Racing! Learn about handicapping from Rob Henie

Hello, my name is John Cherwa and welcome back to our horse racing newsletter as we applaud Los Alamitos for doing the right thing, but should it have been done sooner?

Los Alamitos canceled the last six races of Friday’s card because of extreme heat. It was done after the jockeys thought it was unsafe to race. But the guess here is that it was no more unsafe after the second race than it was before the first race. And, no, I’m not saying they should have run the entire card, the exact opposite.

“It has always been my policy that if the jockeys don’t feel it is safe to ride then we don’t race,” said Jack Liebau, the VP of the Los Alamitos Racing Assn. Absolutely the right thing to say.

But let’s think about this. On Friday the heat index was well in excess of 100 degrees. A severe heat warning remains in effect until Saturday night. So, what will Los Alamitos do on a stakes-day Saturday? Tough decision. Is it up to the jockeys to decide, or the trainers to scratch their horses on a rather thin-card day, or is it up to the track?

We’re somewhat confident the right decision will be made. But please make the decision early. It’s no surprise it’s going to be hot.

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 fifth race at Belmont. All yours, Rob.

“This is an allowance race at a mile on the main track. Here’s a race featuring multiple 3-year-olds facing older, and this is about that time of the year when a good and/or improving 3-year-old, can really make their mark regardless of the placement. Both selections for us here are 3. Top selection is SPLIT VERDICT (#4). He immediately jumped up with a nice win on March 25th when going a mile, and it was less than a month later, that he was entered in the Federico Tesio at Pimlico with a $125,000 purse attached, and though bypassing the race, we like the decision, not missing a beat with regard to his work pattern, telling us they were simply taking a different approach, which we always like. As we remind our ECHR-WCHR members, patience and a strategy are often rewarded in this sport, and we see that here with this one. That debut win also said a lot about him we believe, really digging in gamely, racing in between runners from the ⅜ pole, not only winning the battle, but also winning the war with wonderful action and a hard-trying spirit, the type of effort we love. Have to believe he’ll show himself well here. FALLINGINLOVEAGAIN (#7) is 20-1 on the morning line which is too high. He comes off a maiden win at Pimlico, and despite facing much better runners Saturday, we have to believe he’s going in the right direction. Consider, his maiden win came while goofing around down the lane, switching to his wrong lead passing the ⅛ pole, looking around, basically telling us he’s talented with a ton of room to move forward, which is what we sense he’s been doing judging by the confident placement, and especially this work tab, as this is a very fast set of drills from Nevin, not usually working ‘em this quickly, a good sign for us. The presence of Castellano is also a positive sign.

“Win Contenders (order of preference): 4-7-9

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

“Positive Notes:

“9 Exulting - Doesn’t string races together often, which is precisely why Kiaran needs good efforts when he does get this one to an afternoon race. Alvarado is also riding well at the moment.

“Negative Notes:

“3 Harangue - Those Oaklawn races do not translate well against this particular group.

“Morning Line Underlays / Overlays:

“7 Fallinginloveagain - Morning Line 20-1 / WCHR Line 8-1

“TOP PICK: SPLIT VERDICT (#4 8-1 Franco)


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

More on Belmont

I know we are Southern California newsletter but Saturday’s card at Belmont is really a good one. You can see below all the big stakes races. There are three races that I think are very interesting.

The Dwyer Stakes (It’s not a misspelled version of a race named for former Times horse racing writer/columnist and sports editor Bill Dwyre, but a totally different Dwyer) has three Kentucky Derby losers in it. The heavy action should be on Mendelssohn, who everyone thought could break the curse of Dubai shippers. After winning the Dubai Derby by more than 20 lengths everyone thought he was the real deal at Churchill Downs. He finished last.

Also in the race are Firenze Fire, who finished 11th, and Noble Indy, who was 17th.

There is also the Suburban, which will have Tapwrit, last year’s winner of the Belmont Stakes. Not one of last year’s Triple Crown race winners has won a race since. How crazy is that? Also in that race will be a couple of Bob Baffert horses, Dr. Dorr and veteran campaigner Hoppertunity.

Finally, I’m looking forward to the Belmont Derby Invitational, which is a turf race. In that one is Derby fifth-place finisher My Boy Jack. I have to admit a fondness for trainer Keith Desormeaux. His brutal honesty is refreshing in a sport, if not all sports, that will come up with excuses rather than say it like it is.

Desormeaux spoke with the NYRA press office by phone.

“It seemed like a great spot to make a return,” Keith said. "I think it's easier in my own mind to ship cross country and run on the turf instead of the dirt. He's more familiar with that than the sandy surface at Belmont. So, I just thought it was a good spot. I know he's going to love the mile and a quarter and the purse is not too bad.

“You would think with his style, he could be more effective on turf. I have confidence in him. That horse is easy to have confidence in because he brings an ‘A’ race every time. He's just a very nice horse. We're not saying that we're exclusive to the turf now. This is just a great race to set us up for whatever we've got after.”

Any way you look at it, Belmont is the place to watch on Saturday.

Los Alamitos thoroughbred preview

If the card is run, the highlight of Saturday’s really small-field nine-race card is the Grade 2 $200,000 Great Lady M Stakes, for fillies and mares going 6 ½ furlongs. Lest you forget, Great Lady M won 14 of 58 races and two stakes at Los Alamitos. She won the 1978 Mission Viejo Stakes, where no doubt every horse’s look was mandated by HOA laws. And, she won the Orange Coast Handicap in 1979.

In Saturday’s five-horse field, it’s a pretty good matchup. The favorite is Marley’s Freedom, at 4-5. She has won her last two races, including the Grade 3 Desert Stormer Stakes at Santa Anita. She is 4-for-10 lifetime.

Her top competition should come from Skye Diamonds, who has won 9-of-20 lifetime starts including last year’s Lady Secret M. She’s been running nothing but graded stakes and was fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.

Here are the not-great field sizes, in order: 6, 5, 6, 6, 5, 5, 5, 5, 10.

Big races preview

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

10:46 Monmouth: $100,000 Long Branch Stakes, 3 year olds, 1 1/16 miles. Favorite: Supreme Aura (6-5)

12:10 Parx: $100,000 Turf Amazon Stakes, 3 and up, 5 furlongs on turf. Favorite: Blue Bahia (8-5)

12:19 Gulfstream: $100,000 Martha Washington Stakes, fillies 3 years old, 1 mile on turf. Favorite: Camila Princess (1-1)

1:04 Parx: Grade 3 $200,000 Parx Dash, 3 and up, 5 furlongs on turf. Favorite: Pure Sensation (3-2)

1:36 Belmont: Grade 3 $300,000 Dwyer Stakes, 3 year olds, 1 mile. Favorite: Mendelssohn (8-5)

1:41 Arlington: Grade 3 $100,000 American Derby, 3 year olds, 1 1/8 miles on turf. Favorite: Captivating Moon (8-5)

1:45 Delaware: Grade 3 $200,000 Robert G. Dick Memorial Stakes, fillies and mares 3 and up, 1 3/8 miles on turf. Favorite: Palinodie (5-2)

1:53 Woodbine: $100,000 My Dear Stakes, 2 year olds, 5 ½ furlongs. Favorite: My Gal Betty (8-5)

2:11 Belmont: Grade 2 $350,000 Belmont Sprint Championship, 3 and up, 7 furlongs. Favorite: Limousine Liberal (9-5)

2:16 Arlington: Grade 3 $100,000 Modesty Handicap, fillies and mares 3 and up, 1 3/16 miles on turf. Favorite: Daddy’s Little Darling (9-5)

2:45 Delaware: Grade 3 $300,000 Delaware Oaks, fillies 3 years old, 1 1/16 miles. Favorite: Red Ruby (3-1)

2:46 Belmont: Grade 1 $1 million Belmont Oaks Invitational, fillies 3 years olds, 1 ¼ miles on turf. Favorite: Significant Form (7-2)

2:51 Arlington: Hatoof Stakes, fillies 3 years old, 1 1/16 miles on turf. Favorite: Go Noni Go (7-2)

3:18 Belmont: Grade 2 $700,000 Suburban Handicap, 4 and up, 1 ¼ miles. Favorite: Dr. Dorr (3-1)

3:23 Arlington: Grade 3 $100,000 Stars and Stripes Stakes, 3 and up, 1 1/12 miles on turf. Favorite: Arklow (5-2)

3:36 Gulfstream: $100,000 Not Surprising Stakes, 3 year olds, 1 mile on turf. Favorite: Coltandmississippi (9-5)

3:50 Belmont: Grade 1 $1.2 million Belmont Derby Invitational, 3 year olds, 1 ¼ miles on turf. Favorite: Analyze It (5-2)

3:55 Arlington: Grade 3 Arlington Handicap, 3 and up, 1 3/16 miles on turf. Favorite: Synchrony (6-5)

4:28 Los Alamitos: $200,000 Great Lady M Stakes, fillies and mares 3 and up, 6 ½ furlongs. Favorite: Marley’s Freedom (4-5)

5:15 Pleasanton: $100,000 Everett Nevin Stakes, Cal-bred 2 year olds, 5 ½ furlongs. Favorite: Mr Paytience (2-1)

Jose Contreras LRC pick of the day

SECOND RACE: No.4 Jump the Tracks (3-1)

He dueled through a quick opening quarter for the mile distance and faded to fourth in his most recent start across town at Santa Anita. He ran a solid effort two back when just missing third by a neck. The third and second place finishers of that race returned to win their next outings. There isn’t too much speed in this field and I think he can steal the race if he can get away with comfortable half-mile splits.

Friday’s result: Race was canceled.

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’s LA play of the day

THIRD RACE: No. 6 Racies Favorite (2-1)

This quick-breaking filly is back with maidens and qualifies for the conditions since she was disqualified from a Kindergarten Futurity trial victory two outs ago when drifting out to impede rivals past the 1/8-pole. In her latest start, she broke super before tiring to fifth in a 350-yard Ed Burke Million trial that featured earlier Kindergarten third-place finisher Ms KO. She also lands leading jockey Jesus Ayala.

Final thought

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Any thoughts, drop me an email at or feed my ego by following me on Twitter @jcherwa

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

Los Alamitos Race Course Charts Results for Friday, July 6.

Copyright 2018 by Equibase Company. Reproduction prohibited. Los Alamitos Race Course, Los Alamitos, California. 6th day of a 12-day meet. Clear & Fast


5 Furlongs. Purse: $18,000. Maiden Claiming. Fillies. 2 year olds. Claiming Prices $40,000-$35,000. Time 22.11 45.48 57.98

Pgm Horse Wt PP St 3/16 3/8 Str Fin Jockey $1

4 Edna 122 4 3 2–½ 1–2 1–5 1–12 Fuentes 0.80
1 Are Rated 122 1 2 3–6 3–8 3–4 2–1 T Baze 3.10
2 Kalypso Night 120 2 1 1–hd 2–2½ 2–3 3–3½ Elliott 2.30
3 Princess Becky 122 3 4 4 4 4 4 Conner 10.20

4 EDNA 3.60 2.20
1 ARE RATED 3.20
$1 EXACTA (4-1)  $3.80
$1 TRIFECTA (4-1-2)  $7.70

Winner–Edna Ch.f.2 by Street Boss out of Got Smarts, by Smart Strike. Bred by K 5 Stables, Inc. (MB). Trainer: Steven Miyadi. Owner: Amber Sandoval. Mutuel Pool $50,210 Exacta Pool $19,801 Trifecta Pool $14,022. Scratched–Gayebird.

EDNA stalked off the rail then bid three deep into the turn, dueled outside a rival then inched away leaving the turn, kicked clear off the rail then drew off inside under a couple left handed cracks of the whip and steady handling then a hold late. ARE RATED had good early speed and dueled inside, steadied in tight into the turn, came out on the bend and again into the stretch and edged a rival late for the place. KALYPSO NIGHT dueled outside a rival then between foes into the turn, continued inside on the turn, swung out into the stretch and was edged late for second. PRINCESS BECKY a bit slow to begin, chased off the rail, angled in some on the turn, found the rail on the turn and lacked a further response.


5½ Furlongs. Purse: $28,000. Starter Allowance. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $50,000. Time 22.50 46.07 57.78 1:04.15

Pgm Horse Wt PP St ¼ 3/8 Str Fin Jockey $1

2 Bobbie Lincoln 124 2 2 1–hd 1–hd 1–hd 1–1½ Roman 2.00
3 Warm It Up 124 3 1 2–1 2–1 2–2 2–1¾ Pedroza 12.20
5 Demigoddess 124 5 5 5–2½ 5–2½ 4–hd 3–1½ Linares 16.00
4 Kentan Road 117 4 6 4–2 3–1½ 3–1½ 4–5 Espinoza 1.30
1 Jeweled 124 1 3 3–½ 4–2 5–10 5–12 T Baze 2.40
6 Warrior Mom 115 6 4 6 6 6 6 Payeras 74.30

2 BOBBIE LINCOLN 6.00 3.40 3.00
3 WARM IT UP 7.00 3.60
$2 DAILY DOUBLE (4-2)  $8.60
$1 EXACTA (2-3)  $16.70
10-CENT SUPERFECTA (2-3-5-4)  $18.22
$1 TRIFECTA (2-3-5)  $69.40

Winner–Bobbie Lincoln Dbb.m.5 by Tribal Rule out of Royal Turka, by Royal Academy. Bred by Peter T. Vajda (CA). Trainer: Ronald W. Ellis. Owner: Peter T. Vajda. Mutuel Pool $85,204 Daily Double Pool $17,086 Exacta Pool $46,308 Superfecta Pool $30,336 Trifecta Pool $39,421. Scratched–none.

BOBBIE LINCOLN dueled inside, came a bit off the rail into the stretch, inched away under urging nearing the sixteenth pole and proved best. WARM IT UP had good early speed and dueled outside the winner, was fanned out some into the stretch, fought back in the drive, could not match that one late but held second. DEMIGODDESS bumped at the start, chased off the rail, came out into the stretch, angled in past the eighth pole and picked up the show. KENTAN ROAD hopped some then bobbled and was bumped at the start, stalked outside a rival, came out on the turn, was fanned four wide into the stretch and lacked a rally. JEWELED saved ground stalking the pace, dropped back some on the turn and weakened in the stretch. WARRIOR MOM settled off the rail, came three wide into the stretch and gave way.

Los Alamitos Race Course Entries for Saturday, July 7.

Los Alamitos Race Course, Los Alamitos, California. 7th day of a 12-day meet.


5½ Furlongs. Purse: $15,000. Maiden Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $20,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Impeachment AceBarrington Harvey124Louis A. Bradvica15-120,000
2If I Had a NickelTyler Conner120Ed Moger, Jr.4-120,000
3The ChadinatorJohnny Allen120Jerry Wallace, II10-120,000
4Unusual BoyIsrael Ocampo120Manuel Landeros15-120,000
5Rockaway Asa Espinoza113Doug F. O'Neill1-220,000
6Rare RulerEdgar Payeras115Bobby Wayne Grayson5-120,000


1 Mile. Purse: $21,000. Maiden Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $50,000-$40,000. State bred.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1JonasHeriberto Figueroa113Peter Miller2-140,000
2Pulpit's Dirty RedMartin Pedroza120Peter Eurton5-250,000
3Spend ItBrayan Pena124Rafael Becerra5-150,000
4Jump the TracksAgapito Delgadillo120Jeff Mullins3-150,000
5Jersey's HeatAsa Espinoza113Rafael Becerra4-150,000


5½ Furlongs. Purse: $15,000. Maiden Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $20,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Captain N. BarronHeriberto Figueroa113Craig Anthony Lewis3-120,000
2Street ZombieOctavio Vergara, Jr.120Michael Pender2-120,000
3Eleazar WarriorAgapito Delgadillo124Oscar L. Garcia7-220,000
4Seattle EncounterKellie McDaid113Charles S. Treece10-120,000
5Hollywood SkyJohnny Allen120Jesus J. Enriquez15-120,000
6North County GuyMartin Pedroza120David Jacobson5-220,000


1 Mile. Purse: $17,000. Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $16,000-$14,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1War MoccasinBrayan Pena124Robert B. Hess, Jr.3-116,000
2Lob CityTiago Pereira121Gary Sherlock7-216,000
3Ib ProspectingTyler Conner121John F. Martin5-216,000
4Bonneville FlatsAsa Espinoza108David E. Hofmans6-114,000
5AtrevidaHeriberto Figueroa110Genaro Vallejo4-116,000
6UtanaEvin Roman121Robert B. Hess, Jr.6-116,000


1 Mile. Purse: $18,000. Maiden Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $40,000-$35,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Turing MachineTiago Pereira120William Spawr7-540,000
2On a TootBarrington Harvey124Kenneth E. Nettles10-140,000
3AhaBrice Blanc120Alexis Barba5-140,000
4Halo GirlKellie McDaid111Santos R. Perez10-135,000
5ArrowsphereTyler Conner124Peter Eurton6-540,000


5 Furlongs. Purse: $24,000. Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $25,000-$22,500.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Back BeautyKellie McDaid115Elmer January15-122,500
2Red ShelbyHeriberto Figueroa115Peter Miller9-522,500
3Always BelieveAsa Espinoza117John W. Sadler5-225,000
4Time and ChanceSantiago Gonzalez124Steven Miyadi8-525,000
5RcatcanscatTiago Pereira122Charles S. Treece5-122,500


1 Mile. Purse: $18,000. Starter Allowance. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Princess LeiaAsa Espinoza117Rafael Becerra9-5
2Todos SantosRafael Bejarano124Kelly Castaneda2-1
3Blondy's RewardDiego Sanchez124Paula S. Capestro10-1
4Tizway That WayEvin Roman124Val Brinkerhoff8-5
5Lovely LindaRuben Fuentes124Antonio Garcia15-1


6½ Furlongs. Purse: $200,000. 'GREAT LADY M STAKES'. Stakes. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Phantom ProtonRafael Bejarano119Neil D. Drysdale6-1
2Skye DiamondsTiago Pereira119William Spawr7-5
3Turkish TabbyTyler Conner119Jerry Hollendorfer10-1
4Marley's FreedomDrayden Van Dyke124Bob Baffert4-5
5Best of MeMartin Pedroza114Peter Miller15-1


5 Furlongs. Purse: $12,000. Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $6,250.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1ParadiseChristian Aragon124Mike Harrington12-16,250
2Who Loves EddieHeriberto Figueroa113Kelly Castaneda9-26,250
3My Ebony StarKellie McDaid117Jesus Nunez12-16,250
4Stately CommandFernandez Rojas124Jesus Nunez30-16,250
5Holy PlanBrayan Pena124Jose Jesus Avalos7-26,250
6All NetMartin Pedroza120David Jacobson9-56,250
7Ramona LoverTiago Pereira124Robert J. Lucas10-16,250
8Jewelof CaliforniaEdgar Payeras115Kelly Castaneda20-16,250
9Family RulesJohn Jude124Duff Shidaker8-16,250
10Beat the BushesEfrain Hernandez124Rosemary Trela10-16,250