CYPRESS, Calif. – Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Juan Hernandez completed the September Thoroughbred meet, which wrapped Sunday at Los Alamitos, in style.

       The pair teamed to win four races, completing the joint quadruple with Cowboy Mike, who easily captured the $53,000 feature as the 6-5 favorite. Earlier in the afternoon, Baffert and Hernandez combined to score with first-time starter Pinecone in the second, Ultra Power in the fifth and Betty’s Song in the sixth. It was the second time Baffert has had four wins at Los Alamitos since daytime thoroughbred racing returned in 2014. He previously accomplished the feat Dec. 7, 2019.

      His big closing day also enabled Baffert to win another local training title. He finished the six-day meet with five wins, two more than Luis Mendez, Vladimir Cerin, George Papaprodromou and John Sadler. It was the 14th time Baffert has either led or shared the training title here.

      Hernandez, meanwhile, achieved perfection during the brief season. He was a winner with all six of his mounts, enabling him to finish in a three-way tie with Ramon Vazquez and Diego Herrera for the riding crown.

      It was the fifth time in as many meets at Los Alamitos Vazquez has either led or shared the title. It was the third time Hernandez has either led or shared the top spot and it was the first for Herrera. 

     Hernandez became the seventh jockey to win four in a day, joining Vazquez, Abel Cedillo, Drayden Van Dyke, Edwin Maldonado, Assael Espinoza and Jorge I. Velez. Vazquez holds the record with five. He quintupled last Sept. 25, the final day of the 2022 September season. 

     Owned by breeder Connie Pageler, Cowboy Mike, a 3-year-old son of Smiling Tiger and the Maria’s Mon mare Lutess, tracked early leader Galoping Cat while outside, took over before a half-mile had been run and went on to win by seven lengths.

     The win was the second in six starts for the gelding, but the first time he has crossed the finish line first. Cowboy Mike picked up his maiden victory via disqualification July 23 at Del Mar. He’s earned $99,920.

     The chestnut completed the mile in the optional claimer for 3-year-olds & up bred or sired in California in 1:37.15. He paid $4.40, $3.20 and $2.20.

     Buck Owens, the 4-1 second choice, completed the exacta, finishing a half-length in front of 4-1 third choice Wine and Whisky. Buck Owens returned $4.20 and $3 while the show price on Wine and Whisky was $2.80.

     The final daytime thoroughbred meet of the year at Los Alamitos will begin Friday, Dec. 8. The Winter season will be highlighted by a pair of graded events for 2-year-olds. The Grade II, $300,000-guaranteed Starlet for 2-year-old fillies will be run Saturday, Dec 9 while the Grade II, $200,000-guaranteed Los Alamitos Futurity will be offered Saturday, Dec. 16.  Both races are at 1 1/16 miles.



     The 7-2 third choice in a field of seven, Yuki went all the way to win the $125,000 Dark Mirage Stakes Saturday at Los Alamitos.

     Trained by Amador Sanchez for owner-breeder Haras Lizzie Inc, the 4-year-old Chilean bred daughter of The Lumber Guy assumed command immediately under jockey Hector Berrios, repelled a challenge from 9-10 favorite and defending race champion Ganadora, then held sway in the final eighth of a mile despite drifting out. The win was the second in four U.S. outings for Yuki, who is out of the Distorted Economy mare Dona Milly, and her fifth in 14 lifetime races. The $68,750 payday pushed her earnings to $182,635. She paid $9.80, $4.80 and $3.40 while completing the mile in 1:37.88.

      Smoothlikebuttah, a 9-1 shot who trailed for the opening six furlongs, rallied for the place, 1 ¼ lengths behind the winner. Trouville, an 8-1 outsider, was three-quarters of a length back in third. Smoothlikebuttah returned $6.80 and $3.40 while the show price on Trouville was $3.20. Ganadora, who won the 2022 Dark Mirage by eight lengths, Angel Nadeshiko, Gila and Chismosa, the 7-2 second choice, completed the order of finish.

      Second behind Micro in the Tranquility Lake Stakes 19 days prior, Yuki was saddled Saturday by Genaro Vallejo.

      “She’s been here (at Los Alamitos) for 10 days,’’ said Vallejo. “She’s been wonderful. She’s so quiet and smart and good horses make you look good.“She ran a great race. I was pleased when she broke on top. She was doing it easy on the lead and she handled this track very well.’’ 

       The stakes success was the second in a row for Berrios. He also took the Los Alamitos Special with Arham six days ago.

       “She went a little too fast last time (in the Tranquility Lake),’’ said Berrios. “She was much more comfortable today and relaxed perfectly. When I asked her in the stretch, she responded. It was a big effort.’’

       Heading into the final day of the September Thoroughbred meet, Diego Herrera holds the top spot in the jockey standings after tripling Saturday.  The 19-year-old Los Angeles native, who scored with Pens Street in the first, Patron d’Oro in the third and Newpark in the fifth, now has six wins, two more than Berrios, Ramon Vazquez, Tiago Pereira and Kyle Frey.

Vladimir Cerin, Luis Mendez, George Papaprodromou and John Sadler share the lead in the trainer’s race. All have three victories.

Racing resumes Sunday at Los Alamitos. Post time for the final day of the September Thoroughbred meet is 1 p.m.




      Less than 24 hours after Juan Hernandez became the all-time leader in stakes victories at the daytime thoroughbred meets, Edwin Maldonado became the all-time leader in wins Sunday at Los Alamitos.

      A 40-year-old native of Columbus, Ohio, Maldonado rode 6-1 shot Classymademoiselle to a neck win over even-money favorite Shared Future in the fourth race – a $32,000 claimer for fillies and mares at 6 ½ furlongs - on the third day of the September meet.

      The win was the 128th   locally for Maldonado. He entered the afternoon tied with Martin Pedroza for the top spot. The total victories include the Orange County Fair meets (1977-1991).

      “This is nice,’’ said Maldonado. “It kind of caught me by surprise (breaking the record), but I’m very, very thankful. “I think consistency’s been the key. If you’re consistent it eventually pays off.’’

      Owned by Todd Cady and trained by George Papaprodromou, Classymademoiselle, a 3-year-old Malibu Moon filly, earned her third win in 13  starts and she paid $15.20 as the fourth choice in the field of six.       





      A little over three weeks after an impressive sprint win at Del Mar, Arham stretched out successfully, easily capturing the $75,000 Los Alamitos Special Sunday at Los Alamitos.

     Trained by Vladimir Cerin for owners David and Holly Wilson, the 6-year-old Union Rags horse tracked the pace set by It’s My House, moved up outside to take the lead before six furlongs had been completed and went on to a 3 ½ length score under jockey Hector Berrios.

     Out of the Smart Strike mare Sanaaya, Arham, the 6-5 favorite in a field of four reduced by the scratches of Celestial Moon and Handy Dandy, completed the 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.71 and paid $4.40 and $2.80. There was no show wagering.

      Bred in Kentucky by Shadwell Farm LLC, Arham, who won once in six starts at ages 3 & 4 while trained by Todd Pletcher, is 4-for-6 since joining Cerin’s stable. He’s banked $261,023.

     The win was his second beyond six furlongs. Arham defeated optional claimers by a neck in his initial race for Cerin Nov. 13, 2021 at Del Mar.

     “(Berrios) just had to get him off the rail,’’ said Cerin, who also teamed with Berrios to win Sunday’s seventh race with Kingdom Heart. “He’s seamless and is such an unbelievable jockey. This horse is handy and Hector likes him.’’

      American Admiral, the 7-5 second choice, finished a nose in front of Salesman and It’s My House weakened to check in fourth. The place price on American Admiral was $2.60.

     Earlier in the afternoon, jockey Diego Herrera was taken to nearby Long Beach Memorial Medical Center for observation after being unseated in the sixth race.

     King Heat, a 36-1 outsider tiring after disputing the pace, ducked into the temporary rail in the stretch and Herrera fell heavily. The rider, a 21-year-old native of Los Angeles, complained of body soreness after the incident. King Heat was not injured.

      Jockey Ramon Vazquez, who led all three daytime thoroughbred meets in 2022 and also topped the Los Angeles County Fair standings earlier this year, had four wins Sunday. He took the second with Colonel Vargo, the fifth with Big Cheddar, the sixth on Confucius and the eighth aboard Relaxed Artist, a mount he picked up after Herrera was sidelined. 

      It was the second time Vazquez has quadrupled at Los Alamitos. He also had four victories last Dec. 17. He holds the daytime thoroughbred record, winning five races last Sept. 25. Racing resumes Friday at Los Alamitos. Post time is 1 p.m.                                  





          When it comes to daytime thoroughbred stakes victories for jockeys, Juan Hernandez is now second to none. The top rider on the Southern California circuit, Hernandez earned his 14th local stakes success Saturday, riding favored Kings River Knight to a two-length win in the $75,000 E.B. Johnston. 

          The 31-year-old native of Veracruz, Mexico entered the second day of the September meet tied with Corey Black for the top spot – the total includes the Orange County Fair meets (1977-1991) - but is now alone after Kings River Knight won for the second time in as many Los Alamitos appearances. The 5-year-old son of Accalamation and Hernandez teamed earlier this year during the Los Angeles County Fair season to win the Bertrando Stakes.

          “I love this track,’’ said Hernandez. “It’s smooth and horses go over it real well. It is always a good feeling to win a race, but a stakes is extra special and we’ve had a lot of good luck here.

         “Eda (winner of the Grade II Great Lady M. earlier this year and the Grade I Starlet in 2021 for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert) would be one of my favorites. She’s a very special filly. She’s very game and has given me a couple of nice highlights here.’’

         Trained by John Sadler for Integrity Thoroughbred Racing, the Ellwood Johnston Trust and Kennety Tevelde, Kings River Knight, the 7-10 choice in a race restricted to 3-year-olds & up bred or sired in California, is now 6-for-12. He’s been worse than second only once.

          The victory over 3-1 second choice Fast Draw Munnings and four others was special for Kings River Knight’s ownership group.

         Out of the Poteen mare ten Seasontoperfection, Kings River Knight was bred by Old English Rancho, which was once operated by the late Ellwood  Johnston, for whom Saturday’s race is named.

         Content to track while the comebacking Hail Freedom quickly established a clear early lead, Kings River Knight took over early on the far turn, was challenged by the eventual runner-up, but edged away in the final sixteenth of a mile. He returned $3.40, $2.40 and $2.10 while completing the mile in 1:35.11. The $41,250 payday pushed his earnings to $366,010.

          “I told (Hernandez) to go out there with the intent to go to the lead, but if somebody wants to go crazy, let them and settle him nicely,’’ said Sadler assistant trainer Juan Leyva. “That’s what he did. Juan rode a very good race. “This is a really cool horse. He loves his job and he shows up every time.’’

         Fast Draw Munnings, who earned his maiden win at Los Alamitos in his debut Sept. 17, 2021, wound up nine lengths clear of 11-1 shot Shortman and returned $3.40 and $2.80. The show price on Shortman, a three-time Los Alamitos winner, was $3.60.

        Johnny Podres, Finneus and Hail Freedom, who had won three of his previous four starts on dirt, completed the order of finish.

         Racing resumes Sunday at Los Alamitos. Post time is 1 p.m.

          The feature is the $75,000 Los Alamitos Special for 3-year-olds & up at 1 1/16 miles. The Special is the last of nine races and has a scheduled post time of 5:09 p.m.


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