News and Notes May 26 – by Rod Young Turfdom
No rain this past week at the Great Race Place and the main track played fair for the five day week.
However, the turf course is playing slow and tiring and favoring off the pace runners, much like it
was back in January. There will be just a three day week this week, beginning on Friday with that 4
PM post, because they ran five days last week. There is a c/o in the Super High Five on Friday of
• They had 3 graded stakes over the weekend with Hard Not to Like ($9.20) nailing down the Grade 1
Gamely on Monday by sneaking through on the rail to just nip the front running Fanticola by a head.
It was a tough beat for Fanticola, who was off at 8/1 and led every step but the final one. She was
racing against a course bias as well that has been favoring late runners. Also on Monday, in just a 4
horse field due to late scratches, Distinctiv Passion wired the field in the Grade 3 Los Angeles stakes
in a quick 1:08 flat. He got away with a soft first quarter in 22.19 and the other runners had no
chance. He shut the door on them with a final quarter in 23.58 with 5/8 in a fast 55.98. San Onofre
rallied boldly to get second, but Smith took him back early in the race and he didn’t show his
customary early speed. Winning trainer Jeff Bonde said “Passion” will surface next in the Bing
Crosby early in the Del Mar meet. “Passion” paid $6.60 on Monday. On Sunday, the heavy favorite,
Ashleyluvssugar ($3.00), won the Grade 2 Whittingham stakes at a mile and a half on the grass
under a perfectly timed ride by Mike Smith. Ganesh ran a good second at 5/1 and just missed by a
half length. Both runners will target the mile and three quarters San Juan Capistrano on closing day,
June 28 for their next venture.
• A new ruling handed down by the CHRB that has caused a lot of controversy is the “Voided” claim.
Now when a State Vet voids a claim in the receiving barn after the race due to the unsoundness of
the horse, it will be noted in the past performances. The letter “v” in lower case, followed by a dash,
will precede the claiming price, much like the letter “c” is used when a horse gets claimed. This is a
bad ruling to begin with and the whole process should be “voided”, as it takes away from the poker
part of claiming. This ruling was initiated by Bo Derek when she was on the Board. She has since
been replaced by jockey Alex Solis, who knows a little bit more about racing than Derek did.
• Jockey Elvis Trujillo is moving his tack back to Monmouth Park this week and will no longer ride in
California on a regular basis. He has been the leading rider at Monmouth on 3 different occasions
and has had mixed success on this circuit. He is just 5 for 48 at the current meet, although he is a
very competent rider, and one that I have done very well with the last couple of years. Tyler Baze
still leads the standings with 20 wins through Monday but Rafael Bejarano is hot on his shoulders
and has narrowed the gap to just one. In the trainer standings, Phil D’Amato has a one win edge over
Doug O’Neill and Richard Baltas, 12 to 11.
• Del Mar, which opens for 40 days on July 16, wants to change the pick six format. They are seeking
approval from the CHRB to make the wager like it is at GGF and Gulfstream Park, where 20% of
the pool carries over until there is just a “single” winner. The wager has been in steep decline ever
since the 50 cent pick 5 was introduced with a 14% takeout. This is not the way to fix the pick six
though. They need to put this wager on level ground with the pick 5 if they want to increase revenue.
Right now, the pick 5 is a much better wager. Under the new format, if nobody hits six, the entire
pool is carried over and there is no consolation for those with five. That is not right.
• I know nothing about Penn National Race Course in Grantville, Pa., but I do know that Phil
D’Amato has been targeting this race this Saturday, for a month, for his turf runner,
Papacoolpapacool. The race is for three years only at a mile on the turf, for a purse of $500,000. I
think “Papa” gets the money. Regular rider, Elvis Trujillo, will be riding.