Golden Gate Fields to resume live horse racing on May 14

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LOS ANGELES — Golden Gate Fields will resume live horse racing on May 14 after receiving provisional approval Wednesday from public health officials in Northern California.

The track in Berkeley temporarily suspended racing on April 2 at the order of Alameda County public health officials in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Los Alamitos in Orange County is the only track in California where live racing has been allowed, albeit without fans.

Racing will resume at Golden Gate without spectators. Protocols are still being finalized with county officials and will be released in the coming days, along with the schedule of races.

As of Wednesday, there have been no known cases of COVID-19 at the track, which is owned by The Stronach Group.

“We are appreciative of the cooperation we received from the Alameda County Health officials to protect their citizens while providing us the opportunity to protect our community by continuing live racing in Northern California,” said Aidan Butler, executive director of California racing operations for Stronach.

Golden Gate’s stable area includes over 1,200 horses and 400 workers who care for them daily. Most of the workers live on-site and have been operating under new measures for protection during training, which has been allowed while racing was suspended.

The track has been closed to the public and all but essential personnel since March 12.

Officials at Stronach-owned Santa Anita in Southern California are hoping they receive permission to resume live racing soon.

Last week, Kentucky Derby-winning trainers Bob Baffert and Doug O’Neill joined a rally urging the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to reopen Santa Anita. The Arcadia track has a similar situation to Golden Gate in its stable area, where workers live and care for the horses.

369 horses nominated to compete in Triple Crown series

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. – A total of 369 3-year-olds were made eligible to compete in this year’s Triple Crown series during the early nomination period.

Each of the horses was nominated through a $600 payment to compete in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont stakes. The Triple Crown opens May 6 with the Derby.

The number of nominated horses increased by 57 from last year’s total of 312. They include a record 37 horses based in Japan.

Among the notable horses is Forte, last year’s 2-year-old champion trained by Todd Pletcher.

Also among the predominantly male horses nominated was a filly named Hoosier Philly.

Brad Cox led all trainers with 38 horses nominated to the series. Pletcher was second with 36 horses, followed by Steve Asmussen and Ken McPeek with 13 each. Chad Brown and Hideyuki Mori had 12 each.

Others nominated include Arabian Knight, Cave Rock and Newgate, all trained by Bob Baffert. He is currently banned by Churchill Downs Inc. through this year’s Derby, although Baffert is challenging his two-year punishment in federal court.

For the Derby, horses under the care of any suspended trainer may be transferred to another trainer and become eligible to earn Derby qualifying points as long as the transfer is done by Feb. 28.

Last year, Baffert transferred two horses to another trainer and both ran in the Derby, although neither was highly placed.

Horses that were not nominated to the Triple Crown series by the early deadline of Jan. 28 can make a late payment of $6,000 through March 27 to become eligible.

Newgate wins Robert B. Lewis Stakes; Baffert runs 1-2-3-4

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ARCADIA, Calif. — Newgate won the $200,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes by a neck, with Bob Baffert as the trainer of all four horses in the Kentucky Derby prep race at Santa Anita.

Ridden by Frankie Dettori, Newgate ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.11 and paid $4 and $2.60 as the even-money favorite. There was no show wagering because of the field size.

Hard to Figure returned $5.20 at 12-1 odds. Worcester was another 1 3/4 lengths back in third. Arabian Lion was fourth.

“So much improvement in all these horses,” Baffert said. “I was actually nervous before the race, worried that something weird might happen, but I can relax now.”

The Lewis was a Kentucky Derby prep race, but no points were awarded because Baffert has been banned for two years by Churchill Downs Inc. The Hall of Fame trainer was in Louisville to testify in federal court as he seeks a temporary injunction to end the suspension, which runs through the end of the upcoming spring meet. It was meted out following a failed drug test by Medina Spirit after the colt finished first in the 2021 Kentucky Derby.

Newgate earned his first graded stakes victory. The colt was second, beaten by a neck in the Sham Stakes last month in his previous start.

“Frankie Dettori has been teaching him how to just sit back, relax and come with a punch and that’s what he did today,” Baffert said.

The victory, worth $120,000, increased Newgate’s career earnings to $241,975, with two wins in six starts.