Racing! Jon White is in with his Belmont rankings

Hello, my name is John Cherwa and welcome to our horse racing newsletter as we’re over our Preakness hangover.

In case you missed it since the Preakness, here are some stories we wrote about on the web and in the print editions of the Los Angeles Times.

--Santa Anita suffers its 25th equine death since Dec. 26. Just click here.

--A hearing is held in Sacramento on the safety of horse racing. Just click here.

--What happened at Thursday’s CHRB meeting. (Cheap web trick: And you won’t believe what jockey Norberto Arroyo Jr., said.) Just click here.

Jon White’s Belmont rankings

Two down and one to go. That’s where we are as we close the books on the Kentucky Derby (well, that book may not be closed for years) and the Preakness. But we’re not done, or more specifically, Jon White isn’t done. He wants to get you guys ready for the Belmont Stakes. 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 and the first look at the Belmont, courtesy of Jon, the floor is yours.

“War of Will is headed to the 1 1/2-mile Belmont Stakes on June 8 after winning the 1 3/16-mile Preakness Stakes last Saturday at Pimlico. The Mark Casse-trained son of War Front got the job done in the Preakness after a troubled trip in the 1 1/4-mile Kentucky Derby.

“Entering the far turn in the Preakness, War of Will and jockey Tyler Gaffalione found themselves boxed in. Casse became concerned. It looked like racing luck might again be unkind to War of Will after he had been impeded on the far turn in the Kentucky Derby.

“Casse said that with about three furlongs to go in the Preakness, he thought, ‘Oh, dear, not again’ because War of Will ‘was wanting to go somewhere and he had nowhere to go.’ But at the top of the stretch, War of Will unhesitatingly came through a narrow seam between pacesetter Warrior's Charge and the inner rail to take the lead just past the three-sixteenths pole. War of Will went on to prevail by 1 1/4 lengths at odds of 6-1.

“The final time of 1:54.34 posted by War of Will made it the second-fastest Preakness since Louis Quatorze won the 1996 edition in 1:53.40. The only faster Preakness than this year's since 1996 was when Curlin won in 1:53.46 in 2007.

“Maximum Security and War of Will were protagonists in what ranks as one of the most controversial renewals of the Kentucky Derby in its long history. Maximum Security veered out sharply approaching the five-sixteenths pole, then went on to cross the finish line 1 3/4 lengths in front. The stewards disqualified Maximum Security from first and placed him 17th for ‘veering out and stacking up War of Will, Long Range Toddy and Bodexpress,’ as stated in the Equibase race chart. War of Will finished eighth and was elevated to seventh through the disqualification of Maximum Security.

Gary and Mary West own Maximum Security. The colt's DQ in the Kentucky Derby is his lone defeat in five career starts. The Wests have filed a federal lawsuit in an attempt to have the stewards’ decision to disqualify Maximum Security in the Kentucky Derby overturned.

“According to Equibase, Maximum Security had a four-furlong workout Wednesday in 53.80 seconds at Monmouth Park for trainer Jason Servis. Daily Racing Form's Jim Dunleavy reported that Servis has the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth on July 20, Travers Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 24 and Pennsylvania Derby at Parx Racing on Sept. 21 under consideration for Maximum Security. The Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth on June 16 has not been ruled out as a return race before the Haskell, according to Dunleavy.

“Servis told Dunleavy that Maximum Security ‘got beat up, cut up in the Derby.’ For Servis to now say that is very interesting because Churchill Downs' Kentucky Derby notes the day after the race stated that ‘trainer Jason Servis reported via text message Sunday morning that Gary and Mary West's Maximum Security exited his eventful run in Saturday's Kentucky Derby in good order.’

“Country House, trained by Bill Mott, finished second in the Kentucky Derby at the enormous odds of 65-1. He was declared the official winner of the race after Maximum Security was disqualified. Country House missed the Preakness and will also not be running in the Belmont.

“Three days after the May 4 Kentucky Derby, Country House developed a bit of a cough and acted as if he might be getting sick, Mott reported to Daily Racing Form's Jay Privman. After Country House underwent a thorough checkup at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Ky., he returned to Mott's barn at Churchill Downs on May 17. The expectation is for Country House to resume his racing career sometime this summer.

“With Maximum Security and Country House not running in the Belmont, it appears the field will be headed by War of Will, Tacitus and Game Winner. Tacitus and Game Winner officially finished third and fifth, respectively, in the Kentucky Derby.

“Here are my Belmont Stakes rankings, courtesy of Xpressbet:

1. War of Will

2. Tacitus

3. Game Winner

4. Owendale

5. Sir Winston

6. Spinoff

7. Master Fencer

8. Intrepid Heart

9. Everfast

10. Tax”

Santa Anita preview

It’s a big weekend at Santa Anita with a four-day racing week because of Memorial Day. However, Friday isn’t one of the big days. There are eight graded stakes races Saturday through Monday, including three Grade 1s on the holiday.

Friday’s card does have a race for the ages, and by that we mean horses with a lot of birthdays. The seventh is an allowance/optional claimer for older horses going a mile for a purse of $69,000. This is where we usually tell you about the favorite, but instead we’ll mention the 8-1 shot Soi Phet, who will be running his 63rd race, of which he’s won 15.

You have to wonder why they keep running this 11-year-old gelding, except that he keeps on wanting to run. I have to say, and maybe this is the wrong way of looking at things, but I just want him to finish safely. Those are a lot of races over a lot of years.

The favorite, at 5-2, has a lot of mileage on him, too. El Huerfano will be running his 43rd race, and has won eight of them. He won an allowance last out for trainer Mark Glatt and jockey Drayden Van Dyke. He has run all of his races in California.

The second favorite, at 7-2, is Dark Vader, for Peter Eurton and Rafael Bejarano. He hasn’t raced since July 18 of last year when he was fifth in the Indiana Derby. Previously, he ran in the Sunland Derby (fifth) and Robert B. Lewis Stakes (third). Post is around 4:10 p.m.

Here are the field sizes, in order: 7, 6, 8, 6, 8, 8, 8, 10.

Ciaran Thornton’s SA pick of the day

RACE ONE: No. 4 Sapori Girl (8-1)

Sapori Girl is my wise-guy closer in this race. Jockey Joe Talamo rides for trainer Tim Yakteen who is winning 20% and Talamo is winning 38% when he rides for him. We get a sharp workout and this horse has the best closing kick in the race. The added distance looks ideal for the pace set up.

Sunday’s result: Watch Me Burn looked great for half a race then faded into the turn. Our free card offer had a great day with a very nice $609 Pick 5 win thanks to three scratches in the turf races in the sequence. We almost swept the entire card but in the very last race our top choices and longshot scratched and the post time favorite, who should never have been that, choked.

Ciaran 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 of 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.

“Four more racing days this week--Friday through Monday--and a Grade 3 event goes as our feature on Memorial Day: $100,000 All American Stakes for 3-year-olds and up going one mile on the Tapeta.

“Sixteen horses were nominated to the one-mile contest and the field will be set on Friday. Among the local probables are Choo Choo, who ran third in the San Francisco Mile, and stakes winner Gabo's Macondo. Builder, Grecian Fire, Many Roses, More Power To Him and Touched By Autism are also probable. The connections of Grade 3 winner Draft Pick, multiple allowance winner Higher Power, and stakes winner Ritzy A.P. are still mulling their options.

“The fifth race at Golden Gate on Friday goes as Leg D (the penultimate leg) of the Stronach 5 wager. I give the nod to No. 1 Baby’s Got Class, coming off a second-place finish behind a run-away winner who went off at very low odds and outclassed that condition. We also used No. 5 Duzle Worpz as part of the ‘All-Star ticket’ given out by XBTV. The Stronach 5 is guaranteed at $100,000 every week and features an industry low, 12% takeout.

“A fun race on Saturday ninth and final race , a six-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds. A handful of Southern California shippers come for the race: the Doug O’Neill trained Carnivorous, the Peter Eurton conditioned Platinum Nights and Moonoverthebayou, trained by Bob Hess Jr. Local contenders include multiple allowance winner Midnight Special, $725,000 2-year-old purchase Koa, coming off a nose loss in a May 2 allowance, and Once a Thief, who hasn’t run since a game maiden win last summer.

“Post time on Friday and Monday is 12:45 p.m., while post time on Saturday and Sunday is 1:15 p.m.

“Recapping the Alcatraz Stakes last week, local 3-year-old Visitant defeated Southern California shipper One Bad Boy and California Derby winner Kingly in an exciting stretch run. Trainer John Martin confirmed that Visitant came out of the race in good shape and is likely to make his next start in the Grade 3 $100,000 Affirmed Stakes at Santa Anita on June 16.

“In other news, El Camino Real Derby Anothertwistafate ran off the board in the Preakness and is back in Northern California, per his trainer, Blaine Wright. Wright reported that Anothertwistafate came out of the race healthy, but that he would be freshened up in preparation for a summer and fall campaign.

“’We’d like to try [Anothertwistafate] on turf,’ Wright said. ‘We’re looking at some races--maybe a race or two at Del Mar--but we still think the world of him and we know he has a bright future. He is well-traveled and has been running hard, so we’ll freshen him up.’”

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.

“A solid eight-race program featuring an 870-yard allowance event plus the debuts of several promising 2-year-olds will headline Friday's card at Los Alamitos. First post is 6 p.m. There is a pick-six carryover of $10,942. The pick 6 sequence will start with race three, 4 ½ furlongs, for thoroughbred fillies. Victoriously Jewel, who has won 15 races in her career, will take on recent daylight winners Kamilche Gold and Irish And Lucky. In the fourth race, BS Cyclotron will look to remain undefeated in three career starts when he heads an 870-yard allowance.

“Remember Me Rose, one of California's leading broodmares, will be represented by a great looking prospect in the Favorite Cartel filly Forgot The Rose in the sixth race on Friday. Purchased for $95,000 at the 2018 Los Alamitos Equine Sale, Forgot The Rose is a full sister to Grade 1 winner Powerful Favorite and multiple graded stakes finalist The Revenant. Forgot The Rose will start from the eight and enters after posting the third fastest of 14 works (12.30 seconds) on May 11.

“On Saturday, Eyes The Favorite will look to continue his solid performances when he leads a field of aged horses in the $11,825 allowance feature at 350 yards. Over the past 15 months, Eyes The Favorite has developed into one of better quarter horses in the nation. The son of Favorite Cartel has yet to win a stakes race but has consistently competed against the top horses and qualified to five graded stakes races since March, 2018. Eyes The Favorite had a second-place finish in the Grade 2 Southern California Derby and appearances in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Super Derby and Grade 1 Ruidoso Derby. Rounding out his 2018 campaign, in which he earned $128,559, Eyes The Favorite also competed in the Grade 3 El Primero Del Ano Derby to go along with seven finishes in the top two.

“Most recently, Eyes The Favorite ran a hard-fought second to champion Zoomin For Spuds in the Grade 1 Brad McKinzie Los Alamitos Winter Championship at 400 yards. Eyes The Favorite will start from the five on Saturday night.

“Sunday’s eight-race program will feature the $34,315 Adequan California Derby. The winner will advance to the $150,000 Adequan Championship at Albuquerque Downs in the fall. KR Hi Five, a multiple stakes winner at Los Alamitos in 2018, will headline this field of seven sophomores racing at 400 yards.”

Ed Burgart’s LA pick of the day

SIXTH RACE: No. 7 Foxys First Kiss (2-1)

This filly was a troubled fourth in her Kindergarten trial debut 19 nights ago and is back with maidens. In her first start, she broke poorly and was forced out at the start from her outside draw and went nicely to get fourth behind Corona Lake, who qualified for the futurity finals. Handsome TD and Invader, the second and third-place finishers respectively, were coming off maiden victories. Now, Foxys First Kiss draws between horses and should be hard to deny with expected second-out improvement. For exotics purposes, use 7 over 2,4,8.

Final thought

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

Santa Anita Entries for Friday, May 24.

Santa Anita, Santa Anita Park, Arcadia, California. 19th day of a 41-day meet.


1 1/8 Mile Turf. Purse: $42,000. Maiden Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $50,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Boldest VowDrayden Van Dyke125Jerry Hollendorfer12-150,000
2Sybil's KittyFlavien Prat120Richard Baltas3-150,000
3Dulverton DarlingMario Gutierrez120Neil D. Drysdale7-250,000
4Sapori GirlJoseph Talamo120Tim Yakteen8-150,000
5Kittyhawk LassAlonso Quinonez120Mike Puype5-250,000
6More SmoresBrice Blanc125Gary Mandella6-150,000
7Crazy Sexy MunnyRuben Fuentes120Doug F. O'Neill4-150,000


6½ Furlongs. Purse: $43,000. Starter Optional Claiming. 3 year olds. Claiming Price $50,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1OliverMartin Garcia122Doug F. O'Neill4-1
2ContagionEdwin Maldonado124Doug F. O'Neill3-150,000
3Surprise FashionRafael Bejarano124Victor L. Garcia4-1
4AsanoKent Desormeaux124J. Keith Desormeaux9-2
5Toothless WonderEvin Roman124Robert B. Hess, Jr.2-150,000
6Hard to Come HomeJorge Velez117Clifford W. Sise, Jr.8-1


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

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Popular AppealEdwin Maldonado122Jeff Bonde4-1
2Cholula LipsRafael Bejarano122Mike Harrington8-1
3Goveness SheilaGeovanni Franco122Gary Sherlock12-1
4This Is the OneAaron Gryder122Sean McCarthy3-1
5Phoenix TearsTiago Pereira122Daniel Dunham12-1
6AkubaErick Garcia122Marcia Stortz15-1
7Fran's EmpireFlavien Prat122Vann Belvoir6-1
8VeganMario Gutierrez122Doug F. O'Neill8-5


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

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1PalladiumKent Desormeaux124J. Keith Desormeaux5-150,000
2AckGeovanni Franco122Reed Saldana5-150,000
3Poppy's C NoteEdwin Maldonado122Librado Barocio5-1
4Royal InsiderRafael Bejarano124Doug F. O'Neill4-1
5Tikkun OlamNorberto Arroyo, Jr.124J. Eric Kruljac9-5
6Of Good ReportFlavien Prat124Doug F. O'Neill3-1


1 Mile. Purse: $38,000. Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $20,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Wilshire DudeAaron Gryder125Manuel Ortiz, Sr.6-120,000
2Pioneerof the WestTiago Pereira123George Papaprodromou10-120,000
3FawreeJorge Velez116John W. Sadler7-220,000
4Dukes UpFlavien Prat123Mark Glatt5-120,000
5Eagle ScreamsRuben Fuentes123Isidro Tamayo6-120,000
6ExcavationRafael Bejarano123Richard Baltas4-120,000
7Muchos BesosAgapito Delgadillo123Javier Jose Sierra5-120,000
8ImplicitlyEdwin Maldonado123Jorge Periban5-120,000


1 1/8 Mile Turf. Purse: $67,000. Allowance Optional Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $40,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Taylor's AddictionTiago Pereira123Vann Belvoir20-1
2Mongolian WindowGeovanni Franco123Peter Miller7-240,000
3ConfidentiallyEvin Roman125John A. Shirreffs4-1
4CatocaMario Gutierrez125Anna Meah3-1
5Pride's GoldFlavien Prat125Eoin G. Harty5-1
6ZuzannaKent Desormeaux123Robert B. Hess, Jr.5-1
7CharmingslewMike Smith125Neil French8-1
8Nonna Gianna Rafael Bejarano125Patrick Gallagher6-1


1 Mile. Purse: $69,000. Allowance Optional Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $62,500.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Soi PhetKent Desormeaux125Leonard Powell8-1
2Dark VaderRafael Bejarano123Peter Eurton7-2
3BlackjackcatGeovanni Franco125Jerry Hollendorfer8-162,500
4RestrainedvengenceNorberto Arroyo, Jr.123Val Brinkerhoff10-1
5Caymans CobraRuben Fuentes123Richard Baltas12-1
6DivisorTiago Pereira123Philip D'Amato4-1
7Two Thirty FiveFlavien Prat125Richard Baltas4-1
8El HuerfanoDrayden Van Dyke123Mark Glatt5-262,500


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

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1PowderEdwin Maldonado123Genaro Vallejo5-210,000
2She'sluckythatwayMario Gutierrez123James F. Sayler50-110,000
3Party HostessEvin Roman123Jorge Periban10-110,000
4Twisted RosieAlex Jimenez123Ryan Hanson20-110,000
5Forbidden CommandSaul Arias123Justin B. Clark8-1
6Winner's DreamIgnacio Puglisi123Paul G. Aguirre6-110,000
7Rizzi's HonorsMartin Pedroza123Mark Glatt12-110,000
8Red ShelbyGeovanni Franco123Reed Saldana12-110,000
9Todos SantosRafael Bejarano123Kelly Castaneda7-210,000
10DurangaJorge Velez116Peter Miller3-110,000