Golden Gate Fields News and Notes: Thursday, May 19, 2022


On Friday, filly and mare turf sprinters take to the 5-furlong distance in Race 4, one of three allowances races spread throughout the program. This particular event is an “open” allowance race, meaning it is not a particular condition that only certain horses fit. In turn, it has attracted some of the best filly and mare one-turn racers in Northern California.

Leading trainer Jonathan Wong saddles a pair of contenders in Day Plan and The Pharoah’s Girl. Both were entered to compete in the Camilla Urso Stakes on Gold Rush Weekend Saturday but failed to draw into the main body of the field from the also-eligible list.

“These things happen,” said Wong. “Not everything goes to plan all the time. We kept training and waited for another race for them.” 

The Pharaoh’s Girl makes her second lifetime start on turf. Her only other race on grass resulted in an off-the-board finish in a maiden special weight at Santa Anita last year. With that in mind, she has improved significantly since then.

In her last three races, she has quickly knocked off race conditions, winning a maiden special weight, followed by a first level allowance victory and, most recently, a second level allowance win. In all three victories, she led the field from start to finish. With other speed signed on in Friday’s fourth race, Wong believes The Pharaoh’s Girl is versatile enough to play it by the break.

“If someone wants to send really hard and go fast out there, I don’t think it would be a problem if she sat off and stalked the pace,” said Wong. “I’m going to leave that up to [jockey] Billy [Antongeorgi III]. The 5 furlongs will be a good distance for her.”

Day Plan is a wildcard contender. A lightly raced filly with a 3 for 5 record, the daughter of Carpe Diem has beaten allowance company on dirt and synthetic. She makes her career debut over turf.

“We’ve always thought a lot of her,” said Wong. “When she was 2, I thought she was one of our best 2-year-olds in the barn. She’s had a couple minor issues where we’ve had to stop on her. Right now, she’s training phenomenal. She’s going to sit off the pace and make a run. The distance [of the race] might be a little short, but she’s ready to run and, like I said, she’s been training lights out.”

The Wong-trained pair would need to come with their “A+” effort to win. In fact, neither are the morning line favorite. Awarded morning line favoritism at 9-5 is Carolina Mia, a Felix Rondan trainee who sports a 2 for 3 record sprinting on turf. The daughter of Gallant Son won a first level allowance by open lengths two races ago before regressing off a two-week turnaround against tougher in the Camilla Urso on April 30. Also entered in Friday’s fourth race is Maybe I Will, last seen finishing second to stakes winner Rebalation at the open allowance condition on Tapeta. She figures to show speed from the rail post position. Longshots La Aguililla and Fairy Tale Bliss round out the field.

First post on to kick off the racing week is 1:15 PM PT.

Race 4 (Friday, May 20: Open allowance for fillies and mares 3 YO & up at 5 furlongs on turf)

#1 Maybe I Will (Jockey Catalino Martinez…Trainer Blaine Wright…Morning line odds of 3-1)

#2 The Pharaoh’s Girl (William Antongeorgi III…Jonathan Wong…5-2)

#3 La Aguililla (Pedro Terrero…Jesus Ramos…15-1)

#4 Carolina Mia (Santos Rivera…Felix Rondan…9-5)

#5 Fairy Tale Bliss (Armando Ayuso…Sergio Ledezma…10-1)

#6 Day Plan (Evin Roman…Jonathan Wong…7-2)


You want to get to know a horse? Ask their trainer about them. If a trainer feels like sharing, they will know just about everything that needs to known.

Some horses’ stories are longer than others. In the case of 3-year-old gelding Executive Chef, Blaine Wright didn’t need to use too many words to describe the improving Virginia-bred.

“Heck, he’s never runs a bad race,” said Wright. “He’s done everything we’ve asked of him.”

Hard to knock that.

Executive Chef faces a quintet of rivals in the co-featured fourth race on Saturday, a one mile first level allowance race restricted to 3-year-olds. Executive Chef comes off a three-quarter length win against a better-than-average maiden special weight group on April 29. That day, he was making his first start at a route distance.

“Obviously, you always like to see them win,” said Wright. “He ran well [when he broke his maiden] and came out of the race well. He breezed really nice going a half mile the other morning [last Saturday] and now gets his first shot against winners. Hopefully he takes to it.”

Wright expects that Executive Chef can work out a good, stalking trip from the inside post. Jockey Frank Alvarado subs in for regular rider Kevin Orozco, who moved north to ride at Emerald Downs for the spring and summer.

“It looks like there’s some speed for him to run at,” said Wright.

Executive Chef faces formidable foes in his debut against non-maidens. 6-5 morning line favorite Midnight Mammoth exits a fifth-place finish in the California Derby and finds needed class relief in Friday’s fourth race. Trained by Steve Sherman, Midnight Mammoth ran second to eventual California Derby winner Il Bellator three races ago before finishing as the runner up again in an allowance event on turf two starts back.

5-2 morning line shot Canelito pulled off two consecutive victories against maiden claimers and starter allowance company at Gulfstream Park over the winter. He makes his first start in California for new trainer Jonathan Wong.

Sync has won three races in a row and gets a class test for trainer Reid France. Nuestro Engreido and Go Thru the Hole will need to improve to win. The former has finished off the board in recent allowance tries while the latter comes off a claiming victory in his first start routing for trainer Leanna Ekstrom.

Nine races made the Golden Gate Saturday overnight. First post is later than usual: 1:45 PM PT. Along with Golden Gate’s nine race program, the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Racecourse highlights the afternoon of racing around the country. Fans on-track can watch and wager on entire Pimlico card, as well as other racetracks across North America.

Among the on-track festivities at Golden Gate on Saturday is our annual Preakness Watch Party in the turf club, featuring a scrumptious buffet prepared by head chef Victor Nava and his diligent culinary crew. For folks in the local area who wish to attend the Preakness Watch Party, please visit for more information and or to purchase tickets for the event.

Race 4 (Saturday, May 21: First-level allowance for 3 YO’s at one mile on Tapeta)

#1 Executive Chef (Jockey Frank Alvarado…Trainer Blaine Wright…Morning line odds of 7-2)

#2 Sync (Catalino Martinez…Reid France…8-1)

#3 Go Thru the Hole (Alejandro Gomez…Leanna Ekstrom…15-1)

#4 Canelito (Cristobal Herrera…Jonathan Wong…5-2)

#5 Neustro Engreido (Santos Rivera…Felix Rondan …8-1)

#6 Midnight Mammoth (William Antongeorgi III…Steve Sherman…6-5)


An appealing group of 3-year-old fillies route one-mile in Race 5 on Sunday, an allowance optional $50,000 claimer on Tapeta. Within the field of six, two players who enter fresh off solid stakes efforts appear as the ones to beat.

The first of them is Tam’s Little Angel, who won at this first level allowance condition over turf on April 3. She wheeled back one month later and finished third in the Campanile Stakes. As a 2-year-old last year, the Mr. and Mrs. Larry Williams homebred checked in third in the Golden Gate Debutante on Tapeta. Trainer Steve Specht has opted to fit Tam’s Little Angel with blinkers in Sunday’s fifth race, something we have not seen with her in all eight lifetime starts.

The other likely to get plenty of play is Sparka, an Irish bred who most recently ran fourth in the California Oaks behind the most accomplished 3-year-old filly on the grounds in Anthony’s Cleopatra. The Manny Badilla trainee was purchased by owners Ron Charles and Sam Gordon for $31,360 at a public auction in Europe after ten races over synthetic and turf surfaces in Great Britain. She broke her maiden in her United States debut two races ago on April 8.

Sen Sen is the “other” Steve Specht entrant in the race. She has accomplished more than Sparka, having won a pair of first level allowance races in January and February. Her recent form is poor, however, with two consecutive defeats against tough company as of late. A California-bred having already won twice at the first level allowance condition, Sen Sen is entered for the $50,000 tag. 

Blueberry Eyes will get a second look from horseplayers who consider speed figures as an important handicapping tool. The daughter of Acclamation comes off a starter allowance win in which she earned a best last-race Beyer speed figure (75) out of anyone in the field. She sports an extremely consistent record on Tapeta, with three wins and two third-place finishes from five starts over the surface. This will be her third start off a claim by Jonathan Wong and owners Madden Racing, MJVET Stables and Rockstar Racing Stable.

Always Seeking makes her route debut while also facing winners for the first time. Racing off about a seven-month layoff last time out for trainer Jack Steiner, the daughter of Rousing Sermon stalked the pace before unleashing a rally to win a five-and-a-half-furlong maiden special weight against open company. California-bred Happy Is also beat open maiden special weight company last time, though that effort came against turf routers. She moves back to the Tapeta in her first race against non-maidens.

A 9-race Sunday program completes the racing week. First post is 1:15 PM.

Race 8 (Sunday, May 22: First-level allowance for 3 YO fillies at one mile on Tapeta)

#1 Always Seeking (Jockey Evin Roman…Trainer Jack Steiner)

#2 Blueberry Eyes (William Antongeorgi…Jonathan Wong)

#3 Sen Sen (Assael Espinoza…Steve Specht)

#4 Happy Is (Alejandro Gomez…Quinn Howey)

#5 Sparka (Frank Alvarado…Manny Badilla)

#6 Tam’s Little Angel (Catalino Martinez…Steve Specht)


Below is a list of claims from last week.


Race 1: Cliffsofthunder (New trainer D. Wayne Baker…New owner(s) Richard and Kate Barton)

Race 1: Harbor Abbey (Owner/Trainer Dan Franko

Race 2: Queen of the Track (Ruby Thomas…William Heck)

Race 3: Lookin for Revenge (Jack Steiner…Randy Marriott and Steiner)

Race 4: Vantage Point (Isidro Tamayo…Frankly Speaking LLC)

Race 5: Coolcross (Jack Steiner…Michael Radovich)

Race 7: Persuasive Lips (Steve Sherman…Zvika Akin, Gary Lyon, Joan Richter and Sherman)


Race 1: African Prince (Owner/Trainer Dan Franko)


Race 1; Alleycat (Jonathan Wong…MJVET Stables)

Race 4: Resurrected Noble (Aggie Ordonez…McLean Racing Stables)

Race 9: Wear the Crown (Tim McCanna…Pat LePley)

FINISH LINES: After a successful last week, Evin Roman pushed to the lead in the jockey standings. Heading into Friday, he sports 68 wins at the current Winter/Spring meeting. Armando Ayuso and Pedro Terrero are currently tied for second with 66 wins apiece…Jonathan Wong remains the leader in the trainer standings with 59 victories. Isidro Tamayo sits in second with 41 wins while Reid France and Tim McCanna are tied for third with 27 wins apiece…We welcome jockey Daniel Vergara to the jockey colony. Shipping in from Turf Paradise in Arizona, Vergara rides one horse for trainer Cliff DeLima on Saturday and three for a trio of different trainers on Sunday. An in-depth article is coming in next week’s edition of the News and Notes…Along with Friday’s fourth race, other allowance races on the day come in Races 6 and 7. Race 6 is a first level allowance. Race 7 is enticing: a second level allowance featuring the uber consistent In Our A, graded stakes placed gelding Kiwi’s Dream, the Isidro Tamayo trained pair of Clem Labine and Union Dance, recent first level allowance winners Torpedo Away and Truth Seeker, stakes performer Cool Mountain Lad, and the Bill McLean conditioned Hey Mate…The Tapeta nightcap on Saturday is an extremely contentious first level allowance at one mile and a sixteenth. Horseplayers could make a legit argument for every horse in the race…The Golden Pick 6 jackpot was hit two days in a row: last Saturday and Sunday. The jackpot pool begins anew this Friday.