Golden Gate Fields News and Notes: Friday, September 15, 2023


A half dozen fillies and mares take center stage in the featured seventh race at Golden Gate on Saturday, the $50,000 Golden Gate Fields Turf Distaff at one-mile and a sixteenth on grass. In what appears as a wide-open affair, handicappers could make a strong case for any entrant in the race.

Trainer Manny Badilla will be busy in the paddock pre-race. He saddles half the field. Badilla has been in this position before: he ran three fillies and mares in the 2019 Miss America Stakes.

“My three all have different running styles,” said Badilla on his contenders in the 2023 GGF Turf Distaff. “It’ll be easy for me to watch each of ‘em during the race. We’re looking for a stake win. If not a win, then a stakes placing.”

Madeira Wine, fresh off a neck loss in a second level allowance race on August 27, will be prominent in the early stages. Assuming she breaks, she’ll be up on the pace, says Badilla. Over the summer, Madeira Wine won a second level event at Pleasanton over dirt. That day, she set a slow pace and took advantage of the cozy scenario.

“There’s going to be one way for her to do it,” said Badilla. “She needs to be up there [on the lead].”

Badilla expects his 4-year-old filly Naughty Nadine to lay just off her stablemate in a stalking position early on. A Great Britain bred, Naughty Nadine has done her best work at Golden Gate, with her last two starts at the bayside oval resulting in trips to the winner’s circle. Her two most recent afternoon showings resulted in poor finishes, though those races came away from home.

“I think she’ll work out a good trip,” said Badilla.

Hard knocking Cal-bred Momma Mocca is projected to bide her time off the pace before, Badilla hopes, she makes a strong move down the stretch. Momma Mocca comes off a confidence booster last month, handily defeating next out winner Derrygoolin in a first level allowance at Santa Rosa. Her lone career try against stakes competition in the Moscow Burning Stakes last fall resulted in a fourth-place finish behind Golden Poppy Stakes winner Rose Maddox and multiple stakes winner Chancery Way.

“She’s just a hard tryer,” said Badilla.

Badilla’s contingent goes up against a trio of others, including recent second level allowance victor Stoic Luna. The daughter of Fed Biz has won four of her last six races, including a recent second level allowance victory in which she beat Madeira Wine on the square. This will be Stoic Luna’s stakes debut.

“She’s on fire right now,” said Stoic Luna’s trainer, Jack Steiner. “She’s doing super well. She’s going to have to run her best though. Everyone in this race is going to have to if they want to win. It’s an evenly matched group.”

Stakes placed Clockstrikestwelve was beaten a half length for the top prize in the August 27 second level allowance won by Stoic Luna. Four starts ago, she came a head short of beating Naughty Nadine in a June 11 race. Assignation, third place finisher in the Luther Burbank Stakes at Santa Rosa behind top quality runners Ascendancy and Ever Smart, completes the field. If she were to run back to that effort, a case could be made for her as a legit contender. That said, she regressed off her two-back stakes effort with a four-place finish behind Stoic Luna, Madeira Wine, and Clockstrikestwelve on August 27.

First post on an 8-race card on Saturday is 1:45 PM. The Golden Gate Fields Turf Distaff goes as the seventh race.

Race 7 on Saturday (The $50,000 Luther Burbank Stakes for fillies and mares at one and a sixteenth miles on turf)

#1 Stoic Luna (Jockey Evin Roman…Trainer Jack Steiner…morning line odds of 9-5)

#2 Clockstrikestwelve (Alexander Chavez…Ruby Thomas…4-1)

#3 Momma Mocca (Irving Orozco…Manny Badilla…8-1)

#4 Assignation (Cristobal Herrera…Steve Sherman…6-1)

#5 Madeira Wine (Santos Rivera…Manny Badilla…2-1)

#6 Naughty Nadine (Assael Espinoza…Manny Badilla…10-1)


Dropping the hammer at $240,000 in the 2022 OBS 2-year-old in training sale, bay filly Swall obviously worked well to bring solid money at auction. After a year of preparation, she made her long-anticipated debut at Golden Gate for trainer Andy Mathis and owners Little Red Feather Racing in an April 22, 2023 maiden special weight. A full field assembled in the gate, Swall broke last, and ran towards the rear throughout. The comment line for the race simply reads, “Dull effort.”

If you don’t succeed, try again. Right? Three weeks later, Swall returned at the same level and looked like a totally different filly, dueling on the lead at a rapid pace before easily shrugging off a rival and pulling clear for a visually impressive, four-length winning effort. Tessa, who finished second that day, returned to break her maiden in her next start and has turned into a formidable allowance caliber sprinter since.

Swall was ambitiously spotted in a two-turn allowance against older foes in her next start, her first try against winners, and placed fourth after stalking the pace. Her last two starts, both at Del Mar, resulted in off the board finishes.

Still in search of her second lifetime trip to the winner’s circle, Swall returns to the scene of her eye-catching maiden win in Sunday’s co-featured seventh race, a first level allowance for fillies and mares at six furlongs on Tapeta. Mathis is crossing his fingers in hopes that his filly gets back to her winning form while employing similar tactics and finishing ability to what she displayed in her maiden breaking triumph.

“We’ve tried a few different things with her,” said Mathis. “At this point, I think she’s a little better sprinting. 

“We want to try to get her back to her best race,” continued Mathis. “[This Sunday], we want her to break out of there running. I’d like to see her get into the race early.”  

Swall retains the services of jockey Francisco Duran, who was aboard for the 3-year-old filly’s lone career win in April. All that said, the Kentucky-bred daughter of Ghostzapper will need to bring her ‘A’ game to win. She faces seven rivals.

Pleasanton Oaks runner up finisher Big Sis Little Sis adds blinkers for trainer Reid France. The last we saw her compete at Golden Gate, she placed fifth in the Dream of Summer Stakes behind the likes of Sadie Bluegrass, Sassy Nature, and Chancery Way. Big Sis Little Sis put up better than looked showings in her last two starts at Del Mar and faces easier company in Sunday’s main event.

The well-bred Lady’s Sermon has finished second or third in six different races at this level. Most recently, the Steve Specht trainee had to settle for second as the favorite behind none other than Tessa, who of course finished behind Swall when they met as maidens. Coincidentally, Specht lost another contender in this race, Tamara Mine, three starts ago at the claim box. Tamara Mine makes her first start sprinting since moving to trainer Isidro Tamayo’s stable and should be fit cutting back from a route to a sprint. On the day she was claimed, she sprinted six furlongs at Pleasanton and beat Lady’s Sermon by a length and three-quarters.

A California-bred taking advantage of her chance to win at the first level allowance condition twice is J and K Express. We last watched J and K Express display grit and determination for a nose victory at this level in April of 2022. She makes her 2023 debut for new trainer Jose Puentes and retains the services of jockey Cristobal Herrera, who guided J and K Express to victory 17 months ago.

Pappy’s Girl finished third at this level on August 27 and sports a bullet workout since her last start. City Glitter gets back to Tapeta after rounding out the superfecta behind next out turf sprint allowance winner Queen Molotov at Santa Rosa last month. Lady Wolf, a maiden winner and subsequent 28 length loser in the Pleasanton Oaks, completes the lineup of entrants. She is the most lightly raced equine in the race with just two starts to her name.

Another 8-race card this Sunday, with first post time slated for 1:45 PM.

Race 7 on Sunday (First level allowance for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up at six furlongs)

#1 Tamara Mine (Jockey Assael Espinoza…Trainer Isidro Tamayo)

#2 Big Sis Little Sis (Evin Roman…Reid France)

#3 Lady’s Sermon (Catalino Martinez…Steve Specht)

#4 Swall (Francisco Duran…Andy Mathis)

#5 City Glitter (William Antongeorgi III…Alberto Ruvalcaba)

#6 Pappy’s Girl (Irving Orozco…Monty Meier)

#7 J and K Express (Cristobal Herrera…Jose Puentes)

#8 Lady Wolf (Luis Jimenez…Marcia Stortz)


Below is a list of claims from last week:


Race 1: Performative (New trainer Ruby Thomas…New owner William Heck)

Race 3: Azure Star (Owner/Trainer Jose Bautista)

Race 3: Berolijean (Ruby Thomas…Madden Racing)

Race 4: Gallant Warren (Ruby Thomas…TAK Racing)

Race 4: Lookin for Revenge (D. Wayne Baker…Baker, Bergounous, Decamilla and Hansen) 


Race 1: Beachgrass (Isidro Tamayo…Brian Parker)


Race 1: Spun Beautiful (D. Wayne Baker…Richard Barton)

FINISH LINES: The co-featured third race on Sunday afternoon is an allowance sprint for first level allowance caliber colts and geldings…9 races end our racing week on Monday. The marquee event of the day, Race 7, attracts the Bill McLean trained pair of Hey Mate and Shot of a Lifetime and well-bred Rackataptap. First post is 1:45 PM…Jockey Frank Alvarado is six wins away from career victory #4,000. He has four mounts at Golden Gate on Saturday, one on Monday, and nine at Emerald Downs on Sunday. Among his mounts in Washington State is the Tim McCanna trained Anthony’s Cleopatra in the 1/ST Bet WA Cup Filly and Mare Stakes Presented by Pegasus Training and Rehabilitation Program…Pedigree note: The first Golden Gate starter sired by 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify makes her career debut in Race 5, a maiden special weight for 2-year-old fillies, on Sunday. Justivar, a Larry and Marianne Williams homebred, breaks from post 3 for trainer Jack Steiner and jockey Evin Roman…According to a recent article written by Steve Anderson of the Daily Racing Form, the Ed Moger Jr. trained Stilleto Boy, who was eased in an uncharacteristically poor performance in the Pacific Classic at Del Mar, came out of the race with a clean bill of health. Moger told Anderson that he will breeze the son of Shackleford before deciding on whether to run him in the Santa Anita’s Grade I Awesome Again Stakes on September 30.