Hello, my name is John Cherwa and welcome back to our horse racing newsletter as we’ve got a lot of content for you to weight through.
Before we get to Jon White’s Belmont rankings, let go to No. 8 in our
8. American Pharoah (2015) 64 votes
This was the horse that ended the 37-year Triple Crown dry spell. And it also makes his performance one of the more difficult to evaluate as the business changed a lot in four decades. Gone were the aggressive pre-Derby race schedules and approaches to breeding and training also have changed. Panelist Tim Layden put it this way: “The most significant aspect of his Triple Crown is that it came at a time when the breeding industry had bred most of the toughness and stamina out of the modern thoroughbred. And he won just the same.”
The voters struggled, with one voting him 10th, one had him ninth, two had him eighth, four had him seventh, one put him in sixth and two had him as high as fifth. It’s also the only horse that all of the panelists got to see live. Tim Wilkin said this about his win in the Belmont: “I never heard Belmont Park as loud as it was when Pharoah flew down that long stretch, but I wasn’t there for
The idea that American Pharoah would never lose was taken off the table in his first race, when he finished fifth. Baffert thought he was too unsettled in the race and took off the blinkers and put cotton in his ears to lessen the noise for his next two races. It worked, he went gate to wire to win the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity by 4 ¾ lengths and then in the Grade 1 FrontRunner Stakes he duplicated that running style and won by 3 ¼ lengths. He suffered a deep bruise to his left front hoof in a workout just before the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and did not run any more that year.
As the 3-year-old campaign started, Baffert had a problem, he also had a very promising colt in
Pharoah made his debut in the Grade 2
American’s Pharoah’s win in the Preakness will be remembered for the apocalyptic rain storm that descended on the track just before post-time turning the surface to slop. Espinoza, breaking from the rail, immediately took the colt to the lead, steadied him on the backstretch after blistering fractions, and when he asked for a run, Pharoah gave it to him. Pharoah brought his “A-game” and won by eight lengths. You can watch the Preakness here.
On to the Belmont, where recent tries by
American Pharoah went on to win the Haskell Stakes at Monmouth, but then suffered a ¾-length defeat in the Travers Stakes at Saratoga, known as the graveyard of champions. He had one more race to go and that was Breeders’ Cup Classic, where he was facing mostly older horses. He won by an easy 6 ½ lengths, stamping his position as one of the all-time greats.
His stallion career is just starting and we should start to see some of his progeny this year. He stands at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud in Kentucky. His fee is $200,000.
The Times Triple Crown panel is composed of horse racing experts, journalists and racing secretaries. It members are Rick Hammerle, racing secretary at Santa Anita; Steve Haskin, racing author and columnist the BloodHorse; David Jerkens, racing secretary at Del Mar; Tim Layden, turf writer at Sports Illustrated; Tom Pedulla, lead writer for America’s Best Racing; Jay Privman, national correspondent for the Daly Racing Form; Jeff Siegel, veteran horseman and lead commentator at XBTV.com; Childs Walker, turf writer at the Baltimore Sun; Alicia Wincze Hughes, racing editor at the BloodHorse; Jon White, racing historian and morning-line maker at Santa Anita and Tim Wilkin, turf writer at the Albany Times Union.
Vote totals were 14 points for first place, 12 for second, 10 for third, and then one point less in descending order.
9. Gallant Fox (read about him here)
10. Assault (read about him here)
11. Omaha (read about him here)
12. Sir Barton (read about him here)
Jon White’s Belmont rankings
In case you forgot, Jon is an historian of the sport of horse racing and also does the morning line at Santa Anita. In short, he knows his stuff. So, take it away, Jon.
“Justify's splendid workout Tuesday morning at Churchill Downs suggests he still has plenty of energy and enthusiasm following his half-length victory in the May 19 Preakness Stakes. With jockey Martin Garcia aboard for the drill, ‘Super J’ effortlessly worked four furlongs in 46.80 seconds, a brisk morning exercise that delighted his trainer, Bob Baffert.
“Baffert said: ‘I'm really happy. It's what you want to see. ... American Pharoah looked like that.’
“Ten days after American Pharoah won the Preakness, he worked four furlongs in 48 seconds flat at Churchill Downs for Baffert. Justify's 46 4/5 workout Tuesday likewise came 10 days after the Preakness.
“American Pharoah in 2015 swept the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont to end a 37-year Triple Crown drought. Between the Preakness and Belmont, American Pharoah had two workouts.
“In American Pharoah's final workout before the Belmont, he stepped five furlongs in 1:00 1/5 at Churchill on June 1. Five days later, American Pharoah won the Belmont by 5 1/2 lengths.
“Secretariat won the Belmont in 1973 to end a 25-year Triple Crown drought. Secretariat, like American Pharoah, had two workouts between the Preakness and Belmont. The plan is for Justify to have the same number of workouts between the Preakness and Belmont.
“Eight days after Secretariat won the Preakness, he worked six furlongs in 1:12 1/5 at Belmont Park. Just five days after that, on June 1, Secretariat had a sizzling one-mile workout at Belmont. It was such a fast workout that many wondered if perhaps it was too fast. Secretariat worked one mile in 1:34 4/5. The track record at that time for one mile on Belmont Park's main track was 1:34 2/5.
“On June 9, Secretariat won the Belmont by 31 lengths in what many consider to be the greatest performance in the history of American racing. His final time of 2:24 flat obliterated the 1 1/2-mile track record that had been set by Gallant Man in 1957. Secretariat broke Gallant Man's record by an astonishing 2 3/5 seconds.
“As for the upcoming Belmont, after last week's
“There had been speculation that Audible might not run in the Belmont due to his overlapping ownership with Justify. However, according to Pletcher, Audible was taken out of consideration for the Belmont because he had not trained satisfactorily since the Kentucky Derby. It turns out that Audible not only will be absent from the Belmont, he has been taken out of training for the time being and will be getting a complete physical at a clinic in Kentucky, according to Daily Racing Form's David Grening.”
Here are this week's Belmont Stakes rankings:
1. Justify (1)
2. Hofburg (3)
3. Vino Rosso (7)
4. Bravazo (5)
5. Tenfold (6)
6. Blended Citizen (NR)
7. Noble Indy (NR)
8. Free Drop Billy (8)
9. Restoring Hope (9)
10. Gronkowski (10)
Note: Last week's ranking in parentheses
Santa Anita preview
It’s a solid Friday card of eight races starting at 12:30 p.m. But the numbers that are most interesting, are the new set of purse figures after Santa Anita announced last week that it was increasing those numbers because of an all sources handle that was up $70 million over last year.
Now, it’s not like the people who wager are suddenly betting much, much more money, although that is one of many factors. The beneficial change of when takeout has to be reported has helped. The bad weather in the East has helped. The lack of cancellations has really helped. In the end, Santa Anita has run 18 more races and that’s the biggest factor. But that’s OK, you take prosperity whenever you can get it, just like you have to accept unforeseen problems when they arise.
So, when you look at Friday’s card, you see purses of $69,000, $63,000, $61,000 instead of numbers in the $50,000. It’s a very good thing.
Now, there are four allowance/optional claimers, which is real good for a Friday card and spectacular for the first card of the week. There are three turf races, the second, fifth and eighth, none on the downhill course.
The early races could have bigger fields, but we are getting to the end of a very long meet. Here are the field sizes, in order: 6, 6, 6, 8, 8, 8, 9, 9 (5 also eligibles).
Bob Ike’s SA play of the day
SEVENTH RACE: No. 9 Twisted Rosie (4-1)
Sophomore filly from the
Monday’s result: Compelled (7-1) finished third in the Monrovia Stakes.
Bob Ike is a Partner/VP of Horsebills.com (here’s a video) and the proprietor of BobIkePicks.com (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. Race caller and all-around good guy Matt Dinerman is our host to previews and other musings. So, take it away Matt.
“Live racing continues this week with three more racing days after our all-turf card Thursday. We’ve got seven races on the program Friday, nine on Saturday, and nine more on Sunday.
“A fun allowance race on the turf goes as the nightcap Friday. Nine 3-year-old fillies go one mile on the turf, with the one to beat being Campanile Stakes second-place finisher Lavadia, who was beat by Pulpit Rider in that race. Pulpit Rider is a main contender on Sunday in the $200,000 Melair Stakes at Santa Anita. Also entered in the Golden Gate Friday feature is Getting Sideways, who ran third in the Campanile, allowance victors Crown Kitten and Tinabud, and recent starter allowance winner Madam Sophia, who is a half sister to graded stakes performer Sircat Sally.
“Saturday features two allowance fields for older colts and geldings sprinting six furlongs, a 4 1/2 furlong sprint for 2-year-olds in and a two turf events. To end the week, we’ve got a solid card featuring two allowance races, a maiden special weight, and five races on the lawn. Featured in the maiden special weight is Acclaim the Queen, a half sibling to multiple Cal-bred stakes winner Heck Yeah from the Baffert barn.
“With six racing days to go, jockey Abel Cedillo has 87 wins and sits atop the jockey standings, with Irving Orozco in second with 80 wins. In the trainer standings, Jonathan Wong has a three-win lead over
Los Alamitos weekend preview
This weekly segment is in the hands of Orlando
“With most of the big equine names at Los Alamitos Race Course preparing for major Grade 1 stakes trials later this month, there are no major races on the docket this weekend. Friday’s card features the return of the intriguing 4-year-old gelding Highest Leader, who won his career debut by a head when racing 300 yards in a fast time of 15.69 seconds on April 21.
“Trained by Valentin Zamudio for Aaron Parra, Highest Leader will take on allowance runners in the featured $11,025 eighth race, while stretching out for this slightly longer race at 330 yards. He’ll be taking on a group that includes the experienced Billionaire Boy, who has raced nine times in his career while qualifying to the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity in 2016. Billionaire Boy will be making his 2018 debut. His last start was a second-place finish in a trial to the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Super Derby last October. The eight-race card will also feature a modest pick 6 carryover of $6,194.
“As for the upcoming racing, a full night of trials to the Grade 1 Ed Burke Million Futurity will be on Sunday, June 10, while top older horses will race in the trials to the Grade 1 Vessels Maturity on Sunday, June 17. Grade 1 stakes winners such as BH Lisas Boy, Zoomin For Spuds, and Lotta Blues Man are expected to take part in the Vessels trials.
“There was also a big name on the workout tab on Wednesday morning, as the superstar filly J Fire Up posted her first move since her track record setting championship campaign of 2017. The Kiddy Up filly drilled 220 yards in 12.30 seconds on Wednesday, her first official appearance since winning the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity on Dec. 17. That victory made her the highest money-earning filly in a single season with $1,430,411 at Los Alamitos. J Fire Up is beginning her preparations to race in trials to the Governor’s Cup Derby on Sunday, July 15.”
Ed Burgart’s LA play of the day
FIFTH RACE: No. 4 Class Stopper (5-2)
Trainer Valentin Zamudio has always done well with first-out claims and returns the gelding at the same level from where he claimed him nearly two months ago. In his last, he won despite getting bumped from both sides after a sluggish start. He is only one of the field’s two multiple winners.
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And now the stars of the show, Friday’s entries.
Santa Anita Entries for Friday, June 1.
Santa Anita, Santa Anita Park, Arcadia, California. 28th day of a 42-day meet.
6½ Furlongs. Purse: $47,000. Claiming. 3 year olds. Claiming Prices $50,000-$45,000.
|1||El Asesino||Stewart Elliott||122||Mick Ruis||6-1||50,000|
|2||Sir Valentine||122||David Jacobson||6-1||50,000|
|3||Candy Crew||Heriberto Figueroa||113||John W. Sadler||6-1||45,000|
|4||Platinum Equity||Geovanni Franco||122||Richard Baltas||2-1||50,000|
|5||Master Ruler||122||John W. Sadler||12-1||50,000|
|6||Graycaster||Flavien Prat||122||Jerry Hollendorfer||6-5||50,000|
1 Mile Turf. Purse: $61,000. Allowance Optional Claiming. 3 year olds. Claiming Price $75,000.
|1||Kylemore||Rafael Bejarano||122||Eoin G. Harty||4-1|
|2||True Loyalty||Kent Desormeaux||122||James P. DiVito||5-1|
|3||Magic Musketier||Asa Espinoza||115||Jerry Hollendorfer||5-1|
|4||La La Land||Joseph Talamo||124||Philip D'Amato||8-5|
|5||Desert Stone||Geovanni Franco||122||Richard Baltas||7-2|
|6||Pepe Tono||Flavien Prat||122||Victor L. Garcia||5-1|
6 Furlongs. Purse: $69,000. Allowance Optional Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $75,000.
|1||Conqueror||Kent Desormeaux||122||Vladimir Cerin||5-1|
|2||Sunset Dragunn||Geovanni Franco||125||Tirso Rivera||12-1|
|3||Blameitonthelaw||Joseph Talamo||122||John W. Sadler||4-1|
|4||Moe Candy||Victor Espinoza||122||John W. Sadler||5-2|
|5||K Thirty Eight||Asa Espinoza||115||Karen Headley||8-1|
|6||Touching Rainbows||Flavien Prat||125||Philip D'Amato||6-5|
6 Furlongs. Purse: $25,000. Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $25,000.
|1||Utana||Kent Desormeaux||125||Robert B. Hess, Jr.||6-1||25,000|
|2||Lady's War Dress||Brayan Pena||125||Bobby Wayne Grayson||20-1||25,000|
|3||Bobbie Lincoln||Joseph Talamo||125||Ronald W. Ellis||7-2||25,000|
|4||Royal Astronomer||Stewart Elliott||125||John E. Cortez||12-1||25,000|
|5||Creative Spark||Tiago Pereira||120||Daniel Dunham||6-1||25,000|
|6||Ib Prospecting||Tyler Conner||125||Peter Eurton||3-1||25,000|
|7||Get Yourself Home||Rafael Bejarano||125||Michael Machowsky||7-2||25,000|
|8||Kentan Road||Heriberto Figueroa||118||John W. Sadler||4-1||25,000|
1 1/8 Mile Turf. Purse: $63,000. Allowance Optional Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $62,500.
|1||Demigoddess||Modesto Linares||121||Charles R. Stutts||30-1|
|2||India Mantuana||Tiago Pereira||121||Philip D'Amato||6-1|
|4||Amboseli||Kent Desormeaux||121||James M. Cassidy||4-1|
|5||Finess Bere||Rafael Bejarano||116||Bob Baffert||6-1|
|6||Vasilika||Flavien Prat||121||Jerry Hollendorfer||5-2|
|7||Fuerza||Mario Gutierrez||123||Richard Baltas||12-1|
|8||The Tulip||Drayden Van Dyke||123||Patrick Gallagher||9-5|
7 Furlongs. Purse: $59,000. Maiden Special Weight. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up.
|1||Storming Lady||Joseph Talamo||120||Simon Callaghan||6-1|
|2||Kindred||Asa Espinoza||118||John A. Shirreffs||8-1|
|3||Aunt Lubie||Flavien Prat||120||Richard E. Mandella||3-1|
|4||Unaffordable U||Heriberto Figueroa||113||Richard Baltas||15-1|
|6||Royal Descendent||Tiago Pereira||120||Brian J. Koriner||5-1|
|7||My Midnight Affair||Brice Blanc||120||Mick Ruis||15-1|
|8||Hot Autumn||Geovanni Franco||120||Ian Kruljac||5-2|
6 Furlongs. Purse: $28,000. Claiming. Fillies. 3 year olds. Claiming Prices $20,000-$18,000.
|1||Mis Viola||Mario Gutierrez||122||Doug F. O'Neill||12-1||20,000|
|2||Uno Trouble Maker||Heriberto Figueroa||117||3-1||20,000|
|3||Willows Babe||Geovanni Franco||122||Richard Baltas||6-1||20,000|
|4||Mama's Kid||Franklin Ceballos||120||Sal Gonzalez||20-1||18,000|
|5||Baytown Juliet||Barrington Harvey||122||Kenneth E. Nettles||30-1||20,000|
|6||Tiger Mom||Rafael Bejarano||124||Robert B. Hess, Jr.||5-1||20,000|
|7||Palace ||Asa Espinoza||117||Peter Miller||5-2||20,000|
|8||Asem||Stewart Elliott||122||Gary Sherlock||8-1||18,000|
|9||Twisted Rosie||Kent Desormeaux||122||Jeff Bonde||4-1||20,000|
1 Mile Turf. Purse: $61,000. Allowance Optional Claiming. Fillies. 3 year olds. Claiming Price $75,000.
|1||Casino Red||Drayden Van Dyke||122||Patrick Gallagher||7-2|
|2||Mongolian Window||Victor Espinoza||122||John W. Sadler||12-1|
|3||Hope Wins||Geovanni Franco||122||Philip D'Amato||12-1|
|4||Trust Fund Kitty||Martin Pedroza||122||Michael Machowsky||12-1|
|5||Streetwithnoname||Flavien Prat||122||Eoin G. Harty||8-1|
|6||Mybluebell||Kent Desormeaux||122||Robert B. Hess, Jr.||6-1|
|7||Pursuing The Dream||Stewart Elliott||122||James M. Cassidy||3-1|
|8||Medaglia Gold||Heriberto Figueroa||115||Clifford W. Sise, Jr.||6-1|
|9||Luminoso||Rafael Bejarano||122||Doug F. O'Neill||4-1|
|10||Bunny Yogurt||Kent Desormeaux||122||John W. Sadler||15-1|
|11||Lexington Grace||Gary Stevens||122||Ian Kruljac||4-1|
|12||Pacific Strike||Mario Gutierrez||122||Peter Eurton||8-1|
|13||Travieza||Rafael Bejarano||122||Doug F. O'Neill||4-1|
|14||Film Actress||Brayan Pena||124||Margie Cantrell||12-1||75,000|