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Racing! Santa Anita cancels its Thursday card

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:

1. Game Winner (1)

2. Improbable (2)

3. Instagrand (3)

4. Maximus Mischief (4)

5. Mucho (5)

6. Vekoma (6)

7. Network Effect (7)

8. Mucho Gusto (8)

9. Signalman (9)

10. Mihos (10)

Note: Last week’s rankings in parentheses.

Vote for Horse of Year

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.

Santa Anita preview

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.

Final thought

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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.

FIRST RACE.

5½ Furlongs. Purse: $20,000. Maiden Claiming. Fillies. 3 year olds. Claiming Price $20,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1ImminentMartin Pedroza122Kristin Mulhall2-120,000
2AthleisureBrice Blanc122Val Brinkerhoff12-120,000
3Miss Lady AnnTyler Baze122Jack Carava6-120,000
4ReachreachreachHeriberto Figueroa117Doug F. O'Neill3-120,000
5Ron's CatEdgar Payeras122Marcia Stortz15-120,000
6Noise MandateRuben Fuentes122Michael Machowsky6-120,000
7MeritocracyEvin Roman122Robert B. Hess, Jr.5-220,000

SECOND RACE.

1 Mile. Purse: $33,000. Starter Allowance. Fillies. 3 year olds.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Desert TripJoel Rosario120Mark Glatt8-1
2Imperial CreedKent Desormeaux122Michael W. McCarthy5-2
3Vegas Strong BabyFlavien Prat120Richard Baltas2-1
4Sass MachineRuben Fuentes120William E. Morey6-1
5Divine DharmaHeriberto Figueroa117John W. Sadler7-2
6Discreet DivaEvin Roman122Vann Belvoir4-1

THIRD RACE.

5½ Furlongs. Purse: $20,000. Maiden Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 4 year olds and up. Claiming Price $20,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1SpacerikaRuben Fuentes124Salvador Orozco15-120,000
2Grey TsunamiDiego Sanchez124Martine Bellocq30-120,000
3Weather MarketEdwin Maldonado124Michael Pender9-520,000
4VeniceMartin Pedroza124Kristin Mulhall5-120,000
5Whata FlirtAgapito Delgadillo124Doug F. O'Neill4-520,000
6First StreetEswan Flores124Robert A. Bean15-120,000
7Tell My FortuneGeovanni Franco124Gary Sherlock12-120,000

FOURTH RACE.

1 Mile Turf. Purse: $55,000. Maiden Special Weight. 4 year olds and up.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1EnglanderJoseph Talamo124Philip D'Amato5-1
2Big BuzzJoel Rosario124Tim Yakteen7-2
3Arch AnthemFlavien Prat124Richard E. Mandella5-1
4The Daddy FactorKent Desormeaux124Mick Ruis12-1
5Cajun TreasureAndrea Atzeni124Peter Eurton5-1
6LomuDrayden Van Dyke124Neil D. Drysdale8-1
7SellwoodMike Smith124Jeff Mullins9-5
8ImpeachableoffenseTyler Baze124Scott Hansen20-1

FIFTH RACE.

6 Furlongs. Purse: $57,000. Allowance. Fillies and Mares. 4 year olds and up. State bred.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Sapphire KidTyler Baze122Matthew Chew6-1
2We Will Re JoyceHeriberto Figueroa117Peter Miller4-1
3Li'l GrazenJoel Rosario122Peter Miller2-1
4Shylock EddieAaron Gryder124Brian J. Koriner3-1
5Chasin LucasAssael Espinoza119Mark Glatt6-1
6TorenoMartin Pedroza124Philip A. Oviedo7-2

SIXTH RACE.

5½ Furlongs. Purse: $16,000. Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 4 year olds and up. Claiming Price $6,250.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Irish and LuckyEdgar Payeras122Daniel Azcarate4-16,250
2She'sluckythatwayMario Gutierrez122James F. Sayler12-16,250
3Lovely LindaOctavio Vergara, Jr.124Antonio Garcia30-16,250
4ForthenineteenEswan Flores122Ricardo Zamora20-16,250
5Hero for HireHeriberto Figueroa117Jeff Bonde9-56,250
6Ciao LunaGeovanni Franco124Gary Stute15-16,250
7Cioppino PasadinoAgapito Delgadillo124Rafael DeLeon2-16,250
8Charming AlexisJuan Ochoa122Jack Carava4-16,250

SEVENTH RACE.

1 Mile. Purse: $57,000. Allowance. 4 year olds and up. State bred.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Ground AttackTiago Pereira124Bruce Headley9-5
2California JourneyMario Gutierrez124Jerry Hollendorfer8-5
3AcclimateHeriberto Figueroa117Philip D'Amato4-1
4Plain WrapEswan Flores124Javier Jose Sierra20-1
5Spend ItMartin Pedroza122Rafael Becerra20-1
6Nap LajoieGeovanni Franco124Steven Miyadi3-1

EIGHTH RACE.

1 Mile Turf. Purse: $34,000. Starter Allowance. 4 year olds and up.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Secret TouchEdwin Maldonado122Peter Eurton7-2
2North County GuyFlavien Prat122Richard Baltas2-1
3TwentytwentyvisionJoseph Talamo124John W. Sadler5-2
4Kristi's CopilotJoel Rosario124Richard Baltas3-1
5Ky. ColonelRafael Bejarano122Richard E. Mandella5-1
6Bird Is the WordAgapito Delgadillo124G. F. Almeida12-1
7Tough It OutTyler Baze124John W. Sadler5-1
8Clear the MineHeriberto Figueroa119Steve Knapp5-1
9Plum DandyAssael Espinoza117Sal Gonzalez6-1

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