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There was no passing yesterday at Santa Anita, with front-runners absolutely dominating over the sealed-hard main track. Four races won in wire-to-wire style, three others won by runners pressing from second and the last-race winner “closing” all the way from third. I had a good day with five top choice winners and made some money gambling but these speed-biased tracks are my least favorite. BOR-ingggg.

Two winners each for Aaron Gryder and Michael Baze, and trainer Doug O’Neill took down two more as his recent red-hot streak has turned the trainers’ race into an absolute procession, to use Trevor’s term. O’Neill now has 44 winners in 61 days, opening an 18-length margin over nearest competitor Bob Baffert, while also leading the stakes ranks with 10 victories.

Promising 3-year-old RAVEL is injured and off the Derby trail. The silver lining is that it might leave the door open for Todd Pletcher to run the filly RAGS TO RICHES as his replacement in the Santa Anita Derby.

Jockey Update: With Garrett Gomez and Corey Nakatani getting ready to leave the local scene when Keeneland opens, Jason Lumpkins will ship south to start riding locally this weekend, and 16-year-old apprentice Dylan Williams will start at Santa Anita on Wednesday. The former will be handled by J.R. Pegram and the latter by his father, Jim…Richard Migliore will stay in SoCal and his book will be handled by Scotty McClellan, who also has Alex Solis…Victor Espinoza dominated at Sunland Park on Saturday, winning with three of four mounts, including the WinStar Derby and Oaks. He will have the mounts on COBALT BLUE in the Illinois Derby on Apr. 7 and STORMELLO in the Florida Derby on Mar. 31…Jon Court will receive the George Woolf Award this Sunday at Santa Anita.

Returning from a grueling week on the road–Vegas for the first four days of the NCAA tournament, then two days in Phoenix with racetrack colleagues Kurt Hoover and Mike Superstein, along with our good buddy Brian “Find and Replace” Ferguson. (Ferguson gets a big thank you after showing me the “find and replace” step when editing my handicap, which now allows me to include index numbers, jockeys and weights in my online Graded Handicap without spending the usual 30-40 minutes of retyping. You’re doing a heck of a job, Fergie.) The grueling week started on Wednesday night, arriving late at The Orleans Hotel in order to be ready for first tipoff at 9:15 on Thursday morning. After four days of drinking and gambling (oh yeah, and doing my regular work), it was off to Phoenix on Sunday night for our 19th annual “Stay Hungry” trip, which consists of more drinking and gambling, with a few innings of spring training thrown into the mix before heading off to Turf Paradise for the last half of their Monday card.

Thanks to announcer Luke Kruytbosch (one of the nicest and most patient guys on the planet) and track GM Dave Johnson for their hospitality. And to trainers Eric Kruljac, Troy Bainum and Dan McFarlane for putting us on a few winners. On Tuesday, we hung out at Sixshooters, a sports bar that takes in a number of racetrack simulcast feeds. It is roomy and well-lighted, with good food and plenty of betting windows. Yes, in Arizona, you can bet from the bar. There are 54 OTB outlets (many in bars and restaurants) spread throughout the state, and Sixshooters has replaced McDuffy’s as our new favorite. We played the races all day, met a few characters in the process and left with substantially more than we came with, so a great day overall.

Finally, Laura de Seroux announced that she will retire from training at the end of the month. Funny, I thought she had retired a long time ago.

To view a Free Sample of Wednesday’s Premium Plays, click on the link below: Premium Plays for Mar. 21



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