Hello, my name is John Cherwa and welcome to our horse racing newsletter as we catch up on a wild week of news from the
All eyes are on Saturday’s Kentucky Derby.
--I don’t say this often of my stories, but if you are interested in the future of California racing, this is a must read. It’s a special report that examines all the factors in play that will decide if California racing can survive. You’ll also learn a lot about the proposed ballot initiative. Just click here.
--Richard Mandella was devastated and Simon Callaghan was injured. Catch up with some Derby notes from Thursday. (Or Thurby as they call it in Lousville.) Just click here.
--Omaha Beach has to scratch from the Kentucky Derby. Relive that moment from this Wednesday night dispatch. Just click here.
--Baffert has the three top horses in the Kentucky Derby. Examine behind the curtain, what he may be thinking. Just click here.
--I know, it may not be relevant, but here’s a nice look at Mandella and what he was thinking about Omaha Beach before he scratched. Just click here.
--Here’s what the trainers thought of the Derby draw. Just click here.
--Why have favorites been winning the Kentucky Derby lately? And what about the 20 years the favorite didn’t win? We talk to our own Jon White and Derby morning-line maker Mike Battaglia about why this happens. Just click here.
Oh, yeah, if you don’t want to stay up all night reading these stories I poured blood, sweat and tears into, you can probably learn all you need to know from Jon White’s rankings.
Jon White’s Kentucky Derby rankings
Time to turn our attention to the Kentucky Derby. As always, we’re lucky to have the top expert Jon White take a look at what’s happening there. Jon makes the morning line at Santa Anita, he’s a licensed steward, and he’s the pre-eminent historian on racing. We’re lucky to have him. So, here’s his Kentucky Derby rankings, brought courtesy of Xpressbet.com. Jon, the floor is yours.
“Before listing my final 2019 Kentucky Derby Top 10, let's review the five questions I posed in this newsletter back on Jan. 11.
“Will there be another
“If there is another Triple Crown winner in 2019, will Bob Baffert be the trainer? Omaha Beach had been on my Kentucky Derby Top 10 since Feb. 8 and in the No. 1 spot since March 22. But it was announced Wednesday that Omaha Beach, the 4-1 morning-line favorite trained by Richard Mandella, would be scratched from the Kentucky Derby due to an entrapped epiglottis, a throat condition that can hinder breathing. Following that shocking development, Baffert now trains the three horses with the lowest odds on the morning line: Game Winner at 9-2, Improbable at 5-1 and Roadster also at 5-1. Consequently, if there is a Triple Crown winner this year, it seems likely that Baffert would be the trainer, especially considering Baffert has won two recent Triple Crowns (American Pharoah in 2015 and Justify in 2018).
“If Baffert does not win another Triple Crown this year, will he at least get another Kentucky Derby victory? It looks like there is a good chance of that happening. If it does, Baffert will tie Ben Jones’ longstanding record for most Kentucky Derby wins by a trainer. Baffert has five Kentucky Derby victories to his credit (Silver Charm, Real Quiet, War Emblem, American Pharoah and Justify), one fewer than Jones (Laurin, Whirlaway, Pensive, Citation, Ponder and Hill Gail).
“Is yet another favorite going to win the 2019 Kentucky Derby? Six straight favorites have won (
“Will this year's Kentucky Derby winner be based in California? Five of the last seven Kentucky Derby winners (
“The first rankings of 2019 in the Jan. 11 edition of this newsletter were: 1. Game Winner, 2. Improbable, 3. Instagrand, 4. Maximus Mischief, 5. Mucho, 6. Vekoma, 7. Network Effect, 8. Mucho Gusto, 9. Signalman, 10. Mihos.
Jon White's final 2019 Kentucky Derby Top 10, courtesy of Xpressbet:
“1. War of Will (15-1 morning line odds). Last week ranked No. 4. With my original top pick Omaha Beach now out of the race, this year's Kentucky Derby looks wide open to me. As I have previously written, my rankings are a reflection of how I view a horse's chances to win the Kentucky Derby. War of Will finished ninth in the
“2. Game Winner (9-2). Last week ranked No. 3. I think they are going to have a difficult time keeping him out of the exacta. Game Winner is only a nose and a half-length away from coming into this race as a six-for-six Eclipse Award winner. As noted above, he was No. 1 on my first 2019 rankings in January. Game Winner has finished second in both 2019 starts, but he's acquitted himself well in defeat each time. He lost a division of the
“3. Improbable (5-1). Last week ranked No. 6. Ranked No. 2 early in the rankings, he had slid some after losing both of his 2019 starts to date. He finished second to Long Range Toddy in a division of the Rebel and second to Omaha Beach in the Arkansas Derby. But despite those losses, Improbable has always looked like a very talented equine athlete, one who could have a big say in this year's Run for the Roses.
4. Roadster (5-1). Last week ranked No. 5. Last summer it was Roadster, not Game Winner, who was being touted as Baffert's next big star following Justify's Triple Crown sweep. Don't forget Roadster was a 3-5 favorite when Game Winner won the Del Mar Futurity at odds of 8-5 last Sept. 3. Roadster had a breathing problem when he finished third in that Del Mar race, an issue that subsequently was addressed through throat surgery (although more complicated than Omaha Beach’s problem). Roadster has won both races this year, including the Santa Anita Derby in only his fourth career start when he beat last year's 2-year-old male champ in Game Winner. Of course, it's not encouraging for Roadster that when jockey
5. Maximum Security (8-1). Last week ranked No. 2. Talk about a tricky read. Maximum Security is undefeated and untested. He's won his four races by a jaw-dropping average of 9 1/2 lengths. His speed figures are the best in the field. But I have decided to lower him to No. 5 this week because he is now facing, by far, tougher opponents than ever before. If he outruns all of his rivals Saturday, he will become the 10th undefeated Kentucky Derby winner. In this regard, he would emulate Regret (1915), Morvich (1922), Majestic Prince (1969), Seattle Slew (1977), Smarty Jones (2004), Barbaro (2006), Big Brown (2008), Nyquist (2016) and Justify (2018). The way I look at Maximum Security, it really could be a case of feast or famine. If he doesn't win, he might very well finish way back.
6. Tacitus (8-1). Last week ranked No. 7. There is much to like about Tacitus. He has a Hall of Fame trainer in Bill Mott, who won so many marquee events with the great Cigar. Tacitus' breeding is second to none. He is a son of the top sire Tapit and Eclipse Award winner Close Hatches. Tacitus demonstrated that he can overcome adversity in his most recent start when he won the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct after getting knocked around early.
7. Code of Honor (12-1). Last week ranked No. 9. I have moved him up on this week's rankings primarily off his dandy four-furlong workout in 46.80 seconds at Churchill Downs last Sunday. That could be a hint that he's poised to run a biggie Saturday. After winning the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park on March 2, Code of Honor finished third behind Maximum Security and the maiden Bodexpress in the
8. By My Standards (15-1). Last week not ranked. The Louisiana Derby winner has been the “buzz horse” leading up to this year's Kentucky Derby. He seems to have improved dramatically in recent weeks for trainer Bret Calhoun. After By My Standards lost his first three career starts, he's registered back-to-back victories. He won a maiden race in New Orleans by a little more than four lengths on Feb. 16, then ran even better to get the job done at odds of 22-1 in the Louisiana Derby.
9. Vekoma (15-1). Last week ranked No. 8. People mock how he looks when he's running. It appears that he's paddling with his left front leg. So much so that if this were an equine swimming competition, he definitely would be the favorite. But with three wins from four career starts, Vekoma should not be taken lightly Saturday. After finishing third behind Code of Honor and Bourbon War in the Fountain of Youth, Vekoma rebounded to win the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland by an emphatic 3 1/2 lengths. Another plus for Vekoma is he has a Hall of Fame jockey in
10. Long Range Toddy (30-1). Last week ranked No. 10. He might hit the board at huge odds if we see the same Long Range Toddy who rallied in the stretch to win the Rebel by a neck when Improbable was the runner-up. Long Range Toddy then ran sixth in the Arkansas Derby, but it's possible that disappointing effort can be excused because it was the first time he had ever raced on a wet track. Long Range Toddy's sire is Take Charge Indy, who won the Florida Derby in 2012. Take Charge Indy is a half-brother to Charming, the dam of Omaha Beach.”
Santa Anita preview
Friday’s pre-Derby card is eight races starting at 1 p.m. There are four turf races, and, of course, none are down the hill. The are two allowance/optional claimers for $67,000, so we’re going to pick the fourth, 1 1/8 miles on the turf for 3-year-old fillies.
The favorite, at 2-1, is Colonial Creed for trainer Richad Baltas and jockey
Now, we don’t like to route for horses, but we’re pulling for Truffalino, at 3-1. Why? She’s trained by Richard Mandella and we want to do nothing but send good thoughts his way. Joe Talamo gets the mount. Truffalino is one-for-four lifetime and broke her maiden on Dec. 29.
Here are the field sizes, in order: 7, 10, 5, 7, 5, 8, 9, 11 (3 also eligible).
Ciarin Thornton’s SA pick of the day
RACE SIX: No. 5 Tap the Wire (12-1)
Tap the Wire is “dropping” into this race off two straight stakes races. This is the second start off the bench for little know trainer Daniel Dunham. We have a sharp workout last week and a great 12-1 morning line. This is the first start on turf but note the victory going gate to wire on dirt last summer. Tap the Wire has blistering early speed and from this ideal post will look to wire the field. Also note the horse is racing protected today, another sign of confidence for this stakes quality horse.
Sunday’s result: What an exciting finish Sunday as Lord Guinness, with the aid of a perfect jockey ride, sat back off the fast pace and powered down the stretch to win by the head bob on the line. Lord Guinness paid a very nice $23 for the $2 win bet. Hunting for value at Santa Anita remains my strategy.
Ciarin Thornton is the handicapper for Californiapick4.com, which offers daily full card picks, longshots of the day, best bets of the day.
Golden Gate weekend preview
We’re back with our weekly look at the best racing at Golden Gate Fields. As with the last couple meetings, we’re delighted to have race caller and all-around good guy Matt Dinerman as our host for previews and other musings. So, take it away, Matt.
“Last weekend’s Gold Rush Weekend was a big success, according to most. It handled a record breaking all source number of $8.1 million on Saturday and an additional $5.9 million on Sunday. It was an 80% increase over a year ago, with an increase of nearly $6.1 million.
“Just an outstanding 47 hours,” said David Duggan, Golden Gate Fields general manager and vice president. “Our fans, owners, horseplayers and horsemen have given us very positive feedback. Our numbers were very strong. Both days produced solid on-track crowds that were festive and exuberant. Our wagering product was fantastic and horseplayers were able to dive into competitive sequences with large pools. We are extremely pleased with how the inaugural Gold Rush Weekend went.”
The average field size was 8.48 spread out over 25 races. There were eight stakes races. On Saturday, the Grade 3, $250,000 San Francisco Mile, was won by Blitzkrieg. Ridden by
Also on Saturday, 3-year-old colt Kingly gave Bob Baffert his first California Derby win, when the brother to Grade 2 winner Mohaymen and Breeders’ Cup champ New Years Day defeated seven in the $100,000 race.
On Sunday, the Campanile and Silky Sullivan for California-breds, were also won by Southern California invaders. Kitty Boom Boom for Richard Baltas and Geovanni Franco was a romping winner of the Campanile while Irish Heatwave, ridden by Irving Orozco and conditioned by Keith Desormeuax, was able to hold off an oncoming late rally from Our Silver Oak and Echo Eddie Stakes winner Lieutenant Dan in the Silky Sullivan.
The fifth race on Friday is Leg B of the Stronach 5 wager with a field of nine maiden claimers. I really like No. 7 Hopscotchy for trainer Steve
Early first post on Kentucky Derby Saturday of 11:40 AM, with 10 races. The feature is a second-level allowance route on turf, featuring the return of stakes winner Gabo’s Macondo. Gabo’s Macondo hasn’t been seen since winning the Bulldog Stakes at Fresno.
There will be a new first post of 1:15 p.m. on weekends. Weekday and Memorial Day post times remains at 12:45 p.m., while Preakness (May 18) and Belmont Day (June 8) is scheduled for 11:45 a.m.
Los Alamitos weekend preview
It’s time to turn things over to marketing and media guru Orlando Gutierrez, who will tell us about the upcoming weekend at Los Alamitos. Orlando, the floor is yours.
“The grandstand at Los Alamitos will open at 7 a.m. on Friday for simulcasting on Kentucky Oaks Day. The clubhouse will open at 9 a.m. and the Vessels Club will open at 10 a.m. On Kentucky Derby Saturday, all gates will open at 7 a.m.
“As for live racing, a pair of events for 2-year-olds highlight the eight-race program on Friday night. First post is 6 p.m. Needs No Intro, a $125,000 purchased at the 2018 Ruidoso Yearling Sale, headlines a field of nine juveniles in the seventh race. To be ridden by Ruben Castro for trainer Mike Robbins, Needs No Intro is the son of millionaire and 2008 champion colt One Famous Eagle and out of Separate Fire, the 2011 champion 2-year-old filly. Budderlicous is another top contender in the seventh. Purchased for $86,000 also at the Ruidoso Yearling Sale, the Utah-bred gelding by Corona Cartel is out of Budder Think Twice, who qualified to the 2015 Grade I Ed Burke Million Futurity and was second to Phoebes Dynasty in the restricted Grade I Governor’s Cup Futurity.
“Six 2-year-old fillies will debut in the fifth race on Friday night. The field will be headed by Kent Kleinknecht’s homebred Movie Star K, who posted the seventh fastest of 45 works on April 6 when working 12.30 seconds from the gate. This filly is a half-sister to Grade 2 stakes winner Pool ($438,689).
“Saturday’s eight-race program will be headed by the Grade 3 Kaweah Bar Handicap. Tarzanito, the 2018 champion aged stallion, and Ed Allred’s Well Good are among the eight horses in the 350-yard Kaweah Bar. Allred is one stakes win away from becoming the first owner with 100 quarter-horse stakes wins. The Hall of Fame owner and breeder became the first to 1,500 quarter-horse wins earlier this year.
“Nine trials to the Grade II, $362,300 Robert Adair Kindegarten Futurity will highlight Sunday’s card. Debut winners Diamond Rock, Kid Around, Dreams Divine, Cartel Jess Rockin and Scoop There It Is are among the top juveniles in the trials. A total of 71 2-year-olds will race with the 10 horses with the fastest times advancing to the May 19 final.”
Ed Burgart’s LA pick of the day
SIXTH RACE: No. 4 Haybeautiful (9-5)
This mare was beaten less than a head from the rail post after stumbling at the start of last third-place try vs. stronger and was flattered when runnerup Rockin Energy returned to win for $20,000 last week. She now gets a positive post switch and drops a class level. She won by one length for the same claiming price three outs ago and her two lifetime wins have come at the race distance of 330 yards.
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Now, the star of the show, Friday’s entries.
Santa Anita Entries for Friday, May 3.
Santa Anita, Santa Anita Park, Arcadia, California. 10th day of a 41-day meet.
1 Mile Turf. Purse: $35,000. Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $25,000.
|1||Fortune of War||Agapito Delgadillo||125||Nestor M. Capitaine||12-1||25,000|
|2||Georgie Hyphen||Heriberto Figueroa||125||Peter Miller||5-2||25,000|
|3||Handsome John||J.C. Diaz, Jr.||113||Robert B. Hess, Jr.||12-1||25,000|
|4||Alfareed||Ruben Fuentes||125||Jeff Bonde||8-1||25,000|
|5||Captivate||Aaron Gryder||125||Mike Puype||9-5||25,000|
|6||Mr. Magico||Martin Pedroza||125||Leonard Powell||4-1||25,000|
|7||Ice Kat||Rafael Bejarano||125||Richard Baltas||4-1||25,000|
5½ Furlongs. Purse: $32,000. Maiden Claiming. Fillies. 3 year olds. Claiming Price $25,000.
|1||Glitter Gulch||Heriberto Figueroa||124||Genaro Vallejo||8-1||25,000|
|2||Miss You Mother||Alonso Quinonez||124||Thomas Ray Bell, II||15-1||25,000|
|3||Meritocracy||Rafael Bejarano||124||Robert B. Hess, Jr.||3-1||25,000|
|4||Point Received||J.C. Diaz, Jr.||117||Ruben Gomez||20-1||25,000|
|5||Appolina||Assael Espinoza||124||Bob Baffert||5-2||25,000|
|6||Curryforthree Bang||Ignacio Puglisi||124||Joe Herrick||12-1||25,000|
|7||Fashion Dream||Martin Pedroza||124||Peter Miller||4-1||25,000|
|8||Out of Control||Edwin Maldonado||124||Steve Knapp||12-1||25,000|
|9||Miss Omnipotent||Martin Garcia||124||George Papaprodromou||10-1||25,000|
|10||Interesting Times||Joseph Talamo||124||Tim Yakteen||8-1||25,000|
6 Furlongs. Purse: $43,000. Starter Optional Claiming. 3 year olds. Claiming Price $50,000.
|1||Oliver||Martin Garcia||122||Doug F. O'Neill||6-1||50,000|
|2||Bully for Eric||Martin Pedroza||122||J. Eric Kruljac||7-2||50,000|
|3||Railman||Rafael Bejarano||124||Peter Eurton||9-5|
|4||Asano||Kent Desormeaux||122||J. Keith Desormeaux||2-1||50,000|
|5||Forestation||Norberto Arroyo, Jr.||122||J. Eric Kruljac||7-2||50,000|
1 1/8 Mile Turf. Purse: $67,000. Allowance Optional Claiming. Fillies. 3 year olds. Claiming Price $80,000.
|1||Over Emphasize||Alonso Quinonez||124||Michael W. McCarthy||5-1|
|2||Hello Bubbles||Ruben Fuentes||122||Neil D. Drysdale||8-1|
|3||Italia||Aaron Gryder||122||Mike Puype||6-1|
|4||Social Graces||Brice Blanc||122||Patrick Gallagher||12-1|
|5||Colonial Creed||Victor Espinoza||124||Richard Baltas||2-1|
|6||Out of Balance||Rafael Bejarano||124||David E. Hofmans||7-2|
|7||Truffalino||Joseph Talamo||124||Richard E. Mandella||3-1|
6 Furlongs. Purse: $43,000. Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $35,000.
|1||Bad Boy Leroy||Norberto Arroyo, Jr.||124||Mark Glatt||3-1|
|2||Rainbow Squall||Tiago Pereira||124||Neil A. Koch||4-1||35,000|
|3||Italiano||Edwin Maldonado||124||Steven Miyadi||5-2||35,000|
|4||Leroy||Joseph Talamo||124||Philip A. Oviedo||4-1||35,000|
|5||Littlebitamedal||Rafael Bejarano||124||Art Sherman||2-1||35,000|
5 Furlongs Turf. Purse: $67,000. Allowance Optional Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $40,000.
|1||K Thirty Eight||Assael Espinoza||124||Karen Headley||5-1||40,000|
|2||Buckys Pick||Rafael Bejarano||124||Doug F. O'Neill||4-1|
|3||Passionate Reward||Joseph Talamo||124||Richard E. Mandella||4-1|
|4||Ultimate Bango||Ruben Fuentes||124||Blake R. Heap||5-1|
|5||Tap the Wire||Tiago Pereira||118||Daniel Dunham||12-1|
|6||Kiwi's Dream||Aaron Gryder||124||John F. Martin||7-2|
|7||R Cha Cha||Eswan Flores||122||Jorge Periban||5-1||40,000|
|8||Cono||Kent Desormeaux||124||Michael W. McCarthy||8-1|
5½ Furlongs. Purse: $32,000. 'POST TIME: 1:00 PM'. Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $16,000.
|1||Gia Lula||Assael Espinoza||125||Mark Glatt||6-1||16,000|
|2||Party Hostess||J.C. Diaz, Jr.||118||Jorge Periban||12-1||16,000|
|3||Hailey Rachele||Tiago Pereira||125||Sam J. Scolamieri||7-2||16,000|
|4||Don'teatmycookies||Saul Arias||125||J. Keith Desormeaux||3-1||16,000|
|5||Whirling||Edwin Maldonado||125||George Papaprodromou||5-2||16,000|
|6||Mixed Emotions||Norberto Arroyo, Jr.||125||J. Eric Kruljac||8-1||16,000|
|7||Red Stich||Martin Garcia||125||Kristin Mulhall||6-1||16,000|
|8||Gayebird||Christian Aragon||120||Patricia Harrington||30-1||16,000|
|9||Asem||Felipe Martinez||125||Kelly Castaneda||20-1||16,000|
1 Mile Turf. Purse: $65,000. Maiden Special Weight. 3 year olds.
|1||Do Not Swipe Left||Ignacio Puglisi||124||Joe Herrick||30-1|
|2||City Rage||Assael Espinoza||124||Mark Glatt||10-1|
|3||Nolde||Victor Espinoza||124||John A. Shirreffs||6-1|
|4||T Bones Trick||Rafael Bejarano||124||David E. Hofmans||4-1|
|5||Zorich||Ruben Fuentes||124||Mark Glatt||10-1|
|6||Mo Reserve||Joseph Talamo||124||Philip D'Amato||7-2|
|7||Grand Meister||Martin Pedroza||124||Peter Miller||12-1|
|8||Speakerofthehouse||Norberto Arroyo, Jr.||124||Ian Kruljac||10-1|
|9||Proud Pedro||Tiago Pereira||124||Leonard Powell||3-1|
|10||M Town Gem||Aaron Gryder||124||Mike Puype||20-1|
|11||Third Army||Diego Sanchez||124||J. Keith Desormeaux||15-1|
|12||Farquhar||Kent Desormeaux||124||Vladimir Cerin||10-1|
|13||Parsimony||Martin Garcia||124||Doug F. O'Neill||5-2|
|14||Takeo||Brice Blanc||124||John A. Shirreffs||20-1|