Racing! It’s time for another week of racing

Hello, my name is John Cherwa and welcome back to our horse racing newsletter as we give you a notebook of odds and ends.

Let’s catch up on a few things since the last time we talked.

--Javier Castellano flew west to work Bolt D’Oro earlier this week in anticipation of next week’s start in the San Felipe at Santa Anita. The San Felipe should be great race and start to separate who is the West Coast favorite for the Derby. Jay Privman of the Daily Racing Form tells you more about it here.

--Justify turned a lot of heads with his debut performance, winning by 9 ½ lengths and a 104 Beyer speed figure. Trainer Bob Baffert even talked about getting him ready for the Derby. His next race might be the Sunland Derby. Bill Finley of the Thoroughbred Daily News makes the case that Justify shouldn’t be rushed. You can read his commentary here.

--In what could be a very interesting breeding, Songbird and Arrogate met in the breeding shed at Juddmonte Farm the other day. Things went well. They were both at their racing peak about the same time, not that it means anything. But both the connections of the stallion and mare seem excited. Read more about it here in the Paulick Report.

--Veteran jockey Jose Ferrer won the George Wolf Memorial Jockey Award in a vote of his peers. The annual award is for a jockey who is both a great rider and an all-around good person. Also nominated were Alex Birzer, Javier Castellano, Rodney Prescott and Joe Talamo. Here’s Santa Anita’s press release on it.

--There’s a new Kentucky Derby media poll out, this one by Horse Racing Nation. It’s assembled by Jonathan Lintner, who used to be the turf writer at the Louisville Courier-Journal. The poll was originally started by Jennie Rees, the legendary turf writer at the C-J and occasional contributor to this newsletter. No real surprises at the top, but take a look here. (Note: Of course, we recognize the weekly Top 10 by Jon White as the official poll of this newsletter. But this poll is good for discussion.)

A handicapping postscript

One of our handicapping gurus, Rob Henie, wanted to point out this little play of his from last Saturday’s card at Santa Anita. Rob, of course, is the author of the WCHR (West Coast Handicapping Report) and the ECHR (East Coast Handicapping Report).

The play is called backing a runner first time off a voided claim. This was the second race at Santa Anita. So, let’s put this one in reverse and see Rob’s thinking in this excerpt.

“This is a $16,000 claimer at a mile. Top selection is ROSIE MY ROSIE (#5)​. First off, we’ll start with the unwritten rule, okay, we invented this train of thought, but DO believe it to be true, and that is, when a trainer has a claim voided, he brings the horse back to his barn, gets the horse right, and next time out comes back with a good effort. Why is this? I truly think it’s a matter of not wanting to be known as a trainer who’s sending out a sore horse, thus the desire to return with a strong effort. Following the freshening, Bob Hess returns this one at a lower level, with the understanding some trainers simply won’t wanna claim a horse who was voided last time out, especially with the further drop muddling the picture. A good effort is likely.”

Rosie My Rosie won the race and returned $5.60 to win.

The West Coast Handicapping Report can be found at It has been endorsed by leading trainers, handicappers and industry sources.

Santa Anita preview

Santa Anita starts its penultimate week of 12:30 p.m. and 1 p.m. posts before moving them back as Daylight Savings Time arrives. Thursday, with a 1 p.m. post, has the usual weekday card of eight races, three of them on the turf.

You could claim a horse out of all of the races, although the second race, an allowance/optional claiming, has only one of the five horses with a tag. It’s the feature of the day for 3-year-old fillies going 7 furlongs. The purse is $56,000.

The field sizes are OK, and, in order: 9 (1 also eligible), 5, 6, 8, 9, 6, 9, 9 (1AE). The first, fifth and eighth are on the grass.

Golden Gate weekend preview

Now a look at the best racing coming up at Golden Gate. New race caller and all-around good guy Matt Dinerman is our host to previews and other musings. So, take it away, Matt.

“Two weeks ago we saw jockey Billy Antongeorgi III pick up his 1,000th career win. This past week, Francisco Duran won for the 1,500th time aboard Declassified on Friday. Francisco, well liked among the Bay Area racing community, has been riding since 2001. Well done, Francisco!

“Last week, first post was moved from 12:45 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. This week, it’s back to 12:45 p.m., with four racing days scheduled. The forecast calls for rain on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, but it’s the “all-weather” Tapeta here. Due to the all-weather surface, there are no “off-tracks” and rarely are there scratches related to the surface.

“Looking at the entries, I noticed we have a pretty competitive card Saturday. Two races catch my eye. The first leg of the Golden Pick 6 wager, the fourth race is a maiden special weight event for 3-year-old fillies. Among the list of entries is Swak, a daughter of Scat Daddy shipping up north from the Richard Mandella barn. Swak was purchased for $320,000 as a yearling and is owned by LNJ Foxwoods. Also entered is A Walk in the Park, a filly I like quite a bit. A Walk in the Park had fast workouts leading up to her career debut earlier this month for Ed Moger Jr., a trainer who doesn’t often work his horses quickly. Those AM drills told me this filly had some early speed and probably some talent, too. She ended up showing that projected speed, heading to the lead from the opening of the gate, but was on the inside of a speed duel, tired in the final furlong and wound up fourth. Second time out she gets a good outside draw and now she has a race under her belt, which means she could be more fit this time around. She is my best bet of the day.

“The last of nine races on the Saturday card is a nine-horse allowance race for older colts and geldings going a mile. Among the main contenders is talented Cal-bred Castle and speedy gelding River of Champagne.

“Nominations close for the biggest race of the Winter/Spring meet, the San Francisco Mile, on March 22. It’s a Grade 3 event for 4 year olds and upward, has an increased purse of $200,000 and will be run on Saturday, March 31.”

Bob Ike’s SA play of the day

FIFTH RACE: No. 7 Candy Ruler (3-1)

Filly from Mark Glatt barn takes a big class drop into this restricted claimer (non-winners of two lifetime) after competing against stronger Cal-bred allowance runners. She is drawn well outside, switches to Hall of Famer Kent Desormeaux and figures to get an ideal stalking trip off the two-month layoff. “Single” in all horizontal wagers.

Sunday Result: Particleacelerator (first race) made his anticipated clear lead but jumped the dirt crossing and lost his action before fading in the lane. Let's call the effort inconclusive.

Bob Ike is a Partner/VP of (here’s a video) and the proprietor of (full-card picks, 3 Best Plays and betting strategy).

Final thought

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And now the star of the show, Thursday’s entries.

Santa Anita Entries for Thursday, March 1.

Santa Anita, Santa Anita Park, Arcadia, California. 37th day of a 59-day meet.


1 Mile Turf. Purse: $29,000. Maiden Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $50,000-$40,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Swallows Inn GalVinnie Bednar118Robert J. Lucas30-140,000
2FlammettaAlonso Quinonez120Richard Baltas5-150,000
3Baby BeautyFernandez Rojas120Rafael DeLeon30-150,000
4Turing MachineMario Gutierrez120Ben D. A. Cecil6-150,000
5Pure SugarKyle Frey118Mike Puype15-140,000
6On a TootBarrington Harvey124Kenneth E. Nettles30-140,000
7Unlucky HillaryStewart Elliott126Mick Ruis3-150,000
8Brandon's LawFranklin Ceballos115Vladimir Cerin4-150,000
9Tell Me MoreCorey Nakatani126Peter Miller8-550,000
Also Eligible
10Grace HopperMaria Falgione114Thomas Ray Bell, II30-140,000


7 Furlongs. Purse: $56,000. Allowance Optional Claiming. Fillies. 3 year olds. Claiming Price $75,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1CognitiveDrayden Van Dyke122Bob Baffert8-5
2FracasRafael Bejarano120Craig Dollase8-175,000
3First DudetteRajiv Maragh122Brian J. Koriner6-1
4PoeticMike Smith122Richard E. Mandella5-2
5EmboldenedJoseph Talamo122Bob Baffert9-5


6½ Furlongs. Purse: $21,000. Maiden Claiming. 3 year olds. Claiming Price $30,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Bourbon DudeRajiv Maragh122Dan Blacker4-130,000
2Infuriated GaryBrayan Pena122Philip D'Amato6-130,000
3Your GraceFelipe Martinez122Louis A. Bradvica4-130,000
4The ItalianFranklin Ceballos117Mick Ruis3-130,000
5FabricationTyler Baze122Kristin Mulhall5-230,000
6Sharon's FuryEdwin Maldonado122Jeff Bonde4-130,000


5 Furlongs. Purse: $18,000. Maiden Claiming. 4 year olds and up. Claiming Price $20,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1MilhaudFlavien Prat122Richard E. Mandella5-220,000
2Life's WayMario Gutierrez122Patrick Gallagher12-120,000
3Awesome E KBrayan Pena122George Papaprodromou6-120,000
4Sonic BoyVinnie Bednar122Robert J. Lucas30-120,000
5Pure PursuitGeovanni Franco122John W. Sadler6-120,000
6Capes Hot RocketEdwin Maldonado122Vladimir Cerin4-120,000
7ContentoCesar Franco115Javier Jose Sierra20-120,000
8Towards the LightEvin Roman117Philip D'Amato8-520,000


About 6½ Furlongs Turf. Purse: $33,000. Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 4 year olds and up. Claiming Price $40,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Paddy JeanJoseph Talamo123Vann Belvoir9-240,000
2Briartic GalTyler Baze123Melissa Saldana12-140,000
3Zero ZeeFlavien Prat123Philip D'Amato7-240,000
4Lori's AttitudeEvin Roman118Carla Gaines9-240,000
5Tiffany DiamondGeovanni Franco123Michael Machowsky6-140,000
6No ComparisonAlonso Quinonez123Kenneth D. Black10-140,000
7Candy RulerKent Desormeaux123Mark Glatt3-140,000
8Looking At ThelakeRafael Bejarano123John W. Sadler10-140,000
9Coalinga HillsSantiago Gonzalez123Martin F. Jones6-140,000


6½ Furlongs. Purse: $29,000. Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 4 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $25,000-$22,500.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1ScathingKent Desormeaux121Vladimir Cerin9-225,000
2Princess KendraRuben Fuentes119Reed Saldana12-122,500
3ParasailJoseph Talamo121Blake R. Heap6-1
4Sturdy OneTyler Conner121Ian Kruljac5-225,000
5PicaRafael Bejarano121Eddie Truman5-225,000
6Wedding BlushEvin Roman116Jerry Hollendorfer2-125,000


1 1/16 Mile. Purse: $16,000. Claiming. 4 year olds and up. Claiming Price $12,500.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Reverend AlRuben Fuentes123Blake R. Heap10-112,500
2Big Day TomorrowEvin Roman118Blake R. Heap9-212,500
3Moonlight BlueFranklin Ceballos118Vladimir Cerin7-212,500
4MoonmanSantiago Gonzalez123J. Keith Desormeaux12-112,500
5Super EchelonGeovanni Franco123Craig Anthony Lewis6-112,500
6Squared SquaredAsa Espinoza113John W. Sadler12-112,500
7Dominant DonJoseph Talamo123John W. Sadler3-112,500
8Yo La TengoCesar Franco116Charles S. Treece15-112,500
9SeauTyler Conner123Jerry Hollendorfer4-112,500


1 Mile Turf. Purse: $29,000. Maiden Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $50,000-$40,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Tim's GirlSantiago Gonzalez126Philip D'Amato9-250,000
2Cee Sam's GirlRajiv Maragh120George Papaprodromou6-150,000
3Christmas CarolRafael Bejarano126Richard Baltas7-250,000
4Topaz TimeAlonso Quinonez124Matthew Chew15-140,000
5Silverado MistEdwin Maldonado120Ryan Hanson5-150,000
6Majestic DesignFranklin Ceballos121Richard Baltas30-150,000
7Bee SweetTyler Baze126Neil D. Drysdale5-250,000
8All NetGeovanni Franco120David Jacobson4-150,000
9Sunset MelodyTiago Pereira118Marcia Stortz50-140,000
Also Eligible
10Feeling the HeatAsa Espinoza114Manuel Calvario30-140,000