Golden Gate Fields News and Notes: Thursday, January 19, 2023


The gutsy old pro Ultimate Bango has done quite well for owner Mary Tucker and trainer Sammy Calvario. After Tucker signed a $32,000 check for Calvario to claim Ultimate Bango out of a turf sprint at Santa Anita on April Fool’s Day 2022, Ultimate Bango made his first start for his new connections in the $75,000 Lost in the Fog Stakes. Sent off at 22-1, the dark bay or brown gelding sat in midfield off a blazing fast pace, rallied down the lane, and nipped runner up finisher Strongconstitution for an upset victory.

“We claimed him for that race,” said Calvario. “We knew we had a good horse with class.”

Although he has failed to make a trip to the winner’s circle in five starts since then, Ultimate Bango has continued to pick up checks for his connections. He was arguably best when suffering a wide trip in the Oak Tree Sprint over the summer. Most recently, he finished third behind stablemate Psycho Dar and next out stakes winner Top Harbor in the Harris Farm Stakes at Fresno. After earning the bronze medal at Fresno, Calvario opted to give Ultimate Bango a break.

“He ran some hard races last year,” said Calvario. “I called Mary and said, ‘He needs some time off.’ We sent him to a local farm.’”

In Friday’s seventh race, a second level allowance for older sprinters at six furlongs on the Tapeta, Ultimate Bango makes his 8-year-old debut. He breaks from post five with regular pilot Catalino Martinez.

“If he runs well this race, we’ll look at the El Dorado Shooter Stakes [on February 18],” said Calvario. “This seems like a good prep for that race. Off the layoff, we’ll see how he does.”

Installed at 3-1 on the morning line, Ultimate Bango faces formful rivals. Morning line favorite Heavenly Prince is lightly raced but talented. The son of Cairo Prince won his first career race at the maiden special weight level in October and returned one month later to beat first level allowance company. The runner up finisher, Star Racer, has since wheeled back to win two consecutive races against first level allowance competition. In his most recent afternoon appearance on December 26, Heavenly Prince suffered his first defeat, losing by three parts of a length in a second level allowance. Trainer Steve Sherman employs Alexander Chavez to ride for the first time this Friday.

The speedy state-bred War Games hasn’t been seen since a victory over Ultimate Bango and stakes winner Cool Mountain Lad in an open allowance at Santa Rosa on August 13. Seven of eight lifetime victories for War Games have come over the Golden Gate Tapeta main track. Apprentice Adrian Escobedo has the assignment for veteran trainer Cliff DeLima in War Games’s 2023 debut.

Irrefutable showed front running speed in the Oakland Stakes and stuck around for the runner up spot, losing by three-quarters of a length to arguably the top sprinter in Northern California in Top Harbor. Five weeks later, Irrefutable regressed and finished sixth of seven at this second level allowance condition on December 26.  Rager scored an upset victory in the Oakland Stakes of 2021 and was given a year off after the career best effort. Off the 12-month vacation, the Kentucky-bred by Into Mischief ran fifth in the 2022 edition of the Oakland and, in his second start off a layoff, ran fourth on December 26th behind Heavenly Prince. Leading rider Assael Espinoza retains the mount for Tim McCanna.

Highland Ghost makes his first start of the year and faces older foes for the first time. As a 3-year-old in 2022, Highland Ghost won a pair of first level allowance sprints against rivals of his age group, and was the runner up in the two-turn Alcatraz Stakes on turf in May. Jockey Armando Ayuso and trainer O.J. Jauregui team up. Bobby’s Alibi went off at a price (21-1) on December 26 and finished just ahead of Irrefutable in fifth. He failed to be competitive in the Oakland Stakes two starts ago. Irving Orozco rides for trainer Faith Taylor.

8 races kick off the Golden Gate Fields racing week. Please note horseplayers: $11,609 is carried over into the second race Rolling Super High Five wager. The Pick Six begins in Race 3, with a jackpot carryover of $41,958. First post on Friday is later than usual: 1:15 PM.

Race 7 on Friday (Second level allowance for 4-year-olds and up at six furlongs on Tapeta)

#1 Rager (Jockey Assael Espinoza…Trainer Tim McCanna…Morning line odds of 5-1)

#2 Highland Ghost (Armando Ayuso…O.J. Jauregui…10-1)

#3 Heavenly Prince (Alexander Chavez…Steve Sherman…2-1)

#4 Bobby’s Alibi (Irving Orozco…Faith Taylor…10-1)

#5 Ultimate Bango (Catalino Martinez…Sammy Calvario…3-1)

#6 War Games (Adrian Escobedo…Cliff DeLima…6-1)

#7 Irrefutable (Kevin Radke…Mike Lenzini…4-1)


A racehorse trainer will tell you that dealing with unforeseen circumstances and re-routing horses to different races is all part of the job. For trainer Jamey Thomas, both scenarios took place when determining where to run chestnut filly Mastery Kat, one of the top 3-year-olds under his care.

“We were actually going to run her down south [at Santa Anita],” said Thomas. “It rained up here, we missed a work, so we waited. Then there was another race we were going to try and the race didn’t fill.”

At that point, Thomas opted to execute Plan C: run against males. In Race 6 this Saturday, Mastery Kat faces five colts and geldings in an allowance, one-mile route on Tapeta. Although the winner of this race may run next in the February 11 $100,000 El Camino Real Derby, Mastery Kat is on a different schedule.

“This is the only race where the timing works out,” said Thomas. “We think we have a pretty nice filly here, and she’s ready to run.”

Thomas has thought highly of Mastery Kat since Day 1. In her first career start on October 1, Mastery Kat broke slowly, sat double digit lengths behind the leader before making an eye-catching move on the far turn. She rallied for second but was unable to catch race winner Imaginary. In her most recent start on November 5, Mastery Kat tried routing. She went to the lead, set a quick and contentious pace, and fended off all challengers to win the race by a hard-fought neck. Runner up finisher Tea N Conversation returned to break her maiden in a maiden special weight on turf at Del Mar.

“In her first start, I told [jockey] Billy [Antongeorgi III] she might break a little slow,” said Thomas. “She did, and she ran on really well. I’ve always thought she would route. In her next start I think she found herself on the lead coming out of a sprint. I wasn’t surprised she won because she showed us in the mornings that she had talent.”

Tactics may be different in Mastery Kat’s second lifetime route race on Saturday. Mastery Kat is 8-1 on the morning line and will be navigated by Armando Ayuso for the first time.

“There are a couple other speed horses [in the race on Saturday],” said Thomas. “I’m hoping we can lay off, sit in a good spot, and make a good run at ‘em.”

9-5 morning line favorite Happy Does would likely run in the El Camino Real Derby if he shows up with a good effort in Saturday’s sixth race. On November 5, Happy Does beat a first level allowance field. A California-bred, Happy Does is eligible to win at the condition once more. Since then, he ran fourth in the Golden Gate Nugget stakes and, in his most recent start, finished as the runner up behind stakes placed El Camino Real Derby contender Chase the Chaos. Regular rider Santos Rivera is reunited with the son of Southern Image for trainer Felix Rondan.

Travel The Map easily beat maiden special weight rivals on debut by over 5 lengths. In his first start against winners on December 30, the son of Liam’s Map was out finished for second by Happy Does and rounded out the trifecta. Both career races came routing.

Mother’s Prayer and Nauvoo were convincing winners the last time race fans saw them in the afternoon. The former has won two starter allowance races in a row while the latter wheels back quickly for new trainer Jonathan Wong after being claimed by the Wong outfit for $12,500 just last week. Sea Dog was well beaten in the Gold Rush Stakes and freshens up a month and a half for his return to the races. The son of Midshipman broke his maiden in a two-turn maiden special weight on dirt at Fresno.

On Saturday, race fans are offered 9 races to watch and wager on. First post is 12:45 PM.

Race 6 on Saturday (First level allowance for 3-year-olds at one mile)

#1 Nauvoo (Jockey Alexander Chavez…Trainer Jonathan Wong…Morning line odds of 5-2)

#2 Mother’s Prayer (Assael Espinoza…Steve Specht…7-2)

#3 Travel the Map (Kevin Radke…Tim McCanna…5-1)

#4 Mastery Kat (Armando Ayuso…Jamey Thomas…8-1)

#5 Sea Dog (Francisco Monroy…O.J. Jauregui…10-1)

#6 Happy Does (Santos Rivera…Felix Rondan…9-5)


Below is a list of claims from last week:


Race 4: Nauvoo (New trainer Jonathan Wong…New owner MJVET Stables and Johnny Taboada)

Race 6: Miss Accelerate (Blaine Wright…Wright Racing Stable, Woodway Stable and Steve Menne)

Race 6: Rose Rose Rose (Ed Moger Jr…Al P. Pitchko)


Race 1: Royal Jester (Owner/Trainer Jim Gilmour)

Race 2: Coolcross (Bill McLean…Fred Desimone and McLean)

Race 2: Sugar Beets (Manny Badilla…Badilla and Brett Tahajian)


Race 1: Synnin and Winnin (Isidro Tamayo…Johnny Taboada)

Race 2: Speed Grazy (Isidro Tamayo…Frankly Speaking LLC)

Race 5: Dr Wysong (D. Wayne Baker…Richard Barton)


Race 5: Sheza Queen Bee (Owner/Trainer Guillermo Preciado)

Race 6: Jaycee (Sammy Calvario…Calvario, Alvaro Gonzalez and Joel Gonzalez)

Race 6: Miss Arrowhead (Reid France…Hat Trick Racing)

Race 6: Tropicana Girl (Jonathan Wong…Battle Born Racing Stable)

FINISH LINES: In the jockey standings, Assael Espinoza leads the way with 15 wins, four more than veteran Frank Alvarado, who in turn is 1 win ahead of Santos Rivera for second…In the trainer standings, Jonathan Wong is at the top of the list with 9 wins. Tim McCanna holds a clear-cut second with 6 victories while five trainers (Manny Badilla, Reid France, Andy Mathis, Steve Specht, Jack Steiner) are all tied for third with 4 wins apiece…3-year-old filly Delusively broke her maiden in fine style on Friday for trainer Jose Bautista. The daughter of 2017 Breeders Cup Juvenile winner Good Magic is a half sibling to Grade 2 winner and Grade 1 placed router Chocolate Martini…Jose’s cousin, Jorge Bautista, saddled his first winner when Good Focus scored an upset triumph in a maiden claimer on January 8. Jorge, who previously worked under the late Duane Offield, is 1 for 8 this year with 2 third place finishes…The Ed Moger Jr. trained Stilleto Boy breezed five furlongs over the GGF Tapeta on January 15 in preparation for the $3,000,000 Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park on January 28. Coming off a second-place finish behind 2022 Dubai World Cup winner Country Grammer last month, Stilleto Boy makes his second start off a layoff and will be reunited with Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith in the Pegasus…The feature on a 9-race program this Sunday is a first level allowance for filly and mare sprinters. Among the main contenders are the Mr. and Mrs. Larry Williams homebred pair of Always Seeking and Lady’s Sermon, and synthetic specialist O’Neill’s Legacy. First post on Sunday is 12:45 PM.