Horse racing newsletter: Jon White’s Kentucky Derby rankings are here
Hello, my name is John Cherwa and welcome back to our horse racing newsletter as things start to get interesting on the Kentucky Derby trail.
Let’s get right to the good stuff.
Jon White is back with his Triple Crown rankings. Jon is one of the foremost historians on horse racing as well as being the morning-line maker at Santa Anita and Del Mar. He even has done stints as a steward. He does it all. So, let’s get right to it with his Kentucky Derby rankings and previewing the weekend points races, brought courtesy of Xpressbet.com.
“Someone who truly would have appreciated the fierce three-way battle down the lane involving Medina Spirit, Roman Centurian and Hot Rod Charlie in last Saturday’s 1 1/16 Robert B. Lewis Stakes was the man for whom the race is named.
“Bob Lewis, who died of a heart attack in 2006 at age 81, certainly enjoyed watching a good horse race. He especially loved it whenever he and his wife, Beverly, saw one of their equine athletes in action. The Lewises owned such champions as Serena’s Song, Timber Country, Silver Charm, Charismatic, Orientate and Folklore.
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“Speaking of Silver Charm, when Medina Spirit won the Lewis in ultra-game fashion for Bob Baffert, the trainer said it reminded him of Silver Charm.
“Known for being tenacious in the heat of battle, Silver Charm in 1997 provided Baffert with the first of his record-tying six Kentucky Derby victories. The gray colt went on to win the Preakness Stakes before having his bid for Triple Crown glory thwarted when he finished second to Touch Gold in the Belmont Stakes.
“Though Baffert’s first big thoroughbred win on the national stage came when Thirty Slews captured the 1992 Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Gulfstream Park, it was Silver Charm’s run at a Triple Crown that really put Baffert on the map.
“Medina Spirit won last Saturday’s Lewis Stakes by a neck, while Roman Centurian nosed out Hot Rod Charlie for second. Medina Spirit’s performance was much better than the margin of victory or the final time would suggest.
“The Lewis was run fast early and slow late. On a wet track rated good (Baffert called it very tiring), Medina Spirit showed the way early. He recorded brisk fractions of :22.89 and :46.61 while being pushed by Wipe the Slate and Parnelli. With the final quarter a far-from-sizzling :26.98, Medina Spirit completed his 1 1/16-mile trip in 1:46.26.
“To Medina Spirit’s credit, despite running as quickly as he did during the early portion of the race, he still managed to get to the finish line in front while displaying Silver Charm-like heart. And what happened to the two horses who pushed Medina Spirit early? Parnelli finished fifth, 19 1/2 lengths behind Medina Spirit. Wipe the Slate finished sixth, 20 lengths behind Medina Spirit.
“On the strength of Medina Spirit’s win in the Lewis, he climbs a couple of notches this week to No. 6 in this newsletter’s rankings for the May 1 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. Hot Rod Charlie drops to No. 7 after being No. 6 last week. Roman Centurian debuts this week at No. 10.
“Departing from the Kentucky Derby Top 10 this week are Prime Factor and Jackie’s Warrior. Prime Factor, who was No. 5 last week, finished third as the 11-10 favorite in last Saturday’s 1 1/16-mile Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream. Jackie’s Warrior will get the opportunity to reappear on the Top 10 if he runs well in his first 2021 race, likely at Oaklawn Park’s 1 1/16-mile Southwest Stakes on Feb. 15.
“The Southwest also is scheduled to be the first 2021 start for Eclipse Award-winning 2-year-old male champion Essential Quality, who once again holds the top spot in the Kentucky Derby rankings this week. Still another quality 3-year-old with designs on the Southwest is Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes winner Keepmeinmind, who currently is ranked No. 8.
“Greatest Honour, who won last Saturday’s Holy Bull by an emphatic 5 3/4 lengths when coming off a maiden victory, debuts in the Kentucky Derby rankings this week all the way up at No. 4.
“Shug McGaughey trains Greatest Honor, a Kentucky-bred son of Tapit and Tiffany’s Honour. Tiffany’s Honour is kin to back-to-back Belmont Stakes winners Jazil (2006) and Rags to Riches (2007). McGaughey won the 2013 Kentucky Derby with Orb.
“The two races this week offering 10-4-2-1 Kentucky Derby points to the first four finishers are Saturday’s 1 1/16-mile Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs and 1 1/8-mile Withers Stakes at Aqueduct.
“The Davis has enticed an overflow field of 13, including one also eligible. The 3-1 morning-line favorite is Smiley Sobotka. Trained by Dale Romans, the Canadian-bred Brody’s Cause colt makes his first start since finishing second to Keepmeinmind in the Kentucky Jockey Club.
“Trainer Bill Mott has Nova Rags entered in the Davis. Pegged as the 4-1 second choice, the Kentucky-bred Union Rags colt makes his second 2021 start after winning Tampa’s seven-furlong Pasco Stakes by 2 3/4 lengths on Jan. 16.
“The feeling here is Candy Man Rocket has a shot to win the Davis at 10-1 on the morning line. Also trained by Mott, the Kentucky-bred Candy Ride colt registered a 9 1/4-length victory in a six-furlong maiden race Jan. 9 at Gulfstream in his second career start.
“The Withers has drawn a field of nine. The 5-2 morning-line favorite is Risk Taking. Trained by Chad Brown, the Kentucky-bred Medaglia d’Oro colt is coming off a 2 1/4-length win in a 1 1/8-mile maiden race Dec. 13 at the Big A.
“Capo Kane (3-1 morning line) and Donegal Bay (7-2) also are Withers contenders.
“Trained by Harold Wyner and based at Pennsylvania’s Parx, Capo Kane won Aqueduct’s one-mile Jerome Stakes by 6 1/4 lengths on a muddy track Jan. 1 in his first 2021 start. Capo Kane is a California-bred son of 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense.
“Donegal Bay makes his stakes debut following a 4 1/4-length win in a one-mile maiden race Dec. 12 at Gulfstream. Todd Pletcher trains the Kentucky-bred Uncle Mo colt.
“Pletcher also has Overtook in the Withers. Listed at 6-1 on the morning line, the Kentucky-bred Curlin colt lost twice before winning a one-mile maiden race by two lengths at Aqueduct on Dec. 20.
“Saturday’s seven-furlong San Vicente Stakes at Santa Anita does not offer any Kentucky Derby points. Nevertheless, it merits attention vis-a-vis the first Saturday in May. After all, Nadal won last year’s San Vicente and went on to win a division of the Arkansas Derby on the first Saturday in May for Baffert. Nyquist in 2016 won the San Vicente and subsequently succeeded in the Run for the Roses.
“The 8-5 morning-line favorite in this year’s San Vicente and No. 5 in this newsletter’s Kentucky Derby rankings is Concert Tour, a sparkling 3 1/2-length debut winner for Baffert in a six-furlong maiden race Jan. 15 at Santa Anita. Baffert also trains San Vicente entrant Freedom Fighter, who has not started since he won a five-furlong maiden sprint by a head last Aug. 1 at Del Mar.
“Freedom Fighter is 5-2 on the morning line, as is The Chosen Vron, who trounced fellow California-bred maidens at first asking Dec. 27 at Santa Anita when he won by 6 3/4 lengths.
“Another impressive recent California-bred maiden winner in the San Vicente is Found My Ball, who drew away in the stretch to post a six-length victory at Santa Anita on Jan. 22.
“Uncle Boogie goes into the San Vicente with two wins and two seconds from five career starts.
“Mr. Impossible has been scratched from the San Vicente to run instead in a maiden race Sunday at Santa Anita that has attracted the highly regarded Baffert first-time starter Bezos.
“Here are this week’s Kentucky Derby rankings, courtesy of Xpressbet:
1. Essential Quality (1)
2. Life Is Good (2)
3. Caddo River (3)
4. Greatest Honour (4)
5. Concert Tour (4)
6. Medina Spirit (8)
7. Hod Rod Charlie (6)
8. Keepmeinmind (7)
9. Senor Buscador (9)
10. Roman Centurian (NR)
NOTE: Last week’s rankings in parentheses”
Santa Anita preview
Friday’s card will be the latest starting time of the three this weekend with 12:30 p.m. first post. There are eight races and five of them will have a first-time winner. Half of the races are on the turf, all of the odd numbered races. Thanks to everything being off the turf last weekend, there is the rare Friday stakes race, albeit a minor stakes. It’s the $75,000 Baffle Stakes for 3-year-olds going 6 ½ furlongs on the turf.
The favorite, at 3-1, is Earls Rock for trainer Phil D’Amato and jockey Flavien Prat. He made his first start in Ireland, finishing second, before switching to D’Amato in the U.S. where he won his maiden by 4 ¼ lengths. Commander Khai is the second choice at 7-2 for Richard Baltas and Umberto Rispoli. This colt has one win in five starts. He’s coming off a second in the Eddie Logan after giving up the lead. That race was a mile. Post is around 3:45 p.m.
Here are the field sizes, in order: 8, 5, 10 (2 also eligible), 7, 8, 7, 9, 9.
Ciaran Thornton’s SA pick of the day
SEVENTH RACE: No.1 Gator Shining (8-1)
Gator Shining has lost by a head bob two of the three career starts with a win sandwiched in between, all with jockey Ricardo Gonzalez riding for trainer Richard Baltas. ‘Gator has the top last race speed, top back speed and loves to close late. Today is the second start off the layoff. Wide open race I will gladly take this 8-1 value.
Sunday’s Result: Lady Noguez went off at 3-1 and sat at the back of the pack into the turn before making a too late move to run second, passing the winner on the gallop out. Lady paid $3.80 for the place.
Ciaran Thornton is the handicapper for Californiapick4.com, which offers daily full card picks, longshots of the day, best bets of the day.
No Los Alamitos this weekend
There is no racing at Los Alamitos this weekend. Quarter horses are notorious gamblers and a bunch of them wanted the weekend off to go to Las Vegas and bet the Super Bowl. A spokeshorse said, “We spend all year with people betting on us. Now it’s time, for at least one day, for us to bet on them.” So, there you have it, plus the course gets renovated. Orlando Gutierrez will be back next week with his preview.
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And now the star of the show, Friday’s entries.
Santa Anita Entries for Friday, February 5.
Santa Anita, Santa Anita Park, Arcadia, California. 20th day of a 81-day meet.
6 Furlongs Turf. Purse: $61,000. Maiden Special Weight. 3 year olds.
|1||No Foolery Here||Flavien Prat||124||Richard Baltas||8-1|
|2||Coulthard||Umberto Rispoli||124||Philip D'Amato||5-2|
|3||Eagle Chief||Joel Rosario||124||John W. Sadler||5-1|
|4||Got Curly||Mario Gutierrez||124||Philip A. Oviedo||15-1|
|5||Kahuna Magic||Juan Hernandez||124||John A. Shirreffs||8-1|
|6||Mahaamel||Tyler Baze||124||Jeff Mullins||6-1|
|7||First Class Dad||Alexis Centeno||117||Jeff Bonde||4-1|
|8||Hudson Ridge||Drayden Van Dyke||124||Bob Baffert||7-2|
1 Mile. Purse: $61,000. Maiden Special Weight. Fillies. 3 year olds.
|1||Frosteria||Mike Smith||124||Bob Baffert||6-5|
|2||American Heights||Victor Espinoza||124||Carla Gaines||10-1|
|3||Lady Mystify||Flavien Prat||124||Peter Eurton||5-2|
|4||Donna Bella||Umberto Rispoli||124||Simon Callaghan||2-1|
|5||Quick and Dirty||Ricardo Gonzalez||124||Michael W. McCarthy||8-1|
6 Furlongs Turf. Purse: $35,000. Maiden Claiming. 3 year olds. Claiming Prices $50,000-$45,000.
|1||Soulong||Joel Rosario||119||Peter Miller||4-1||45,000|
|2||Whiskey Vision||Abel Cedillo||119||Val Brinkerhoff||10-1||45,000|
|3||Cross Indian||Eswan Flores||123||Hector O. Palma||7-2||50,000|
|4||Amanofmystature||Flavien Prat||123||Peter Miller||5-2||50,000|
|5||Daniel's Magic||Ricardo Gonzalez||119||Eoin G. Harty||8-1||45,000|
|6||Imissbaymeadows||Jessica Pyfer||116||Dan Blacker||20-1||50,000|
|7||Racing Ace||Tyler Baze||123||Charles S. Treece||30-1||50,000|
|8||Pro Bono||Heriberto Figueroa||123||Carlo Vaccarezza||10-1||50,000|
|9||Mongolian Ford||Edwin Maldonado||123||Enebish Ganbat||8-1||50,000|
|10||Special Mission||Umberto Rispoli||123||Richard Baltas||8-1||50,000|
|11||Sensemaker||Ruben Fuentes||123||Manuel Ortiz, Sr.||10-1||50,000|
|12||Lance the Legend||Jessica Pyfer||116||Jeff Bonde||3-1||50,000|
1 Mile. Purse: $63,000. Allowance Optional Claiming. 4 year olds and up. Claiming Price $20,000. State bred.
|1||Popular Kid||Tyler Baze||124||Eddie Truman||9-2||20,000|
|2||Oliver||Joel Rosario||124||Doug F. O'Neill||3-1||20,000|
|3||Coalinga Road||Umberto Rispoli||122||Carla Gaines||2-1|
|4||Bam Bam Again||Jessica Pyfer||115||Reed Saldana||20-1||20,000|
|5||Lightning Fast||Tiago Pereira||122||William Spawr||12-1|
|6||Desmond Doss||Abel Cedillo||124||Steven Miyadi||3-1|
|7||Signofthecross||Flavien Prat||122||Leonard Powell||5-1|
1 Mile Turf. Purse: $61,000. Maiden Special Weight. Fillies and Mares. 4 year olds and up.
|1||Wind and Hope||Ricardo Gonzalez||124||Simon Callaghan||10-1|
|2||Lady Crocker||Mike Smith||124||Carla Gaines||15-1|
|3||Sweet Devil||Umberto Rispoli||124||Michael W. McCarthy||4-1|
|4||Lady Timmy Ho||Joel Rosario||124||Mike Puype||5-2|
|5||Eyes Open||Juan Hernandez||124||Dan Blacker||3-1|
|6||Witch Moon||Flavien Prat||124||Philip D'Amato||2-1|
|7||I'll Do It for You||Edwin Maldonado||124||Quentin B. Miller||30-1|
|8||Phoenix Tears||Alexis Centeno||117||Daniel Dunham||20-1|
1 Mile. Purse: $47,000. Claiming. 4 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $50,000-$45,000.
|1||Self Taught||Tiago Pereira||122||Steve Knapp||8-1||50,000|
|2||King Abner||Tyler Baze||122||Philip D'Amato||5-1||50,000|
|3||Bold Endeavor||Jessica Pyfer||115||Mark Glatt||8-1||50,000|
|4||Two Thirty Five||Abel Cedillo||122||Manuel Ortiz, Sr.||7-2||50,000|
|5||Multiplier||Flavien Prat||122||Peter Miller||5-2||50,000|
|6||Pubilius Syrus||Juan Hernandez||124||Vladimir Cerin||2-1||50,000|
|7||Itsthattime||Ricardo Gonzalez||122||Jeff Bonde||12-1||50,000|
6½ Furlongs Turf. Purse: $75,000. 'Baffle Stakes'. 3 year olds.
|1||Gator Shining||Ricardo Gonzalez||120||Richard Baltas||8-1|
|2||Earls Rock||Flavien Prat||120||Philip D'Amato||3-1|
|3||Weston||Tyler Baze||124||Ryan Hanson||12-1|
|4||Mac Daddy Too||Abel Cedillo||120||Doug F. O'Neill||8-1|
|5||Sword Zorro||Joel Rosario||120||John W. Sadler||6-1|
|6||Commander Khai||Umberto Rispoli||120||Richard Baltas||7-2|
|7||Exhalting||Edwin Maldonado||122||Doug F. O'Neill||6-1|
|8||Harlan Estate||Ruben Fuentes||120||Peter Eurton||20-1|
|9||Beer Can Man||Juan Hernandez||124||Mark Glatt||4-1|
1 Mile. Purse: $22,000. Maiden Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 4 year olds and up. Claiming Price $20,000.
|1||Wild Arch||Tyler Baze||124||Anthony K. Saavedra||4-1||20,000|
|2||Moreavino||Juan Hernandez||124||Gary Mandella||6-1||20,000|
|3||A J Rock||Jessica Pyfer||117||Reed Saldana||7-2||20,000|
|4||Haute Time||Alexis Centeno||117||Blake R. Heap||3-1||20,000|
|5||Shez Our Arch||Eswan Flores||124||Jorge Gutierrez||5-1||20,000|
|6||Turkish Angel||Emily Ellingwood||114||Marcelo Polanco||50-1||20,000|
|7||Spoken With a Kiss||Jose Valdivia, Jr.||124||Ronald W. Ellis||5-1||20,000|
|8||Mojo Mama||Abel Cedillo||124||Val Brinkerhoff||30-1||20,000|
|9||My Girl Pearl||Ruben Fuentes||124||Steve Knapp||8-1||20,000|
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