STAR RACER NEEDS TO BRING THE HEAT OFF LAYOFF TO WIN SATURDAY’S OAKLAND STAKES
6-year-old gelding Star Racer was in peak form last winter, having won three consecutive races by open lengths while earning Beyer speed figures in the mid 90’s each time. That form was impressive enough that in his last race to date, an April 1 allowance designed as a prep for the April 29 Lost in the Fog Stakes, the bettors made Star Racer the favorite over multiple stakes winner Top Harbor, who eventually went on to win the Lost in the Fog. Sent off as the 4-5 favorite on April Fool’s Day, Star Racer ended up losing by a neck to Top Harbor, though one could make a convincing argument he put up a winning fight.
Shortly after the ‘close but no cigar’ effort, a physical issue sent Star Racer to the sidelines. He was given the spring and summer off. Fast forward seven and a half months later. Star Racer returns to the races this Saturday in the feature race of the week, the $50,000 Oakland Stakes for 3-year-olds and up at six furlongs on Tapeta. His main rival, once again, is Top Harbor.
A 59 and change, five-furlong workout on October 16 and a six-furlong drill in 1:12 and 2/5 seconds on October 30 are amongst a steady series of workouts that Star Racer has recorded in preparation for his comeback. According to trainer Angelo Tekos Jr., running Star Racer in the Oakland off the vacation was Plan B.
“There was an open allowance race a few weeks ago that never filled,” said Tekos Jr. “Plan A was to prep him in that race. Plan B was to train him into this one.
He’s training great though,” continued Tekos Jr. “He’s been really full of life back at the barn. He’s telling us he’s ready to run. I wouldn’t run him in this race if I didn’t think he was ready and could run well. In his workout [going six furlongs in 1:12 and 2], he galloped out seven furlongs in 1:25. He probably ended up going about a mile and a sixteenth. If he runs like he trains, I think he’ll at least hit the board. How does that sound?”
Sounds like a pretty good endorsement. Assael Espinoza, who was aboard for all three wins this winter and worked Star Racer in the aforementioned October 30 morning breeze, retains the mount on Saturday.
As Tekos Jr. saddles Star Racer from stall nine in the paddock, Tim McCanna will be busy making sure a legion of equines are ready to rumble. He campaigns three contenders in this year’s Oakland: defending champion Top Harbor, multiple second level allowance winner Rager, and stakes placed Unraptured. McCanna won’t have to walk too far to find each of his steeds: they break from posts 5, 6, and 7 and will be saddled right next to one another in the paddock.
“They’re all doing good,” said McCanna. “We tried to enter in the open allowance, but it didn’t go. Now we’re sort of forced to run ‘em against each other. One [Unraptured] will probably be pretty close to the pace, another [Top Harbor] will be stalking and the last one [Rager] will be coming from behind.”
Top Harbor was a decisive winner of the Oak Tree Sprint at Pleasanton in July but was out finished in his most recent afternoon showing by race winner Clovisconnection in the Harris Farms Stakes on October 7. Rager was last seen finishing third in a salty high-level claimer at Santa Anita last month. Two starts ago, the son of Into Mischief went off at 6-5 in a second level allowance at Golden Gate and finished a nose behind stablemate Unraptured, who freshens up two and a half months after said victory for this stake appearance. Unraptured placed third behind Top Harbor in the Oak Tree Sprint.
Other main contenders in the 2023 Oakland include Love Candy, runner up finisher in the one mile and one-sixteenth Bulldog Stakes at Fresno, and Alexander’s Dream, who has won back-to-back first level allowance races and makes his stakes debut for trainer Reid France. The Oakland goes as the eighth race on a nine-race program this Saturday. First post is 12:45 PM.
Race 8 on Saturday: The Oakland Stakes (For 3-year-olds and up at six furlongs on Tapeta)
#1 Love Candy (Jockey Catalino Martinez…Trainer Sammy Calvario…Morning line odds of 12-1)
#2 Talbot Bay (Silvio Amador…Jorge Bautista…15-1)
#3 Alexander’s Dream (Alexander Chavez…Reid France…8-1)
#4 Robie (Brayan Pena…Faith Taylor…12-1)
#5 Top Harbor (Frank Alvarado…Tim McCanna…9-5)
#6 Rager (Luis Jimenez…Tim McCanna…4-1)
#7 Unraptured (Kevin Radke…Tim McCanna…4-1)
#8 Honeymoonz Over (William Antongeorgi III…D. Wayne Baker…20-1)
#9 Star Racer (Assael Espinoza…Angelo Tekos Jr…6-1)
#10 Cairo Calling (Santos Rivera…Sammy Calvario…30-1)
ANITANEWMERCEDES THE ONE TO CATCH IN FRIDAY FEATURE
On Thursday morning, track announcer Matt Dinerman asked trainer Isidro Tamayo in the racing office, “You know those horses that you just feel like they’ve been around forever? And for all this time they always go out there and just give it their all?”
Dinerman pointed to his racing form. “That’s Anitanewmercedes.”
Trained by Summer Meet leading trainer Tamayo, 7-year-old gelding Anitanewmercedes makes his 40th career start this Friday in the co-featured seventh race: a first level allowance at one mile for 3-year-olds and up. With 12 wins, 7 seconds and 5 third place finishes, the son of Haynesfield has the record indicative of an old pro. He enters Friday’s main event with terrific recent form, with three of his last four starts resulting in a trip to the winner’s circle.
Anitanewmercedes is usually up on the pace. With an inside post and lack of confirmed front running speed on paper, he is very likely to send to the front again with new jockey Assael Espinoza. All things considered, there is a chance that Anitanewmercedes goes off favored come post time.
Eight formidable foes will attempt to run down Anitanewmercedes in the final furlong. Among them is 5-2 morning line favorite Moogie Son, who exits a runner up finish to 2022 Bulldog Stakes winner A Man’s Man at this condition on October 28. Although soundly defeated, Moogie Son earned a career high Beyer speed figure (85) and a best last-out speed figure out of all the entrants in Friday’s seventh race. Ecologist, who finished two lengths behind Moogie Son for second on October 28 and was beaten a length for the win in a September 23 first level allowance, is also signed on to compete in Friday’s seventh race.
Supermazel is the “wildcard.” The Jesus Ramos trainee was outmatched in the Grade 3 Golden Gate Handicap two weeks ago and returns to a first level allowance condition that has suited him well. In fact, he won at the level on dirt at Fresno in October. That said, he’ll need to turn the tables on Anitanewmercedes, who has finished ahead of Supermazel three times this year already. In two of those starts, Supermazel finished a neck and three quarters of a length, respectively, behind Anitanewmercedes.
The last time Kingmeister ran at this condition, he trounced his competition while earning a strong Beyer speed figure (82). He may be a late threat if he comes with his best performance. Ditto Cousin Richie, who beat Ecologist in a California-bred allowance at Pleasanton and was the runner up behind multiple stakes winner Clovisconnection in the Robert Dupret Derby for 3-year-olds at Santa Rosa. Cousin Richie seeks to improve after an off-the-board finish on October 28. Recent maiden winner Mogollon Rim, Southern California shipper Dual Threat, and Rocktilyoudrop, who raced at Century Downs in Alberta, Canada this summer, rounds out the field of nine.
First post on an eight-race card on Friday is 12:45 PM.
Race 7 on Friday (First level allowance for 3-year-olds and up at one mile on Tapeta)
#1 Anitanewmercedes (Jockey Assael Espinoza…Trainer Isidro Tamayo…Morning line odds of 5-1)
#2 Ecologist (Catalino Martinez…Sammy Calvario…4-1)
#3 Rocktillyoudrop (William Antongeorgi III…Rod Cone…10-1)
#4 Dual Threat (Frank Alvarado…Miguel Ramirez…12-1)
#5 Moogie Son (Louis Jimenez…Ed Moger Jr…5-2)
#6 Supermazel (Brayan Pena…Jesus Ramos…8-1)
#7 Mogollon Rim (Santos Rivera…Ed Moger Jr…10-1)
#8 Cousin Richie (Alejandro Gomez…Sergio Ledezma…6-1)
#9 Kingmeister (Alexander Chavez…Bill McLean…8-1)
VETERAN JOCKEY FRANK ALVARADO PICKS UP MILESTONE 4,000TH CAREER VICTORY AT GOLDEN GATE FIELDS
***NOTE: Although old news, we wanted to post a well-deserved article that we couldn’t put out at the time of the news breaking due to technical issues on our website that disallowed us from publishing the GGF News and Notes these last three weeks.***
Veteran jockey Frank Alvarado picked up his 4,000th career victory in Race 2 on Sunday, October 22 at Golden Gate Fields aboard five-year-old mare Shout It Out. Shout It Out, who sat off a fast pace before nailing early leader Jay’s Angel in the shadow of the wire, paid $29.40 to win for the Kelly Bainum barn.
54-year-old Alvarado had to wait out a photo finish before giving an exuberant fist pump when the order of finish was posted. He was greeted in the winner’s circle post-race by family, friends, racing officials, and fellow members of the Golden Gate riding colony. Alvarado’s mounts have accrued $87.8 million throughout a long and successful career that began in his native Panama in 1984. Alvarado’s first career win came at Panama’s Hipodromo Presidente Ramon Racecourse on April 2, 1984.
Some of Alvarado’s top mounts include graded stakes winners Bonfante, Devious Course, Hudson Landing, Lottsa Talc, McCann’s Mojave, More to Tell, and Now Victory. Grade 1 placed Antares World and 5-time stakes winner Lady Railrider are two additional notables whom Alvarado regularly rode. Among Alvarado’s top mounts currently in training are champion Northern California sprinter Top Harbor and recent Santa Anita stakes winning 2-year-old Grand Slam Smile.
Alvarado, represented by agent Fernando “Shoes” Navarro, has 6 wins from 25 mounts at the current Fall Meet.
Race 7: Wodeton (New trainer Blaine Wright…New owner Wright Racing Stable LLC and Eric Kenneally)
Race 8: Dawn At Last (Jack Steiner…Remmah Racing Inc.)
Race 8: Zoe’s Pride (Gary Greiner…Renee Greiner)
Race 1: Thickey Boy (Jack Steiner…Melvin Simonovich)
Race 4: Jasmine Chieftain (Ruby Thomas…Madden Racing)
Race 4: Shemakescents (Owner/Trainer Luciano Medina Gabriel)
Race 5: Gianola (Sheldon Paldanius…Stanley Spano)
Race 2: Ko Samui (Jose Puentes…Maria Valenzuela and Puentes)
Race 6: Dust Maker (Isidro Tamayo…Taboada Racing Stables LLC)
Race 8: House of Lords (Ruby Thomas…Taboada Racing Stables LLC)
FINISH LINES: Race 4 on Friday is the other co-feature: a first level allowance for 3-year-olds and up at six furlongs. Morning line favorite Smuggler’s Run is a half sibling to 2019 All American Stakes winner Grecian Fire and makes his first start in Northern California for new trainer Andy Mathis. He goes up against stakes placed Larry’s Legend and four others…Race 6 on Saturday, a second level allowance for filly and mare routers, came up tough. Stakes winner Tam’s Little Angel, stakes placed Clockstrikestwelve and Twilight Empire, and the Manny Badilla trained pair of Naughty Nadine and Signorina Merisi are five of the eight entrants…Golden Gate Fields welcomes veteran Canadian trainer Rod Cone back to our bayside track. Cone, who has run his stock at Golden Gate in the past, hasn’t been to Northern California since 2019. Cone saddles two runners on Friday and one on Sunday…Good luck to Liz Kowalski and Colleen O’Hagan, both who saddle their first Golden Gate starters this week. Kowalski runs Papawasarollnstone in Race 6 on Friday and El Alto Hombre in Race 7 on Saturday while O’Hagan tightens the girth for Isle of Skye in Race 9 on Saturday…$41, 940 is carried over into the Golden Pick Six jackpot wager heading into Friday’s card…Jockey Alexander Chavez leads 19-17 over Evin Roman in the jockey standings. Andy Mathis sits atop the trainer standings with eight wins, one win ahead of Ed Moger Jr. and two clear of Jack Steiner and Blaine Wright…Congratulations to trainer Jamey Thomas, who won the $100,000 Betty Grable Stakes at Del Mar last Sunday with stable star Chancery Way. The California-bred 4-year-old filly by Mr. Big went off as the 5-2 second choice in the wagering and was ridden by Southern California jockey Antonio Fresu…Also in Southern California earlier this month, chestnut Grand Slam Smile put on a show on Breeders Cup Friday in the Golden State Juvenile Fillies for 2-year-old California bred fillies. Trained by Steve Specht and ridden by Frank Alvarado, Grand Slam Smile won the November 3 sprint by seven and one-quarter lengths.