has the call.
Twilight Empire is stakes placed; she finished as the runner up in the She’s a Tiger Stakes at Pleasanton while closing into a quick pace. She freshens up a month and a half after the recent second place effort behind Madeira Wine on July 9. Veteran conditioner Cliff Delima employs jockey Francisco Duran to ride.
Assignation ran as well as she ever has in her most recent afternoon appearance, placing third behind the talented Ascendancy and Southern California shipper Ever Smart in the Luther Burbank. She’ll be coming from off the pace for trainer Steve Sherman and jockey Cristobal Herrera.
The veteran Clockstrikestwelve failed to be competitive in two consecutive stakes races on the fair circuit this summer. She gets class relief here while getting back to a condition she has run well at in the past; this year alone, she won a race at the level in February and placed in two other second level allowance events in the spring. Jockey Brayan Pena and trainer Ruby Thomas team up.
Rounding out the field is Councilwoman Jilly, a starter allowance winner who has lost by double digit lengths in her last two starts. Alexander Chavez is set to steer the 4-year-old filly trained by Simon Hobson.
Race 3 on Sunday (Second level allowance at one mile and a sixteenth on turf for fillies and mares)
#1 Assignation (Jockey Cristobal Herrera…Trainer Steve Sherman…Morning line odds of 8-1)
#2 Twilight Empire (Francisco Duran…Cliff Delima…5-2)
#3 Stoic Luna (Evin Roman…Jack Steiner…8-5)
#4 Clockstrikestwelve (Brayan Pena…Ruby Thomas…6-1)
#5 Madeira Wine (Santos Rivera…Manny Badilla…4-1)
#6 Councilwoman Jilly (Alexander Chavez…Simon Hobson…10-1)
DEL MAR WATCHLIST
Below is a list of horses and human connections from Golden Gate who compete at Del Mar this weekend:
Race 5: Ladywearsthering (Trainer Tim McCanna…Jockey Edwin Maldonado)
Race 8: Nabakov (Ed Moger Jr…Armando Ayuso)
Race 1: Outer Sunset (Bill McLean…Assael Espinoza)
Race 2: Callhercontessa (Andy Mathis…Edwin Maldonado)
Race 3: Big Sis Little Sis (Reid France…Tiago Pereira)
Race 6: Hijo Galante (Ed Moger Jr…Armando Ayuso)
Race 6: Cowboy Charlie (Quinn Howey…Edwin Maldonado)
Race 8: One Fast Bro (Quinn Howey…Kent Desormeaux)
FINISH LINES: Race 6 on Saturday catches the eye. A first level allowance for filly and mare sprinters, the gritty Tamantari and hard knocker Candy’s Clone are the two to beat in the field…Eight races a day on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday this week…On Friday at Del Mar, the first two finishers in the Moscow Burning Stakes Rose Maddox and Chancery Way placed second and third, respectively, in the $150,000 Solana Beach Stakes for state-bred fillies and mares at one mile on turf. Rose Maddox, ridden by Juan Hernandez on Friday, is trained by Steve Miyadi. Chancery Way is trained by Jamey Thomas. Local rider Evin Roman was aboard…Leading Winter/Spring meet jockey Assael Espinoza spent his summer at Del Mar and will continue to race down south for the remainder of the meet. He is scheduled to come back to Golden Gate in September…Jockey Armando Ayuso, who finished third at the Winter/Spring meet, has made a permanent move to Southern California…Northern California mainstay Irving Orozco had productive meetings at Sacramento and Santa Rosa and is back in the jockey colony at Golden Gate for this summer meeting. Orozco suffered a race riding injury in April and took two and a half months off to recuperate…FanDuelTV‘s Rich Perloff will be on track covering Golden Gate’s eight race card this Monday while Dave Weaver will be in town on the Labor Day Monday, September 4 card.