Newsletter: Racing! Justify has yet another day in the sun


Hello, my name is John Cherwa, and welcome back to our horse racing newsletter as we get ready for the final day of Santa Anita’s looooooooooong winter/spring meeting.

It was great to see the crowd at Santa Anita on Saturday as Justify made a modeling appearance at the track. He was greeted by a large crowd and well-deserved adulation. Jockey Mike Smith had huge lines to autograph a poster of him.

I’ve often lauded the ambassadors that trainer Bob Baffert and Smith are for the sport. But here’s what Ed Golden, who writes the stables notes for Santa Anita’s publicity department, reported from Clockers’ Corner on Saturday morning.

“Two new faces among the crowd were a husband and wife from La Palma, which borders Orange County and Los Angeles County, some 32 miles and 36 minutes from Arcadia,” Golden wrote.


“It was their first visit to a racetrack, and they came to see Justify. The man, who happened to be an amputee, was in a wheelchair, while the woman sat at a table nearby, both like children on Christmas morning, absorbing Santa Anita’s singular atmosphere in wide-eyed wonderment.

“When Justify’s trainer, the readily recognizable Bob Baffert, happened to appear, the man asked if he would join them for a photo. Baffert complied. The couple was overjoyed.

“Thanks to Baffert’s act of kindness, the two first-time racetrackers are likely to return again and again, and at a time when racing needs all the goodwill and live bodies it can get, it was a gesture that serves the game well.”

I’ve said it before, but I’ve never seen Baffert say “no” to a request from race fans. And he’s the biggest name in the sport. Try that in any other sport.

Anyway, to learn more about this special day, we’ve got the story that Eric (Manny) Sondheimer did for the web and print editions. You can read it here.

Bad news on Magnum Moon

Magnum Moon, undefeated winner of the Arkansas Derby but 19th in the Kentucky Derby, suffered a career-ending injury during a workout at Belmont Park on Saturday. Here’s hoping everything turns out well. Jeremy Balan of the Bloodhorse has the story. Read it here.


Santa Anita review

In Saturday’s featured race, the Grade 2 $250,000 San Carlos Stakes going seven furlongs, favored American Anthem just got up to win at the end by a head, although it looked a lot closer. American Anthem has mostly the same ownership group as Justify, and the same trainer and jockey.

St. Joe Bay was extremely game and fought off American Anthem down the stretch but eventually got passed. American Anthem paid $3.80, $3.00 and $2.10.

“I caught such a good [break] that I just thought I needed to stay out of his way,” jockey Smith told Mike Willman of Santa Anita. “I thought all I could do was mess it up at that point. St. Joe Bay was running along so easy that I thought I should keep a little pressure on him, and I’m glad I did because I needed every bit of it to get by him.”

Horse Greedy was almost two lengths in back of the front pair for third.

“That other horse [St. Joe Bay] was putting up a big fight and it looked like he had him put away but Anthem got him,” trainer Baffert said. “I was talking to Mike [Smith] and said, ‘We got to get another win,’ because it’s pretty tough after winning a Triple Crown, but still, life goes on and you’ve got to keep winning.”

Santa Anita preview

While I don’t like to make this newsletter about gambling, it would be irresponsible to mention a mandatory payout today in the pick six that starts with a big carryover. The combined carryover is more than $800,000 and betting in this wager is expected to approach $4 million. It starts in race six, and the back half of the card has a lot of full fields. And, if you missed it two sentences ago, this is a mandatory payout.

As for the racing, the last day of the marathon meeting has 11 races starting at 12:30 p.m. (I still miss the early Mimosa Sunday start times.) More than half the races (six) are on the turf, including the closing race, 1 1/4 miles, which means it starts on the downhill course before moving to the main turf course.


The featured race is the Grade 3 $100,000 Wilshire Stakes with fillies and mares going a mile on the turf. It goes off as the ninth race, about 4:50 p.m.

Sophie P is the tepid 3-1 favorite, coming off a win in the Gamely Stakes at Santa Anita. She’s only run two races in the U.S., the other also at Santa Anita. She’s a shipper from England and under the care of trainer James Cassidy. Kent Desormeaux is her jockey.

The second favorites are Beau Recall and Ancient Secret at 7-2.

Big Races review

A look at graded stakes or races worth more $100,000 or more on Saturday.

Belmont: $100,000 Wild Applause Stakes, fillies 3 years old, 1 mile on turf. Winner: Got Stormy ($5.40)

Parx: $100,000 Turning for Home Stakes, 3 and up, 1 1/16 miles. Winner: Aztec Sense ($3.40)

Woodbine: Grade 3 $125,000 Singspiel Stakes, 3 and up, 1½ miles on turf. Winner: Shahroze ($13.20)

Thistledown: Grade 3 $500,000 Ohio Derby, 3-year-olds, 1 1/8 miles. Winner: Core Beliefs ($7.60)

Arlington: Grade 3 $100,000 Chicago Handicap, fillies and mares 3 and up, 7 furlongs. Winner: Hotshot Anna ($11.60)


Ruidoso Downs: $175,000 Mountain Top Futurity, NM-breds 2-year-olds, 5 furlongs. Winner: Hustle Up ($3.00)

Canterbury: $100,000 Lady Canterbury Stakes, fillies and mares 3 and up, 1 mile on turf. Winner: I’m Betty G ($7.60)

Santa Anita: Grade 2 $250,000 San Carlos Stakes, 3 and up, 7 furlongs. Winner: American Anthem ($3.80)

Canterbury: $100,000 Mystic Lake Mile, 3 and up, 1 mile on turf. Winner: My Bariley ($35.00)

Canterbury: $200,000 Mystic Lake Derby, 3-year-olds, 1 mile on turf. Winner: Sniper Kitten ($9.40)

Big races preview

A look at graded stakes or races worth more $100,000 or more on Sunday. All times PDT:

1:46 Belmont: $100,000 New York Stallion Stakes (Cupecoy’s Joy Division), NY-bred fillies 3 years old, 7 furlongs on turf. Favorite: Mentality (9-5)


1:57 Woodbine: $100,000 Bold Ruckus Stakes, Ontario-breds 3-year-olds, 6 furlongs on turf. Favorite: Be Vewy Vewy Quiet (2-1)

2:50 Belmont: $100,000 New York Stallion Stakes (Spectacular Bid Division), NY-breds 3 years old, 7 furlongs on turf. Favorite: Therapist (7-5)

4:50 Santa Anita: Grade 3 $100,000 Wilshire Stakes, fillies and mares 3 and up, 1 mile on turf. Favorite: Sophie P (3-1)

Bob Ike’s SA play of the day

FIFTH RACE: No. 10 Strengthinnumbers (4-1)

Sophomore filly from the Phil D’Amato barn turned in very solid debut, finishing third after getting jostled at start and getting shuffled back coming down the hill. With that race under her belt, moving outside and switching to the second leading rider at the meet, it could be graduation time today.

Saturday’s result: Any Questions raced wide throughout but had nothing to offer through the lane in a very disappointing effort.

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


Ed Burgart LA play of the day

THIRD RACE: No. 4 Summertime Hawk (5-2)

He flashed significant improvement when dropped to the same maiden $6,250 level in last runner-up try when facing heavily favored winner who previously competed versus straight maiden company. He was eliminated at the start two outs back when turning his head as the gate opened. He gets reunited with hot-riding Eduardo Nicasio, who is winning at a 25% clip.

Final thoughts

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And now the stars of the show, Saturday’s results and Sunday’s entries.