Racing! Guess who’s returning to racing on Thursday?

Hello, my name is John Cherwa and welcome back to our horse racing newsletter as we come to you from bad-weather Baltimore.

It’s difficult to believe that Saturday’s 143rd running of the Preakness Stakes can be run on anything but a wet track. There is rain scheduled every day the remainder of the week and it’s, at times, a relentless, weather-service-alert, kind of rain. And with the absence of any sun, the track will have no opportunity to dry out.

Still, it’s hard to believe that any horse but Justify can win this race. Good Magic, second in the Kentucky Derby, is the best of the rest, but was his tank emptied in Louisville? We know that Justify’s was not.

Justify has proved he can handle an off surface. In fact, there’s not a dirt surface he’s proved that he can’t handle. (Forgive the double negative, please.)

Since we last talked, a couple of stories have been posted at and run in the print editions.

Here are your five storylines to this year’s Preakness Stakes. (Just click here.)

How Bob Baffert’s subterfuge got Justify to the Kentucky Derby on schedule. (Just click here.)

Baffert and Wayne Lukas seem have patched up old wounds. (Just click here.)

The Preakness draw, post positions and odds. (Just click here.)

Preakness draw analysis

As an added feature, Jeff Siegel and Aaron Vercruysse of offer up their exclusive analysis of Wednesday’s draw. It’s always good stuff and worth a watch. You won’t be disappointed. (Just click here.)

More Preakness news

The Preakness notes team was in full gear on Wednesday and are glad to share some of their information with you.

--Justify, Lone Sailor and Quip all arrived at the track between 3 and 4 p.m. Wednesday afternoon after a plane ride from Louisville. They got a police escort from BWI Airport to Pimlico.

--Good Magic galloped over the muddy Pimlico surface on Wednesday morning, going about 1¼ miles. Assistant trainer Baldo Hernandez, said he was “very pleased” and categorized the effort as “excellent.” Trainer Chad Brown won’t get to Baltimore until Friday. He won last year’s Preakness with Cloud Computing.

--Bravazo and Sporting Chance, both for trainer Wayne Lukas, jogged once around the track and galloped clockwise on the second lap. “We didn’t do a lot with that track the way it was,” Lukas said. “If we’re going to do something serious on that racetrack we’ve got to get paid for it.”

--Quip galloped a mile at Keeneland on Wednesday morning before being vanned to Louisville for his flight to Baltimore. Trainer Rodolphe Brisset hasn’t settled on a training schedule yet. “I have no idea,” he said. “I have to take a good look at the track. It sounds like the weather hasn’t been nice over there.” He’s right.

--Tenfold had an easy day on Wednesday after a van ride from Louisville on Tuesday. He just walked the shedrow and is scheduled for a gallop on Thursday.

--Diamond King jogged a mile over a muddy track at Parx, near Philadelphia, before shipping to Pimlico on Wednesday afternoon and arriving about 3:15 p.m. “We got a lot of rain and the track was a little hard, so I just jogged him,” trainer John Servis said.

Santa Anita preview

I hinted at it at the top, but guess who’s back from an eight-month Club Med vacation? It’s 3-year-old colt Brave Helios, owned in part by my co-conspirator, back-up newsletter writer, Eric (Manny Mota) Sondheimer. His co-owner is newsletter contributor Jeff Siegel. (See above.) The horse is a son of Artie Schiller, one of Eric’s favorites.

Brave Helios is set for the first race at Santa Anita at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, 6½ furlongs down the hill. It’s an allowance/optional claimer for Cal-breds with only six horses in it. He’s at 5-1, so he’s not getting a lot of love from morning-line oddsmaker Jon White. That is, unless Jon has factored in the effect the newsletter might have on the colt’s odds, in which case he would be even longer.

Flavien Prat is aboard. Derek Lawson, Prat’s agent, used to be a high-school correspondent for Eric many years ago. So, there might have been some favors called in.

Let’s see if Santa Anita media czar Mike Willman has the courage to make that the featured race of the day in his daily news release or if he’ll choose the other 6½-furlong allowance race, which carries an equivalent $56,000 purse.

Oh, yeah. There are seven other races. Nothing special. There are three turf races, first, fifth and eighth. Here are the field sizes, in order: 6, 6, 8 (2 also eligible), 6, 8, 8, 8, 10 (1 AE).

Golden Gate weekend preview

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

“This Friday and Saturday, the opening race at Golden Gate Fields will go off at a different time than the usual 12:45 p.m. The first of eight races on the Golden Gate Friday program will be at 1:15 p.m., with gates opening for simulcasting at 10 a.m. The first race on Saturday is 12:15 p.m., with the gates opening for simulcasting at 9 a.m.

“The feature race this week is Sunday’s $75,000 Alcatraz Stakes for 3-year-olds on turf. Among the probables are Afleet Ascent, who finished fourth in the Singletary Stakes at Santa Anita earlier this month, and stakes-placed colts Respect the Hustle and Unpossible. Tortosa and Bronze Warrior, the first and second in an allowance race on April 8, are also listed as ‘probable.’

“The late pick 4 on Friday’s card caught my eye. Races 5-8 has two maiden special weights, an allowance and a starter allowance filling the sequence. The allowance race is a 5-furlong turf dash, which appears to be a prep for the June 9 Albany Stakes, also a 5-furlong turf sprint. Among the entrants in Friday’s Albany prep are stakes winners (and stablemates) Kristo Skye and Tribal Storm, recent second level allowance winner Summersimage, ‘horse for course’ Swingshift Deputy and speed demon Aalsmeer.

“To end this week’s update, we offer a friendly reminder that every Sunday until the end of the meet on June 10, there will be a $50,000 guaranteed late pick 5 pool. It’s the last five races on every card.”

Bob Ike SA pick of the day

FIFTH RACE: No. 1 Armour Plate (3-1)

Sophomore colt makes his first start for top trainer Bill Spawr as he returns from a nearly six-month layoff. The son of Into Mischief showed good ability as a 2-year-old and ran the best race of his career over this course, plus the work pattern looks rock solid.

Sunday’s result: It's a New Year (3-1) made a clear lead but tired to third in the sixth 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).

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, May 17.

Santa Anita, Santa Anita Park, Arcadia, California. 19th day of a 42-day meet.


About 6½ Furlongs Turf. Purse: $56,000. Allowance Optional Claiming. 3 year olds. Claiming Price $50,000. State bred.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Raven CreekTyler Baze122Jeff Mullins2-1
2VutzakStewart Elliott122Mike Puype5-2
3Brave HeliosFlavien Prat122Michael Machowsky5-1
4CroissantMario Gutierrez122Doug F. O'Neill4-1
5Uh Oh BabyJoseph Talamo122Craig Dollase6-1
6DrizzyVictor Espinoza122Michael Machowsky5-1


1 Mile. Purse: $25,000. Claiming. Fillies. 3 year olds. Claiming Prices $20,000-$18,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Sapphire KidAsa Espinoza115Rafael Becerra5-220,000
2Empress of LovTiago Pereira122Gary Sherlock2-120,000
3Millie JoelGeovanni Franco122Anthony K. Saavedra6-120,000
4Instinctual KashTyler Baze122Jeffrey Metz8-120,000
5Mischievous SongMartin Pedroza120Peter Miller3-118,000
6WampusStewart Elliott122Art Sherman5-120,000


4½ Furlongs. Purse: $54,000. Maiden. Fillies. 2 year olds. State bred.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1RolingaRuben Fuentes122Edward R. Freeman9-2
2Settle ItMario Gutierrez122Doug F. O'Neill8-5
3JellybeankristineJoseph Talamo122Gary Sherlock8-1
4Derby LuckHeriberto Figueroa115Ruben Gomez10-1
5Swing ThoughtsTyler Conner122Ed Moger, Jr.15-1
6AwepolloniaAlonso Quinonez122Jorge Periban6-1
7Ron's CatFernandez Rojas122Marcia Stortz12-1
8Six Pack GalRafael Bejarano122Michael Machowsky3-1
Also Eligible
9Takahiro's DreamMartin Pedroza122Adam Kitchingman5-1
10Rejoyce and SingFranklin Ceballos117Steven Miyadi5-1


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

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Princess LeiaAsa Espinoza118Rafael Becerra9-512,500
2AsemStewart Elliott120Ryan Hanson5-112,500
3AtrevidaTyler Baze120Michael W. McCarthy7-212,500
4Dizzy DivaJoseph Talamo125David E. Hofmans8-512,500
5Lovely LindaFranklin Ceballos120Antonio Garcia12-112,500
6ReinahermosaRuben Fuentes125Ricardo Zamora10-112,500


About 6½ Furlongs Turf. Purse: $56,000. Allowance Optional Claiming. 3 year olds. Claiming Price $75,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Armour PlateRafael Bejarano122William Spawr3-1
2AxelrodFlavien Prat120Michael W. McCarthy4-1
3GiddymeisterRuben Fuentes120Paul G. Aguirre20-1
4HeartfullofstarsCorey Nakatani122Philip D'Amato5-1
5GraycasterTyler Conner122Jerry Hollendorfer8-1
6CalexmanAlonso Quinonez122Vladimir Cerin4-1
7Move Over Tyler Baze124John W. Sadler7-2
8Crazy Uncle RickEdwin Maldonado120Jeff Bonde10-1


5½ Furlongs. Purse: $54,000. Maiden. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Smart DorieKent Desormeaux120Robert B. Hess, Jr.6-1
2She FoxFlavien Prat120Richard E. Mandella10-1
3Jest a PrincessDrayden Van Dyke125Bob Baffert7-2
4Now BlessedTyler Baze125John W. Sadler5-2
5The Innocent OneTyler Conner120Jerry Hollendorfer8-1
6MojganAsa Espinoza113Richard Baltas5-1
7TandaliciousTiago Pereira120Philip D'Amato6-1
8AngelicRafael Bejarano120Jerry Hollendorfer6-1


5½ Furlongs. Purse: $25,000. Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $20,000-$18,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1ScathingCorey Nakatani123Vladimir Cerin9-220,000
2Cioppino PasadinoStewart Elliott123Charles S. Treece10-120,000
3Sharona SunsetBrayan Pena118Marcia Stortz20-120,000
4Time and ChanceAsa Espinoza116William E. Morey4-120,000
5Princess AshlynGeovanni Franco123John F. Martin3-120,000
6Revenue VirginiusRafael Bejarano123Jerry Hollendorfer5-120,000
7Adios CaliAlonso Quinonez123Steve Knapp12-120,000
8Tangled Up in JuEdwin Maldonado123Dan Blacker5-220,000


About 6½ Furlongs Turf. Purse: $33,000. Maiden Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $75,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1True TestamentAsa Espinoza118Jerry Hollendorfer6-175,000
2Navajo Dreamer Flavien Prat120Richard Baltas7-275,000
3No Wine UntastedMartin Pedroza120Ian Kruljac12-175,000
4StrengthinnumbersTiago Pereira120Philip D'Amato12-175,000
5She's LegitVictor Espinoza125Peter Miller5-175,000
6LadybugKent Desormeaux120John W. Sadler3-175,000
7Gia LulaTyler Conner120Mark Glatt5-175,000
8Tiz GoldiluxRafael Bejarano125Martin F. Jones12-175,000
9One UpperStewart Elliott120Ryan Hanson12-175,000
10ConvinceMario Gutierrez120Peter Eurton12-175,000
Also Eligible
11It's AlexusKyle Frey120Doug F. O'Neill10-175,000