Racing! Lots of changes in our Kentucky Derby rankings

Hello, my name is John Cherwa and welcome back to our horse racing newsletter as our contributors do all the heavy lifting today.

The path to the Kentucky Derby continues to get more interesting every day. To keep you on the cutting edge of what’s happening, we’ve got the insightful Jon White, the morning-line maker at Santa Anita, to analyze what to look for and what to expect. Here’s this week’s look at his Top 10, and its quite different, heading toward the Derby. It’s great stuff.

So, Jon, it’s in your hands.

“Instilled Regard drops to No. 6 after finishing fourth as the 7-5 favorite in the Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds. He was in an ideal spot to win the race at the top the stretch, but just didn't have any punch in the final furlong. At first, I was tempted to drop him to No. 9 or No. 10 or perhaps even off the Top 10 entirely. But I don't want to be too harsh on him for this one defeat. Hence, I have dropped him from No. 2 to No. 6.

“Bravazo, 21-1 in the wagering, won the Risen Star in an upset for trainer D. Wayne Lukas by a nose over 41-1 longshot Snapper Sinclair. Rather than add Bravazo to the Top 10, I am keeping a different Lukas-trained colt — Sporting Chance — on the list. I have decided to keep Sporting Chance on the list even though he did not win the Southwest. Yes, Sporting Chance could not do better than to finish third in the Southwest. But I think third actually was good under the circumstances in that he was knocked around some and it his first start since he won the Hopeful at Saratoga on Sept. 4.

“By the way, considering how successful Hall of Famer Lukas has been throughout his career as a trainer, I am rather surprised that he has registered so many upsets in stakes races through the years, such as he did with Bravazo at 21-1. Consider these other horses conditioned by Lukas to have pulled off upsets at 20-1 or higher in stakes races: Take Charge Brandi (61-1 in the 2014 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies), Spain (55-1 in the 2000 Breeders' Cup Distaff), Cash Run (32-1 in the 1999 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies), Charismatic (31-1 in the 1999 Kentucky Derby), Stellar Jayne (29-1 in the 2004 Mother Goose), Codex (25-1 in the 1980 Santa Anita Derby), Thunder Gulch (24-1 in the 1995 Kentucky Derby) and Skyring (24-1 in the 2013 Dixie).

“Meanwhile, how about trainer Keith Desormeaux's prowess at winning rich races contested on a wet track? My Boy Jack won the $500,000 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park by 4 1/2 widening lengths on a muddy track. Desormeaux also trained Exaggerator, who won four races worth $1 million or more on a wet track: $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot, $1 million Santa Anita Derby, $1.5 million Preakness Stakes and $1 million Haskell Invitational.

“My Boy Jack's Southwest triumph flatters the horse I have ranked No. 1, McKinzie. When McKinzie won the Sham Stakes at Santa Anita on Jan. 6, My Boy Jack finished third, beaten 7 1/2 lengths.

“McKinzie had a terrific workout last Saturday for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert at Santa Anita, six furlongs in 1:12.60. It was the fastest of 18 works at 6 furlongs that morning. Private clocker Toby Turrell said McKinzie ‘came down the lane just as fluent as can be’ and ‘looked great.’ The next-fastest 6-furlong work was 1:13.80 by What a View, a 7-year-old gelding who won the Kilroe Mile on the grass at Santa Anita in 2016 and runner-up in last year's Kilroe. What a View is entered in Saturday's Daytona Stakes on the turf at Santa Anita, a race trainer Kenny Black has said is being utilized as a springboard to this year's Kilroe Mile. The Mar. 10 Kilroe Mile is expected to attract World Approval, who was voted a 2017 Eclipse Award as champion male turf horse.

“Speaking of Baffert, he unleashed Justify for a dazzling 9 1/2-length win in a 7-furlong maiden race last Sunday at Santa Anita in his career debut. But while the son of Scat Daddy obviously has a ton of talent, I just can't justify putting him on my Top 10 at this point mainly because a) he did not race as a 2-year-old and b), if he does run in the Kentucky Derby, he probably will be doing so with just three lifetime starts.

“Every horse since Apollo in 1882 has raced as a 2 year old. And in the 143-year history of the Kentucky Derby, only two horses — Regret in 1915 and Big Brown in 2008 —have won the roses when having made three or fewer lifetime starts. But while Justify certainly will be bucking history if he does run in the Kentucky Derby, if there is a trainer capable of thumbing his nose at the historical mountain to climb it is Baffert, the man who ended a 37-year Triple Crown drought by winning the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes with American Pharoah in 2015.”

Jon White's Kentucky Derby Top 10

  1. McKinzie (1)
  1. Good Magic (3)
  1. Bolt d'Oro (4)
  1. Audible (5)
  1. Solomini (6)
  1. Instilled Regard (2)
  1. Catholic Boy (10)
  1. Avery Island (7)
  1. My Boy Jack (NR)

10. Sporting Chance (8)

Note: Last week’s ranking are in parethesis.

Santa Anita preview

After some great racing last weekend, Santa Anita is back to a more normal card on Friday with five of the eight races being strictly for claimers. Post time is 1 p.m. If you had to tab one a feature, it would be the fifth (see Bob Ike’s pick below) going 6 ½ furlongs down the hill on the turf. It’s an allowance/optional claimer for horses 4 and up.

There are two other turf races on the card, bookending as the first and eighth. Field sizes remain strong, except for the second. They are, in order: 7, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 9, 9.

Bob Ike’s SA play of the day

FIFTH RACE: No. 9 B Squared (3-1)

Although he has been asked to do many different things during his 12-race career (dirt sprints, dirt routes, turf sprint, turf routes) while often facing graded stakes company, we thought his best race was sprinting down the hillside turf course on Oct. 21. He was a sharp winner of a Cal-bred stakes while defeating Richard's Boy that day and should be tough to deny in this spot if he runs back to that effort.

Monday Result: George From Tahoe was scratched from the eighth race.

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

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 stakes races highlighted last week at Golden Gate Fields. The El Camino Real Derby for 3-year-olds was run on Saturday and won by Paved, who became the first filly ever to win the race. According to the connections, Paved is most likely to make her next start in The Grade 3 Providencia Stakes on April 7 at Santa Anita. Drayden Van Dyke rides for trainer Michael McCarthy and owners Ciaglia Racing and Eclipse Thoroughbred partners. Looks as if they’ve got a nice filly on their hands.

“On President’s Day, The Lost In The Fog Stakes was won by 20-1 shot Tribal Storm, who nipped 2-5 favorite Wellabled right on the money. Although Tribal Storm won at a big price, it wasn’t a huge shock that he won when you consider he finished behind talented Souther California Edwards Going Left a few starts ago at Del Mar, and also won The Harris Farm Stakes at Fresno last Fall.

“This horse has always had talent. Tribal Storm was given a perfect ride by Irving Orozco, who in my opinion is as good as anyone at riding this Tapeta surface. He puts his horses in the right spot every race, knows exactly how much horse he has throughout the race and is very patient. With this patience, he is able to save a lot of energy for the end, and being patient is critical to riding a good race over this track. Irving is a very talented rider and I am very impressed with what I have seen from him.

“A big shout out to William “Billy” Antongeorgi III, who picked up his 1,000th career victory aboard Many Lights in race two on Saturday. William, nicknamed “Billy the Kid” around the track, has been a major player in the jockey colony at Golden Gate Fields since 2008. Congrats Billy!

“Three racing days this week with post time moved to 1:15 p.m. each day. For fun, here’s a horse I really like this Saturday:

Race nine: No. 3 Mommy Rose (6-1) is an interesting contender to consider in the nightcap. This filly is out of Silver Swallow, who was an exceptionally talented racemare earning more than $473,000 and placed in many graded stakes, including the Grade I Santa Anita Oaks. In the career debut, Mommy Rose ran in a maiden $8,000 claimer. She showed front-running speed, dug in gamely down the lane when challenged by two runners and finished third in a three-horse photo. It was a great effort from her, especially when you take into account that her trainer, Steve Miyadi, doesn’t win often with first-time starters. Miyadi does, however, hit at a 23% clip with second time starters. With that statistic in mind, she may be even more fit now that she has a race under her belt.”

Los Alamitos weekend preview

I’ve decided to leave this weekly segment in the hands of Orlando Gutierrez, marketing and media maven at Los Al. So, the floor is yours, Orlando.

“Fulton Quien Sabe Ranch’s multiple stakes winner He Is The Risingstar and graded stakes finalist Well Good will face off in a $12,000 allowance event at 550-yards, while nine thoroughbred fillies and mares will get the pick-six started in the third race on Friday night with a modest $5,080 carryover adding a little extra interest to the racing card. First post is 7 p.m.

“Allan’s Baby, the morning line favorite at 7-2, and Theverythotofyou, who is second choice at 9-2, are among the thoroughbreds that will go in the 4 ½ furlong third race. The field is completely wide open and may provide the biggest price in the pick six.

“He Is The Risingstar, in the featured eight race, is the one to beat following a hard-fought second at 550 yards when he was trying to win the Barbra B Handicap for the third year in a row on Jan. 14. He Is The Risingstar showed plenty of fight in that race and few are better than he is at this distance. He’s in the two for trainer Paul Jones and red-hot jockey Cesar De Alba. Well And Good, who has not raced since a sixth place finish in the Grade 2 Southern California Derby, figures to be one of the main contenders in this race. Post time is around 10:15 p.m. for this race.

“After two months the jockey and trainer standings are starting to shape up. Juan Sanchez, who finished in a dead-heat with Vinnie Bednar in the thoroughbred standings at night, has 15 winners after 21 racing programs. Bednar has 10 wins. Trainer Jesus Nunez, the breed’s leading trainer last year here, has saddled 12 thoroughbred winners this meet, four more than Kelly Castaneda. Jesus Rios Ayala, the leading quarter-horse jockey in 2017, has a 14-13 lead right now Eduardo Nicasio. De Alba, who has been winning stakes races left and right here in February is third with 10 wins. The biggest surprise is trainer Chris O’Dell, who is leading the quarter-horse standings with 10 winners in 24 starts. Paul Jones and Jose Flores have nine.

Chris Wade’s LA play of the day

FIFTH RACE: No. 5 Favorite Kay (6-1)

I’ll go with a bit of a price play with Favorite Kay, a trouble prone runner deluxe, but she races for a barn that can often pop with a price in straightaway races. The sophomore filly has posted many competitive figures with everything factored into her times, i.e. trouble and track variants. Twenty-one nights ago, the big bodied filly was moving as the gate opened and she lost multiple lengths and virtually all semblance to light the board. After the tough start, the big-bodied filly still finished fairly well under a hold far back. If a clean start is in the offering tonight, this long strider could find the winner’s circle at a nice price.

(Note: Ed Burgart hasn’t gone away, he’s just on vacation.)

Final thought

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

Santa Anita Entries for Friday, February 23.

Santa Anita, Santa Anita Park, Arcadia, California. 34th day of a 59-day meet.


1 Mile Turf. Purse: $33,000. Maiden Claiming. Fillies. 3 year olds. Claiming Price $75,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Sweet CongratsSantiago Gonzalez122Dan Blacker15-175,000
2Prairie CitizenEvin Roman117George Weaver5-275,000
3Sudden LightTiago Pereira122James M. Cassidy6-175,000
4Princess FranBrayan Pena122Adam Kitchingman12-175,000
5Mongolian WindowRafael Bejarano122Enebish Ganbat4-175,000
6Super PatriotDrayden Van Dyke122Bob Baffert2-175,000
7Seattle DropTyler Baze122Gary Mandella4-175,000


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

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1AmericanaRafael Bejarano120Richard Baltas4-1
2Lake TimeCorey Nakatani120J. Eric Kruljac8-5
3DemigoddessCesar Franco113Charles R. Stutts15-162,500
4DalsarosFlavien Prat122Carla Gaines2-1
5MistressofthenightKent Desormeaux120Richard Baltas5-2


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

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Red ObsessionRajiv Maragh122Kristin Mulhall12-150,000
2Duke of FallbrookMario Gutierrez122Antonio Garcia10-150,000
3Bear Down CatsSantiago Gonzalez122Michael Pender5-150,000
4Jerry's ThunderKyle Frey120Mark Rheinford5-240,000
5Mor CandyEvin Roman117Philip D'Amato2-150,000
6King DariusBrayan Pena122Jesus Nunez12-150,000
7Bad Boy LeroyTyler Baze122Mark Glatt5-250,000


1 Mile. Purse: $18,000. Maiden Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $20,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Shining ArmadaEvin Roman121Paul G. Aguirre5-220,000
2Misty SlewAsa Espinoza110Vann Belvoir10-120,000
3LookingforthewireRuben Fuentes126Sal Gonzalez30-120,000
4Party At MidnightRafael Bejarano120Richard Baltas6-120,000
5Victoria FallsSantiago Gonzalez126Jorge Gutierrez2-120,000
6Millie JoelGeovanni Franco120Anthony K. Saavedra4-120,000
7Solar CoronaVinnie Bednar126Jose Hernandez, Jr.12-120,000
8Wasatch WonderMaria Falgione110Jeff Mullins6-120,000


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

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1The Critical WayKent Desormeaux122Mick Ruis5-162,500
2Double Touch Flavien Prat122Dan Blacker12-1
3IncensedTyler Baze120Peter Miller6-1
4Desert LawDrayden Van Dyke124Carla Gaines8-1
5Cimpl ManRajiv Maragh124Gary Mandella5-162,500
6Eric the TrojanEvin Roman115Gerard Piccioni6-1
7AristocraticRuben Fuentes122Victor L. Garcia8-1
8Tristan's TrilogyStewart Elliott122Peter Miller6-1
9B SquaredMario Gutierrez124Doug F. O'Neill3-1


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

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Oh My SoulEvin Roman117Steven Miyadi6-150,000
2WhackedMario Gutierrez122Dan Blacker4-150,000
3WhatyouciswhatugetGeovanni Franco120Gary Sherlock15-140,000
4Lily Be GoodJoseph Talamo122Sean McCarthy6-150,000
5QuizletEdgar Payeras113Richard Rosales30-140,000
6Calimonco ActionRuben Fuentes120Sal Gonzalez20-140,000
7Lucky LulaCorey Nakatani122J. Eric Kruljac4-150,000
8Mixed EmotionsVictor Espinoza122J. Eric Kruljac7-250,000
9TacyTyler Conner122Tim Yakteen6-150,000
10Champagne HoneyTyler Baze120Blake R. Heap8-140,000


1 Mile. Purse: $14,000. Claiming. 4 year olds and up. Claiming Price $6,250.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Midnight CelloBrayan Pena121Robert N. Falcone, Jr.6-16,250
2Mr. LouisGeovanni Franco121John W. Sadler20-16,250
3Storm Comin ThruTiago Pereira121Dean Pederson10-16,250
4RprettyboyfloydMario Gutierrez121Doug F. O'Neill5-26,250
5Tribal JewelSantiago Gonzalez123Ryan Hanson3-16,250
6South Texas LingoAsa Espinoza111Vladimir Cerin7-26,250
7Winning CausewayTyler Baze121Genaro Vallejo5-16,250
8HarrovianCesar Franco114Dennis Givens30-16,250
9Rafter OneMatt Garcia121Michael Pender12-16,250


1 1/8 Mile Turf. Purse: $30,000. Starter Allowance. 3 year olds and up.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1BacoliTyler Conner124Mick Ruis4-1
2Big and LoudTyler Baze118David E. Hofmans15-1
3Principal BobMario Gutierrez124Patrick Gallagher3-1
4Winning ElementFlavien Prat124Doug F. O'Neill4-1
5For HimEdwin Maldonado118Michael Pender10-1
6Bob's All InTiago Pereira118Matthew Chew20-1
7Rainbow SquallRajiv Maragh124George Papaprodromou6-1
8Lauren's LaddKent Desormeaux124Richard Baltas7-2
9AckerCorey Nakatani124Peter Miller5-2

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