Golden Gate Fields News and Notes: Thursday, June 8, 2023


Five-time stakes winner Top Harbor has won on synthetic and dirt. He has never hit the wire first on turf though, and seeks to change that statistic in this Saturday’s signature race of the day, the $50,000 Albany Stakes for 3-year-olds and up at five furlongs on turf. The Tim McCanna trainee drew post 2 in a field of 8 and will once again be ridden by regular pilot Frank Alvarado.

Top Harbor makes his first start since a decisive victory at low odds in the Lost in the Fog Stakes on April 29. Last year, Top Harbor was victorious in the Oakland Stakes and El Dorado Shooter Stakes. All three races mentioned were run over the Tapeta main track. His lone career stake win on dirt came as a 2-year-old in the Everett Nevin Stakes at Pleasanton.

Not only has Top Harbor never won on turf; he has never hit the board in two starts over the surface. That said, when handicappers dive deeper into both races, they can be forgiving. One of the races came at a two-turn distance; Top Harbor is more effective at one-turn sprint distances. The other came in a second level allowance sprint at Del Mar as a 3-year-old. He faced older horses that day-some who were stakes quality runners-and Top Harbor has improved significantly since then.

“His mom won five stakes over [turf],” said McCanna. “I think he’ll be fine on it this time. I’m not concerned.”

McCanna also sends out 2021 Oakland Stakes winner Rager in the Albany. The 6-year-old son of Into Mischief has won two consecutive second level allowance races on Tapeta and gets back to turf, a surface he frequently competed over when stabled in Southern California from 2019 through early 2021. This will be the first time he runs on turf since joining the McCanna barn.

“I just haven’t had the chance to run him over [turf],” said McCanna. “He’s put up back-to-back good races. So why not? Let’s get him back to turf and give him a shot in this stake. Both my horses are doing well.”

My Summer Dream is another who competed on the grass while racing in Southern California. In the wintertime, the 5-year-old son of Summer Front won a pair of turf sprints while earning Beyer speed figures in the 90’s. He was claimed out of one of those events in January by owner Danny Eplin and trainer O.J. Jauregui for $50,000. My Summer Dream’s last afternoon appearance, in the Lost in the Fog Stakes, resulted in an off the board finish, though he was never given a chance to get rolling in the final furlong.

“He got impeded by another horse,” said Jauregui. “He got slammed into and that was that. He was definitely running on. I think he could have been second or third.”

My Summer Dream’s most recent win came last April over Larry’s Legend in a second level allowance race on Tapeta. Larry’s Legend, trained by Sammy Calvario, placed second behind Top Harbor in the Lost in the Fog Stakes and has hit the board in all four starts for Team Calvario since joining the stable earlier this year. Like Rager and My Summer Dream, Larry’s Legend was claimed out of Southern California.

Calvario also campaigns 2022 Harris Farm Stakes winner Psycho Dar. The last time we saw Psycho Dar race at five furlongs on the turf, he earned a 92 Beyer speed figure and beat Give Me the Lute, who won the 2021 and 2022 editions of the Albany. That said, Psycho Dar’s aforementioned winning effort came last September. He looks to snap a four-race losing streak in the 2023 Albany.

4-year-old filly Lexington Humor faces male counterparts after a fifth-place finish in the Camilla Urso Stakes against fillies and mares. That day, she broke slowly from the gate, passed a few rivals down the lane, and finished four lengths behind race winner Alice Marble. This is an arguably tougher field. Honeymoonz Over draws the rail and makes his first start in almost three months while bumping up in class after multiple races at high-level claiming conditions. In his last start, Honeymoonz Over was outfinished for second by Larry’s Legend.

The Bill McLean trained Evenrevenworse was supplemented into the Albany and completes the lineup. The speedy son of Decarchy lost a heartbreaker in a first level allowance race on May 13, leading almost the whole way around, fighting gallantly inside of the winner down the lane but ultimately finishing second when beaten a nose in a dramatic stretch duel.

10 races are on the docket this Saturday. First post is 1:15 PM.

Race 9 on Saturday: The 2023 Albany Stakes (for 3-year-olds and upward at 5 furlongs on turf)

#1 Honeymoonz Over (William Antongeorgi III…D. Wayne Baker…12-1 morning line odds)

#2 Top Harbor (Frank Alvarado…Tim McCanna…9-5)

#3 Evenrevenworse (Evin Roman…Bill McLean…6-1)

#4 My Summer Dream (Armando Ayuso…O.J. Jauregui…5-1)

#5 Larry’s Legend (Santos Rivera…Sammy Calvario…81)

#6 Rager (Assael Espinoza…Tim McCanna…3-1)

#7 Psycho Dar (Hugo Herrera…Sammy Calvario…15-1)

#8 Lexington Humor (Brayan Pena…O.J. Jauregui…10-1)


Just days before 2022 Bear Fan Stakes winner Chancery Way competed in her last start, the Camilla Urso Stakes for turf sprinters on April 29, trainer Jamey Thomas noted to the Golden Gate News and Notes team that his star filly was training like she was sitting on a big race. Thomas was correct, as the daughter of Mr. Big set a torrid pace, lengthened stride turning for home and opened up two lengths at the eighth pole before ultimately get nipped in the final stride by low odds race favorite and winner Alice Marble. Chancery Way was well ahead of the third-place finisher and earned a career best 86 Beyer speed figure for her effort.

“We were super happy with her last race,” said assistant trainer Troy Thomas, son of Jamey Thomas. “It was a winning effort, really. We weren’t quite sure how she’d take to turf but a couple of her siblings ran well on turf. She has the pedigree for it.

She didn’t run well [two races ago] at Santa Anita, but she didn’t ship great. After she came back from that trip, she just wasn’t quite herself, so we freshened her up. That helped. She bounced back and we knew [before the Camilla Urso] she was ready to run her best race and she did. Other than when she ran at Santa Anita, she hasn’t run a bad race.”

Heading into Sunday’s inaugural $75,000 Dream of Summer Stakes for California-bred or sired fillies and mares 3-year-olds and upward, Chancery Way is ready to make another afternoon appearance. The key to keeping Chancery Way happy on the track, says Thomas, is to let her do her thing. She is naturally quick and enjoys flaunting her speed.

“I think she could rate. She’s a smart filly. But in my opinion, she really likes to be on the lead,” said Thomas. “She just enjoys running. Once she gets out front and pricks her ears up, she’s tough to get by. She’s naturally quick and you don’t want to fight her. You just want to let do her thing.”

Chancery Way faces seven formidable foes in Race 7 on Sunday, The Dream of Summer, which like the Camilla Urso Stakes is run at five furlongs on turf. The classiest entrant in the bunch, 2022 Camilla Urso Stakes winner Sadie Bluegrass, hasn’t raced since a sixth-place finish in the Daisycutter Stakes at Del Mar on July 29. The Jonathan Wong trainee is a win machine, with 13 victories from 23 lifetime starts. Her career earnings add up to just over $300,000. Last Sunday morning, the daughter of Bluegrass Cat drilled 5 furlongs in a lightning quick 58.80 seconds over the Tapeta main track.

Sassy Nature has failed to fire in a pair of turf sprint stakes in Kentucky and ships west for Southern California conditioner Luis Mendez. On March 25, the daughter of Straight Fire went gate to wire sprinting five panels on the lawn in the Melody of Colors Stakes at Gulfstream Park. She figures to be part of the pace in her first Northern California start.

Rousing Jewel faces older fillies and mares while cutting back in distance. The Larry and Marianne Williams homebred recently placed fourth in the Campanile Stakes at a mile for state-bred 3-year-old fillies. We know she can be effective at one-turn; 2 of her 3 lifetime wins have come sprinting on the Tapeta.

Recent first level allowance winners Mischievous Curlin and Smiling Molly are also part of the eight-horse field.

10 races are on the Closing Day Sunday card. First post is 1:15 PM.

Race 7 on Sunday: The 2023 Dream of Summer Stakes (for California-bred or sired fillies and mares 3-years-old and up at five furlongs on turf)

#1 Sassy Nature (Jockey Santos Rivera…Trainer Luis Mendez)

#2 Tamantari (Alejandro Gomez…Jeff Bonde)

#3 Mischievous Curlin (Brayan Pena…Faith Taylor)

#4 Smiling Molly (William Antongeorgi III…D. Wayne Baker)

#5 Rousing Jewel (Frank Alvarado…Steve Specht)

#6 Chancery Way (Evin Roman…Jamey Thomas)

#7 Big Sis Little Sis (Assael Espinoza…Reid France)

#8 Sadie Bluegrass (Armando Ayuso…Jonathan Wong)


6-year-old Awesome Summer began his career in 2019 with the late Bob Hess Sr. He was well liked by the veteran horseman and broke his maiden with Hall of Famer Kent Desoremaux aboard in lifetime start number two.

After several failed attempts at winning first level allowance races as a 3-year-old, Awesome Summer was given time off from September of 2020 to April of this year.

That’s right. Awesome Summer was out of action for about 32 months. He returned to training in early 2023 with trainer Jose Bautista. Bautista saw enough of Awesome Summer to give him a chance at a first level field off the prolonged break.

“The owners have always been very high on this horse,” said Bautista. “I was thinking early on maybe run him for a tag. His first half mile work back, he went 49 and he was doing it in the hands. Nice and easy. So, we let him roll in his next work and, even though our clockers got him in a minute and change, I got him in 59 and 2. And he was just cruising. So, I called the owners and said, ‘He’s training great. I think we need to run in an allowance.’”

Sprinting five and one-half furlongs on April 23, Awesome Summer dueled on the lead at speedy fractions of 21 and 3/5 seconds for the first quarter mile and 45 and 1/5 seconds for the opening half mile. Down the stretch, the 6-year-old son of Vronsky kicked away for a three-length victory. He went off at 16-1 odds.

Certainly a well-kept secret.

“I told [jockey] Catalino [Martinez], ‘Don’t fight him. Just let him run.’ I wasn’t surprised he ran that well.”

A California-bred, Awesome Summer was eligible to win twice at the first level allowance condition. Bautista took advantage of that perk (it pays to be a Cal-bred, right?) and entered Awesome Summer back in another first level allowance three weeks later. In that May 14 heat, Awesome Summer stalked the pace. The result, however, was no different than on April 23: the big, grey gelding seized the lead by the eighth pole and won going away.

“He’s never seemed like a horse that needed to be on the lead,” said Bautista. “There was a bunch of other speed to our inside, so I told Catalino to let him break and stalk the pace if someone wanted to go. He’s very push button.”

Awesome Summer seeks to remain unbeaten this year while stepping up in class to the second level allowance condition in Friday’s featured fourth race, a six-furlong sprint on Tapeta. Awesome Summer is the 9-5 morning line favorite.

“I thought about running him in the Albany but decided to run him in this race Friday instead,” said Bautista. “If he runs very well this time, then our goal is to go in the Oak Tree Sprint [on July 1] at Pleasanton.”

A quartet of respectable rivals line up to challenge Awesome Summer. The 2-1 second choice on the morning is Long Lance, who lost by a head at this level behind Albany Stakes contender Rager. Like Rager, Long Lance is trained by Tim McCanna. Lmlooknformischief placed fifth in the race behind the Tim McCanna pair and is also entered in Friday’s fourth race.

Southern California shipper Jam Session is already familiar with the sights and sounds of Golden Gate. The Michael McCarthy trainee broke his maiden sprinting on the Tapeta in February and was last see finishing off the board in the 8.5-furlong California Derby after setting the pace. He is a 3-year-old facing older in Friday’s fourth race. Rounding out the field is 2022 Oak Tree Sprint winner Cool Mountain Lad. He has failed to threaten for the gold prize in his last six races.

Eight races kick off Closing Week of the 2023 GGF Winter/Spring meet on Friday. First post is 1:15 PM.

Race 4 on Friday (Second level allowance at 6 furlongs on Tapeta)

#1 Cool Mountain Lad (Jockey William Antongeorgi III…Trainer Victor Trujillo…morning line odds 5-1)

#2 Long Lance (Armando Ayuso…Tim McCanna…2-1)

#3 Jam Session (Assael Espinoza…Michael McCarthy…4-1)

#4 Lmlooknformischief (Santos Rivera…Faith Taylor…6-1)

#5 Awesome Summer (Catalino Martinez…Jose Bautista…9-5)


The Sunday, June 11 live race program at Golden Gate marks the final card of the bayside track’s 2023 Winter/Spring meet. First post is 1:15 PM Pacific. With closing day comes mandatory payouts in four bets: the Golden Pick Six, both Pick 5 wagers, and the Rolling Super High Five.

The Golden Pick Six is a 20-cent minimum bet and features the last six races on any given race card. The Sunday, June 11 sequence goes as Races 5 through 10. Heading into Friday’s card, the Golden Pick Six jackpot carryover sits at $35,904. If there fails to be a single ticket jackpot winner on Friday or Saturday, meaning a lone ticket hits all six winners in the Pick Six, then the carryover amount will be even greater come mandatory payout Sunday. A mandatory payout would still be in play even if a single ticket winner took down the Pick Six jackpot on Friday and or Saturday.

The Early Pick 5 and Late Pick 5 sequences are also mandatory payout wagers on Sunday. The Early Pick 5 consists of the first five races (Races 1-5) on the card while the Late Pick 5 is comprised of the last five races (Races 6-10). Both Pick 5 sequences are 50-cent minimum plays.

Rounding out the list of mandatory payout bets on Sunday is the last Rolling High Five wager of the day. The Rolling High Five tasks horseplayers with correctly tabbing the first five finishers in order. The Rolling High Five is only offered in races where there are seven or more official starters. On Sunday, the tenth and last race of the day has eight starters. If two defections were to occur in Race 10, then the Rolling High Five mandatory payout race would be Race 9, which attracted a field of nine.


Below is a list of claims from last week


Race 2: Sweet Blush (New trainer O.J. Jauregui…New owner A. Jason Hall Stables)

Race 6: Dawn At Last (Jonathan Wong…Madden Racing and MJVET Stables)

Race 8: Gardees World (Jonathan Wong…Hat Trick Racing)

Race 8: O’Neills Legacy (Owner/Trainer Sammy Calvario) 


Race 2: Laura Branigan (Sammy Calvario…Huntertown Farm LLC and Calvario)

Race 3: Sugar Beets (Manny Badilla…Brett Tahajian and Badilla)

Race 3: Tex Hanley (Reid France…TC Racing)

Race 8: Pacific Zip (Jonathan Wong…MJVET Stables and Taboada Racing Stables LLC)

Race 9: Class Code (Reid France…Leon Scott)


Race 2: Gulara (Monty Meier…Browne Cattle Co. and William Branch)

Race 4: Love Candy (Sammy Calvario…Mary Tucker)

Race 5: Sippin N Kissin (Jonathan Wong…Madden Racing)

FINISH LINES: In a contentious battle for the Winter/Spring meet leading trainer title, trainers Isidro Tamayo and Jonathan Wong each have 52 wins and will be sending out a strong number of entrants closing week…Statistically, jockey Assael Espinoza has clinched his first ever riding title at Golden Gate. The soon-to-be-official Winter/Spring meet leading rider has won 87 races so far and has plenty of live mounts closing week. Second place rider Evin Roman has certainly had a satisfactory meeting as well, tallying 72 victories with three racing days left to go…Taboada Racing Stables LLC have the most wins in the owner category with 14 first place finishes. Larry and Marianne Williams sit right behind with 13 wins, Gray Farms Inc. has 12, and Tommy Town Thoroughbreds LLC, Ron Charles and Sam Gordon, and Hat Trick Racing all have 10 wins apiece…Contentious allowance races are spread throughout closing week. Among them: Race 3 on Friday for filly and mare turf routers and Race 4 on Sunday for second level filly and mare Tapeta routers. The “Long Distance” Farewell, going as Race 3 on Sunday, is a first level allowance at one mile and three furlongs on turf. Seven entrants are signed on to travel the 11 furlongs…Race 4 on Saturday is a maiden special weight for 2-year-old fillies while Race 6 on Sunday is for 2-year-old colts. Both races will be run at 5 furlongs on Tapeta…The Jose Bautista trained Il Bellator ran fourth in the Grade 1 Frank Kilroe Mile two weeks ago and is now targeting the $150,000 Pleasanton Mile on July 9…We wish all our horsemen, horsewomen, owners, breeders, and fans best of luck in their endeavors this summer. Live racing resumes at Golden Gate for the Summer Meet on Saturday, August 26…see you then!!!