Racing! Our first Preakness rankings

Hello, my name is John Cherwa and welcome to our horse racing newsletter as we still continue to review the Kentucky Derby disqualification.

The results of the Kentucky Derby remained the biggest story since we last checked in. There have been no shortage of emails from you readers, with the slight consensus that the stewards made the right call.

I remember right after the race, my colleague Bryce Miller of the San Diego Union Tribune (our sister paper) was embedded with Gary and Mary West, who live near San Diego. Gary told Bryce he was not going to appeal, but, again that was immediately after the race.

Guess things changed.

I’m really not sure if this added attention is good or bad for the sport. I’ll try and get the temperature of things when I’m in Baltimore next week. This is the first time since Grindstone in 1996 that the Derby winner has not run in the Preakness.

Until then we’ll have Jon White monitoring the second leg of the Triple Crown.

Jon White’s Preakness rankings

The Kentucky Derbym may be behind us but the Preakness is right around the corner. As always, we’re lucky to have the top expert Jon White take a look at what’s happening on the Triple Crown trail. 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, let’s continue with his analysis of the Triple Crown races, brought courtesy of Jon, the floor is yours.

“A historic race held each year at Churchill Downs had a historic result last Saturday.

“For the first time in the 145-year history of the Kentucky Derby, a horse crossed the finish line first, then was disqualified. After Maximum Security prevailed by 1 3/4 lengths, the stewards at Churchill Downs disqualified him and placed him 17th for causing interference to War Of Will, Bodexpress and Long Range Toddy turning for home. As a result of the disqualification, Country House, who originally had finished second, became the official winner of the 2019 Kentucky Derby.

“Maximum Security is not the first Kentucky Derby winner to be disqualified. Dancer's Image finished first in 1968, but was subsequently disqualified when his post-race urinalysis showed the presence of phenylbutazone. At that time, phenylbutazone was a prohibited medication in Kentucky.

“Forward Pass, who had finished second, was declared the winner of the 1968 Kentucky Derby. While the mutuel payouts were not affected, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) ordered that first purse money of $112,600 and the winning trophy go to Forward Pass' owner, Calumet Farm. Peter Fuller, the owner of Dancer's Image, fought the disqualification in court for years, but to no avail.

“Maximum Security also is not the first horse in the history of the Kentucky Derby to be disqualified for committing a foul during the race. Gate Dancer finished fourth in the 1984 Kentucky Derby, but he was disqualified and placed fifth. Gate Dancer, racing with purple earmuffs, came in several times during the stretch run. He repeatedly slammed into Fali Time, who came in fifth.

“Before disqualifying Gate Dancer, the stewards at Churchill Downs posted the inquiry sign. Sandy Hawley, the rider of Fali Time, lodged a claim of foul against Gate Dancer and Eddie Delahoussaye.

“Following this year's Kentucky Derby, in which the winner was disqualified, the stewards did not post the inquiry sign. Not surprisingly, the stewards have received considerable criticism for not doing that. While the inquiry sign was never posted, it was announced shortly after the race that Flavien Prat, the rider of Country House, had lodged an objection against Maximum Security for alleged interference near the five-sixteenths pole.

“A second objection against Maximum Security was not publicly known until after Saturday's racing at Churchill Downs had been completed. The stewards certainly dropped the ball in that regard. Jon Court, the rider of Long Range Toddy, who originally finished 17th, also lodged an objection against Maximum Security. Court's claim of foul was not known publicly until it was mentioned about two hours after the Kentucky Derby when Barbara Borden, the KHRC's chief steward, read a statement to the media explaining the stewards' decision to disqualify Maximum Security.

“As Borden read the statement, she was flanked by the other two stewards, Butch Becraft and Tyler Picklesimer. After Borden finished reading the statement, the stewards took no questions from the media. The stewards also have received much criticism for that. That was in contrast to how stewards representing the California Horse Racing Board typically have dealt with the media following a controversial race in California, such as the 2014 Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita, a race in which Bayern was not disqualified when it had appeared that he had caused interference leaving the gate. A steward or stewards at a California track ordinarily will take questions from the media after a controversial race.

“It seems safe to say that the 2019 Kentucky Derby is the most controversial Triple Crown race since the 1980 Preakness Stakes. Codex won the Preakness that year by 4 3/4 lengths, but many felt he had impeded runner-up Genuine Risk coming into the stretch. As in the 2019 Kentucky Derby, the stewards did not post the inquiry sign after the 1980 Preakness. Genuine Risk's rider, Jacinto Vasquez, did lodge an objection against Codex and his jockey, Angel Cordero Jr.

“Daily Racing Form's esteemed Joe Hirsch wrote of the 1980 Preakness: ‘As Codex passed the point of the turn, entering the stretch, Cordero turned in the saddle and spotted Genuine Risk. He then guided Codex out to a point just inside the filly and carried her even wider than she would have gone on her own momentum, while swinging his whip vigorously on the right side. There was light brushing, the filly's head seemed to nod sharply as though struck, and she lost her momentum for an instant. Gamely she recovered, pursued Codex to the wire, but the battle was lost by 4 3/4 lengths. ... Incredibly, the Pimlico stewards failed to post the inquiry sign, though many in the crowd of 83,455 and millions of television viewers, were aware there had been an incident. Vasquez claimed foul, however, and the stewards deliberated at length before the Preakness result was declared official.’

“Genuine Risk's owner, Diana Johnson Firestone, filed a formal complaint with the Maryland Racing Commission in an attempt to overturn the stewards’ decision not to disqualify Codex. But by a 3-1 vote, the commission upheld the stewards' decision. One commissioner, Robert Furtick, recused himself after newspaper accounts suggested he had pre-judged the case in favor of Codex.

“Genuine Risk won the Kentucky Derby. If the stewards had disqualified Codex, Genuine Risk would have gone to the Belmont Stakes with an opportunity for a Triple Crown sweep, something no filly has ever done. Genuine Risk finished second in the Belmont, which Temperence Hill won on a muddy track in a 53-1 upset. Nevertheless, Genuine Risk has the distinction of being the only filly to ever finish first or second in all three Triple Crown events.

“As for this year's Preakness, trainer Bill Mott on Tuesday told Daily Racing Form's Jay Privman that the Kentucky Derby winner will not be running. Mott reported that Country House had ‘developed a little bit of a cough’ and had ‘started to show signs of becoming ill.’

“In fact, this year's Preakness will not have any of the first four horses across the finish line in the Kentucky Derby -- Maximum Security, Country House, Code of Honor and Tacitus. It will be the first time this has happened since 1951.

“In 1951, Count Turf won the Kentucky Derby, then Bold was victorious in the Preakness. Counterpoint, who finished 11th in the Derby and second in the Preakness, won the Belmont and later also took the Jockey Club Gold Cup en route to being acclaimed 1951 Horse of the Year.

“Bold did not run in the Kentucky Derby prior to his Preakness triumph. A little more than a year after Bold won the Preakness, in a cruel twist of fate, he was struck by lightning and killed at Brookemeade Stud in Virginia.

“In terms of the upcoming Preakness, Improbable ‘will be the program favorite, probably at 9-5 or 2-1,’ Pimlico morning-line maker Keith Feustle told Daily Racing Form. ‘Then it'll be War of Will in the 3-1 range.’

“Here now are my current rankings for the May 18 Preakness, courtesy of Xpressbet:

1. War of Will

2. Improbable

3. Alwaysmining

4. Owendale

5. Anothertwistafate

6. Bourbon War

7. Win Win Win

8. Laughing Fox

9. Bodexpress

10. Signalman”

Santa Anita preview

Santa Anita continues its three-day racing week with an eight-race card on Friday. Santa Anita really has a horse population problem. By one estimate, there are 400 fewer horses at the track than were here last year. That’s significant. In some ways it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. For safety reasons, you’ve eliminated some racing, such as 6 ½ furlongs down the hill. But that also eliminates some of the horse population who are made for that course. Quite simply, for every action there is a consequence, and in an effort to save the sport in California you have to make moves that also hurt it.

Of Friday’s eight races, four of them are on the turf. But the headline is the card will have the first 2-year-old racing of the year. Yes, in theory, we could be looking at next year’s Kentucky Derby crop. Not likely from this bunch, six fillies going 4 ½ furlongs. Five of the six are homebreds.

There are two allowance races, the sixth and eighth, both on the turf.

Here are the field sizes, in order: 8, 6, 6, 6, 6, 11, 5, 9 (1 also eligible).

Ciarin Thornton’s SA pick of the day

RACE SIX: No. 5 Be Lifted Up (8-1)

Be Lifted Up is ridden by Flavien Prat for trainer Jeff Mullins. Mullins is winning 33% second-time routing like Friday. This is the second start off the layoff and we have a sharp workout in preparation. The horse was steadied early in the last race before running on late and sets up perfect for the race profile today. At 8-1 on the morning line, it’s a great value for a Prat horse and again this is an allowance race with the horse being protected in a sign of optimism. These allowance races have been yielding some nice longshot prices lately.

Sunday’s Result: We had another big winner on Sunday with Ippodamia’s Girl winning at 21-1 and paying $44 for the $2 win bet! An expert gate-to-wire ride by Rafael Bejarano brought home the huge slab of bacon for us. Trainer Andrew Lerner continues to rock at Santa Anita. Jockey Mike Smith kept the closer horse Siberian Iris a mile back and had no hope of catching our big winner. Shopping for value especially in allowance races will remain our strategy.

Ciarin Thornton is the handicapper for, 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.

“First post at Golden Gate Fields on Friday is 12:45 p.m. while our Saturday and Sunday cards begin at 1:15 p.m. Friday’s eight-race program has two maiden special weights and an allowance for fillies and mares on the turf.

“The second race is a maiden special for 3-year-olds and up going five furlongs on the grass. Among the major contenders are the John Sadler-trained pair of Persuasive Cat and Sneem. Persuasive Cat faces easier company in Northern California after a number of off-the-board finishes in Southern California. Sneem makes his U.S. debut after being privately purchased by Sadler and owners Hronis Racing LLC. The son of Sir Prancelot was last seen running third at Leopardstown Racecourse in Ireland on Aug. 10, 2017. Another colt that has not run since 2017, Way Gone, makes his first start for owner/trainer Librado Barocio. Interestingly enough, his last start resulted in a ninth-place finish behind City Of Light, eventual Breeders Cup Dirt Mile and Pegasus World Cup Invitational winner. True Regards, from the Ed Moger Jr. barn, and the Jonathan Wong-trained Mercy Rule are two local horses that figure to get support.

“The fifth race is an allowance for fillies and mares going one mile on the turf, and is led by allowance winner and stakes-placed Gettin Sideways. The daughter of Grazen has finished second her past two starts. Stakes winner The Spiral Jetter, Southern California shipper Party Dancer, and the Manny Badilla trained pair of Ziarah and Kynance should challenge. Ziarah comes off a gutsy win against high-level claiming company while Kynance most recently scored a dominant maiden victory. The fifth race is also Leg C of the $1 Stronach 5 wager, with a $100,000 guaranteed pool and 12% takeout.

“The seventh race is a maiden special for 3-year-olds going six furlongs. Emerald Magic comes off a fast-finishing second place finish for trainer Bill McClean and may be favored in the eight-horse field. First-time starters I Declare War, a $57,000 sale purchase by Decleration Of War and a half sibling to Grade 2 placed filly Dixie City, and the Steve Specht trained Lucky B Mine are also entered.

“Saturday’s nine-race program features the first 2-year-old race of 2019, I’ll give the nod to the Ellen Jackson-trained Bulletproof One, who has posted a series of fast workouts in preparation for this 4 ½ furlong debut. The California-bred colt is by Grade 1 winning sprinter Idiot Proof and out of the mare Onefunsonofagun, who was an eight-time sprint winner. Onefunsonofagun has produced two other foals to race: a 10-time winner and a four-time winner.”

Los Alamitos weekend preview

It’s time to turn things over to marketing and meda guru Orlando Gutierrez, who will tell us about the upcoming weekend at Los Alamitos. Orlando, the floor is yours.

“Following a great night of trials to the Grade 2, $362,300 Robert Adair Kindergarten Futurity on Sunday, many top caliber 2-year-olds will be running this weekend at Los Alamitos, preparing to compete in the trials to the Grade 1 Ed Burke Million Futurity on June 9. Horses must have at least one start in order to be eligible to race in the Ed Burke trials.

“There are two races for 2-year-olds on Friday. The seventh race will feature 2-year-old fillies headed by Geothermal, a half-sister to La Primera Del Año Derby winner Terrific First Down, and the Tres Seis filly Fuego De Pithia, a $48,000 purchase at the Heritage Place Yearling Sale. The eighth race will be led by the 2-year-old Sass Go Blue, a gelding out of champion aged mare Sass Me Blue. First post is 6 p.m.

“Saturday’s eight-race program will have 23 juveniles racing at 300 yards. The top 2-year-olds to watch include Up And Coming and Tea Pod from the Chris O'Dell barn, Ed Allred’s Up And Atem and Legacy Ranch’s My Man Memo.

“The $30,000 La Pacifica Handicap is also scheduled for Saturday. Six of the 10 sophomore fillies in this race exit the running of the Grade 3, $210,000 La Primera Del Año Derby on March 30. No Telling, fifth in the La Primera final, is the 7-2 favorite in the La Pacifica. On Mother’s Day, the stakes winning mares Love To Reason BR, Time To Leave and Just Walk By will square off in the running of the Grade 3, $50,000 Miss Princess Handicap at 350 yards.

J. Francisco Diaz's Chayito Cartel, a homebred son of the Favorite Trick (TB) stallion Favorite Cartel, posted the fastest qualifying time to the Robert Adair Kindergarten Futurity in Sunday’s trials. Ridden by Jesus Rios Ayala, Chayito Cartel posted a 1 ¼-length win while covering the 300 yards in 15.444 seconds for trainer Lindolfo Diaz, the owner's son. For the Diazes' Chayito Cartel’s victory was a special moment.

“’Without that man, I wouldn’t be training right now,’ said Lindolfo of his father, who has started quarter horses in 1,172 races at Los Alamitos since 2000. ‘He has invested so much money and so much time in me just to have me here. He’s everything to me.’“Allred became the first owner to win 100 quarter-horse stakes when his homebred Well Good won the Kaweah Bar Handicap at 350 yards here Saturday. Allred, who earlier this year became the first owner with 1,500 quarter-horse victories, is now less than $20,000 away from becoming the first owner to reach $20 million in earnings with quarter horses.”

Ed Burgart’s LA pick of the day

EIGHTH RACE: No. 7 A Mere Felix (3-1)

I liked the sharp improvement this 2-year-old colt showed in his latest 12.4 gate drill when lugging inward early before galloping out with big strides while under a tight reign. He lugged inward steadily in his first drill and the extra 80 yards of this race work in his favor. He also draws nicely and is by the hot sire Favorite Cartel, who sired four of the 10 finalists in next week’s Kindergarten Futurity.

Final thought

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Now, the star of the show, Friday’s entries.

Santa Anita Entries for Friday, May 10.

Santa Anita, Santa Anita Park, Arcadia, California. 13th day of a 41-day meet.


1 Mile Turf. Purse: $46,000. Maiden Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $75,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1RightfulRuben Fuentes120Vladimir Cerin15-175,000
2River GodKent Desormeaux120Vladimir Cerin3-175,000
3Temple SecretFlavien Prat120Neil D. Drysdale4-175,000
4Formal DudeAaron Gryder125Philip D'Amato5-275,000
5Derby ChampAssael Espinoza125Ruben Gomez15-175,000
6Will DancerTiago Pereira120Eddie Truman6-175,000
7Springs EternalJoseph Talamo120Richard E. Mandella3-175,000
8Third ArmyDiego Sanchez120J. Keith Desormeaux20-175,000


1 Mile. Purse: $30,000. 'POST TIME: 1:00 PM'. Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $10,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1HarrovianEswan Flores125Dennis Givens10-110,000
2Clear the MineRuben Fuentes125Steve Knapp5-210,000
3Could Be the OneJ.C. Diaz, Jr.118Librado Barocio10-110,000
4Sunset SevenMartin Pedroza125David E. Hofmans6-110,000
5Bay AreaJorge Velez118Genaro Vallejo2-110,000
6Comes the DreamAlonso Quinonez125Mike Puype9-510,000


4½ Furlongs. Purse: $65,000. Maiden Special Weight. Fillies. 2 year olds. State bred.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Roses for LauraEdgar Payeras122Gary Sherlock4-1
2Indias LuteTiago Pereira122Lorenzo Campuzano5-1
3Goveness SheilaGeovanni Franco122Gary Sherlock4-1
4VeganMario Gutierrez122Doug F. O'Neill2-1
5Cheap Cheap CheapMartin Garcia122Doug F. O'Neill5-2
6A Dream Is a WishJoseph Talamo122Val Brinkerhoff8-1


1 Mile Turf. Purse: $43,000. Starter Optional Claiming. Fillies. 3 year olds. Claiming Price $50,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1NorwegianRuben Fuentes118Michael W. McCarthy6-150,000
2PersephoneFlavien Prat120Peter Eurton2-1
3AnonymouslyGeovanni Franco118Vladimir Cerin5-2
4Seaside DancerMartin Garcia120Doug F. O'Neill7-250,000
5Had Enough K PAaron Gryder118Jeff Mullins8-150,000
6Super KlausRafael Bejarano118Victor L. Garcia4-1


1 Mile. Purse: $46,000. Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $35,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1I Belong to BeckyTiago Pereira118Hector O. Palma20-135,000
2Cabin JohnRafael Bejarano125Jerry Hollendorfer3-135,000
3Treasure HunterEswan Flores125Hector O. Palma5-235,000
4Top of the GameAaron Gryder123Ryan Hanson4-135,000
5Arch PrinceAlonso Quinonez123Brian J. Koriner2-135,000
6Very Very StellaNorberto Arroyo, Jr.123Jeff Bonde4-135,000


1 Mile Turf. Purse: $67,000. Allowance Optional Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $20,000. State bred.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1SmoovieMario Gutierrez125Doug F. O'Neill4-1
2Drop the MicTiago Pereira123Philip D'Amato8-1
3HotitudeMartin Garcia118Kristin Mulhall15-1
4ScathingNorberto Arroyo, Jr.123Michael Pender12-1
5Be Lifted UpFlavien Prat118Jeff Mullins8-1
6SedamarRuben Fuentes120Shelbe Ruis5-1
7Pied N TrueAlonso Quinonez123Matthew Chew30-1
8LostintranzlationGeovanni Franco125Richard Baltas5-2
9Marjorie ERafael Bejarano125Patrick Gallagher9-2
10Miss VoluptuousDrayden Van Dyke125Patrick Gallagher12-1
11Kennedie SkyJ.C. Diaz, Jr.118Rafael DeLeon20-120,000


6 Furlongs. Purse: $41,000. Starter Optional Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $25,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1ConvinceMario Gutierrez125Peter Eurton3-125,000
2Baby IceAssael Espinoza123Steve Knapp8-1
3Be a LadyMartin Pedroza125Neil French8-1
4Uno Trouble MakerTiago Pereira123William Spawr6-5
5Big Red SevenAaron Gryder125Mike Puype2-1


5 Furlongs Turf. Purse: $67,000. Allowance Optional Claiming. 3 year olds. Claiming Price $80,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Boa Nova Jorge Velez117Anna Meah8-1
2AllevaRafael Bejarano124Doug F. O'Neill5-1
3CarnivorousMario Gutierrez124Doug F. O'Neill15-180,000
4Power Down Joseph Talamo124Ronald W. Ellis4-1
5Nice WorkVictor Espinoza122John W. Sadler4-1
6Rickey BJ.C. Diaz, Jr.117John W. Sadler5-180,000
7My MandateDrayden Van Dyke124Mark Glatt7-2
8Miss That KatEfrain Hernandez124Brian J. Koriner8-1
9Unbridled's SkyeAaron Gryder124Mike Puype15-1
Also Eligible
10Yes I Am FreeFlavien Prat124Steven Miyadi5-280,000