Golden Gate Fields News and Notes: Thursday, November 10, 2022


Last Saturday, the Bill McLean trained I’mgonnabesomebody stamped himself as one of the top older horses in Northern California when victorious in the Joseph T. Grace Stakes. This Saturday, McLean seeks back-to-back stakes victories when he saddles 2-year-old gelding Abinadi in the marquee race of the week, the $50,000 Golden Nugget Stakes for 2-year-olds at 6 furlongs. The Golden Nugget goes as the eighth race on a 9-race program.

As a precocious 2-year-old in the spring, Abinadi began his racing career in Kentucky with trainer Luis Mendez. He finished off-the-board against maiden special weight foes in his first two career starts. He moved to Southern California for his third lifetime race, a maiden $150,000 claiming sprint at Del Mar. That day, he set the pace and drew off to beat a pair of Bob Baffert trainees by over 3 lengths.

After the maiden victory, Abinadi was sold at the Fasig Tipton Fall sale for $75,000 to current co-owners Marty Baze, Richard Grace and Ted Valli. He was immediately shipped to McLean. Abinadi has worked five times since moving to Northern California, including a bullet 6-furlong drill on the morning of October 30. Jockey Irving Orozco will be aboard for the first time.

“I popped him out of the gate the other day and he came out pretty quick,” said McLean. “He’s got speed. Hopefully he likes the Tapeta. He’s worked good over it in the mornings.”

While chatting with the Golden Gate one-man media team, McLean noted that I’mgonnabesomebody came out of the Joseph T. Grace in good order. The $100,000 Grade 3 Berkeley Handicap on Saturday, November 26 is a next possible target.

“What can you say? He’s a nice horse,” said McLean. “I was a little frustrated when the race came off the turf. He’s always run better on turf and dirt. I was really, really happy after the race.”

Now, back to the Golden Nugget. Among the main contenders set to tackle Abinadi is Clovisconnection, a first-out maiden special weight winner on October 2 for trainer Blaine Wright. The California-bred by Vronsky was sent off at 8-1 odds, stalked the pace in the early portions of the race and won the contest by a length and a half. Clovisconnection has posted four public workouts since his maiden triumph.

“He showed us ability early on,” said Wright. “He worked with [first-out maiden winner] Prince Abu Dhabi. When Prince won, it was even more apparent that [Clovisconnection] was pretty good too. We entered him a couple times in an allowance race that wasn’t filling, so we rerouted to this stake. He’s ready.”

The headliner in the 2022 Golden Nugget field is Passarando, who was victorious just two weeks ago in the $175,000 Golden State Juvenile at Santa Anita. In his last start on Tapeta, Passarando easily beat a first level allowance field. Trainer Steve Specht reported Thursday morning that “it is still up in the air” as to whether Passarando will compete in the Golden Nugget.

“He came out of the Santa Anita race great, but he’ll be wheeling back pretty quickly if he runs on Saturday,” said Specht. “He shipped down south, ran hard, then had to ship back up here. I entered to see how strong the race drew. I’ll monitor how he’s acting and his energy level and decide on race day. I want to run him in the [$75,000 Gold Rush Stakes] at a mile [on December 3] though; that’s a race we’re looking at too.”

An intriguing wildcard-if she runs-is the filly Havana Angel. She broke her maiden sprinting on turf in France and, after a third-place finish in a Group 3 event overseas, was privately purchased by her current connections. In her first and only U.S. start to date, she finished four lengths behind multiple stakes winner Comanche Country in a two-turn stake at Del Mar on September 10. Southern California trainer Leonard Powell employs local jockey Assael Espinoza to ride.

Chase the Chaos broke his maiden routing two turns on the turf at Canterbury Park and makes his first start for local conditioner Ed Moger Jr. in the Golden Nugget. Starter allowance winners Early Release and Strength of Autism round out the field.

First post this Saturday is 12:45 PM.

$50,000 Golden Nugget Stakes (Race 8 on Saturday for 2-year-olds at six furlongs on the Tapeta)

#1 Havana Angel (Jockey Assael Espinoza…Trainer Leonard Powell…morning line odds of 7-2)

#2 Early Release (Evin Roman…Jonathan Wong…9-2)

#3 Chase the Chaos (Armando Ayuso…Ed Moger Jr…12-1)

#4 Clovisconnection (Kevin Radke…Blaine Wright…6-1)

#5 Strength of Autism (William Antongeorgi III…Isidro Tamayo…9-2)

#6 Abinadi (Irving Orozco…Bill McLean…10-1)

#7 Passarando (Catalino Martinez…Steve Specht…8-5)


Race 8 on Sunday is the first half of the popular late daily double bet. It is also the feature race of the day: a first level allowance sprint race for 3-year-olds on the main track Tapeta. Punters who analyze Sunday’s eighth race will find plenty of handicapping angles for a handful of horses that appear as attractive players.

Lmlooknformischief will surely garnish support in the wagering pools. He tried routing for the first time on October 28 and failed to finish in-the-money as the 8-5 post time favorite. He returns to sprinting, something he has been very effective at this year, and is the likely one to beat with his best effort in mind. Two races ago, he picked up the silver medal behind older foe Johnny Podres, who finished just .03 seconds off the 6-furlong track record that day. Three races back, Lmlooknformischief finished second behind stakes winner Boise at this level. Faith Taylor trains the California-bred son of Curlin to Mischief. 

C’Mon Man was the runner up finisher on October 28 and will be fit with the cutback in distance. Although C’Mon Man has raced at two turns in his most recent few starts, he sports a 2 for 3 lifetime record (with one other third place finish) in three career starts at the six-furlong distance. Expect him to sit off the pace and hope for a swift tempo to close into.

Trainer Jonathan Wong has two chances to visit the winners circle in the marquee race on Sunday. Both horses enter off layoffs. Love’em N Leave’em won a turf sprint at this allowance level as a 2-year-old but failed to visit the winners circle in three consecutive races over the winter. He makes his first start since March and sports a steady work tab, including a sharp 59 and 3 five-furlong workout that catches the eye. Stablemate Unto Thee was a convincing winner at this level on May 7 but returned one month later and failed to pick up his feet against slightly tougher company. He freshens up four and a half months and, like barn buddy Love’em N Leave’em, also registers a steady work tab leading up to this race.

The always well-regarded Stormy Samurai was pinched back at the start in his most recent afternoon appearance on August 27 and never got going. Since then, the Kentucky-bred son of First Samurai has been gelded. Earlier in his career, Stormy Samurai broke his maiden while earning an above average speed figure and was a sharp winner at this condition following the maiden win. He posts fast morning drills for white-hot trainer Jack Steiner, who has already won with 8 of 23 starters (35%-win rate) at the current meeting.

Front runner Stanford Bay will ensure the pace is swift. Two starts ago, the Jesus Ramos trainee won a $12,500 claimer and returned in his most recent start against older foes and finished fourth while in for a $20,000 claiming tag. Fast Per Se, a distant third at this level on October 9 at Fresno, completes the field.

First post on a 9-race card this Sunday is 12:45 PM.

Race 8 on Sunday (First level allowance for 3-year-olds at six furlongs on the Tapeta)

#1 Fast Per Se (Jockey Julien Couton…Trainer Angelo Tekos Jr.)

#2 Love’em N Leave’em (Evin Roman…Jonathan Wong)

#3 Lmlooknformischief (Assael Espinoza…Faith Taylor)

#4 Unto Thee (Brayan Pena…Jonathan Wong)

#5 C’Mon Man (Irving Orozco…Bill McLean)

#6 Stormy Samurai (Armando Ayuso…Jack Steiner)

#7 Stanford Bay (William Antongeorgi III…Jesus Ramos)


We asked a group of horsemen their thoughts on Flightline, who has quickly put himself in a legendary category with several great racehorses of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Billy Antongeorgi III (Jockey): “He’s a great.”

Manny Badilla (Trainer): “Flightline’s a running son of a gun! But I don’t think he’s as good as Secretariat. The day Secretariat won the Belmont…sheesh.”

Sammy Calvario (trainer): “I thought Life Is Good would give him a run [in the Breeders Cup Classic], but Flightline just ran away from him. That amazed me. He’s a good boy!”

Matt Dinerman (Track announcer/Racing Analyst): “He’s got to be one of the most talented horses since Secretariat. He’s literally a perfect racehorse. He’s got sprint speed but can stretch it to a Classic distance and is tactical. His mechanics/the way he moves is flawless. Unbelievable athlete.”

Reid France (Trainer): “I’ve never seen one with the cruising speed and power that he has. I’m a big fan.”

Monty Hanna (Jockey Agent): “I honestly think he could beat Secretariat at a mile and an eighth or shorter. Mile and a quarter it’s a toss-up. I’d take Secretariat at a mile and a half though.”

Brent Harmon (Jockey Agent): *Speechless*

Mike Lenzini (Trainer): “He’s not as good as Secretariat but right underneath him. I saw Secretariat run at Santa Anita and he was incredible.”

Bill McLean (Trainer): “One word: Superstar.”

Fernando “Shoes” Navarro (Jockey Agent): “He’s the best horse I’ve seen in 30 years.”

Irving Orozco (Jockey): “I don’t know when we’ll ever see another horse like that. He’s the best horse I’ve ever seen, that’s for sure. It would have been nice to see him run another season, but we’ll have to wait and see how his babies turn out.”

Leo Rodriguez (Jockey Agent): “Nobody can beat that horse.”

Evin Roman (Jockey): “He’s a monster.”

Isidro Tamayo (Trainer): “He’s the Secretariat of our times.”


Below is a list of claims from last week:


Race 4: My Spy (New trainer Gary Greiner…new owner Renee Greiner)

Race 8: Sacred Rider (Jonathan Wong…MJVET Stables)

Race 9: Sen Sen (Manny Badilla…Martin Bach) 


Race 1: Draw the Foul (Jim Gilmour…Sue Gilmour)

Race 3: Stateforest (Owner/Trainer Sergio Morfin)

Race 10: Fliplit (Isidro Tamayo…Leon Scott) 


Race 2: Pick Bymy Friend (Jim Gilmour…Sue Gilmour) 

FINISH LINES: In Race 7 on Saturday, 4-year-old gelding Kings River Knight looks for his fourth consecutive victory. After breaking his maiden and winning a California-bred allowance at Del Mar over the summer, the Andy Mathis trainee won a first level allowance against open company on October 3 at Golden Gate. All three aforementioned starts came over turf. Kings River Knight makes his career debut on Tapeta this Saturday…2022 Breeders Cup Classic winning trainer John Sadler has 3-year-old filly Spun Beautiful tabbed for the third race at Golden Gate on Saturday, a maiden claimer for fillies and mares…Jockey Evin Roman leads the Fall Meet jockey standings with 15 wins, 5 more than William Antongeorgi III…In the Trainer Standings, Jack Steiner paves the way with 8 wins. Isidro Tamayo trails right behind with 7 victories, and Ed Moger Jr. and Steve Sherman round out the top three spots with 6 wins apiece…Nominations closed for the Oakland Stakes for sprinters 3-year-olds and up on Thursday and will be published on Friday afternoon. The race is slated for next Saturday…Happy belated birthday wishes to trainer O.J Jauregui and jockey Frank Alvarado…Over $7,000 is carried over into the Golden Pick Six jackpot bet heading into Friday.