Horse racing newsletter: Arrogate, RIP

Arrogate, with Mike Smith aboard, won the Travers Stakes in 2016.
( Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Hello, my name is John Cherwa, and welcome to our horse racing newsletter as we get ready for the a big card at Santa Anita on Saturday.

Before we get to the good stuff, we have very sad news to report on the passing of Arrogate at age 7 on Tuesday. Here’s a longer report on the death. Just click here.

Bob Baffert was his trainer, and you could still hear the sorrow in his voice when I talked to him on Thursday.

“We get so close to these horses, it’s tough,” Baffert said. “He took us to such magical times; he was such a great horse. He was a big, tall, quirky kind of horse. But he was one of the greatest I ever trained.


“Those four outs [Travers, Breeders’ Cup Classic, Pegasus, Dubai World Cup] were just incredible races. When he ran in Dubai, he took my breath away.”

In an odd sort of way, if Arrogate were a 3-year-old this year, he would probably win the Kentucky Derby because of the Sept. 5 date. And maybe even set a track record. He just wasn’t ready for the Triple Crown series.

He only had three crops as a stud. We’ll start to see the first crop next year.

Jon White’s Belmont Stakes Top 10

As always, we’re lucky to have 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 preeminent historian on racing. We’re lucky to have him. So, here’s his Belmont Stakes rankings, brought courtesy of

“If the coronavirus pandemic had not turned the world upside down, the Belmont Stakes would have been contested Saturday at its usual distance of 1 1/2 miles.

“Would there have been a 3-year-old going for a Triple Crown sweep if the race had been run on Saturday as originally scheduled? We will never know. That’s because the Belmont has been moved to June 20, with its distance shortened considerably to 1 1/8 miles.

“The 2020 Belmont, for the first time ever, will kick off this country’s Triple Crown series.


“But there still will be an important race for 3-year-olds Saturday at Santa Anita. The $400,000 Santa Anita Derby, the eighth race on an 11-race card, has attracted a field of seven to go 1 1/8 miles. The first four finishers will collect 170 points on a 100-40-20-10 scale toward a berth in the 1 1/4-mile Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on Sept. 5.

“Authentic and Honor A.P. ran one-two in the 1 1/16-mile San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita on March 7. They had been headed toward a rematch in the April 4 Santa Anita Derby, but that had to be put on hold. The Santa Anita Derby was switched from April 4 to June 6 after the Los Angeles Country Board of Public Health told Santa Anita officials on March 27 that they had to cease live racing for a time because of the pandemic. Now the highly anticipated rematch will finally take place Saturday.

“Authentic, the San Felipe winner, takes a three-for-three record into the Santa Anita Derby. Trained by Bob Baffert, the Kentucky-bred Into Mischief colt is a two-time stakes winner. Authentic registered a 7 3/4-length victory in Santa Anita’s Sham Stakes at one mile on Jan. 4 before his San Felipe triumph. He won the Sham and San Felipe in front-running fashion.

“I have made Authentic an odds-on Santa Anita Derby morning-line favorite at 4-5. Honor A.P. is the 9-5 second choice.

“Honor A.P. finished second in the San Felipe. That actually was a fine effort under the circumstances in that it was his first start since a 5 1/4-length maiden win at Santa Anita last Oct. 13. John Shirreffs trains the Kentucky-bred Honor Code ridgling.

“The other Santa Anita Derby entrants are Rushie (8-1 morning line), Shooters Shoot (8-1), Anneau d’Or (15-1), Azul Coast (15-1) and Friar’s Road (20-1).

“Rushie, who is making his stakes debut, has won two of his last three. After exiting the maiden ranks at Santa Anita on Feb. 1, he finished a distant second to Charlatan in an allowance/optional claiming race at the Arcadia track on March 14. Most recently, Rushie won an allowance/optional claiming race at Oaklawn Park on May 2.


“Shooters Shoot also is making his stakes debut. He is seeking his third straight win. Following a 3 1/2-length maiden victory at Santa Anita on March 15, he was a game neck winner in an allowance/optional claiming contest at Oaklawn on April 11.

“Anneau d’Or needs to turn it around after being soundly beaten in both 2020 starts to date. He finished a close second last year in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita and Los Alamitos Futurity.

“Azul Coast, who like Authentic resides at the powerful Baffert barn, has won two of four. After capturing the El Camino Real Derby on synthetic footing Feb. 15 at Golden Gate Fields, Azul Coast is returning to the dirt Saturday. He ran second on the dirt in the Jan. 4 Sham when no match for Authentic.

“Friar’s Road has yet to win in three career starts. He finished second to Shooters Shoot in a maiden race at Santa Anita on March 15, then also ran second in a maiden race at Oaklawn on May 2.

“As for my Belmont Stakes Top 10 this week, Charlatan retains the top spot while a decision with respect to his next race is pending. According to Baffert, the Kentucky-bred Speightstown colt will run in either the Belmont or the shorter Woody Stephens Stakes at seven furlongs on that same June 20 card at Belmont Park.

“Florida Derby winner Tiz the Law, who is ranked No. 2 on my Belmont Stakes Top 10, worked four furlongs in :48.20 at the Palm Meadows training center last Sunday for trainer Barclay Tagg. The New York-bred Constitution colt then departed Florida on Monday for New York.

“The first four finishers in the Belmont Stakes will come away with 150-50-30-15 points toward the Kentucky Derby.


“Beyond the Belmont, the races currently scheduled to offer Kentucky Derby points are:

“— Ohio Derby (20-8-4-2) at Thistledown on June 27.

“— Los Alamitos Derby (20-8-4-2) at Los Alamitos on July 4.

“— Indiana Derby (20-8-4-2) at Indiana Grand on July 8.

“— Blue Grass Stakes (100-40-20-10) at Keeneland on July 11.

“— Haskell Invitational (100-40-20-10) at Monmouth Park on July 18.

“— Shared Belief Stakes (50-20-10-5) at Del Mar on Aug. 1.

“— Pegasus Stakes (20-8-4-2) at Monmouth Park on Aug. 15.

“— Ellis Park Derby (50-20-10-5) at Ellis Park, date TBA.

“The Kentucky Derby will be the middle race in this year’s Triple Crown. The series will conclude with the 1 3/16-mile Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on Oct. 3.

“Here are this week’s rankings for the June 20 Belmont Stakes, courtesy of Xpressbet:

1. Charlatan (1)

2. Tiz the Law (2)

3. Maxfield (3)

4. Sole Volante (4)

5. Dr. Post (NR)

6. Basin (7)

7. Modernist (6)

8. Max Player (5)

9. Gouverneur Morris (8)

10. Farmington Road (9)

NOTE: Last week’s rankings in parentheses”

Santa Anita preview

In short, Friday’s card isn’t very good, but it is a card, which is something that has been in short supply the last couple of months. But Saturday’s racing is through-the-roof good. I think most will be very excited about it. So, back to Friday, there are eight races starting at 12:30 p.m. Six of the races are essentially claimers (one is a starter optional claimer). There is also a maiden special, and the feature is an allowance optional claimer.

The allowance is for fillies and mares going 11/8 miles on the turf, one of four grass races on the day. Kookie Gal is the 9-5 favorite for trainer Peter Miller and jockey Flavien Prat. She has won two of eight lifetime races, one of those being an ungraded stakes at Los Alamitos in December, 2018. That was also her last win.

The second favorite at 5-2 is Muchly for Simon Callaghan and Drayden Van Dyke. She has won two of 11 lifetime, none of those races in Britain for trainer John Gosden. She gave up the lead in a one-mile turf allowance last out with Prat on board.

Here are the field sizes, in order: 8, 8, 7, 9 (1 also eligible), 8, 6, 10 (1 ae), 7.

Ciaran Thornton’s SA pick

RACE FIVE: No. 1 Bob’s Sniper (8-1)

Bob’s Sniper is dropping in class Friday for trainer Val Brinkerhoff and as you know from my past value plays is a trainer who wins on price horses. They ran the horse on turf last out, first off the bench, in what may have been an exercise ride in preparation for Friday. This horse has as much back speed and class as the favorites and Friday Abel Cedillo rides. Cedillo has already won on a value play for Val at the meet. Today we are getting 8-1. Val also entered Indy Jones whom Cedillo rode last out and Evin Roman rides Friday. Evin is quietly on fire with a 3-2-1 record from his small 15-race sample. When Roman gets a ride he makes the most of it. I am using both Val horses.

Sunday’s result: Spanish Hombre tracked perfectly behind the leaders and into the turn made a four-wide move and looked poised to take the lead. Alas, as has been the case lately, the horse flattened out in the stretch.

Ciaran Thornton is the handicapper for, which offers daily full card picks, longshots of the day, best bets of the day.


Los Alamitos weekend preview

It’s time to preview the only nighttime racing in the area, and for that 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.

“It’s a big weekend at Los Alamitos with Sunday’s trials to the Grade 1, $1,115,000 Ed Burke Million Futurity. Friday’s eight-race card will kick off the weekend at the Orange County oval with the first race featuring a field of nine thoroughbreds going 4 ½ furlongs. The third race on Friday’s card will have an eight-horse field going 1,000 yards.

“In the quarter-horse racing part of the program, 2-year-olds will square off in the seventh led by Howard Nichols’ Thin Lizzey, who was third when chasing Unstoppable One in a trial to the Grade 2 Robert Adair Kindergarten Futurity. After that victory, Unstoppable One went on to post a third-place finish in the Kindergarten final. The eighth race, which is an $11,825 allowance at 300 yards, is the main event on Friday. Martha Wells’ Fayvorite Chick, a full brother to multiple derby winner Tell Cartel, is the horse to beat after hitting the board in his last two starts at this level.

“A total of 12 Ed Burke Million Futurity trials will make up a great card on Sunday night with each 350-yard trial having nine entrants or more. The horses with the 10 fastest times will advance to the final on Sunday, June 21. The 12-race program will also have three Pick Four wagers.

“As for the 112 juveniles racing on Sunday, La Jaconde headlines the list following her impressive victory in the Kindergarten Futurity at 300 yards on May 17. Kindergarten finalists PYC Powerglide, Fly The Coup, Hi High Hopes, Bob E McGee and Jeanetics will also race on Sunday.

“Trainer Mike Robbins, who won the meet’s first four races for 2-year-olds, will be represented by a strong group led by maiden winners Eagle Empire, Halley, FG Paintin Thru, SC Divas Cartel Man and more. In addition to training Kindergarten runners La Jaconde, PYC Powerglide and Jeanetics, Jaime Gomez will have a strong contingent led by impressive winners Thats R Best Card, Looks On Fleek, The Best Feeling, J Best Boogie and Cosmopolitanne.

Chris O’Dell, the 2019 AQHA champion trainer, has a powerful group of 2-year-olds in the trials led by maiden winners Favorite Doc, A Solid Reason, Valantaini, and Teller Jazz MRL. Monty Arrossa trainees will be headed by Chance To Excel and Oreeo. Other standouts in the trials will include Constituent, Monopolist, Kingman Born, Opt Out and Sassies Blues Girl.”


Chris Wade’s LA pick

RACE FOUR: No. 5 Hydrostatic (6-1)

He has many past figures that make him very competitive in this evenly matched race. He broke slowly when racing at this 1,000-yard distance in his last outing 20 nights ago when facing tougher competition. In that event, he was grinding down the backstretch and through the turn before he leveled late inside the 1/8th pole and finished strongly for a better-than-looked fourth. The three rivals that finished ahead of him on that night would be heavily favored if they were part of this field tonight. With at least three horses that need the lead here, we will push this late runner to catch the speedster while returning a good price.

A final thought

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

Santa Anita Entries for Friday, June 5.

Santa Anita, Santa Anita Park, Arcadia, California. 53rd day of a 60-day meet.


5 Furlongs. Purse: $50,000. Maiden Special Weight. 2 year olds. State bred.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Eagle in the SkyAbel Cedillo122Michael W. McCarthy3-1
2Investment AccountTiago Pereira122Rafael Becerra15-1
3BoldenFlavien Prat122Peter Miller9-5
4IntenseGeovanni Franco122Mike Harrington5-2
5Rousing SlammerEdwin Maldonado122Jeff Bonde6-1
6Tripp a MaticRuben Fuentes122Luis Mendez5-1
7Big FishUmberto Rispoli122David E. Hofmans6-1
8Broken FingerVictor Flores115Rafael DeLeon20-1


1 Mile Turf. Purse: $28,000. Starter Optional Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $40,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1So Much HappyTiago Pereira124George Papaprodromou4-1
2Don't Stop LookinVictor Flores111Robert A. Bean20-1
3GoodtingscominpinkRuben Fuentes126Vladimir Cerin7-2
4Roses and CandyJose Valdivia, Jr.124Ronald L. McAnally6-1
5SunriserUmberto Rispoli126J. Eric Kruljac4-1
6Malibu CatFlavien Prat124Mark Glatt5-1
7Mela JonesAbel Cedillo124Jack Carava8-1
8SutroMike Smith124Michael W. McCarthy4-1


1 Mile. Purse: $22,000. Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $25,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1GryffindorAgapito Delgadillo126Ryan Hanson12-125,000
2RogalloUmberto Rispoli126John W. Sadler5-225,000
3Justin's QuestFlavien Prat126Richard Baltas9-525,000
4Dia de PagoRuben Fuentes126Vladimir Cerin3-125,000
5Taco WacoJorge Velez120Victor L. Garcia12-125,000
6Knifes EdgeMario Gutierrez120George Papaprodromou8-125,000
7Claim of PassionAbel Cedillo126Philip D'Amato6-125,000


1 Mile Turf. Purse: $30,000. Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $35,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Shanghai TrufflesAbel Cedillo126Patrick Gallagher4-135,000
2Wind Tartare Jose Valdivia, Jr.126Vann Belvoir10-135,000
3Untouched EleganceEdwin Maldonado126Richard Baltas6-135,000
4Kittyhawk LassUmberto Rispoli126Mike Puype7-235,000
5Arctic Roll Flavien Prat126Andrew Lerner2-135,000
6BuybackDrayden Van Dyke126Matthew Chew8-135,000
7Teachers Big DreamTiago Pereira120Eddie Truman12-135,000
8Clearly GoneBrice Blanc126Sean McCarthy15-135,000
9Dorita's LemonMike Smith126J. Eric Kruljac15-135,000
Also Eligible
10ClockstrikestwelveJose Valdivia, Jr.126Patrick Gallagher15-135,000


6½ Furlongs. Purse: $15,000. Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $12,500.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Bob's SniperAbel Cedillo126Val Brinkerhoff8-112,500
2TromadorJorge Velez126Ryan Hanson2-112,500
3Include the TaxGeovanni Franco120Michael W. McCarthy4-112,500
4Swamp'n Ain't EzEswan Flores126Philip A. Oviedo12-112,500
5TizalwavesTiago Pereira126Alexis Barba20-112,500
6Mayan WarriorEdwin Maldonado126Steve Knapp5-212,500
7Delta ForumAaron Gryder126Sean McCarthy10-112,500
8Indy JonesEvin Roman126Val Brinkerhoff5-112,500


1 1/8 Mile Turf. Purse: $51,000. Allowance Optional Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $40,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1UnicornAbel Cedillo126Richard Baltas6-1
2Nice IceUmberto Rispoli126Brian J. Koriner5-1
3Kookie GalFlavien Prat126Peter Miller9-5
4Catch the EyeAaron Gryder126David E. Hofmans3-1
5Muchly Drayden Van Dyke126Simon Callaghan5-2
6Lavender Jose Valdivia, Jr.124Matthew Chew10-1


1 Mile. Purse: $19,000. Maiden Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $25,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Zees EmpireVictor Flores113Mike Harrington50-125,000
2Ultimate MysteryRuben Fuentes126Vann Belvoir6-125,000
3Derby StarEswan Flores126Ruben Gomez30-125,000
4World O LuckUmberto Rispoli120Mike Puype6-125,000
5Pour On the ColeGeovanni Franco120Michael W. McCarthy4-125,000
6BrickbatJorge Velez120Craig Anthony Lewis6-125,000
7Mongol AltaiEdwin Maldonado120Enebish Ganbat6-125,000
8Debt MongerAgapito Delgadillo120William Spawr8-125,000
9Royally BigJose Valdivia, Jr.120Ronald W. Ellis20-125,000
10Next RevoltAssael Espinoza120Dan Blacker2-125,000
Also Eligible
11MeadwayVictor Flores119John E. Cortez15-125,000


1 Mile Turf. Purse: $32,000. Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $32,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Tough It OutEdwin Maldonado124Art Sherman8-132,000
2The CreepJorge Velez124Ryan Hanson4-132,000
3CaptivateAaron Gryder124Vann Belvoir10-132,000
4FabozziEvin Roman124Mark Glatt4-132,000
5ContagionAbel Cedillo124Doug F. O'Neill5-232,000
6Pubilius SyrusRuben Fuentes124Vladimir Cerin3-132,000
7TartiniUmberto Rispoli126Jack Carava6-132,000