Horse racing newsletter: A look at Jon White’s Belmont Stakes rankings
Hello, my name is John Cherwa.Welcome to our horse racing newsletter as we get ready for four days of racing at Santa Anita.
We finally have some clarity on the Triple Crown. The Belmont Stakes will go first on June 20 and at a distance of 1 1/8 miles. It will be followed by the Kentucky Derby on Sept. 5. The Preakness will follow on Oct. 3. The Belmont will be without spectators, and as for the Derby and Preakness, who knows?
Off to the races
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It got me thinking that if the same horse were to win all three races, if it would be a tainted Triple Crown. Now, first of all, it seems unlikely this would happen because horses develop at varying rates and the best horse in June may not be the best horse in October. Usually the entire Triple Crown series is conducted over five weeks.
If there is such a horse, though, you could make the case the Triple Crown should come with an asterisk. It’s not the horse’s fault, but the Triple Crown is as much about stamina over a short period of time. Sure, golf and tennis have a Grand Slam that is over several months. Of course, if the same horse wins the Belmont and Kentucky Derby, all will be forgiven as we look forward to the Preakness.
Jon White will share his views of the state of the Triple Crown race in just a moment. But, before we get to that, a programming note. Our weekly Golden Gate preview, written by the personable Matt Dinerman, will be moving to Saturday to get a better handle on the weekend action.
Now, the good stuff.
Jon White’s Kentucky Derby Top 10
As always, we’re lucky to have top expert Jon White take a look at what’s happening on the Kentucky Derby trail. Jon makes the morning line at Santa Anita, he’s a licensed steward, and he’s the preeminent historian on racing. We’re lucky to have him. So, here’s his Kentucky Derby rankings, brought courtesy of Xpressbet.com, or is it 1/ST BET?
“The Triple Crown was won for the first time 101 years ago by Sir Barton.
“This year, for the first time in the history of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes will be run before both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.
“Rescheduled dates for a significantly revamped road to the 2020 Triple Crown are now known. The changes, of course, stem from the major curveball that the coronavirus has thrown not just to horse racing, but to the entire world.
“Martin Panza, senior vice president of racing for the New York Racing Assn., put it well Wednesday on Steve Byk’s SiriusXM radio program ‘At the Races’ when he said that this year ‘tradition is out the window.’
“This year’s Belmont will be held at Belmont Park on June 20 instead of on June 6. The distance has been shortened considerably to 1 1/8 miles from 1½ miles.
“The 2020 Kentucky Derby will be held at Churchill Downs on Sept. 5 instead of on May 2. The distance remains 1¼ miles.
“The Preakness will be held at Pimlico Race Course on Oct. 3. It originally had been scheduled for May 16. The distance is being kept at 1 3/16 miles.
“In reaction to the revamped sequence in which the Belmont Stakes will now kick off the series, I am switching to a Belmont Stakes Top 10 from a Kentucky Derby Top 10.
“Has the Belmont ever not been the final race in the Triple Crown? Yes. From 1897 to 1905 and also in 1908, this was the order of the Triple Crown events: Kentucky Derby, followed by the Belmont, then the Preakness.
“The Belmont will be offering points this year toward starting eligibility in the Kentucky Derby. This is due to the Belmont being held prior to the Run for the Roses. The first four finishers in the Belmont will be rewarded on a 100-60-30-15 scale.
“Nadal and Charlatan, who won the two divisions of the Arkansas Derby on May 2, are both candidates for the Belmont, according to trainer Bob Baffert. Nadal tops my Belmont Stakes Top 10, while Charlatan is No. 2.
“Undefeated in four career starts, Nadal had a sharp four-furlong workout Wednesday at Santa Anita. The Kentucky-bred Blame colt worked in company with Bronn, a Baffert-trained 3-year-old Conveyance colt. Bronn has not raced since winning a maiden race at Los Alamitos last Sept. 8 in his third career start. Nadal and Bronn each registered a :48.00 clocking Wednesday, fastest of 34 works at the distance.
“Charlatan has won all three of his races by a combined 22 lengths. The Arkansas Derby was his stakes debut.
“Tiz the Law is considered definite for the Belmont. He is No. 3 on my Belmont Stakes Top 10. Trained by Barclay Tagg, the New York-bred Constitution colt won Gulfstream Park’s Holy Bull Stakes by three lengths on Feb. 1 and Florida Derby by 4¼ lengths on March 28.
“When the upcoming Santa Anita Derby is contested at 1 1/8 miles on June 6, it will be worth 100-40-20-10 Kentucky Derby points to the first four finishers.
“The projected Santa Anita Derby favorite is the Baffert-trained Authentic. Undefeated in three career starts, the Kentucky-bred Into Mischief colt sparkled in a 1:11.00 solo workout last Sunday at Santa Anita. Authentic took Santa Anita’s Sham Stakes by nearly eight lengths on Jan. 4 in his 2020 debut, then won the San Felipe Stakes by 2¼ lengths at the Arcadia track on March 7. Honor A.P. finished second in the San Felipe for trainer John Shirreffs.
“Honor A.P. will stay home and try to turn the tables on Authentic in the Santa Anita Derby rather than run in the Belmont, according to Shirreffs. ‘I think it’s certainly better to support Santa Anita than going somewhere else,’ Shirreffs told Eric Sondheimer of The Times.
“Maxfield makes his long-awaited 3-year-old debut Saturday in the 1 1/16-mile Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill Downs. This race has 50-20-10-5 Kentucky Derby points up for grabs.
“Trained by Brendan Walsh, Maxfield won both starts last year. The Matt Winn will be Maxfield’s first race since his scintillating performance when he closed with a rush from far back to win the 1 1/16-mile Breeders’ Futurity by 5 1/2 lengths at Keeneland on Oct. 5.
“Maxfield was entered in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita on Nov. 1, but was scratched when all was not well. The Kentucky-bred colt subsequently underwent surgery for the removal of an ankle chip on Nov. 18.
“According to Equibase, Maxfield has 11 workouts this year leading up to the Matt Winn. He worked five furlongs in a bullet :59.20 at Keeneland on May 10, fastest of 34 at the distance. That was followed by a brisk four-furlong drill at Keeneland on May 16, third fastest of 22 works at the distance. ‘From what he’s shown me in his works, I can’t wait to see what he’ll do on the track,’ Walsh said to Daily Racing Form’s Jay Privman. ‘We’ve done all we can with him.’
“Walsh went on to say that Maxfield ‘is a much stronger horse’ than he was as a 2-year-old. ‘He’s filled out,’ the trainer noted. ‘Last year, he was a frame of a horse. He’s put on plenty of weight and muscle.’ Walsh describes Maxfield as a 3-year-old who has blossomed physically into ‘an outstanding individual.’
“I decided to go ahead and put Maxfield on my Belmont Stakes Top 10 just in case Walsh would possibly run him back in that race after the Matt Winn. It seems unlikely at this point, but not out of the question.
“A son of 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense, Maxfield is the 5-2 favorite on the Matt Winn morning line. Pneumatic and Attachment Rate are the co-second choices at 4-1.
“Pneumatic, who did not race last year, is two for two. Trained by Steve Asmussen, the Kentucky-bred colt was victorious in both of his starts at the recently concluded Oaklawn meet. Pneumatic’s sire, Uncle Mo, was voted a 2010 Eclipse Award as champion 2-year-old male.
“Attachment Rate, trained by Dale Romans, is coming off a third in Gulfstream’s 1 1/16-mile Unbridled Stakes on April 25. Dr Post, who is No. 9 on my Belmont Stakes Top 10, won the Unbridled for trainer Todd Pletcher. Attachment Rate’s sire, Hard Spun, finished second to Street Sense in the 2007 Kentucky Derby.
“Ny Traffic, 10-1 on the morning line, and Mystic Guide, 20-1, could be dangerous in the Matt Winn. Ny Traffic, conditioned by Saffie Joseph Jr., finished second in the Louisiana Derby on March 21. Mystic Guide, trained by Mike Stidham, goes into Saturday’s race off an impressive five-length maiden win at the Fair Grounds the same day as the Louisiana Derby.
“Major Fed, trained by Greg Foley, had the misfortune to draw the outside post among the dozen Matt Winn entrants. He is listed at 5-1 on the morning line. Major Fed rallied from 14th to finish fourth in the 1 3/16-mile Louisiana Derby.
“Here are this week’s rankings for the June 20 Belmont Stakes, courtesy of Xpressbet:
1. Nadal (1)
2. Charlatan (2)
3. Tiz the Law (3)
4. Maxfield (6)
5. Sole Volante (8)
6. Max Player (NR)
7. Modernist (NR)
8. Basin (NR)
9. Dr Post (NR)
10. Gouverneur Morris (NR)
NOTE: Last week’s Kentucky Derby rankings in parentheses.”
Santa Anita preview
Friday is the first day of the only four-day week for the remainder of the season. It’s a nine-race card starting at 12:30 p.m. There are three allowance/optional claimers, two maiden specials and three turf races. With five graded stakes turf races coming up this holiday weekend, the track is saving the turf course by setting the rail at 30 feet.
We’re calling the fifth race, a mile turf allowance for horses 3 and up, as the feature as it’s got the biggest purse at $53,000 and the highest optional claiming price of $62,500. The favorite, at 2-1, is Odysseus for trainer Richard Mandella and jockey Jorge Velez. He’s undefeated in two starts winning by 1¼ and 1 lengths.
The second favorite, at 4-1, is Proud Pedro, a French-bred colt. The only reason it’s worth mentioning is I don’t know a lot of people from France named Pedro and Flavien Prat, from France, will be the rider. Leonard Powell is the trainer. He’s won two of 10 lifetime races and is coming off a win.
Here are the field sizes, in order: 8 (1 also eligible), 8, 6, 8, 8, 9, 10, 10, 9 (3 ae).
Ciaran Thornton’s SA pick
RACE TWO: No. 2 Dorita’s Lemon (10-1)
Dorita’s Lemon is 10-1 morning line for trainer Eric Kruljac with Umberto Rispoli riding. This tandem was on fire earlier in the year and they won last out on this horse in the debut going six furlongs. Kruljac is 33% when coming off a maiden winner in their last race. Nice value today.
Sunday’s race: Loud Mouth broke great on Sunday and tracked perfectly at the front, a nice change in strategy that almost paid off. Mouth took the lead but all weekend front runners were not rewarded and the horse was swallowed up. Make a note for the next race especially if they shorten up with this new strategy.
Ciaran Thornton is the handicapper for Californiapick4.com, which offers daily full-card picks, long shots of the day, best bets of the day. (Of course, that’s when there is racing.)
Los Alamitos weekend preview
Now we turn things over to marketing and media guru Orlando Gutierrez, who will tell us about things going on at Los Alamitos. Orlando, the floor is yours.
“Ed Allred’s Up And Atem, a two-time Grade 1 futurity finalist last year, will make his 2020 debut when he headlines an $11,825 allowance event at 110 yards on Friday. First post is 6 p.m. for the eight-race card.
“Up And Atem was fourth to Runforyourlife in the Grade 1 Golden State Million Futurity and qualified to the Grade 1 $1.9 million Los Alamitos Two Million last year. He was never a factor in the futurity, but after some time off he returned with a sharp 350-yard drill in :17.90 on April 21.
“Twenty-four 2-year-olds have been evenly distributed in three races at 300 yards on Friday. Oscar Peinado, who leads the meet with 13 wins aboard 2-year-olds, will pilot the Three Times Ablaze (fifth race), Coopers Best Card (sixth race) and J Best Boogie (seventh race). Diva This and Garda Cash, both runners-up in their career debuts, will also race Friday night. The racing program will also have 30 horses in the early Pick Four races, which includes two 1,000-yard events.
“Twostrikesurprise, who caught the eye with a bullet :12.10 drill on May 9, is one of eight 2-year-olds in Saturday’s eighth race. For some, it’s a prep for the June 7 trials to the Grade 1 Ed Burke Million Futurity. The ninth race on Saturday is an $11,325 allowance at 330 yards headed by Los Alamitos Oaks finalist Jessafamouslady, Governor’s Cup Futurity finalist Bono Is Good and recent allowance winner Favorite Illusion.
“Sunday’s card is highlighted by Chocolatito, who is back after winning the Grade 3 Kaweah Bar Handicap on May 2. The multiples stakes will face off a group led by Mr Jet Moore Handicap winner Alamode and three-time Grade 1 finalist Ali Babe Foose. Sunday’s card will also have the $38,000 Adequan California Derby Challenge. Led by Mister Tornado, a winner in four of his last six starts, nine quarter horses are in the 400-yard event.
“Recapping last Sunday’s Grade 2 Kindergarten Futurity, trainer Jaime Gomez set a new stakes record when fastest qualifier La Jaconde won to give Gomez his eighth Kindergarten win. La Jaconde was seventh after playing bumper cars at the start before flying late to win by a head. The filly is now being pointed to the Ed Burke Million trials.”
Chris Wade’s LA pick
RACE EIGHT: No. 2 Unique Ways (4-1)
She has grown into a very professional horse with four wins and seven top-three finishes in nine outings. She is quick, always gives her all and she exits a win at this 110-yard distance. Her most recent effort was 41 nights ago when this speedster broke quickly and inward at the gate opening to take the lead and held it to the wire over the fast closing betting favorite, Spirit Foose. She will face Spirit Foose on Friday, but with her speed and willingness to win, this filly should be right there for a barn that is winning at a 34% clip since April 20.
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Now, the star of the show, Friday’s entries.
Santa Anita Entries for Friday, May 22.
Santa Anita, Santa Anita Park, Arcadia, California. 46th day of a 60-day meet.
4½ Furlongs. Purse: $50,000. Maiden Special Weight. 2 year olds. State bred.
|1||Positivity||Geovanni Franco||122||Luis Mendez||4-1|
|2||Teton Valley||Jorge Velez||122||Ryan Hanson||4-1|
|3||Tripp a Matic||Ruben Fuentes||122||Luis Mendez||3-1|
|4||Dennis Celery||Evin Roman||122||Doug F. O'Neill||10-1|
|5||Ingest||Mario Gutierrez||122||Doug F. O'Neill||2-1|
|6||Alpine Thunder||Tiago Pereira||122||Jose Hernandez, Jr.||15-1|
|7||Intense||Umberto Rispoli||122||Mike Harrington||8-1|
|8||Broken Finger||Victor Flores||115||Rafael DeLeon||20-1|
|9||Rantanen||Abel Cedillo||122||Andrew Lerner||5-1|
5½ Furlongs. Purse: $22,000. Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $25,000.
|1||Bella Renella||Victor Flores||113||Rafael DeLeon||12-1||25,000|
|2||Dorita's Lemon||Umberto Rispoli||126||J. Eric Kruljac||10-1||25,000|
|3||Remember to Smile||Ruben Fuentes||126||Jeff Bonde||5-1||25,000|
|4||Your Royal Coil||Tiago Pereira||126||Paul G. Aguirre||2-1||25,000|
|5||Boolicious||Jorge Velez||126||Craig Anthony Lewis||20-1||25,000|
|6||Mongolian Sunrise||Heriberto Figueroa||126||Enebish Ganbat||5-1||25,000|
|7||Hot On the Trail||Abel Cedillo||126||Mark Glatt||5-2||25,000|
|8||Miss Bennet||Assael Espinoza||126||Matthew Chew||6-1||25,000|
5½ Furlongs Turf. Purse: $51,000. Allowance Optional Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $20,000. State bred.
|1||Cheap Cheap Cheap||Mario Gutierrez||118||Doug F. O'Neill||7-2|
|2||Smiling Annie||Abel Cedillo||124||Mark Glatt||5-2|
|3||Square Peggy||Edwin Maldonado||126||Vladimir Cerin||7-2||20,000|
|4||Swing Thoughts||Umberto Rispoli||126||Steve Knapp||6-1||20,000|
|5||Shylock Eddie||Aaron Gryder||124||Brian J. Koriner||5-1||20,000|
|6||Rosey Sky||Tiago Pereira||124||Brian J. Koriner||3-1|
1 1/16 Mile. Purse: $17,000. Maiden Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $20,000.
|1||Manresa||Brice Blanc||126||Thomas Ray Bell, II||8-5||20,000|
|2||Marci the Great||Edwin Maldonado||120||James M. Cassidy||6-1||20,000|
|3||New Year New Me||Victor Flores||119||Vladimir Cerin||6-1||20,000|
|4||Turkish Angel||J.C. Diaz, Jr.||120||Marcelo Polanco||20-1||20,000|
|5||Vannavanna Bo Bana||Assael Espinoza||120||Steve Knapp||12-1||20,000|
|6||Suezaaana||Agapito Delgadillo||126||Duff Shidaker||5-1||20,000|
|7||Alicia's Pride||Mario Gutierrez||126||Daniel Dunham||12-1||20,000|
|8||Diva in Charge||Flavien Prat||126||Peter Eurton||5-2||20,000|
1 Mile Turf. Purse: $53,000. Allowance Optional Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $62,500.
|1||Odysseus||Jorge Velez||124||Richard E. Mandella||2-1|
|2||Maestro Dearte||Assael Espinoza||124||Peter Eurton||8-1||62,500|
|3||Order and Law||Ruben Fuentes||124||Vladimir Cerin||6-1|
|4||Kazan||Tiago Pereira||124||Doug F. O'Neill||5-1|
|5||Proud Pedro||Flavien Prat||124||Leonard Powell||4-1|
|6||Gregorian Chant||Abel Cedillo||124||Philip D'Amato||15-1|
|7||Hit the Road||Umberto Rispoli||118||Dan Blacker||6-1|
|8||King of Speed||Mike Smith||126||Jeff Bonde||6-1|
6 Furlongs. Purse: $19,000. Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $12,500.
|1||C Dub||Ruben Fuentes||124||George Papaprodromou||12-1||12,500|
|2||Malibu Bay||Geovanni Franco||124||Lorenzo Ruiz||12-1||12,500|
|3||Jen Go Unchained||Tiago Pereira||126||Rafael Becerra||5-1||12,500|
|4||Royal Seeker||J.C. Diaz, Jr.||124||Marcelo Polanco||50-1||12,500|
|5||Fast Cotton||Agapito Delgadillo||124||Doug F. O'Neill||3-1||12,500|
|6||Rmanie's Grey Suit||Mauro Donoe||114||Samuel Nichols||20-1||12,500|
|7||Rick's Dream||Edwin Maldonado||124||Reed Saldana||12-1||12,500|
|8||Short of Ez||Flavien Prat||124||Kristin Mulhall||5-2||12,500|
|9||Papa Turf||Abel Cedillo||126||Jeff Mullins||2-1||12,500|
6 Furlongs. Purse: $15,000. Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $12,500.
|1||Golden Image||Mauro Donoe||116||Daniel Dunham||20-1||12,500|
|2||Sierra Melody||Edwin Maldonado||120||Marcia Stortz||15-1||12,500|
|3||Lucky Patrick||Heriberto Figueroa||126||Anthony K. Saavedra||15-1|
|4||All I Can Say||Assael Espinoza||126||Val Brinkerhoff||15-1||12,500|
|5||King Parker||Jorge Velez||126||Craig Anthony Lewis||8-1||12,500|
|6||Red Valor||Abel Cedillo||126||Val Brinkerhoff||6-1||12,500|
|7||Captain Buzzkill||Geovanni Franco||126||Gary Mandella||5-1||12,500|
|8||Music to My Ears||Umberto Rispoli||126||Brian J. Koriner||5-2||12,500|
|9||Overkoter||Victor Flores||113||Charles S. Treece||20-1||12,500|
|10||Mayan Warrior||Ruben Fuentes||126||Steve Knapp||2-1||12,500|
1 Mile. Purse: $51,000. Allowance Optional Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $40,000.
|1||El Huerfano||Agapito Delgadillo||126||Vladimir Cerin||5-1||40,000|
|2||Starting Bloc||Ruben Fuentes||126||Alfredo Marquez||10-1|
|3||Canyon Crest||Flavien Prat||120||Michael W. McCarthy||8-1|
|4||Take the One O One||Jose Valdivia, Jr.||126||Brian J. Koriner||8-1|
|5||Boogalute||Drayden Van Dyke||126||Mike Puype||10-1|
|6||Tizamagician||Victor Espinoza||120||Richard E. Mandella||2-1|
|7||Nolo Contesto||Umberto Rispoli||126||John W. Sadler||6-1|
|8||Heartfullofstars||Eswan Flores||126||Edwin Alvarez||30-1|
|9||Kylemore||Geovanni Franco||126||Gary Stute||8-1|
|10||Platinum Equity||Tiago Pereira||126||Steve Knapp||8-1||40,000|
1 Mile Turf. Purse: $50,000. Maiden Special Weight. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. State bred.
|1||Creer||Aaron Gryder||120||David E. Hofmans||8-1|
|2||Bella D||Assael Espinoza||120||Mike Puype||20-1|
|3||Unusual Secret||Brice Blanc||120||Alexis Barba||15-1|
|4||Goodtingscominpink||Ruben Fuentes||126||Vladimir Cerin||7-2|
|5||Flyinlaurel||Agapito Delgadillo||120||Jeff Mullins||12-1|
|6||On Mars||Mike Smith||120||Philip D'Amato||5-2|
|7||Rose's Crystal||Drayden Van Dyke||120||Carla Gaines||7-2|
|8||Too Hot for Curlin||Abel Cedillo||126||Philip D'Amato||6-1|
|9||Warren's Empress||Jorge Velez||120||Craig Anthony Lewis||6-1|
|10||Starship Sky||Eswan Flores||126||Howard L. Zucker||6-1|
|11||Cassie Belle||Abel Cedillo||126||Sean McCarthy||4-1|
|12||Rockie Causeway||Flavien Prat||120||Manuel F. Marques||3-1|
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