Racing! Final thoughts on the Santa Anita race caller

Hello, my name is John Cherwa and welcome back to our horse racing newsletter as we look at who’s in front after one round of Kentucky Derby futures wagering.

Most of you have probably already heard that on Monday, Frank Mirahmadi was named the new race caller at Santa Anita, replacing Michael Wrona. To read the story that I wrote about it on Monday, just click here. And, if you want to know more about Frank, here’s a very long story I did on him when he was at Golden Gate in March, 2017. Just click here.

Thanks to all of you who sent along your thoughts on the change. I would say it’s about 70-30 in favor of keeping Wrona, which is different than a who-would-you-want poll between Wrona and Mirahmadi. The mail was mostly about if Wrona should have been let go, not about the replacement.

If race calling were like any other business, Wrona would already have been snapped up with a great job, but it’s a very small community with very few openings. Here’s hoping that Aqueduct has the smarts to see what Wrona could bring to its track, but I got to thinking, has New York ever had a caller with a non-U.S.-based accent? We can hope.

The bottom line is they are both excellent race callers. No one has told me this, but if I can read between the lines, a factor that may have worked in Mirahmadi’s favor is that he is a handicapper, having served time (and I don’t mean that in a bad way) at TVG. Wrona, who no doubt would do whatever was asked of him, did not have that background or opportunity.

If you look at Santa Anita’s decision to change programs, which is under discussion for the upcoming meeting, Stronach racing boss Tim Ritvo wanted to get more betting information in front of the public. The more you think you know, the more you might bet, the more you bet, the more the track makes.

I think you can expect to see Frank at handicapping seminars, meeting, greeting and talking with customers about picking winners. Although, as we reported on Monday, he says particulars about what his marketing role will be is not yet defined.

Wrona has lost jobs before and always rebounded. I can name a lot of tracks where he would be a significant upgrade, although it’s probably better not to name them. Here’s wishing Michael all the best in the world, and here’s wishing a warm welcome back to Frank.

Derby future pool

This last weekend was the first Kentucky Derby futures pool. Now, I do happen to think that the futures pool is one of the biggest sucker bets out there, given that you are betting on a horse more than five months before a race.

Last year’s first futures pool listed eight horses that made it to the Derby: Bolt d’Oro (finished 12th), Enticed (14), Firenze Fire (11), Free Drop Billy (16), Good Magic (2), Lone Sailor (8), Mendelssohn (20), Solomini (10). You’re thinking, hey, Good Magic finished second. Well, if you bet him in the futures pool, you got him at 11-1, if you bet him the day of the race, you got about 10-1 ($9.70 to be exact). Woo hoo.

As for me, I just like looking at the list, so I know who to pay attention to in the coming months.

Here are the odds after the first pool.

1. Cairo Cat, 59-1

2. Code of Honor, 18-1

3. Coliseum, 10-1

4. Dunph, 72-1

5. Epic Dreamer, 88-1

6. Game Winner, 5-1

7. Gunmetal Gray, 76-1

8. Improbable, 17-1

9. Instagrande, 10-1

10. King for the Day, 53-1

11. Knicks Go, 44-1

12. Magic on Tap, 43-1

13. Maximus Mischief, 26-1

14. Mucho, 44-1

15. Mucho Gusto, 47-1

16. Network Effect, 59-1

17. Preamble, 99-1

18. Roadster, 32-1

19. Signalman, 30-1

20. Tale of the Union, 46-1

21. Uncle Benny, 53-1

22. Vekoma, 36-1

23. All other 3-year-old fillies, 66-1

24. All other 3-year-old males, 6-5

Del Mar preview

It’s a pretty average eight-race card on Thursday at Del Mar. First post is 12:30 p.m. There are two races for a purse of $53,000, both written strictly for Cal-breds. The second, an allowance/optional claimer, is for 2-year-olds going six furlongs. It has six starters.

We’ll call the fifth the feature, though, a mile on the turf for 2-year-old maidens. The favorite, at 3-1, comes with a big price tag of $390,000 owned by the business couple of Jerry and Ann Moss. Mobou is trained by John Shirreffs and will be ridden by Mike Smith. He hasn’t won in three starts but finished second last out, a maiden special at Santa Anita.

The 7-2 second choice is Unusual Rider for Mike Puype and Drayden Van Dyke. He is winless in two starts, but has two third-place finishes.

Here are the field sizes, in order, with all the odd numbered races on the turf: 8, 6, 9 (2 also eligible), 8, 11 (1 ae), 7, 11 (1 ae), 10.

Bob Ike’s SA play of the day

SEVENTH RACE: No. 1 Wilshire Dude (8-1)

New face from the Bill Spawr barn ships in from Florida where he made his last start in June. He has decent form on turf, dirt and slop, so if the expected rain hits and this race is moved off the grass, he should feel right at home. Solid works for a barn that does very well with fresh horses, so tab at a solid price.

Sunday’s result: The Hunted ($5.80) made it two straight, stepping up to easily handle Cal-bred allowance runners in the eighth 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).

Golden Gate preview

We are back with our weekly look at the best racing going on at Golden Gate Fields. Race caller and all-around good guy Matt Dinerman is our host for previews and other musings. So, take it away, Matt.

“We have two more weeks and eight race days left to go at the current fall meet. An eight-race card on Thursday, a nine-race program on Friday and two 10-race overnights on Saturday and Sunday to make our week an eventful one.

“The feature race of the week is the $75,000 Gold Rush Stakes for 2-year-olds going one mile on the main track. Leading the list of local contenders is the Jerry Hollendorfer-trained Tivan, winner of the Golden Nugget Stakes on Nov. 10. The son of Indian Evening is undefeated in two career starts and makes his route debut in the Gold Rush. Hollendorfer has always thought highly of Tivan, who will once again be ridden by veteran journeyman Frank Alvarado. Other locals set to get support in the wagering are the two Jonathan Wong entrants of Mad Luther and Mayor Cobb, and recent maiden winner Rally Cat. Rally Cat, by Take Charge Indy out of a Washington state champion route mare, certainly has the breeding to like going two turns.

“A trio of Southern California shippers travel north to compete in the Gold Rush. The Creep, who won a starter allowance at Golden Gate two races ago, recently finished fourth in a salty allowance race at Del Mar for trainer Doug O’Neill and returns to the bayside track for his stakes debut. Meanwhile, Spin Lightning, from the Jeff Mullins barn, broke his maiden at first asking in August at Del Mar before finishing off the board in two straight stakes races: the Grade I Del Mar Futurity and the Zuma Beach Stakes. Sueno rounds out the list of Southern California entrants. The Keith Desormeaux trainee broke his maiden at the $80,000 maiden claiming level at Del Mar on Aug. 31 and races for the first time since the maiden triumph.

“William Antongeorgi III sits atop the jockey standings with 23 victories, three ahead of Abel Cedillo. Jonathan Wong has run away with the trainer standings. The 2018 winter/spring and summer meet leading trainer has won 23 trips to the winners circle, 13 more than Hollendorfer.

“An $88,000 carryover in the Stronach 5 this Friday guarantees a terrific pool size. Luckily, Golden Gate Fields offers two races in the Stronach 5 sequence: Races 2 and 3 on Friday. Also, the 20 Cent Golden Pick Six jackpot carryover has increased to over $15,000 heading into Thursday’s card

“Good field sizes and competitive racing have been a trend over the past few weeks and, based on the overnights, appears to be a trend that continues heading into this week. Good luck!”

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.

If you have any thoughts, you can reach me at You can also feed my ego by following me on Twitter @jcherwa

And now the star of the show, Thursday’s entries.

Del Mar Entries for Thursday, November 29.

Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, Del Mar, California. $2 Win, Place and Show; $1 Exacta, $2 Quinella, 50-cent Trifecta, $2 Rolling Double, 50-cent rolling Pick 3; 10-cent Superfecta; 50-cent Pick 4 last 4 races; 50-cent Players Pick 5 first 5 races; $2 Pick 6 last 6 races; $1 Place Pick All; $1 Super High Five last race. Trifecta needs 4 betting interests; Superfecta needs 6. 12th day of a 16-day meet.


5 Furlongs Turf. Purse: $56,000. Allowance Optional Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $62,500.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Moon KittyEvin Roman122Jack Carava8-1
2LuminosoGeovanni Franco120Doug F. O'Neill10-1
3Ippodamia's GirlDrayden Van Dyke118William E. Morey5-1
4Sensible MythFlavien Prat120George Weaver7-2
5S Y SkyJoseph Talamo120Philip D'Amato3-1
6OkinawaRafael Bejarano120Richard Baltas4-1
7Nine Point NineEdwin Maldonado120Vladimir Cerin8-162,500
8Easy GraderTiago Pereira120Eddie Truman15-162,500
9SwirlingHeriberto Figueroa115John W. Sadler12-1


6 Furlongs. Purse: $53,000. Allowance Optional Claiming. 2 year olds. Claiming Price $80,000. State bred.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Square PeggyTiago Pereira117Brian J. Koriner4-1
2Luck's Royal FlushMike Smith123Jeff Bonde5-280,000
3Kid CantinaGeovanni Franco120Librado Barocio10-1
4Bea's BoyTyler Baze120Steven Miyadi4-180,000
5Rickey BFranklin Ceballos123Steven Miyadi7-280,000
6Midnight SpecialKent Desormeaux120Robert B. Hess, Jr.3-1


5 Furlongs Turf. Purse: $34,000. Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $32,000-$28,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Short of EzDrayden Van Dyke120Mike Puype6-132,000
2IncensedEvin Roman118Adam Kitchingman12-128,000
3Doc CurlinKent Desormeaux118Robert B. Hess, Jr.7-228,000
4R Cha ChaHeriberto Figueroa117Doug F. O'Neill4-132,000
5AllaboutmikeTyler Baze118Thomas Ray Bell, II12-128,000
6Autism Is HereEdgar Payeras115Marcia Stortz30-132,000
7Cats BlameAssael Espinoza115Steve Knapp8-132,000
8Forest ChatterGeovanni Franco120Clifford W. Sise, Jr.3-132,000
9AristocraticFlavien Prat120Peter Miller9-232,000
Also Eligible
10P ClubTiago Pereira120Ryan Kenney15-132,000


6½ Furlongs. Purse: $30,000. Maiden Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $50,000. State bred.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Checks in the MailTiago Pereira124William Spawr5-150,000
2Leroy PegasusKeiber Coa122Salvador Orozco15-150,000
3Emotional RideEdgar Payeras117Jeff Mullins8-150,000
4Bless His HeartHeriberto Figueroa117Hector O. Palma3-150,000
5Sidepocket ActionAssael Espinoza119Steve Knapp5-150,000
6Lil MiloRafael Bejarano122Alfredo Marquez4-150,000
7Perfect TaleFranklin Ceballos122Mark Rheinford8-150,000
8Captain BuzzkillFlavien Prat122Gary Mandella7-250,000


1 Mile Turf. Purse: $53,000. Maiden Special Weight. 2 year olds. State bred.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1MobouMike Smith120John A. Shirreffs3-1
2Tank TeamKent Desormeaux120J. Keith Desormeaux8-1
3Unusual RiderDrayden Van Dyke120Mike Puype7-2
4Red ClemGeovanni Franco120Tim Yakteen8-1
5PeedieAssael Espinoza115Ben D. A. Cecil20-1
6He Be Mojo RisinRafael Bejarano120Richard Baltas20-1
7Unusual AngelBrice Blanc120Alexis Barba6-1
8BrixFlavien Prat120Richard Baltas10-1
9Offshore AffairTyler Baze120Carla Gaines4-1
10Shanghai BarbieAlonso Quinonez117Neil D. Drysdale20-1
11M C BurkeyHeriberto Figueroa115Doug F. O'Neill20-1


1 Mile. Purse: $32,000. Starter Allowance. 3 year olds and up.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Ayacara Flavien Prat122Vladimir Cerin4-1
2Tidal EffectGeovanni Franco119William E. Morey3-1
3Oh ManHeriberto Figueroa114Richard Baltas5-1
4Smokin BTyler Baze119Jack Carava10-1
5GoodwillambassadorAaron Gryder119Philip D'Amato7-2
6It's Tiz TimeBrice Blanc121Ronald L. McAnally10-1
7Mongolian GroomRafael Bejarano122Enebish Ganbat5-2


1 Mile Turf. Purse: $25,000. Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $32,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Wilshire DudeTiago Pereira122William Spawr6-132,000
2Hoover TowerEvin Roman124Robert B. Hess, Jr.8-132,000
3Stylistics UnitedFelipe Martinez124Louis A. Bradvica30-132,000
4All I Can SayAlonso Quinonez124Val Brinkerhoff15-132,000
5Hot AmericanTyler Baze122Neil D. Drysdale9-232,000
6Gray AdmiralRuben Fuentes122Vann Belvoir8-132,000
7Rinse and RepeatRafael Bejarano124Doug F. O'Neill9-232,000
8Camino de EstrellaHeriberto Figueroa119Tim Yakteen8-132,000
9OffshoreFlavien Prat124Richard Baltas7-232,000
10Facts MatterAssael Espinoza117Jerry Hollendorfer8-132,000
11Comma SisterEdwin Maldonado124George Papaprodromou4-132,000


5½ Furlongs. Purse: $22,000. Maiden Claiming. 2 year olds. Claiming Prices $32,000-$28,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Mad At MoneyHeriberto Figueroa115Thomas Ray Bell, II20-132,000
2Concord JetAlonso Quinonez120Brian J. Koriner6-132,000
3Suite AlonsoAngel Cruz120Doug F. O'Neill8-132,000
4Ministersdon'tlieAaron Gryder120Michael Machowsky20-132,000
5TankerGeovanni Franco120Vladimir Cerin7-232,000
6Bull FighterEswan Flores120Hector O. Palma20-132,000
7Violent BehaviorTyler Baze120Dan Blacker3-132,000
8Shake N FriesDrayden Van Dyke118Tim Yakteen5-228,000
9Magic BroAgapito Delgadillo120Hector O. Palma20-132,000
10Thin LineTiago Pereira120Doug F. O'Neill8-132,000