Newsletter: Racing! Another handicapping lesson from Rob Henie


Hello, my name is John Cherwa, and welcome back to our horse racing newsletter as we learn a little bit about Belmont Park.

First, some good news for newsletter readers, Eric (Manny Mota) Sondheimer will be piloting your Monday newsletter. Like the hard-working people at Santa Anita, I need a little break. Now, the newsletter is not going anywhere. After Monday, I’ll be back to preview the special Wednesday card at Los Alamitos and continue on. But I hope to ease off the gas for a week or so, which means the newsletter may be mercifully shorter.

The wife, dog and I (in order of importance) are going to see what Jekyll Island in Georgia is all about for a day or so before heading up to see family in Virginia. We were going to go to Hilton Head, S.C., but the dog-friendly Starwood chain hotel was going to charge a $150 non-refundable pet fee for staying one night at their hotel. Plus, the dog couldn’t run on the beach. But the same chain in Jekyll Island wasn’t so much into price gouging, and the Brunswick-area eateries and beaches seem way more accommodating to pooches.


I point this out only for the benefit of you dog lovers.

OK, on to the good stuff, a handicapping lesson from Rob Henie, East Coast-style.

Our handicapping lesson

Here’s our weekly contribution from Rob Henie of the WCHR (West Coast Handicapping Report) and the ECHR (East Coast Handicapping Report). The thinking is if you can know and understand the strategies, it will make you a better handicapper.

Since Rob doesn’t do a card for Los Alamitos, he has graciously shared a lesson from the second race on Belmont’s Sunday card. Take it away, Rob.

“This is a $25,000 claimer at 6½ furlongs, and what’s appealing to us here is the presence of an 8-5 morning-line favorite in Picture Day, a runner we have to try and beat. In March she was running well, a win and a second against better, followed by April and May efforts in which she was not eligible to be claimed for $62,500. Now, just seven weeks later, not only is she for sale, but you can take her for the bargain price of only $25,000, less than three weeks from the prime meet of the summer campaign at Saratoga? This isn’t the type of ‘posturing’ you’ll typically see with a sharp runner readying for the spa, and absolutely have to look at the drop with suspiciousness. If she beats us, OK, but rational thinking in the face of a short price often leads to value elsewhere. With that in mind, top selection is ARCHUMYBABY (#3). Since running in a N4L at Parx in February, she’s been confidently placed, and despite still looking for her first win since that N4L outing, she’s responded with some hard-trying effective efforts, certainly healthy, coming off a nice effort going eight furlongs here last time out, followed by a nice ⅜ drill to instill a bit of speed to coincide with the recent stamina she received. MY ONE LOVE (#1) has been freshened by ‘super feed’ trainer Rodriguez, placed in an open company race, which often following a rest is indicative of a horse doing well and the connections bypassing the state-bred race to simply run at the right time and distance they want. Irad for this barn is always a good thing as well.

Hot / Cold Trends: none

Win Contenders (order of preference): 3-1

X Out Runners (eliminating on the win end): none

Negative Notes: 5 Stay Fond - Runners on the main track, coming off a race at Monmouth, have not been performing well of late.

“TOP PICK: ARCHUMYBABY (#3 10-1 Fragoso)



The West Coast Handicapping Report can be found at It has been endorsed by leading trainers, handicappers and industry sources.

Who goofed, I’ve got to know?

It didn’t change the results at all, but in Saturday’s newsletter, I said I did the Santa Anita number by daily averages instead of year over year. In fact, I did it by race average, not day average. Again, the numbers should all hold up. (See, told you I need a vacation.)

Los Alamitos thoroughbred review

Morning Dance rallied from the back of the pack to win Saturday’s one-mile feature allowance race by half a length. She brought a good price paying $20.80, $8.40 and $6.20. Lightning Dove was second and Red Livy was third.


Phil D’Amato was the winning trainer and Santiago Gonzalez was in the irons. In her only other start at Los Alamitos, she finished third last Sept. 17.

Los Alamitos thoroughbred preview

It’s a nine-race card on Sunday at Los Alamitos starting at 1 p.m.

There are three $40,000 purse races on the card, two maiden special weights for Cal-breds and an allowance/optional claimer. We’ll call the allowance the feature, 5½ furlongs for horses 3 and up. The race should go off about 4:30 p.m.

Bob Baffert has the favorite and second favorite in the race. McKale is 3-1 and ridden by Drayden Van Dyke. He won his first race but hasn’t won in his subsequent three races. He did finish fourth in a graded stakes. The second choice is Coils Gold, who will be ridden by Martin Garcia. He has won two of nine races but finished seventh as the beaten favorite in his last race, an allowance/optional claimer.

There will be a pick six carryover of $23,198 on Sunday.

Big Races review

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

Woodbine: $100,000 Charlie Barley Stakes, 3 years old, 1 mile on turf. Winner: Ride a Comet ($6.50)


Woodbine: Grade 2 $175,000 King Edward Stakes, 3 and up, 1 mile on turf. Winner: Delta Prince ($6.30)

Belmont: $100,000 Perfect Sting Stakes, fillies and mares 4 and up, 1 mile on turf. Winner: La Sardane ($5.60)

Churchill: $100,000 Debutante Stakes, fillies 2 years old, 6 furlongs. Winner: Restless Rider ($4.20)

Woodbine: Grade 2 $175,000 Dance Smartly Stakes, fillies and mares 3 and up, 1¼ miles on turf. Winner: Santa Monica ($9.30)

Monmouth: Grade 3 $100,000 Philip H. Iselin Stakes, 3 and up, 1 1/16 miles. Winner: Harlan Punch ($4.40)

Woodbine: Grade 1 $250,000 Highlander Stakes, 3 and up, 6 furlongs on turf. Winner: Long On Value ($6.70)


Monmouth: Grade 3 $100,000 Eatontown Stakes, 3 and up, 1 1/16 miles on turf. Winner: Dream Awhile ($3.00)

Belmont: Grade 2 $250,000 Mother Goose Stakes, fillies 3 years old, 1 1/16 miles. Winner: Midnight Bisou ($2.90)

Gulfstream: Grade 2 $250,000 Princess Rooney Stakes, fillies and mares 3 and up, 7 furlongs. Winner: Stormy Embrace ($33.40)

Woodbine: $1 million Queen’s Plate Stakes, Canadian-bred 3-year-olds, 1¼ mile. Winner: Wonder Gadot ($6.40)

Churchill: Grade 3 $100,000 Bashford Manor Stakes, 2-year-olds, 6 furlongs. Winner: Sir Truebadour ($5.00)

Monmouth: Grade 1 $300,000 United Nations Stakes, 3 and up, 1 3/8 miles on turf. Winner: Funtastic ($48.00)


Gulfstream: Grade 3 $250,000 Smile Sprint Handicap, 3 and up, 6 furlongs. Winner: X Y Jet ($3.20)

Big races preview

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

11:37 Belmont: $100,000 Saginaw Stakes, NY-breds 4 and up, 1 1/16 miles. Favorite: Twisted Tom (1-1)

11:57 Woodbine: $100,000 Zadracarta Stakes, Ontario-breds 3 and up, 7 furlongs on turf. Favorite: Niigon’s Eclipse (2-1)

1:05 Woodbine: Grade 3 $125,000 Dominion Day Stakes, 3 and up, 1¼ miles. Favorite: Are You Kidding Me (8-5)

2:06 Woodbine: $225,000 Bison City Stakes, Ontario-bred fillies 3 years old, 1 1/16 miles. Favorite: Hot Cash (5-2)


Jose Contreras LRC pick of the day

SEVENTH RACE: No.1 Queen Shelly Ann (6-1)

She found herself with too much to do when hitting the side of the gate and breaking slow in debut. Her rider lost the iron out of the gate and they lost all chance to make any impact after all that trouble. She could have easily thrown in the towel after that, but her rider got his iron back and she made a middle move to pass a couple of runners in a better-than-looked effort. She trained locally over this track in early May.

Saturday’s result: Secreto Primero was just too far behind and could rally only to fourth place.

Jose Contreras is an excellent handicapper and well known on social media and familiar to racing fans watching on TVG. You can follow him on twitter at @losponies or check him out at his website.

Ed Burgart LA play of the day

SECOND RACE: No. 5 Mama’s Secretstorm (3-1)

Filly switches to leading night thoroughbred rider Juan Sanchez and is the speed of the speed. She broke in a complete tangle under an inexperienced rider in last race to ignore and won six of 11 races in 2017. She runs her best when drawn near the outside and her owner/trainer team of Juan De Dios Gracian and Jesus Nunez has been productive over recent seasons.

Final thoughts

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