HIGH LEVEL TURF CLAIMER ON SATURDAY APPEARS LIKE COMPETITIVE ALLOWANCE
In Race 7 on Saturday, all seven contenders are entered for a $40,000 claiming tag. Yet on paper, the quality of competition reads as a highly competitive, salty allowance race. In an affair with old pros and class racers, horseplayers can make a case for any entrant in the race.
The well-bred Nolde was a dominant winner of a super strong starter allowance race on turf at Santa Rosa last month. He won the race by just under four lengths while geared down in the final sixteenth of a mile. A repeat effort would tab him as one of the horses to beat in Race 7 on Saturday, although the field he faces this time around is significantly tougher.
The last time we watched Kennebec compete on the Golden Gate turf course, he comfortably defeated a second level allowance field. Since then, he has failed to fire in two consecutive races: the Pleasanton Mile on dirt and a 50k claimer at Del Mar last month. In both losses, Kennebec went off at high odds. He appears well spotted for a much more competitive run this weekend.
The gutsy gelding Honos Man has finished first or second in his last four starts. The 7-year-old by Afleet Alex recently stalked, pounced, and pummeled over a first level allowance group at Santa Rosa. He returns to the races one month later with consistent form for one of the leading trainers at Golden Gate, Isidro Tamayo. Tamayo also campaigns Anitanewmercedes, who has strung together back-to-back first level allowance victories on two different surfaces as of late. The chestnut gelding enjoys racing on the lead; expect him to gun for the front and try to wire the field.
Dulas sports a pair of fast workouts leading up to his first start in almost seven months for trainer Manny Badilla. Beginning his career in Great Britain, Dulas broke his maiden overseas on a soft turf course and, since moving to America in the fall of 2021, has hit the board in a trio of second level allowance races over the GGF Tapeta.
The fresh Harmon makes his first start in about three months for trainer Monty Meier. Harmon’s last afternoon appearance resulted in a runner up finish behind next out allowance winner Seattle Bold at the same $40,000 claiming condition as Saturday’s seventh race. Harmon hasn’t seen the winners circle in a while; he last got his picture taken after a gate to wire win against open allowance company in April of 2022-eleven starts ago.
Sent off at odds of 3-1 in a $40,000 claiming heat at Sacramento on July 28, Conundrum stalked the pace and weakened to fourth in a disappointing effort. His last start on grass came at Golden Gate in April, when the son of Super Saver stalked the pace, battled for the win in midstretch and came up a length short of race winner One Fast Bro in a first level allowance.
8 races made the Saturday overnight. First post is 1:45 PM.
Race 7 on Saturday (40k claimer at one mile and a sixteenth on turf)
#1 Nolde (Jockey Alexander Chavez…Trainer Steve Sherman…morning line odds of 5-2)
#2 Kennebec (Brayan Pena…Ruby Thomas…7-2)
#3 Harmon (Catalino Martinez…Monty Meier…6-1)
#4 Conundrum (Frank Alvarado…Mike Lenzini…8-1)
#5 Dulas (Evin Roman…Manny Badilla…8-1)
#6 Honos Man (William Antongeorgi III…Isidro Tamayo…3-1)
#7 Anitanewmercedes (Irving Orozco…Isidro Tamayo…9-2)
STAKES PLACED TRIP TO SPAIN COULD BE TRENDING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION
It’s not often you see a runner up finisher in a first level allowance race immediately take a bump up in class to the second level condition. That is the case, however, with 4-year-old California bred colt Trip to Spain, as he tackles a small but highly talented group of rivals in Race 4 on Sunday: a second level allowance for sprinters on Tapeta.
A son of Grade 1 winner Stay Thirsty, Trip to Spain began his racetrack life surrounded by hype. Sent off at even money in his career debut as a 2-year-old in 2021, Trip to Spain clobbered a large field by over 4 lengths. He returned a few weeks later and placed second in the Graduation Stakes at Del Mar for state-breds. After given time off for the rest of the year, Trip to Spain returned as a 3-year-old and, within a span of six starts, won a pair of allowance races.
An issue popped up shortly after a gutsy victory in July of 2022. Trip to Spain was given over a year off. His comeback to the races came in his last start, a first level allowance at Santa Rosa, in which Trip to Spain was in for a $32,000 tag, dueled on a highly contentious pace, outkicked the early leaders turning for home, and got tagged late by race winner Gerlach’s. Trip to Spain earned a career high Beyer speed figure (80) for a much better than looked effort.
Since his trip to Santa Rosa, Trip to Spain has worked twice, including a sharp 47.80 half mile drill last weekend. Assistant trainer Troy Thomas, who works for his father Jamey, indicated the decision to run in Sunday’s second level allowance attributes to the way Trip to Spain has been training over the last few weeks.
“I like him more going into this race than in his last,” said Thomas. “Before his last start, he wasn’t showing us a ton [in the mornings]. We were happy with how he ran at Santa Rosa. After the race, he started to pick it up. He had a terrific breeze the other morning. He’s training forwardly, for sure. Right now, he’s doing as well as he could be doing.”
Trip to Spain faces a tough field on Sunday. Trainer Tim McCanna enters a strong 1-2 punch with Rager and Unraptured. Rager took the summer off after a pair of second level allowance wins in the spring and, most recently, a length and three-quarter loss in the Albany Stakes on turf. Unraptured, who got a confidence boosting win against $40,000 claimers in June, was last seen placing third in the Oak Tree Sprint on July 1. Both McCanna entrants are in for a $62,500 tag.
Playing Hardball has won three consecutive races while steadily climbing the class ladder for trainer Sammy Calvario. After Calvario claimed Playing Hardball off a $12,500 win, the 5-year-old son of Hard Spun reeled off a $20,000 restricted claiming victory. His most recent start against first level allowance company ended in a gate to wire win, and Playing Hardball earned a lifetime high 85 Beyer speed figure. His last two victories for the Calvario barn came over dirt; ‘Hardball has won twice over Tapeta in the past.
Rounding out the field is Cool Mountain Lad, whose last start on the Tapeta at this level in June resulted in a trip to the winner’s circle. He has made one start since: a well beaten, seventh place finish in the Oak Tree Sprint at Pleasanton.
8 races are on the docket for Sunday. First post is 1:45 PM.
Race 7 on Saturday (40k claimer at one mile and a sixteenth on turf)
#1 Rager (Jockey Assael Espinoza…Trainer Tim McCanna…morning line odds of 8-5)
#2 Trip to Spain (Alexander Chavez…Jamey Thomas…2-1)
#3 Unraptured (Frank Alvarado…Tim McCanna…5-1)
#4 Cool Mountain Lad (Evin Roman…Victor Trujillo…8-1)
#5 Playing Hardball (Catalino Martinez…Sammy Calvario…3-1)
I’MGONNABESOMEBODY BACK HOME AND READY TO DEFEND SAM SPEAR MEMORIAL TITLE
The 5-year-old gelding I’mgonnabesomebody has firmly stamped himself as the top older horse in Northern California with victories in races like the Joseph T. Grace, the All American and, one year ago, the Sam Spear Memorial. This Labor Day Monday, the Kentucky-bred by Will Take Charge is ready to defend his title in the 2023 edition of the Sam Spear Memorial.
I’mgonnabesomebody got a legit acid test in the Grade 2 Eddie Read at Del Mar on July 30. Sitting four lengths off the lead early, the chestnut gelding plodded along down the lane and finished four and three-quarter lengths behind race winner Gold Phoenix. Gold Phoenix is a major contender in the Del Mar Handicap on Saturday.
“Those are good horses he ran against. I thought he ran well,” said McLean. “He didn’t get the greatest trip. I was a little surprised he was as far off the pace as he was. There wasn’t a lot of speed in the race and that’s why I entered him there [vs. the San Diego Handicap on dirt one day prior].”
Since the Eddie Read, I’mgonnabesomebody worked five furlongs out of the gate on August 27 at Del Mar.
“The key is to get him around there,” quipped McLean. “We just wanted to get some air in him. You don’t have to do too much with him once he’s fit.”
I’mgonnabesomebody is a versatile talent. He can either go to the front or stalk the pace. One horse who won’t be afraid to hook up with the likely favorite early is Jimmy Blue Jeans. Like I’mgonnabesomebody, Jimmy’ also last raced at Del Mar, placing fifth after setting the pace in the California Dreamin’ Stakes for state-breds. Jimmy Blue Jeans will be reunited with jockey Assael Espinoza, who was aboard the front running grey son of James Street for a second level allowance victory over this turf course in April.
Royal ‘n Rando outran his 36-1 odds in The California Dreamin’, sitting off a decent pace before rallying for fourth. He improved off his two starts ago effort: an off the board finish in the All American Stakes. The strong jockey/trainer combo of Frank Alvarado and Steve Specht team up with Royal ‘n Rando in the Sam Spear.
A wise guy contender may be Lammas, who hasn’t been seen since a nose loss to 2021 Grade I Pacific Classic winner Tripoli in March. Even though he has finished behind I’mgonnabesomebody on three separate occasions, Lammas defeated the aforementioned foe in the Grade 3 Berkeley last fall while earning a 96 Beyer. Lammas sports fast works leading up to his return to the races, including a 59 second flat, five-furlong drill on August 28. The surface Lammas races over on Monday is a potential concern: the European bred has never hit the board in four career runs on turf.
A pair of three-year-olds face older foes in the Sam Spear. Cousin Richie earned the silver medal behind Clovisconnection in the Robert Dupret Derby at Santa Rosa. In the spring, Cousin Richie was second best to Southern California shipper Game Time in the Alcatraz Stakes. Starter allowance victor Druidic came on late to round out the superfecta in the Robert Dupret and is also entered in the Sam Spear.
Completing the field is America Great, who has competed against claiming company in his last two starts. He is projected to go off at a price in the Sam Spear Memorial.
The Sam Spear Memorial is named after the Bay Area media legend who was part of the Northern California racing community for decades. Throughout a large portion of his career, Sam Spear held the position of publicity manager at Golden Gate Fields and Bay Meadows. He hosted “At the Track with Sam Spear,” a popular morning radio show every Sunday, and a daily race replay show that debuted in 1978 and ran through 2018 on KTSF-TV. Spear had strong connections with Bay Area newspapers, radio and TV stations and worked closely with those channels to promote horse racing. He also consulted several notable figures who showed a passion for horse racing. Among them: rapper MC Hammer, Hall of Fame baseball player Joe DiMaggio, and Hall of Fame baseball manager Earl Weaver.
Eight races will be run on Labor Day 2023 at Golden Gate. First post is 1:45 PM.
Race 7 on Monday: $50,000 Sam Spear Memorial (For 3-year-olds and up at one mile and a sixteenth on turf)
#1 I’mgonnabesomebody (Jockey Alexander Chavez…Trainer Bill McLean)
#2 Cousin Richie (Alejandro Gomez…Sergio Ledezma)
#3 Lammas (William Antongeorgi III…Manny Badilla)
#4 America Great (Luis M. Jimenez…Monty Meier)
#5 Jimmy Blue Jeans (Assael Espinoza…Andy Mathis)
#6 Druidic (Epifanio Garcia…D. Wayne Baker)
#7 Royal n’ Rando (Frank Alvarado…Steve Specht)
Below is a list of claims from last week
Race 3: Dick Best (New trainer Jack Steiner…New owner Melvin Simonovich)
Race 5: Crescendo Molto (Manny Badilla…Jerry Jamgotchian)
Race 1: Dancing Bonbon (Owner/Trainer Isidro Tamayo)
Race 1: Elegance Code (Leobardo Rivera…Javier Ortiz)
Race 5: Teagans Atm (D. Wayne Baker…Baker, Porlaris and Santoro)
DEL MAR WATCH LIST
Below is a list of Northern California horses and human connections to watch for at Del Mar this week:
Race 4: Capo Luigi (Ed Moger Jr…Hector Berrios)
Race 5: Chickenfingerfriday (Bill McLean…Geovanni Franco)
Race 5: Developingtheway (Steve Miyadi…Antonio Fresu)
Race 6: Almost Snow (Tim McCanna…Edwin Maldonado)
Race 10: Stilleto Boy (Ed Moger Jr…Kent Desormeaux)
Race 6: Canam Gal (Bill McLean…Jose Gregorio [J.G.] Torrealba)
Race 11: Elevado (Andy Mathis…Ricky Gonzalez)
Race 11: Goldensunrise (Andy Mathis…Julien Couton)
Race 1: Kamaina Cruiser (O.J Jauregui…Armando Ayuso)
Race 4: Sea Breeze Boy (Reid France…Tiago Pereira)
Race 4: I Got a Guy (Ruby Thomas…Armando Aguilar)
Race 10: Blevy’s Tiger (Manny Badilla…Juan Hernandez)
Race 11: Give Me the Lute (Andy Mathis…Juan Hernandez)
FINISH LINES: The Ed Moger Jr. trained Stilleto Boy drew post 3 and is 8-1 on the morning line in Saturday’s $1,000,000 Pacific Classic at Del Mar. The Pacific Classic, a one-mile and a quarter Grade I dirt race, goes as Race 10 on an 11-race card. Post time for the ‘Classic has been set at 6:13 PM…Not something you see often at Golden Gate: a Texas-bred in the winner’s circle. That was the case on Monday with first time starter Charlene’s Dream, who won Race 4, a maiden special weight for 2-year-old fillies. A $35,000 sale purchase by multiple Grade 2 winner Qurbaan, Charlene’s Dream paid $14.20 to win for the Moger barn and owner Domeyko Taylor LP…An open allowance (Race 7) on Sunday features a strong group of contenders: stakes winners Anthony’s Cleopatra and Tam’s Little Angel, recent Governors Cup Stakes runner up finisher Lexington Humor, and hard tryers Blue Wildcat and Miss Union…The fastest 2-year-old filly on the West Coast is in the barn of a Golden Gate trainer. O.J Jauregui and owner Danny Eplin campaign the speedy Dreamfyre, undefeated winner of the Everett Nevin Stakes at Pleasanton and, most recently, a dominant winner of the Grade 3 Sorrento Stakes at Del Mar. This past Monday morning, the $140,000 sale purchase by Flameaway drilled a half mile in 48.80 seconds, her first work since the Sorrento triumph. She’s tabbed to run next in the Grade I $300,000 FanDuel Racing Del Mar Debutante on Saturday, September 9…On Monday, Golden Gate maiden winner Blevy’s Tiger faces state-bred 2-year-old fillies in the $125,000 Generous Portion Stakes at six furlongs. Manny Badilla trains for owners Martin Bach and Daniel Weiner.