Racing! Futures book, handicapping lesson and more

Hello, my name is John Cherwa and welcome back to our horse racing newsletter as we get back to normal after the big handicapping tournament.

The second Kentucky Derby futures book just closed and Good Magic moved up and Bolt D’Oro slid just a tad.

Good Magic, who closed the first futures pool at 11-1, dropped to 8-1 after the second one. Bolt D’Oro went from 7-1 to 8-1. McKinzie dropped from 12-1 to 9-1. The big debut however, was by Audible, who was not in the first pool. He was 9-1 in the second one after a smashing performance in the Holy Bull at Gulfstream.

But if you want to know what’s really going on, look for Jon White’s weekly Derby rankings Friday.

A handicapping lesson

Here’s a special early-week contribution from Rob Henie, who along with Bob Ike just got back from the National Horseplayers Championship. Rob is the author of the WCHR (West Coast Handicapping Report) and the ECHR (East Coast Handicapping Report). The thinking is that by breaking down a race in detail you can learn to handicap like the pros.

Today’s lesson comes from the second race at Santa Anita.

“This is a LISTED maiden $50,000 claimer at 5½ furlongs, but this is nothing more than a $5,000 group, very poor. As we remind members often, RACES AND HORSES SHOULD BE BACKED BASED ON POSITIVE ATTRIBUTES AND NOT AS A RESULT OF WHO’S THE BEST OF THE WORST, WHICH IS RARELY THE RECIPE FOR A WINNING WAGER. For those wanting to continue, top selection would be HER ROYALNESS (#1). Yes, she’s a 5-year-old, but here’s the thing, 4- and 5-year-olds running for Bruce Headley should rarely be viewed negatively, and certainly not as your average horse who’s late to the races, here’s why — from all the trainers on the grounds at Santa Anita, the one we’d consider ‘old school,’ by far, in fact, is Headley. It means no drugs or illegal substances to worry about, but it also means he’s very tough on his runners. For years his debut horses were ready to run, usually not showing up until they were at LEAST 3 years old, often 4, and many times as 5 years olds. Bruce does things the old-fashioned way, still pin-firing the shins of his young runners, just overall, a pretty tough regiment, the same way he was doing things in the 60s and 70s. The result is a race horse who’s ready to run while likely mentally tough as well, and if physically fit, they’re usually ready to give a good account of themselves. This one ran evenly in his August 2016 debut, but obviously things went amiss and he’s been gone ever since, but that was a super strong field he debuted against (we had appraised that bunch as $40,000 types, as opposed to $5,000 types he faces here today), so the fact he was 5-2, has to be viewed positively, and this placement today against such a bad bunch, likely will open the door to him finishing down the lane with effectiveness. SO EURO (#4) is easy to find, debuting today, facing little, with these works about the way we like to see from a live Mike Machowsky runner at first asking. Notice the 10 works, all with the seven days in between works, always a solid sign of a runner not missing a beat and doing well, while Conner showing he can ride a bit, especially with horses up close early.

“Hot / Cold Race Trends: None

“Maiden Listed Condition: MSW

“WCHR Estimated Level: $5,000

“Win Contenders (order of preference): 1-4-2

“X Out Runners (eliminating on the win end):

“Positive Notes:

2 Clearly Gone - Owners Harris Farms, they typically like to have their runners ready at first asking and/or off the layoff. A good effort would not be shocking.

“Negative Notes:

5 Knowitallhousewife - Only 2-1 on the morning line, and despite fitting just fine, we’re looking to beat. Yes, she just missed in recent starts, but we can also point out, those were poor fields, while this is also the sixth opportunity against listed 20,000 types she’s had, meaning, too many tries for our liking, at least so far.

“First Timers:

6 Empire Zone - This is not the pattern we like to see when Papaprodromou has a live first timer.

“TOP PICK: HER ROYALNESS (#1 3-1 Maragh)

“SECOND CHOICE: SO EURO (#4 5-1 Conner)”

Thanks, Rob.

Santa Anita preview

Thursday’s eight-race card with a 1 p.m. start is backloaded with higher purses, although, as is normal almost everywhere, no non-weekend stakes races. There are three turf races, including the one-mile seventh race with 10 starters and four also eligibles. The race is an allowance-optional claimer for horses 4 and up.

The field size has one five-horse field and two six-horse fields. Cause for alarm? Not if you look forward.

It seems as if Santa Anita is promising a full-card field of 10 races Saturday. There are 99 horses entered for 97 spots. Doesn’t take a genius to realize that’s a 9.7-per-race-horse average.

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.

“The El Camino Real Derby is coming up Saturday and most are aware, this is a prestigious race at Golden Gate Fields. Leading the parade of contenders is Choo Choo, trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, who comes off a big win in The California Derby last month. Mugaritz, runner-up in the California Derby, is also scheduled to run.

“A quintet of Southern California invaders will go against the local guns. One contender I like, Paved, is a filly taking on boys for the first time. Paved broke her maiden going 1 1/8 miles, smoking the competition to win by almost a half dozen lengths. Drayden Van Dyke was aboard and is flying up to ride her for trainer Michael McCarthy. She is the only runner in this race that has won at that distance, which only adds to the appeal, and I think her turf form should transfer nicely to this synthetic surface. City Plan, who won The Gold Rush Stakes here last fall, is back on the Tapeta for trainer Eoin Harty after a poor run in the Sham Stakes against McKinzie, while stakes performer Blended Citizen (trained by Doug O’Neill) also makes the trip north for the El Camino Real Derby. Other California entrants include recent maiden winners Calexman (Vladimir Cerin) and Epical (James Cassidy).

“Interestingly, six Southern California jockeys will fly up to ride in The El Camino Real Derby. Here’s the list: Van Dyke, Kyle Frey (Blended Citizen), Tyler Conner (City Plan), Alonso Quinonez (Calexman), Tiago Pereira (Epical) and Mario Gutierrez (Mugaritz). Not often do you see a race in which 60% of the riders in it are not based at that particular track.

“We’ve got five racing days this week, all with a scheduled 12:45 first post time. There is a special President’s Day card on Monday afternoon. The feature is the $50,000 Lost In The Fog Stakes, named after one of the best Bay Area sprinters of all time. An interesting probable is the Larry Rivelli-trained Wellabled, who ships in from the East Coast. Wellabled is a speedy sort that most recently won the Forego Stakes at Turfway Park by 7 lengths. A few other probable entrants (all whom are locals): Percy’s Bluff, Pure Comedy, Quick and Silver and Sunset Dragunn. The draw for the Lost In The Fog (and the rest of the Monday card) is Friday.”

Bob Ike’s SA play of the day

SEVENTH RACE No. 6 Spanish Hombre (4-1)

Sharp gelding from the Jack Carava barn comes off a strong win on opening day and now steps up an allowance level to meet a stronger field. He should get an ideal trip behind the leaders, is ridden back by Rafael Bejarano and appears to have worked very steadily since his victory over six weeks ago. Tab right back for another good effort.

Sunday’s Result: Lucy De ($9.60) won a desperate photo in the seventh race, one of eight winners given out on my selection sheet (missed the "sweep" when finishing second in the finale). Helped make up for a lousy handicapping performance in the NHC in Las Vegas.

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

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, February 15.

Santa Anita, Santa Anita Park, Arcadia, California. 29th day of a 59-day meet.


About 6½ Furlongs Turf. Purse: $30,000. Starter Allowance. 3 year olds.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Zippy GroomEvin Roman116Robert B. Hess, Jr.6-1
2Luke's On FireJoseph Talamo121Craig Dollase12-1
3For HimMartin Pedroza121Michael Pender7-2
4JimmythisnjimthatTyler Baze121Jerry Hollendorfer8-1
5JoerayTyler Conner121David Jacobson4-1
6Walk On WaterKyle Frey123Steven Miyadi12-1
7Cannonball CominGeovanni Franco121Gary Stute5-1
8Mac McLovinAlonso Quinonez121Jorge Periban8-1
9Joejoe's KingdomFlavien Prat121Craig Anthony Lewis4-1


5½ Furlongs. Purse: $29,000. Maiden Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 4 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $50,000-$40,000. State bred.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Her RoyalnessRajiv Maragh122Bruce Headley3-150,000
2Clearly GoneBrice Blanc122Sean McCarthy4-1
3Del Mar DivaKent Desormeaux122Michael Machowsky5-250,000
4So EuroTyler Conner122Michael Machowsky5-150,000
5KnowitallhousewifeEvin Roman115Adam Kitchingman2-140,000
6Empire ZoneSaul Arias122George Papaprodromou15-150,000


1 Mile. Purse: $30,000. Claiming. 4 year olds and up. Claiming Price $25,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1GentrifiedEvin Roman116Vladimir Cerin9-525,000
2HowdyFlavien Prat121Peter Eurton7-225,000
3Eagle ScreamsRafael Bejarano121David Jacobson7-225,000
4SanaviStewart Elliott121Anthony K. Saavedra6-125,000
5Out of PatienceJoseph Talamo121Kristin Mulhall2-125,000


1 Mile Turf. Purse: $30,000. Claiming. 4 year olds and up. Claiming Price $32,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1SpitfireRajiv Maragh123Brian J. Koriner6-132,000
2Kona DreamsTiago Pereira123William Spawr5-132,000
3Reno JohnnyKyle Frey123Angelo Tekos, Jr.12-132,000
4BedeviledKent Desormeaux123J. Keith Desormeaux4-132,000
5At EaseBrice Blanc123Hector O. Palma15-132,000
6Tough It OutJoseph Talamo123Philip D'Amato6-132,000
7Full AccessFlavien Prat123Vladimir Cerin5-232,000
8Hawks PeakTyler Conner123Mark Glatt10-132,000
9Taima the HawkEvin Roman118Vann Belvoir6-132,000


6 Furlongs. Purse: $30,000. Claiming. Fillies. 3 year olds. Claiming Price $25,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Miss PrettyAlonso Quinonez121Jeff Mullins6-125,000
2Silverspun PickupMartin Pedroza121Michael Machowsky3-125,000
3Tiger MomEvin Roman116Robert B. Hess, Jr.7-225,000
4Mama's KidTyler Baze121Sal Gonzalez4-125,000
5La ChepisAsa Espinoza111J. Keith Desormeaux6-125,000
6SugaratsundownBrayan Pena121Antonio Garcia20-125,000
7Chiefs Lil PearlFlavien Prat121Jerry Hollendorfer5-225,000
8Cuvee CatEdgar Payeras114Felix L. Gonzalez50-125,000


1 1/16 Mile. Purse: $63,000. Allowance Optional Claiming. 4 year olds and up. Claiming Price $75,000. State bred.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Hot SeanJoseph Talamo120Bob Baffert2-1
2Infobedad Mike Smith120Neil D. Drysdale5-1
3Seattle SerenadeTyler Conner124Jerry Hollendorfer6-1
4Cat BurglarFlavien Prat122Bob Baffert9-5
5Dressed in HermesEvin Roman117Janet Armstrong12-1
6DalmoreKent Desormeaux120J. Keith Desormeaux7-2


1 Mile Turf. Purse: $58,000. Allowance Optional Claiming. 4 year olds and up. Claiming Price $62,500.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1ColonistFlavien Prat122Jerry Hollendorfer7-2
2Image of JoplinMartin Pedroza124Michael Pender12-1
3Grecian FireJoseph Talamo122Jerry Hollendorfer8-1
4Ronald R Rajiv Maragh120Simon Callaghan12-1
5Tribal FighterCorey Nakatani120Richard Baltas5-1
6Spanish HombreRafael Bejarano120Jack Carava4-1
7Harbour Master Tiago Pereira120James M. Cassidy8-1
8Jimmy BouncerTyler Baze120Michael Pender12-162,500
9Anatolian HeatGeovanni Franco120Peter Miller8-1
10Dr. DorrVictor Espinoza120Bob Baffert8-1
Also Eligible
11TwentytwentyvisionKent Desormeaux124John W. Sadler9-262,500
12Play Hard to GetRajiv Maragh124Ian Kruljac6-162,500
13Grazen SkyJoseph Talamo124Steven Miyadi8-1
14RaaghebEvin Roman119David Jacobson15-162,500


6½ Furlongs. Purse: $54,000. Maiden Special Weight. 3 year olds. State bred.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1MavericksAlonso Quinonez122Bruce Headley5-1
2Eddie's MomentGeovanni Franco122Edward R. Freeman12-1
3Golden GladiatorCecily Evans122Kenneth E. Nettles30-1
4Lord RayleighMike Smith122Jerry Hollendorfer7-2
5Fly First ClassJoseph Talamo122John W. Sadler5-2
6Coil Me HomeFlavien Prat122Richard Baltas5-1
7Coil to StrikeTyler Conner122William E. Morey6-1
8Fashionably FastTiago Pereira122Dean Pederson8-1
9Famous Rock StarTyler Baze122Jeff Mullins10-1
10Surfing StarRajiv Maragh122Bruce Headley8-1