Hello, my name is John Cherwa and welcome to our horse racing newsletter as we head into Belmont weekend.
A little news before we get to the good stuff.
--Santa Anita suffers its 27th death since the meeting started on Dec. 26. Just click here.
--The topic at Belmont is all about horse safety and welfare. Just click here.
Jon White’s Belmont rankings
“1. War of Will (2-1 morning line). Only Curlin (1:53.46) in 2007 has registered a faster final time in
“Daily Racing Form's Matt Bernier wrote: ‘Most handicappers would immediately downgrade War of Will's effort because of the excellent trip he earned in Baltimore, but I think his effort may be better than it appears at face value.’ Bernier pointed out that in the Preakness, War of Will was relatively close to a hot pace, yet still ended up with the fourth-fastest come home time in the race.
“Meanwhile, do you realize that when War of Will had a wide trip and finished fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Churchill Downs last Nov. 2, he managed to beat none other than the future winner of the historic Epsom Derby? That's right. At last year's Breeders’ Cup, 15-1 War of Will outran 3-1 favorite Anthony Van Dyke, who finished ninth. That very same Anthony Van Dyke won the 240th running of the original Derby of them all at Epsom Downs last Saturday.
“War of Will has the distinction of being the only one of the 10 entrants in Saturday's 151st running of the Belmont to start in all three Triple Crown events this year. Of course, running in those three races at three different distances at three different tracks within the period of five weeks is a grind. Sweeping all three is difficult and rare. There have been just 13 Triple Crown winners, the most recent being Justify last year.
“Because War of Will is being asked to endure the entire Triple Crown grind, his task to win the 1 1/2-mile Belmont is made more difficult by having to face rivals--most notably Tacitus--who are fresher for not having run in the Preakness. This definitely is a concern when it comes to War of Will.
“But keep in mind the Preakness really was only War of Will’s second meaningful race since he won the Risen Star Stakes on Feb. 16. He certainly did not get much out of the March 23
“2. Tacitus (9-5 morning-line favorite). I wrote last week that in terms of Belmont Stakes betting, I expect Tacitus to be the favorite, but not by a lot over War of Will. Belmont Park oddsmaker David Aragona obviously sees it the same way as he has pegged Tacitus as the 9-5 morning-line favorite, with War of Will a close second choice at 2-1.
“It's not difficult to understand why so many people are picking Tacitus to win the Belmont. He has a lot going for him.
“By not running in the Preakness, Tacitus has the advantage of being fresher for the Belmont than War of Will.
“Tacitus' trainer, jockey, owner and breeding also add to the colt's appeal. His trainer is Hall of Famer Bill Mott, who sent out Drosselmeyer to win the 2010 Belmont. Tacitus' jockey is Jose Ortiz, who won the 2017 Belmont aboard Tapwrit. Juddmonte Farms owns Tacitus. Juddmonte Farms won the 2003 Belmont with Empire Maker. Tacitus is a son of Tapit and 2014 Eclipse Award champion older female Close Hatches. Tapit has sired three of the last five Belmont Stakes winners (Tonalist in 2014,
“After winning the Tampa Bay Derby and Wood Memorial when he overcame a troubled trip, Tacitus exhibited good late energy in the Kentucky Derby. As far back as 16th early in the Run for the Roses, Tacitus finished fourth on the sloppy track and was elevated to third through the disqualification of
“All in all, Tacitus has an excellent chance to be posing for pictures after Saturday's Belmont.
“3. Sir Winston (12-1). Casse trains Sir Winston in addition to War of Will. Sir Winston rallied to finish second in the 1 1/8-mile Peter Pan Stakes on May 11 at odds of 14-1, an effort that could set him up nicely for the longer Belmont Stakes.
“Not one of the 10 entrants in this year's Belmont Stakes has won on the Belmont Park main track. Sir Winston is the only one of the 10 to have finished at least second. His pedigree suggests he might relish long-distance races. His sire is Awesome Again, who won the 1 1/4-mile
“Sir Winston's jockey is
“4. Spinoff (15-1). He seemed to detest running on the sloppy surface in the Kentucky Derby and wound up 18th. Spinoff finished second in the Louisiana Derby on March 23, a particularly good effort considering it was only his second race since last Aug. 12. In his 2019 debut, Spinoff raised eyebrows when he won by nearly 12 lengths at Tampa Bay Downs on Feb. 22.
“Spinoff's trainer is
“5. Intrepid Heart (10-1). He's trained by Pletcher. As mentioned, Pletcher has three Belmont Stakes victories to his credit. The Belmont Stakes has been a longtime goal for Intrepid Heart.
“Unraced as a 2-year-old, Intrepid Heart crushed maidens when unveiled at Oaklawn Park on Feb. 18. He then won a race at Keeneland by a half-length on April 5. Sent off as the favorite at a little under 6-5 in the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont, Intrepid Heart stumbled at the start and finished third, 4 3/4 lengths behind runner-up Sir Winston. Global Campaign won the Peter Pan by 1 1/4 lengths.
“It's certainly understandable why the Belmont Stakes seems a good fit for Intrepid Heart because he's by Tapit (sire of three Belmont winners) and a half-brother to Commissioner, who at odds of 28-1 finished second, a head behind Tonalist, in the 2014 Belmont.
“Intrepid Heart's jockey is Hall of Famer
“My main concern regarding Intrepid Heart is he's running in the 1 1/2-mile Belmont with just three races under his belt. But at least all three races have been at a mile or longer.
“6. Everfast (12-1). When he finished second in the Preakness at odds of 29-1, he spoiled a great many exacta, trifecta and superfecta wagers. That wasn't the first time he's finished second at big odds. He ran second in Gulfstream Park's Holy Bull Stakes last Feb. 2 when dismissed at 128-1. Between the Holy Bull and Preakness, Everfast lost three races by 18 1/2, 15 and 10 1/4 lengths.
“Everfast races for Brad Kelley's Calumet Farm. For Kelley,
“7. Tax (15-1). Runner-up in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on April 6, Tax was no factor in the Kentucky Derby when he finished 15th and was moved up to 14th through the disqualification of Maximum Security. Other than the Kentucky Derby, he has never finished worse than third.
“Irad Ortiz Jr. will pilot Tax in the Belmont. Ortiz won the 2016 Belmont with Creator.
“8. Bourbon War (12-1). He certainly had his share of supporters in the Preakness. Indeed, Bourbon War's 5-1 odds in that race were shorter than War of Will's 6-1. Bourbon War lacked early speed in the Preakness, never menaced and finished eighth.
“Bourbon War is another this year who could possibly give Tapit a fourth Belmont victory as a sire.
“In the Preakness, Bourbon War raced with blinkers for the first time. Trainer Mark Hennig is removing Bourbon War's blinkers for the Belmont.
9. Master Fencer (8-1). After winning two of six starts in his native Japan, Master Fencer exceeded the expectations of many in the Kentucky Derby. Virtually ignored by bettors, he lost by only four lengths at odds of 58-1 after being as far back as 23 lengths early. He finished seventh and was elevated to sixth via the DQ of Maximum Security. In light of Master Fencer's Kentucky Derby rally, perhaps he will have a big say in the longer Belmont. But at morning line odds of 8-1, I just can't get enthused.
“10. Joevia (30-1). He is expected to show early speed, as he did when he splashed his way to a 2 3/4-length triumph on a sloppy track May 12 in the 1 1/16-mile Long Branch Stakes at Monmouth Park. When Tacitus and Tax finished first and second, respectively, in the April 6 Wood Memorial at the Big A, Joevia ended up seventh and was disqualified to 11th for causing interference early.
“In a nutshell, it will be a gigantic upset if Joevia wins the 2019 Belmont Stakes.”
Santa Anita preview
Friday’s card at Santa Anita is pretty uninspiring, but the track is likely saving things up for Belmont Stakes day. There are eight races, starting at 1 p.m. with five races for Cal-breds and four on the turf.
Combine those two factors and you come up with a feature, the fifth, a Cal-bred allowance/optional claimer for horses going five furlongs on the turf. The favorite, at 5-2, is Psycho Dar, who is coming off a second in a allowance. He’s been running a lot of nongraded (but yet black type) races. He’s two-for-12 lifetime and trained by Steve Miyadi and jockey Edwin Maldonado.
The second favorite, at 3-1, is Prodigal Son for Doug O’Neill and Martin Garcia. Now, this is a Paul Reddam horse and
Here are the field sies, in order: 10, 5, 6, 5, 9 (2 also eligible), 6, 9 (4 ae), 8 (1 ae).
Ciaran Thornton’s SA pick of the day
RACE SEVEN: No. 9 Incredibly Lucky (8-1)
Incredibly Lucky tries turf for the first time, shortens up and drops for trainer Bill Spawr who is winning 25% at the meet, is 22% off the bench and 33% maiden to maiden claiming like today. Main jockey Tiago Pereira is 33% for this stable. We are getting 8-1 or more in this wide open race. This horse was bet to odds on in both starts so expectations were high. We also get a sharp work and the horse races protected today. Excellent value play for us.
Sunday’s result: It was another closing second-place finish for us, the second in a row. Heather’s Grey sat off the pace for the entire race positioned perfectly before gaining at the wire to run second. There was no catching the gate to wire winner but a nice performance by Heather’s Grey. Suprema ran dead last but our other selections ran 1-2-3 for a nice trifecta win.
Ciaran 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. But this is his last one of the meeting as Golden Gate takes a break on Sunday. But, Matt will be back, so, take it away for the last preview of this meeting.
“With three more live racing days on the calendar, Golden Gate Fields has a number of competitive, quality races lined up. Nine races are posted on the Friday overnight, with first post set at 12:45 p.m. The fifth race has a field of 12 on the turf and goes as Leg C of the Stronach 5 wager, with a guaranteed pool of $100,000. My top pick is the 2-1 morning-line favorite Thorn Hill Cat, who last lost to Sith Lord, who came back to run a terrific second in a starter allowance. Thorn Hill Cat competes in a $20,000 claimer on Friday.
“There’s 11 races Saturday, with the feature going as the Albany Stakes. An appealing Golden Pick Six sequence includes a pair of competitive maiden special weights, an allowance for 3-year-old fillies and the $50,000 Albany Stakes.
“The Albany, which goes as the ninth race, is for 3-year-olds and up going five furlongs on the turf. Southern California shipper Brandothebartender draws the rail for his second lifetime start on the Golden Gate turf and may go off favored. The son of Tribal Rule comes off a fourth-place finish in the Grade 3 Daytona Stakes at Santa Anita. My top pick in the race is Mike’s Tiznow, who looks like the lone speed and adores the five-furlong turf distance and surface. He’s 8-1 on the morning line and draws ghe seven for trainer Andy Mathis and jockey Ricky Gonzalez.
“Closing day Sunday has a 12-race program, with first post time at 1:15 p.m. The $0.20 Golden Pick Six, the Rolling Super High Five and the early and late Pick 5 wagers have mandatory payouts on Sunday, which means larger than normal pool sizes. Heading into Friday’s card, the Golden Pick Six has a carryover of just over $36,000. Also, we have a guaranteed late Pick 4 pool of $100,000 on Sunday.
“In other news, Golden Gate Fields welcomes back jockey Kyle Frey. The journeyman rider took an extended period of time off after sustaining a serious leg injury over the summer at Del Mar. Frey has two listed mounts on Saturday afternoon and five more on Sunday. “I’m really excited to get back to riding,” Frey said. “I’ve been working horses and feel really healthy. I’ll be ready to go this weekend.”
“Going into Friday, Jockey Abel Cedillo has 126 wins and sits atop the jockey standings. Juan Hernandez has the second most wins amongst riders with 103. Jonathan Wong has wrapped up a fourth consecutive training title at Golden Gate Fields with a whopping 85 wins at the winter/spring meet. Jerry Hollendorfer holds second place with 41 wins while John Martin completes the top three placing’s, equating 34 victories at the current meeting.
“Thank you to all of the horseplayers, fans and horsemen for a fantastic winter/spring meet. Live racing resumes on Thursday, Aug. 15, the first day of our summer meeting, which runs through Sunday, Sept. 29. Have a great summer.”
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.
“Los Alamitos will open at 8 a.m. for simulcasting of the Belmont Stakes card from New York. The clubhouse and Vessels Club will open at 9 a.m. to bring all the great East Coast racing action. On Saturday night, Los Alamitos will host an eight-race program featuring thoroughbred and quarter-horse racing starting at 6:35 p.m.
“The racing week kicks off on Friday night starting at 7 p.m. There will four stakes, including Steve McIntyre and Marin Jones’ Grade 2 PCQHRA Breeders Futurity winner Cole Man 47, who will be headline the seventh race at 300 yards. Named after McIntyre’s grandson, Cole Man 47 won the John Deere California Juvenile Challenge in addition to his Breeders’ Futurity triumph. He's been a factor in several other stakes races, qualifying to the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Winter Derby earlier this year and last year's Robert Adair Kindergarten Futurity. Paul Jones will saddle the Utah-bred gelding by Stel Corona, who'll start from the four.
“Tac Me Up, the winner of the Autumn Handicap last year, and Genuine Version, winner of the 2017 Adequan California Derby Challenge, are also in this event.
“Multiple stakes winner Run Raging Rhino Run, who has scored black type wins at 550 and 870 yards this year, will head the evening's third race -- an allowance event around the turn.
“There are 11 races Sunday night and all of them trials at 350 yards to the Grade 1 Ed Burke Million Futurity. Ten of the 11 trials will have eight-horse fields with seven horses slated for the fourth race. The Ed Burke hopefuls include Mental Error and Dreams Divine, the second- and third-place finishers in the Grade 2 Robert Adair Kindergarten Futurity last month. The horses with the 10 fastest times will advance to the Ed Burke Million final on Sunday, June 23.”
Ed Burgart’s LA pick of the day
FIFTH RACE: No. 5 Fayvorite Chick (7-2)
Filly looked solid in last 12.4 gate drill in preparation for debut and is out of productive dam Chicks Tell, who dropped 2019 debut winner Tell Cartel last month. In her last work, she broke well and was under restraint during final 1/16 while having plenty of run on mind. Her trainer Matt Fales, has won with 16 of 64 starters this meet.
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Now, the star of the show, Friday’s entries.
Santa Anita Entries for Friday, June 7.
Santa Anita, Santa Anita Park, Arcadia, California. 26th day of a 41-day meet.
1 Mile Turf. Purse: $65,000. Maiden Special Weight. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. State bred.
|1||Y Not Sizzle||Aaron Gryder||120||4-1|
|2||Super Bunny||Geovanni Franco||120||8-1|
|3||Morgan's Humor||Tiago Pereira||120||Antonio Garcia||30-1|
|4||Laker Jet||Agapito Delgadillo||120||Doug F. O'Neill||6-1|
|5||Our Romance||Jorge Velez||113||Philip D'Amato||7-2|
|6||Buy Wave Buy||Brice Blanc||120||Alexis Barba||15-1|
|7||Goodtingscominpink||Ruben Fuentes||120||Vladimir Cerin||5-2|
|8||Lucky Ms Jones||Martin Garcia||125||Philip D'Amato||10-1|
|9||Miss Omnipotent||Heriberto Figueroa||120||George Papaprodromou||50-1|
|10||Full Court||Norberto Arroyo, Jr.||125||Jorge Gutierrez||6-1|
1 Mile. Purse: $30,000. 'POST TIME: 1:00 PM'. Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $16,000.
|1||Friday's At Shady||Ruben Fuentes||120||8-1||16,000|
|2||Sunset Seven||J.C. Diaz, Jr.||118||David E. Hofmans||7-2||16,000|
|3||Alfareed||Kent Desormeaux||125||Jeff Bonde||9-5||16,000|
|4||Topgallant||Martin Pedroza||125||Dan L. Hendricks||2-1||16,000|
|5||Liberty Park||Evin Roman||125||Clifford W. Sise, Jr.||3-1||16,000|
1 Mile Turf. Purse: $43,000. Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $35,000.
|1||Heart of the Nile||Diego Sanchez||125||Hector O. Palma||8-1||35,000|
|2||Take a Leap||Aaron Gryder||125||Manuel Ortiz, Sr.||5-2||35,000|
|3||Twirling Apples||Geovanni Franco||125||Vladimir Cerin||8-5||35,000|
|4||Whirling||Tiago Pereira||125||George Papaprodromou||4-1||35,000|
|5||Wind Tartare||125||Vann Belvoir||8-1||35,000|
|6||Be Lifted Up||Kent Desormeaux||120||Jeff Mullins||4-1||35,000|
1 Mile. Purse: $35,000. Starter Allowance. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up.
|1||Baby Ice||Assael Espinoza||123||Steve Knapp||3-1|
|2||Majestic Diva||Tiago Pereira||123||David Bernstein||2-1|
|3||Duranga||Jorge Velez||116||Peter Miller||9-5|
|4||Blooming Hannah||Francisco Orduna-Rojas||123||Robert A. Bean||12-1|
|5||Road Test||J.C. Diaz, Jr.||116||Dallas E. Keen||3-1|
5 Furlongs Turf. Purse: $67,000. Allowance Optional Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $20,000. State bred.
|1||Joe Jackson||Norberto Arroyo, Jr.||123||Jack Carava||8-1|
|2||Psycho Dar||Edwin Maldonado||123||Steven Miyadi||5-2|
|3||Fashionably Fast||Tiago Pereira||125||Dean Pederson||7-2|
|4||Scouted||Joseph Talamo||120||Craig Dollase||15-1|
|5||First in Show||Drayden Van Dyke||120||Mark Glatt||12-1|
|6||Wound Tight||Kent Desormeaux||125||Robert B. Hess, Jr.||8-1|
|7||Grinning Tiger||Geovanni Franco||125||Anthony K. Saavedra||20-1|
|8||Three Ay Em||Rafael Bejarano||118||Doug F. O'Neill||6-1|
|9||Prodigal Son||Martin Garcia||120||Doug F. O'Neill||3-1|
|10||Portando||Ruben Fuentes||125||Michael W. McCarthy||4-1||20,000|
|11||Quick Finish||Joseph Talamo||125||Dan Blacker||5-1||20,000|
6 Furlongs. Purse: $42,000. Maiden Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $50,000. State bred.
|1||California Comet||Jorge Velez||113||Anna Meah||5-2||50,000|
|2||My Gal Toots||Eswan Flores||120||Jorge Periban||9-2||50,000|
|3||Harper's Gallop||Ruben Fuentes||120||Jack Carava||3-1||50,000|
|4||Chirp||J.C. Diaz, Jr.||113||Leonard Powell||4-1||50,000|
|5||Lady Beyonce||Tiago Pereira||120||Lloyd C. Wicker||20-1||50,000|
|6||Vella||Alonso Quinonez||120||Lloyd C. Wicker||2-1||50,000|
5 Furlongs Turf. Purse: $65,000. Maiden Special Weight. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. State bred.
|2||Put Her On Hold||Eswan Flores||120||Bobby Wayne Grayson||15-1|
|3||Evening Sonnet||Diego Sanchez||120||Jay Nehf||20-1|
|4||Miss Indefatigable||Drayden Van Dyke||120||Peter Miller||4-1|
|5||Miss Ricochet||Martin Pedroza||125||Mark Glatt||5-1|
|6||Into Rissa||Joseph Talamo||125||Gary Sherlock||5-1|
|7||Flying to the Line||Geovanni Franco||120||Peter Miller||3-1|
|8||Stylin Ocean||Assael Espinoza||120||James M. Cassidy||5-1|
|9||Incredibly Lucky||Tiago Pereira||125||William Spawr||8-1|
|10||Successful Ruler||Rafael Bejarano||125||Librado Barocio||5-2|
|11||Spanish Channel||Edgar Payeras||120||Jesus Mendoza||5-1|
|12||Lucky Lately||Drayden Van Dyke||120||Carla Gaines||4-1|
|13||Second Avenue||Edwin Maldonado||120||Paul G. Aguirre||15-1|
5 Furlongs. Purse: $65,000. Maiden Special Weight. Fillies. 2 year olds. State bred.
|1||Takes a Village||Edwin Maldonado||122||Luis Mendez||5-2|
|2||Kissable U||Martin Garcia||122||Doug F. O'Neill||6-1|
|3||Nocherylikemychery||Edgar Payeras||122||Mike Harrington||8-1|
|4||Fran's Empire||Rafael Bejarano||122||Vann Belvoir||7-2|
|5||None of Your Biz||Aaron Gryder||122||Brian J. Koriner||3-1|
|6||Phoenix Tears||Tiago Pereira||122||Daniel Dunham||30-1|
|7||Sassyserb||Jorge Velez||115||Anna Meah||5-1|
|8||Way too Cute||Alonso Quinonez||122||Jeff Bonde||10-1|
|9||Bandon Colleen||Jorge Velez||115||Michael Lenzini||10-1|