2018 Year’s End


By Michael Patricks

It’s a fairly quiet weekend in racing as the 2018 thoroughbred season begins to wind down in earnest.  It’s closing weekend from Los Alamitos Race Course in Cypress, California but closing weekend also features their preeminent quarter horse race, the Champion of Champions.  It’s closing weekend from Woodbine as well.  Woodbine will offer a 14-race closing day card on Sunday.

The Jockey Club will be closed from Monday, December 17th through the following Tuesday (Christmas Day).  We will re-open on Wednesday, December 26th for Santa Anita Park’s opening day Malibu Stakes program.

Some of the other key events on the 2019 Calendar are as follows:

  • Pegasus World Cup Day – Saturday, January 26th
  • Super Bowl Sunday- Sunday, February 3rd
  • Kentucky Derby Day- Saturday, May 4th
  • Preakness Stakes Day- Saturday, May 18th
  • Belmont Stakes Day- Saturday, June 8th
  • Travers Stakes Day- Saturday, August 24th
  • Breeders’ Cup Weekend-Friday, November 1st & Saturday November 2nd


The Pegasus is shaping up as a nice race with Accelerate, Battle of Midway, City of Light, Audible, Gunnevera, McKinzie and the now-horse Patternrecognition all listed as possibles.


In addition, Pegasus Day will now include an inaugural turf event with Aerolithe, Magical, Arklow and Catapult the early nominees for the World Cup Turf Invitational.


Super Bowl Sunday– Don’t have plans for the big game?  Well, stick around after the last race at The Jockey Club for Super Bowl 53 and take it all in with comfort and style!  Relax and enjoy the gridiron classic from one of our high definition televisions with food and drink specials all game long. Call (707) 524-6340 for all the details.

Like what you’re reading? Every week I post a racing-related article to The Grapevine, the official Blog of the Sonoma County Fairgrounds.  Visit https://www.sonomacountyfair.wordpress.com for news and updates on all the events surrounding the Sonoma County Fair.  You can also reach me directly at mbpatricks@gmail.com


No dice from last Saturday’s sixth race at Los Alamitos Race Course.  Gemini Journey lacked a stretch kick in her fourth-place finish but also may have been compromised by a difficult inside draw.  Regular reader and devoted handicapper Leon Larkin informed me shortly before the race that the inside post positions sprinting 5.5 furlongs at Los Alamitos were a combined two-for twenty-something spanning the past couple of meets.  His words were quite prescient indeed so hats off to him for doing his homework over the local strip.

Not too much on the docket this weekend, so I’ll tackle the Soviet Problem from Los Alamitos which kicks off their Saturday Pick Six.

Fun Fact: The great Soviet Problem was trained by Greg Gilchrist.  Did you know that Greg’s nephew, Dane Lowery, is a mutuel clerk right here at our very own Sonoma County Jockey Club?

Los Alamitos Race Course Race 5

1 Mile for 2 y/o Ca-bred or Sired fillies

The Soviet Problem-$100,000

Post Time: 2:28 PST


It’s not every day that your morning line favorite in a Stakes event is showing up with declining numbers and a form cycle that is quickly falling off a cliff, but nevertheless that is what we have here with # 4 Creative Instinct who is posted at 9/5.  She was real good this Summer for Peter Miller at Del Mar but her last two starts have been ugly at best and I think it’s fair to wonder if her one-dimensional nature is no longer any sort of secret.  There is speed all around her once again and her neighbor in the gate # 5 Time for Suzzie is also adding Blinkers for her Saturday appearance, and seemingly hell-bent-for-leather in getting out on the early pace with Creative Instinct.


To be clear, I would have made # 3 Kookie Gal (2/1) the morning line favorite.  Yes, it’s true that this is her first start on dirt for trainer Peter Miller and it’s unclear how she will take to it.  But I like the fact that she’s taking the Blinkers off and that Flavien Prat is coming back over to ride her.  The second dam to Kookie Gal is Ms. Booty who also has tossed familiar California campaigners La Fiera, Call Saul and Bezzy.  Kukaluka herself was trained by Peter Miller and both her wins were on grass while she never raced on dirt.


But I like # 1 Hotitude in this spot at 3/1 and so I’ll give her the nod.  Hotitude has some speed but I don’t think she has to necessarily have the front.  All three races have come on dirt and she’s shown she likes the surface, including a comprehensive demolition in garnering her diploma over this course back in September.  Mulhall has put plenty of air in her tires for Saturday’s stretch out and Pedroza knows this filly’s disposition quite well.  I also really like that this will be her first start that does not come off a layoff and I think it’s well within reason to expect she should move forward in the Beyer department, and with her performance at large by having a race of foundation under her such as the Golden State Juvenile Fillies.  Also, there is less hoof traffic for her to have to deal with in this race and that should only be a positive in her corner as well.


# 6 All Tea All Shade at 5/1 is somewhat intriguing and I certainly respect the win against open company last time out at 13/1.  She’s gotten better with each start but the Beyers are a bit light and the fact she was tossed in for $50,000 as a homebred two starts ago gives me some cause for concern in backing her with the step up in class.  I’ll be surprised if she can reach Hotitude or Kookie Gal in the stretch.

# 2 Gotta Be Lucky is a 10/1 maiden who has already been handled by the top three choices.  If everything went her way, I could see her grinding along for a distant third-place finish which I suppose would up her breeding value when she heads to her second career as a broodmare.  Gotta Be Lucky is a half-sister to the 1-for-22 Drinks at Sunset who banged out just over $22,000 in his 22 starts.


Fun fact: Did you know that Drinks at Sunset’s maiden breaker came right here at Santa Rosa in 2017 when running for a Maiden $12,500 tag?  Did you also know Drinks at Sunset was put up in that race via disqualification when Thisonesfordanny drifted out in deep stretch and bothered Woodford Surprise?  And go figure: Thisonesfordanny remains a maiden to this day, whereas Drinks at Sunset who has never crossed the wire first is actually listed at 1-for-22, with diploma in hand.  Race-favorite and first-time-starter Nessuno was 6/5 in that five-horse field and set the pace before giving out readily through the stretch, never to race again.  The bottom line: no offspring of Gotta Be Lucky’s dam Pogonip have ever crossed the wire first.


Selections: 1-3-6-5 in the Soviet Problem.


Check back next weekend for a preview of the Malibu Stakes from Santa Anita which is scheduled for the day after Christmas.