Hello, my name is John Cherwa and welcome back to our horse racing newsletter as we get more Derby wisdom from Jon White.
Top headline is that Santa Anita, facing a another day of rain, cancelled its Thursday card. The track had prepared for the rain by making the card all dirt races, but in the end, even that was a stretch to run on. The Saturday and Sunday cards will be upped to 10 races and Friday is scheduled to go on as planned.
Not much doubt that those missing races will find their way back into some of the cards soon, but, still, it’s a lost racing day. Santa Anita can petition the CHRB for a makeup day, but that may just stretch the inventory even more. We’ll see.
By the way, Aqueduct, in New York, has already cancelled its Monday card because of expected cold weather and extremely low windchill temperatures.
Jon White’s Kentucky Derby Top 10
Everyone’s favorite, Jon White, is back with the second installment of his Derby preview. As always, it’s great stuff. Take it away, Jon.
“While Game Winner again occupies the top spot on my Top 10 list this week, the next stop on the Road to the Kentucky Derby occurs Saturday when the Lecomte Stakes is contested at New Orleans' venerable Fair Grounds.
“The Lecomte has attracted a bulky field of 15, including one also eligible. West Texas can start only if one of the other 14 entrants scratches.
“At one mile and 70 yards, the Lecomte looks wide open this year. How wide open? Mike Diliberto, who makes the morning line at that track, has installed Plus Que Parfait as the lukewarm 9-2 morning-line favorite. The others under 10-1 are Mr. Money at 5-1, Tacket at 6-1, War of Will at 6-1 and Tight Ten at 8-1.
“Plus Que Parfait, trained by Brendan Walsh, will be making his first start since he finished a close second on a sloppy track in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs last Nov. 24. Two of the last four Lecomte winners (International Star and Mo Tom) exited the Kentucky Jockey Club.
“Roiland rallied from last in a field of 14 to finish fifth in the 2018 Kentucky Jockey Club. He is 12-1 on the Lecomte morning line. Tom Amoss trains Roiland, who makes his first 2019 start Saturday.
“Mr. Money and Tight Ten have not raced since they finished fourth and ninth, respectively, in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Churchill last Nov. 2. Bret Calhoun conditions Mr. Money. Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen trains Tight Ten.
“Keep in mind the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, which was taken by the undefeated Game Winner, has produced three next out stakes winners: Signalman, Gunmetal Gray and Mind Control.
“In Signalman's next start after the Breeders’ Cup, he won the Kentucky Jockey Club. Gunmetal Gray was victorious in Santa Anita's Sham Stakes on Jan. 5. Mind Control won the Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct on Jan. 1.
“Tacket, trained by Michael Stidham, is two for two at the Fair Grounds. Not only does it appear Tacket is improving, he figures to race forwardly Saturday, enabling him to avoid potential traffic problems in the large field. All in all, Tacket might prove a tough customer while running in a stakes race for the first time.
“War of Will was held in such high regard by owner Gary Barber and trainer Mark Casse that, while still a maiden, the colt last year ran in three graded stakes races, including the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf at Churchill, in which he finished fifth. Casse felt the son of War Front ran ‘exceptionally well’ to finish fifth in the Juvenile Turf considering ‘he had a really wide trip.’
“After the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, War of Will splashed his way to a five-length victory in a maiden race on a sloppy track Nov. 24 at Churchill when racing on dirt for the first time. Tyler Gaffalione rode War of Will when he earned his maiden diploma while completing 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.45, just slightly slower than Signalman's final time of 1:45.29 in the 1 1/16-mile Kentucky Jockey Club on the same card. Casse said this week of War of Will's maiden win that ‘no doubt he could’ve run faster than the Kentucky Jockey Club' because Tyler geared him down in the last sixteenth.’
“As for Game Winner, in Ed Golden's Santa Anita stable notes last Sunday, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert said his plan, ‘if all goes well,’ is for the Kentucky-bred Candy Ride colt to make his first 2019 start in Santa Anita's San Felipe Stakes on March 9.
“Here are this week's rankings:
Note: Last week’s rankings in parentheses.
Even though the votes are already cast for the Eclipse award, we’re asking who you think should be Horse of Year. We’ll reveal the results on Thursday. It’s Accelerate vs. Justify vs. Monomoy Girl. Don’t worry, all three will win an Eclipse. So, here you go. And just to make it interesting, you won’t get exit polling results. You’ll have to wait. Warning to all Russians, you better not be hacking this poll. To vote, just click here.
It’s eight races with an 1 p.m. post. It’s an OK transition card to, hopefully, a better weekend. There are two turf races, and I keep using the word hopefully. Purses are kind of cheap, including the dreaded $6,250 claimer (sixth race) but that has a decent field size (eight).
There are two races with a $57,000 purse, a Cal-bred allowance for fillies and mares 4 and up and a Cal-bred for open company as the seventh race. Both have six starters. We’ll pick the seventh race, a mile for horses 4 and up.
The favorite, at 8-5, is California Journey for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer and jockey Mario Gutierrez. He was third last out in an allowance that Ground Attack was second. California Journey is one-for-nine lifetime but has been running mostly allowance/optional claimers.
The 9-5 second favorite is Ground Attack for Bruce Headley and Tiago Pereira. His record is 4-1-1-1 and, again, beat California Journey last out. You folks will decide the favorite.
Here are the field sizes, in order: 7, 6, 7, 8, 6, 8, 6, 9.
Bob Ike’s SA pick of the day
FIFTH RACE: No. 2 We Will Re Joyce (4-1)
Recent $12,500 claim from the Peter Miller gets a confident class boost as she moves up into the Cal-bred allowance ranks. The nine-time winner (from 25 lifetime starts) is fast early but will have to contend with speed drawn on the outside (Toreno), as well as her stablemate (Li'l Grazen). The price seems square in a wide-open six-horse field.
Thursday’s result: Racing was cancelled due to rain.
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).
Los Alamitos weekend preview
This weekly segment is in the hands of Orlando Gutierrez, marketing and media maven at Los Al. So, the floor is yours, Orlando.
“Johnny Trotter’s Bodacious Eagle, the winner of the Champion of Champions on Dec. 15, was named the AQHA World Champion quarter horse for 2018 in Oklahoma City on Thursday night.
“Racing at Los Alamitos during the second half of the year, Bodacious Eagle also won the Z. Wayne Griffin Directors Trials and finished second in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Invitational Championship. He won the Grade 1 All American Gold Cup at Ruidoso Downs in New Mexico and was third in the Grade 1 Remington Park Championship. Bodacious Eagle was also named the overall champion aged horse and champion aged gelding.
“Trotter also ran Grade 1 winner One Sweet Racy, who was named champion aged mare, so it was not surprising when Trotter was also recognized as AQHA champion owner. Cody Jensen, who earned the 100th career graded stakes win when he rode Bodacious Eagle in the Champion of Champions, was named AQHA champion jockey.
Five other horses that raced at Los Alamitos earned divisional champion honors. Flash And Roll, the impressive winner of the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity and Golden State Million Futurity, was named champion 2-year-old and champion 2-year-old filly. KVN Corona, the El Primero Del Ano Derby winner, was named champion 3-year-old colt, while A Political Lady, a three-time stakes winner at Los Alamitos in 2018, was named champion 3-year-old filly. Tarzanito, winner of the Grade 1 Go Man Go Handicap, was named champion aged stallion, while Corona Jumpim MRL was named South American champion. Corona Jumpim MRL is racing in Sunday’s trials to the Grade 1 Brad McKinzie Winter Championship at 400 yards.
“This weekend at Los Alamitos, Tarzanito will be scratched from Friday’s Cypress Handicap and instead will run in the Winter Championship trials on Sunday night. His connections made the $7,500 late payment to make him eligible to the 400-yard trials. With the scratch of Tarzanito, the revised morning line has Twisted Sifter as the even-money favorite. Twisted Sifter led the nation in eight wins.
“Major futurity winners Cole Man 47, Powerful Favorite and KR Hi Five are among the 30 sophomores that will compete in the trials to the Grade 1, $198,700 Los Alamitos Winter Derby on Saturday night. The horses with the 10 fastest times will return for the Winter Derby final on Sat., Feb. 9. KR Hi Five will enter the third trial on a four-race winning streak, which includes wins in the Grade 2 John Deere Juvenile Championship on Nov. 17 and Wild West Futurity.
“Eighteen runners have been split into a pair of trials to the $157,000 Winter Championship on Sunday night. Jesstacartel, the winner of the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Super Derby last year, will take on Grade 1 winners Jess Ravin, Tarzanito and Zoomin For Spuds in the first trial, while BH Lisas Boy, the winner of the Winter Championship in each of the past two years, will take on Grade 1 winner He Looks Hot in the second heat. The horses with the 10 fastest times move on to the Feb. 10 final.”
Ed Burgart’s LA play of the day
SIXTH RACE: No. 6 Oliverssweetprincess (2-1)
This 2-year-old filly takes a big class drop for second lifetime start and moves from the rail to the outside post. She galloped out with good energy in well-beaten fifth-place debut in a fast race won by horse dropping down from a futurity trial. Filly catches weak field for the maiden $4,000 level here and hails from the high-percentage Valentin Zamudio barn.
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Now, the star of the show, Friday’s entries.
Santa Anita Entries for Friday, January 18.
Santa Anita, Santa Anita Park, Arcadia, California. 15th day of a 61-day meet.
5½ Furlongs. Purse: $20,000. Maiden Claiming. Fillies. 3 year olds. Claiming Price $20,000.
|1||Imminent||Martin Pedroza||122||Kristin Mulhall||2-1||20,000|
|2||Athleisure||Brice Blanc||122||Val Brinkerhoff||12-1||20,000|
|3||Miss Lady Ann||Tyler Baze||122||Jack Carava||6-1||20,000|
|4||Reachreachreach||Heriberto Figueroa||117||Doug F. O'Neill||3-1||20,000|
|5||Ron's Cat||Edgar Payeras||122||Marcia Stortz||15-1||20,000|
|6||Noise Mandate||Ruben Fuentes||122||Michael Machowsky||6-1||20,000|
|7||Meritocracy||Evin Roman||122||Robert B. Hess, Jr.||5-2||20,000|
1 Mile. Purse: $33,000. Starter Allowance. Fillies. 3 year olds.
|1||Desert Trip||Joel Rosario||120||Mark Glatt||8-1|| |
|2||Imperial Creed||Kent Desormeaux||122||Michael W. McCarthy||5-2|| |
|3||Vegas Strong Baby||Flavien Prat||120||Richard Baltas||2-1|| |
|4||Sass Machine||Ruben Fuentes||120||William E. Morey||6-1|| |
|5||Divine Dharma||Heriberto Figueroa||117||John W. Sadler||7-2|| |
|6||Discreet Diva||Evin Roman||122||Vann Belvoir||4-1|| |
5½ Furlongs. Purse: $20,000. Maiden Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 4 year olds and up. Claiming Price $20,000.
|1||Spacerika||Ruben Fuentes||124||Salvador Orozco||15-1||20,000|
|2||Grey Tsunami||Diego Sanchez||124||Martine Bellocq||30-1||20,000|
|3||Weather Market||Edwin Maldonado||124||Michael Pender||9-5||20,000|
|4||Venice||Martin Pedroza||124||Kristin Mulhall||5-1||20,000|
|5||Whata Flirt||Agapito Delgadillo||124||Doug F. O'Neill||4-5||20,000|
|6||First Street||Eswan Flores||124||Robert A. Bean||15-1||20,000|
|7||Tell My Fortune||Geovanni Franco||124||Gary Sherlock||12-1||20,000|
1 Mile Turf. Purse: $55,000. Maiden Special Weight. 4 year olds and up.
|1||Englander||Joseph Talamo||124||Philip D'Amato||5-1|| |
|2||Big Buzz||Joel Rosario||124||Tim Yakteen||7-2|| |
|3||Arch Anthem||Flavien Prat||124||Richard E. Mandella||5-1|| |
|4||The Daddy Factor||Kent Desormeaux||124||Mick Ruis||12-1|| |
|5||Cajun Treasure||Andrea Atzeni||124||Peter Eurton||5-1|| |
|6||Lomu||Drayden Van Dyke||124||Neil D. Drysdale||8-1|| |
|7||Sellwood||Mike Smith||124||Jeff Mullins||9-5|| |
|8||Impeachableoffense||Tyler Baze||124||Scott Hansen||20-1|| |
6 Furlongs. Purse: $57,000. Allowance. Fillies and Mares. 4 year olds and up. State bred.
|1||Sapphire Kid||Tyler Baze||122||Matthew Chew||6-1|| |
|2||We Will Re Joyce||Heriberto Figueroa||117||Peter Miller||4-1|| |
|3||Li'l Grazen||Joel Rosario||122||Peter Miller||2-1|| |
|4||Shylock Eddie||Aaron Gryder||124||Brian J. Koriner||3-1|| |
|5||Chasin Lucas||Assael Espinoza||119||Mark Glatt||6-1|| |
|6||Toreno||Martin Pedroza||124||Philip A. Oviedo||7-2|| |
5½ Furlongs. Purse: $16,000. Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 4 year olds and up. Claiming Price $6,250.
|1||Irish and Lucky||Edgar Payeras||122||Daniel Azcarate||4-1||6,250|
|2||She'sluckythatway||Mario Gutierrez||122||James F. Sayler||12-1||6,250|
|3||Lovely Linda||Octavio Vergara, Jr.||124||Antonio Garcia||30-1||6,250|
|4||Forthenineteen||Eswan Flores||122||Ricardo Zamora||20-1||6,250|
|5||Hero for Hire||Heriberto Figueroa||117||Jeff Bonde||9-5||6,250|
|6||Ciao Luna||Geovanni Franco||124||Gary Stute||15-1||6,250|
|7||Cioppino Pasadino||Agapito Delgadillo||124||Rafael DeLeon||2-1||6,250|
|8||Charming Alexis||Juan Ochoa||122||Jack Carava||4-1||6,250|
1 Mile. Purse: $57,000. Allowance. 4 year olds and up. State bred.
|1||Ground Attack||Tiago Pereira||124||Bruce Headley||9-5|| |
|2||California Journey||Mario Gutierrez||124||Jerry Hollendorfer||8-5|| |
|3||Acclimate||Heriberto Figueroa||117||Philip D'Amato||4-1|| |
|4||Plain Wrap||Eswan Flores||124||Javier Jose Sierra||20-1|| |
|5||Spend It||Martin Pedroza||122||Rafael Becerra||20-1|| |
|6||Nap Lajoie||Geovanni Franco||124||Steven Miyadi||3-1|| |
1 Mile Turf. Purse: $34,000. Starter Allowance. 4 year olds and up.
|1||Secret Touch||Edwin Maldonado||122||Peter Eurton||7-2|| |
|2||North County Guy||Flavien Prat||122||Richard Baltas||2-1|| |
|3||Twentytwentyvision||Joseph Talamo||124||John W. Sadler||5-2|| |
|4||Kristi's Copilot||Joel Rosario||124||Richard Baltas||3-1|| |
|5||Ky. Colonel||Rafael Bejarano||122||Richard E. Mandella||5-1|| |
|6||Bird Is the Word||Agapito Delgadillo||124||G. F. Almeida||12-1|| |
|7||Tough It Out||Tyler Baze||124||John W. Sadler||5-1|| |
|8||Clear the Mine||Heriberto Figueroa||119||Steve Knapp||5-1|| |
|9||Plum Dandy||Assael Espinoza||117||Sal Gonzalez||6-1|| |