Racing! The Pegasus is starting to form a clearer picture

Hello, my name is John Cherwa, and welcome back to our horse racing newsletter as we welcome a new feature to the newsletter.

You’ve asked for it, and now you’ve got a small taste of it. Our Northern California readers have been asking for Golden Gate news in this newsletter. It’s not a lot, but we’ll be doing a brief weekend preview once a week, much like we do for Los Alamitos quarter horses. So just scroll down and you’ll find it.

On to the big race.

The post-position draw for the Pegasus World Cup did its best to create a little more interest for a race that most have already conceded to presumptive Eclipse Horse of the Year Gun Runner.

Now, we’re not at all saying the post position draw had the validity of a World Cup draw run by the disgraced Sepp Blatter. But, Gulfstream and Stronach officials had to be quietly delighted when the horse drew the 10, not the worst but not what the horse’s connections hoped.

The reason is it’s a very short run to the first turn at the distance of 1 1/8 miles. It’s just the way the course was constructed. Only thing you could do to fix it would have been to make the race 1 3/16 miles. Why didn’t they? Who knows.

Anyway, what it does is make Gun Runner a 4-5 favorite instead of 3-5 if he had drawn the 3-7 posts.

Here’s the lineup, with trainer, jockey and morning-line odds:

  1. Singing Bullet, Dale Romans, Robby Albarado, 30-1
  2. West Coast, Bob Baffert, Javier Castellano, 8-1
  3. Stellar Wind, Chad Brown, Joel Rosario, 30-1
  4. Sharp Azteca, Jorge Navarro, Irad Ortiz Jr., 6-1
  5. Collected, Bob Baffert, Mike Smith, 8-1
  6. Gunnevera, Antonio Sano, Luis Saez, 15-1
  7. Fear the Cowboy, Efren Loza Jr., Tyler Gaffalione, 30-1
  8. War Story, Jorge Navarro, Jose Ortiz, 25-1
  9. Toast of New York, Jamie Osborne, Frankie Dettori, 20-1
  10. Gun Runner, Steve Asmussen, Florent Geroux, 4-5
  11. Seeking the Soul, Dallas Stewart, John Velazquez, 25-1
  12. Giant Expectations, Peter Eurton, Gary Stevens, 30-1

Now, there is every expectation that Gun Runner can overcome his post. The 6-9 posts do not have a lot of early speed, meaning a little encouragement from jockey Florent Geroux could easily have the horse no worse than sixth entering the first turn. In fact, Gun Runner may even be closer, since he is comfortable being on or near the lead.

The speed should come from Sharp Azteca and Collected, who will be breaking next to each other in the 4 and 5. What happens after that will have to happen in a hurry as the turn approaches.

Bob Baffert, who is returning to the country after accepting the World’s Best Racehorse Award in London on behalf of Arrogate, is likely pleased with the draw of Collected and while West Coast being in the 2 isn’t ideal, it’s a lot better than many other posts. He generally doesn’t break on top but can be comfortable stalking.

The other Southern California horse is Giant Expectations, winner of the San Antonio at Santa Anita on Dec. 26. He generally does not hustle out of the gate, although he did that in the five-horse San Antonio. But from the 12 he’ll be running a race longer than most other horses unless he’s immediately taken back and brought to the rail.

The race is designed so that about four connections make money, four of them break even and four lose money. By that design here’s our guesses. Any of you who view this as any form of handicapping are strongly encouraged to ignore.

Winners: Gunnevera, Gun Runner, Sharp Azteca, West Coast.

Break even: Collected, Seeking the Soul, Stellar Wind, War Strong.

Losers: Fear The Cowboy, Giant Expectations, Singing Bullet, Toast Of New York.

Eclipse Awards

The results are announced tonight starting around 5 PST. Last year the program was on the NBC Sports Network (that’s the minor one, not the big boy) but tonight it’s on TVG. Thanks to TVG for stepping up, but if NBC really has a commitment to racing, couldn’t they pick a West Coast hockey game to show after the Eclipse rather than showing an East Coast game during it? I mean is a Blackhawks-Red Wings regular-season game that important? Or is racing’s awards show that unimportant?

Santa Anita preview

It’s an eight-race card starting at 1 p.m. There are three turf races, the third, sixth and eighth. But the story we’ll be watching will be the field sizes. Last week things started to go, shall we say, to the slightly thinner side. Thursday’s card isn’t too bad with a average field size of 8.1. Here are the numbers, in order, 7, 6, 9, 7, 11, 9, 6 10. That’s OK for a Thursday, especially before a big Cal Cup Saturday.

The feature is the sixth, 6½ furlongs down the hillside turf course. It’s an allowance/optional claimer (only one has a for sale sign on her) for fillies and mares 4 and up. The purse is $58,000.

Now, apologies if we fixate on these numbers over the growing weeks. We would much rather it not to be a factor. But if fields aren’t filling, and if the track has to cancel a race card, much like they did a few times last year, a three-day racing week is back on the table. Stay tuned.

Golden Gate preview

Like we mentioned above, we’re adding a weekend preview of the best racing at Golden Gate on the start of each racing week. Sparing no expense — and the operative phrase here is no expense — we enlisted the help of their new race caller and all-around good guy Matt Dinerman. Now, the fact that I have clothes older than Matt shouldn’t diminish my confidence in his vast racing knowledge. He knows his stuff. So take it away, Matt.

“To kick things off, we’ll quickly recap last Saturday’s $100,000 California Derby. Choo Choo, who went off at even money, won for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, jockey Juan Hernandez and owner-breeder Calumet Farm. He came out of the race in good shape, according to assistant trainer Juan Arriaga, and may show up next in the El Camino Real Derby on Feb. 17. That said, no plans are certain. Hollendorfer has owned this race in recent years. The 71-year-old horseman has won eight of the last 12 runnings of this Derby.

“Cal Cup Day is this Saturday at Santa Anita and Golden Gate is represented in the Cal Cup Turf Sprint with two runners from the Andy Mathis barn. Vutszak, in post 4, broke his maiden at Golden Gate two starts ago before finishing off the board in his first start against winners, the Golden Nugget Stakes, won by Southern California shipper Runaway Ghost. The other Mathis entrant, Sunrise Journey, smoked maiden special weight competition at GGF on Jan. 1. The third and sixth place finishers in that race came back to complete the exacta in a maiden special weight event this past Sunday.

“Sunrise Journey drew post 10 of 13. Country Road, another Golden Gate runner, is entered to run in the Cal Cup Sprint on Saturday for trainer John Martin, but he may scratch. He is also entered in an allowance race at Golden Gate. My guess is he stays home and runs in the allowance, which will be much easier than shipping and running against the likes of Edwards Going Left and Masochistic.

“The racing week starts Thursday with a seven-race card. The feature on Friday is an allowance event for older sprinters. The trio of runners to beat are Country Road, Southern California allowance winner Junior Gilliam and Castle, a well-regarded Cal-bred colt by Slew’s Tiznow, who comes off a big win against maiden special weight company on Dec. 9. Saturday’s program will have a 12:30 p.m. post led by a solid allowance race for older fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles. The main contenders include recent allowance winner Please Do and Nicarra, who is owned and trained by So Cal connections DP Racing and James Cassidy.”

Bob Ike’s SA play of the day

SIXTH RACE: No. 5 Spin Me a Kiss (3-1)

Filly from Phil D'Amato stable has been freshened for nearly three months but appears to be training well for her return and likes the downhill turf course (one win, two seconds and one third from four starts). She has good tactical speed to set the pace or lay right off and gets a big rider switch to Corey Nakatani. She figures to fire a big shot as the likely favorite, with potential exacta partners hailing from the Richard Mandella barn (Blame It On Alphie and Greta G).

Sunday’s Result: Forbidden Command did not transfer her form to turf and stopped badly.

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

Final thought

Still looking to jump the circulation of this newsletter. Can’t beat the price. If you like it, tell someone. If you don’t like it, then you’re probably not reading this. Either way, send to a friend and just have them click here and sign up. Remember, it’s free, and all we need is your email, nothing more.

Any thoughts, drop me an email at my new address or feed my ego by following me on Twitter @jcherwa

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

Santa Anita Entries for Thursday, January 25.

Santa Anita, Santa Anita Park, Arcadia, California. 17th day of a 59-day meet.


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

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Blondy's RewardRuben Fuentes123Paula S. Capestro4-112,500
2Dixie CrystalTiago Pereira123Marcelo Polanco12-112,500
3ReinahermosaEfrain Hernandez123Ricardo Zamora20-112,500
4Lovely LindaTyler Conner123Eoin G. Harty5-212,500
5YaffeKyle Frey123Jeff Mullins4-512,500
6Tizno's DilemmaBrayan Pena123Sean McCarthy6-112,500
7It's Not So EasyGeovanni Franco123Steven Miyadi8-112,500


5½ Furlongs. Purse: $29,000. Maiden Claiming. 3 year olds. Claiming Prices $50,000-$40,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Charming GentTiago Pereira122Jack Carava4-150,000
2Gray AdmiralRuben Fuentes122Victor L. Garcia8-150,000
3Sharon's FuryTyler Conner122Jeff Bonde6-150,000
4Joejoe's KingdomDrayden Van Dyke122Craig Anthony Lewis7-250,000
5Alternate RhythmMartin Pedroza122Jeff Mullins5-250,000
6Honeymoonz OverKyle Frey122Doug F. O'Neill2-150,000


1 Mile Turf. Purse: $28,000. Claiming. 4 year olds and up. Claiming Price $32,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Clever RoyalGeovanni Franco123David Jacobson6-132,000
2Crown the KittenKent Desormeaux123J. Keith Desormeaux3-132,000
3Bourbon SoulTyler Baze123Jeff Mullins8-132,000
4BuymeabondTiago Pereira123Jack Carava15-132,000
5Pound Piece Brice Blanc123Patrick Gallagher15-132,000
6Preacher RoeStewart Elliott123Mike Puype6-132,000
7Conquest DaddyoFlavien Prat123John W. Sadler6-132,000
8Street MoxieSantiago Gonzalez123Jonathan Wong7-232,000
9Southern FreedomRafael Bejarano123Jerry Hollendorfer5-132,000


1 Mile. Purse: $54,000. Maiden Special Weight. Fillies. 3 year olds.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Tea for TamVictor Espinoza122John A. Shirreffs8-1
2MapitMario Gutierrez122Jerry Hollendorfer6-1
3Dancing BelleKent Desormeaux122J. Keith Desormeaux9-5
4Secret CausewaySantiago Gonzalez122Dan L. Hendricks20-1
5Two Steps FasterTyler Conner122Jerry Hollendorfer5-2
6Candy Coated WorldEdgar Payeras115Ruben Gomez30-1
7Tequila SunriseRafael Bejarano122Richard Baltas2-1


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

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Shining ArmadaRuben Fuentes122Paul G. Aguirre4-120,000
2Saddle ClubSaul Arias122Clifford W. Sise, Jr.15-120,000
3Feeling the HeatMatt Garcia122Manuel Calvario15-120,000
4Outa HereTyler Baze122Jeffrey Metz6-120,000
5Angela's RoseBrayan Pena122Sal Gonzalez15-120,000
6Crimsoned N CloverKyle Frey122Mark Rheinford6-120,000
7MolinitaSantiago Gonzalez122Jorge Gutierrez30-120,000
8Dressed in PradaAlonso Quinonez122Lloyd C. Wicker7-220,000
9Our Bright StarCesar Franco115G. F. Almeida30-120,000
10YallaTiago Pereira122Alfredo Marquez6-120,000
11Topaz TimeJoseph Talamo122Matthew Chew4-120,000


About 6½ Furlongs Turf. Purse: $58,000. Allowance Optional Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 4 year olds and up. Claiming Price $62,500.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Blame It On AlphieDrayden Van Dyke122Richard E. Mandella6-1
2Miss Southern MissKent Desormeaux122J. Keith Desormeaux6-1
3Zaffinah Rafael Bejarano122Jack Carava10-1
4MistressofthenightVictor Espinoza122Richard Baltas15-1
5Spin Me a KissCorey Nakatani124Philip D'Amato3-1
6Lake TimeJoseph Talamo122J. Eric Kruljac6-1
7Snow Cloud Tiago Pereira124James M. Cassidy15-162,500
8Greta G Flavien Prat122Richard E. Mandella7-2
9Angel AllieTyler Baze122Mark Glatt9-2


6½ Furlongs. Purse: $30,000. Starter Optional Claiming. Fillies. 3 year olds. Claiming Price $40,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Line DriveKyle Frey121Doug F. O'Neill6-5
2SugaratsundownRuben Fuentes121Antonio Garcia30-140,000
3Kiss of DahpespeJoseph Talamo121Gary Sherlock3-1
4Uno Trouble MakerFlavien Prat121Peter Miller5-2
5FracasRafael Bejarano123Alfredo Marquez9-240,000
6La ChepisSaul Arias121J. Keith Desormeaux10-1


About 6½ Furlongs Turf. Purse: $30,000. Starter Allowance. Fillies and Mares. 4 year olds and up.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Party HostessMario Gutierrez121Jerry Hollendorfer6-1
2Tiffany DiamondGeovanni Franco121Michael Machowsky15-1
3Coalinga HillsSantiago Gonzalez121Martin F. Jones8-1
4Looking At ThelakeRafael Bejarano121John W. Sadler4-1
5Chay Up and AwayIgnacio Puglisi121Paul G. Aguirre12-1
6Resilient HumorMartin Pedroza123Jack Carava6-1
7Khaleesi Tiago Pereira123Michael Machowsky7-2
8Pirate FlagBrice Blanc121Clifford W. Sise, Jr.30-1
9Lori's AttitudeTyler Baze123Carla Gaines5-1
10Midnight SwingerKyle Frey121Doug F. O'Neill6-1