Horse racing newsletter: Jon White’s new Kentucky Derby rankings
Hello, my name is John Cherwa and welcome back to our horse racing newsletter as we get ready for a big weekend of Kentucky Derby prep races.
Couple of notes before we get to the good stuff.
--Del Mar announced it stakes schedule for this summer. There are 34 major stakes worth $6.75 million, up 30% from last year. There are five Grade 1s: Bing Crosby Stakes (July 31), Clement L. Hirsch Stakes (Aug. 1), Pacific Classic (Aug. 21), Del Mar Oaks (Aug. 21), Del Mar Debutante (Sept. 5) and Del Mar Futurity (Sept. 6). If you want to see the entire schedule, just click here.
--I preview Saturday’s Grade 1 $400,000 Santa Anita Handicap with a look at the undefeated 4-year-old Maxfield, who ships in as the 8-5 morning line favorite for the race. Want to know more, just click here.
Now, the good stuff.
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Jon White’s Kentucky Derby rankings
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 another big weekend, brought courtesy of Xpressbet.com. Take it away, Jon.
“Essential Quality, who remained undefeated by splashing home to a 4 1/4-length victory on a sloppy track in last Saturday’s 1 1/16-mile Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park, retains the top spot in this newsletter’s rankings for the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 1.
“Life Is Good, who continues to be ranked No. 2, heads a field of seven entered in Saturday’s 1 1/16-mile San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita. The San Felipe also has attracted No. 7 Medina Spirit and No. 10 Roman Centurian.
“Greatest Honour climbs a notch to No. 3 this week after rallying from ninth to win Saturday’s 1 1/16-mile Fountain of Youth Stakes by 1 1/2 lengths at Gulfstream Park. Shug McGaughey trains Greatest Honour, who has put together a three-race winning streak. Prior to the Fountain of Youth, the Kentucky-bred colt won Gulfstream’s Holy Bull Stakes.
“Tapit is the sire of both Essential Quality and Greatest Honor. Essential Quality and Greatest Honour each won a graded stakes race this year on the same day, Feb. 27. It was 20 years ago on Feb. 27 that Tapit was foaled.
“Essential Quality was fifth early in the Southwest when much closer to the pace than in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. He proved an emphatic winner of the Southwest as a 9-10 favorite.
“Trained by Brad Cox, Essential Quality now is four for four. The Kentucky-bred colt was voted a 2020 Eclipse Award following stakes wins in the Breeders’ Futurity and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
“Southern California shipper Spielberg, trained by Bob Baffert, finished second in the Southwest despite a poor start. This puts the $1 million purchase into the Kentucky Derby picture after an 11 1/4-length defeat when fourth in Santa Anita’s Robert B. Lewis Stakes on Jan. 30. Spielberg won the Los Alamitos Futurity in his final 2020 start.
“Baffert will be represented in the San Felipe by Life Is Good and Medina Spirit. I have installed Life Is Good as the 4-5 favorite on the morning line. Medina Spirit is the 7-2 second choice in the field of seven, followed by The Great One at 4-1, Dream Shake at 5-1, Roman Centurian at 8-1, None Above the Law at 30-1 and Govenor’s Party at 50-1.
“The San Felipe will be Life Is Good’s third career start. This will be the farthest he has raced. The smooth-moving Kentucky-bred Into Mischief colt made a jaw-dropping debut at Del Mar in the fall. He won a 6 1/2-furlong maiden race by 9 1/2 lengths as an overwhelming 1-5 favorite.
“Life Is Good again was sent away as a 1-5 favorite in Santa Anita’s one-mile Sham Stakes on Jan. 2. He was just cruising along and led by four lengths with a furlong to go. His lead then diminished in the final furlong, but he still was able to get the job done.
“Medina Spirit rallied to finish second in the Sham, just three-quarters of a length behind Life Is Good. Medina Spirit then won the 1 1/16-mile Lewis in game fashion by a neck on Jan. 30.
“Doug O’Neill trains The Great One, who was a maiden when he lost the Los Alamitos Futurity by a nose to Spielberg. When The Great One returned to the maiden ranks for his next start, the Louisiana-bred colt won a one-mile maiden race at Santa Anita on Jan. 23 by 14 lengths in 1:37.28.
“When Life Is Good won the Sham at the same distance, his final time for one mile was 1:36.63. When Authentic registered a 7 3/4-length win in the 2020 Sham, he completed one mile in 1:37.57.
“Dream Shake goes into the San Felipe off a scintillating performance when unveiled in an especially strong 6 1/2-furlong maiden race at Santa Anita on Feb. 7. Eighth early in the field of nine, the Kentucky-bred Twirling Candy colt passed rivals with a rush on the far turn, then kept on going strongly down the lane while drawing away. He won by 4 3/4 lengths for trainer Peter Eurton.
“Roman Centurian is coming off his best effort yet in three career starts when he finished a close second in the Lewis. Simon Callaghan trains Roman Centurian, a Kentucky-bred Empire Maker colt. Empire Maker won the 2003 Belmont Stakes.
“None Above the Law meets much tougher opponents after finishing second at odds of 9-1 in the California Cup Derby at Santa Anita on Jan. 16. Peter Miller trains None Above the Law, a California-bred Karakontie colt. Karakontie won the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Mile.
“Govenor’s Party most recently ran third as a gigantic 119-1 longshot in the El Camino Real Derby on Golden Gate Fields’ synthetic surface on Feb. 13. Daniel Franko owns and trains the California-bred Govenor Charlie colt.
“Saturday’s San Felipe is one of three races Saturday that will reward the first four finishers with 50-20-10-5 qualifying points toward a starting berth in the $3 million Kentucky Derby. There is the 1 1/16-mile Tampa Bay Derby and one-mile Gotham Stakes.
“The Tampa Bay Derby has a dozen entrants. Tampa Bay Downs’ Tommy Creel has pegged Candy Man Rocket as the 2-1 favorite on the morning line. Hidden Stash is the 4-1 second choice.
“Candy Man Rocket is coming off a one-length win in Tampa’s 1 1/16-mile Sam F. Davis Stakes on Feb. 6. Bill Mott trains the Kentucky-bred Candy Ride colt.
“Hidden Stash, a Kentucky-bred Constitution colt, came on late and finished third in the Davis for trainer Vicki Oliver.
“Highly Motivated is the 8-5 favorite on David Aragona’s morning line for Aqueduct’s Gotham, which has drawn a field of eight. Freedom Fighter is the 5-2 second choice. The others listed at odds lower than 10-1 are Crowded Trade at 9-2, Capo Kane at 5-1 and Wipe the Slate at 6-1.
“This will be Highly Motivated’s first start since his sparkling 4 1/4-length win in the Nyquist Stakes at Keeneland last Nov. 6. Chad Brown trains the Kentucky-bred Into Mischief colt. Brown also conditions Crowded Trade, who goes into the Gotham off a one-length debut victory in a six-furlong maiden race at Aqueduct on Jan. 28.
“Freedom Fighter and Wipe the Slate have been sent to New York from Southern California to run in the Gotham. Baffert trains Freedom Fighter, who finished second to Concert Tour in Santa Anita’s seven-furlong San Vicente Stakes on Feb. 6. O’Neill trains Wipe the Slate, who ran sixth in the Lewis following a 3 1/4-length maiden win at Santa Anita on Dec. 26.
“Here are this week’s Kentucky Derby rankings, courtesy of Xpressbet:
1. Essential Quality (1)
2. Life Is Good (2)
3. Greatest Honour (4)
4. Caddo River (3)
5. Mandaloun (5)
6. Concert Tour (6)
7. Medina Spirit (7)
8. Hot Rod Charlie (8)
9. Keepmeinmind (9)
10. Roman Centurian (10)
NOTE: Last week’s rankings in parentheses”
Santa Anita preview
As is normally the case on the day before a big day, Friday’s card is pretty mediocre. There are eight races with the usual 12:30 p.m. start time. There are only two turf races, one allowance/optional claimer and one maiden special. We’re picking the only allowance as our feature, a six-furlong race for Cal-bred fillies and mares for a purse of $63,000.
Kristi’s Tiger is the 2-1 favorite for trainer Thomas Bell and jockey Umberto Rispoli. She has three wins and three seconds in 10 lifetime starts. She’s never won the stakes level, but then again, this isn’t a stakes race. Morning-line maker Jon White has co-second favorites at 5-2. There is Sing in the Wind (Isidro Tomayo, Abel Cedillo) and Li’l Grazen (Manuel Ortiz, Tiago Pereira.) Sing in the Wind ships down from Golden Gate, where she won last out and Li’l Grazen has won two of her last four. Post is around 3:45 p.m.
Here are the field sizes, in order: 6, 6, 8, 5, 7, 8, 7, 9.
Ciaran Thornton’s SA pick of the day
THIRD RACE: No. 5 Law Professor (6-1)
Law Professor is 6-1 morning line and attracts Joel Rosario for trainer Michael McCarthy. Mike is 23% second career race like today and 50% in the money from 62 such starts for a profit. A 59 second workout last week for a horse racing protected is a big positive. In fact, the last few works have been great including the one prior to the debut. I hope we get 6-1 or more. Also use There Goes Harvard the “other” McCarthy horse with Umberto Rispoli riding (he is 33% for the trainer). Also, the second career race for this horse and a 59 second work as well. 12-1 is juicy. In Pick 5 bets I am using both these horses as well as Fenway and Harbored Memories.
Sunday’s result: El Diablo Rojo tracked in third but had nothing finishing off the board.
Ciaran Thornton is the handicapper for Californiapick4.com, which offers daily full card picks, longshots of the day, best bets of the day.
Los Alamitos weekend preview
Los Alamitos is the only game in town at night. So, let’s turn things over to marketing and media guru Orlando Gutierrez. Orlando, the floor is yours.
“CC Perkinson, a winner of 93 races as a jockey and a former racing analyst on TVG’s “The Quarters”, is back training at Los Alamitos when she saddles the Clubhouse Ride filly Crookhaven Lass in the first race on Friday. It will be Perkinson’s first starter here since Jan. 27, 2002.
“Perkinson claimed the 4-year-old for $5,000 at Golden Gate on Feb. 15 following the filly’s third consecutive runner-up effort. Crookhaven Lass will start from the seven in the 1,000-yard race. will ride.
“During her riding career, Perkinson won 46 thoroughbred races, including 24 at Los Alamitos. She also won 33 Arabian and five quarter horse races. She also won the 1998 Santa Rosa Marathon on Katella Lad at 870 yards. Perkinson trained horses briefly in 2001 and 2002, saddling Policy Maker to a victory at Fresno in October of 2001. Her stable was based in Northern California.
“Apollitical Patty will make her first start for new owner Julianna Hawn Holt when she headlines the trials to the $427,500 Los Alamitos Oaks on Saturday night. Twenty-three sophomore fillies will be in the trials with the runners with the 10 fastest times returning on Sat., March 27 for the final.
Apollitical Patty, trained by Monty Arrossa, had a magical season in 2020. She won California’s richest horse race of the year, the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity, and qualified to the Grade 1 Golden State Million Futurity. Julianna Hawn Holt, whose band of high-profile fillies and mares is among the nation’s best, acquired Apollitical Patty by private purchase after the Two Million.
“When asked how much Hawn Holt paid for the superstar filly, Arrossa had a simple answer.
“’It was a lot,’ Arrossa said. ‘Mrs. Hawn Holt has many great quarter-horse fillies and mares and I feel that she added two outstanding ones in Apollitical Patty and Aint She Tempting.’
“Hawn Holt had previously purchased Aint She Tempting before the Two Million final. Apollitical Patty was the big winner on that night, while the Tempting Dash filly bumped early and finished seventh. The two also met in the Golden State Million with Aint She Tempting finishing second to Patty’s sixth in the final. Apollitical Patty, the PCQHRA champion 2-year-old filly, will be in the first of three trials, while Aint She Tempting will be in the third.
“Sunday night’s card will feature the trials to the Grade 3 El Primero Del Año Derby. They will be headed by M & G Farms’ Constituent, the PCQHRA champion 2-year-old colt of 2020, plus Grade 1 stakes finalists Thats R Best Card, Gentleman Chuck and BF Outfoosed.
“Constituent finished last season with the most wins by a 2-year-old male at Los Alamitos. His five victories were second overall among freshman sprinters behind Grade 1 futurity winner Apollitical Patty’s six wins. Constituent’s biggest win of the year came in the Restricted Grade 1 Governor’s Cup Futurity when the son of Seperate Interest outdueled stablemate Squid Word to win the 350-yard futurity by a nose. He got his sophomore campaign off to a flying start after posting a 1 1/4 length victory in his 2021 debut on Jan. 17. Constituent posted the meet’s fastest 330-yard time of :16.728 in that race. Constituent is trained by Valentin Zamudio.”
“The Los Alamitos $10,000 Pick 6 Promo is still being offered here on Sundays until further notice. If there’s not a carryover going into Sunday’s program, Los Alamitos will seed the Pick 6 pool with $10,000. The total pools in the Pick 6 on the promo nights have averaged $67,000.”
Chris Wade’s LA pick of the day
SIXTH RACE: No. 1 Teller Bullet Mrl (9-2)
She has finished third in both career starts and each has included some trouble in the journey. Eighteen nights ago, the filly broke a bit slow and inward to lose over a length of ground at the start and her early racing momentum against her perfect tripped rivals. She was able to show a good amount of speed after the less than perfect getaway, but her momentum slowed after she found more trouble nearing the wire. I still like her overall effort and the figure earned that evening makes her a contender for all the board placings if she can repeat the best qualities of that outing.
A final thought
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And now here’s the star of the show, Friday’s entries.
Santa Anita Entries for Friday, March 5.
Santa Anita, Santa Anita Park, Arcadia, California. 33rd day of a 81-day meet.
6 Furlongs. Purse: $24,000. Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 4 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $16,000-$12,500.
|1||Bella Renella||Kent Desormeaux||124||Rafael DeLeon||4-1||16,000|
|2||Raneem||Abel Cedillo||124||Bob Baffert||5-2||16,000|
|3||It's a Riddle||Juan Hernandez||120||Robert B. Hess, Jr.||5-1||12,500|
|4||Pasito||Ruben Fuentes||124||Steve Knapp||8-1||16,000|
|5||Full Eclipse||Tyler Baze||124||John E. Cortez||4-1||16,000|
|6||Miss Lady Ann||Tiago Pereira||124||Dean Pederson||2-1||16,000|
6 Furlongs. Purse: $25,000. Maiden Claiming. Fillies. 3 year olds. Claiming Prices $30,000-$28,000.
|1||Best of Show||Abel Cedillo||123||Steven Miyadi||5-2||30,000|
|2||Chrome of Our Own||Tyler Baze||123||Val Brinkerhoff||5-2||30,000|
|3||Lulu D' Oro||Ruben Fuentes||123||Victor L. Garcia||6-1||30,000|
|4||Big Al's Princess||Jessica Pyfer||116||Victor L. Garcia||2-1||30,000|
|5||Brio Is Awesome||Eswan Flores||121||Lorenzo Ruiz||6-1||28,000|
|6||Zu Zu Flynn||Geovanni Franco||123||Steven Miyadi||8-1||30,000|
1 Mile. Purse: $61,000. Maiden Special Weight. 3 year olds.
|1||Hudson Ridge||Drayden Van Dyke||123||Bob Baffert||8-1|
|2||Lone Scout||Kent Desormeaux||123||Robert B. Hess, Jr.||15-1|
|3||Star Sailor||Juan Hernandez||123||John W. Sadler||3-1|
|4||Mucho Del Oro||Tyler Baze||123||George Papaprodromou||20-1|
|5||Law Professor||Joel Rosario||123||Michael W. McCarthy||6-1|
|6||There Goes Harvard||Umberto Rispoli||123||Michael W. McCarthy||12-1|
|7||Fenway||John Velazquez||123||Bob Baffert||5-2|
|8||Harbored Memories||Flavien Prat||123||Mike Puype||2-1|
6½ Furlongs Turf. Purse: $33,000. Starter Allowance. 4 year olds and up.
|1||Rager||Joel Rosario||118||Andrew Lerner||4-1|
|2||City Rage||Flavien Prat||124||Mark Glatt||8-5|
|3||Quick Finish||Juan Hernandez||124||Dan Blacker||2-1|
|4||One Flew South||Umberto Rispoli||124||Gus Headley||4-1|
|5||Promise Nothing||Edwin Maldonado||124||Daniel Azcarate||6-1|
1 Mile. Purse: $35,000. Maiden Claiming. Fillies. 3 year olds. Claiming Prices $50,000-$45,000. State bred.
|1||Complete Control||Alexis Centeno||112||Edward R. Freeman||3-1||45,000|
|2||Smoothlikebuttah||Abel Cedillo||123||Steve Knapp||7-2||50,000|
|3||Sideways Suances||Tyler Baze||119||Jeff Mullins||12-1||45,000|
|4||Sugar Kisses||Tiago Pereira||123||Carla Gaines||10-1||50,000|
|5||Here Comes Ralphie||Eswan Flores||123||Gary Stute||4-1||50,000|
|6||Supersonic Flyer||Edwin Maldonado||123||Leonard Powell||5-1||50,000|
|7||Half Hoping||Jose Valdivia, Jr.||123||Mike Puype||5-2||50,000|
6½ Furlongs. Purse: $35,000. Maiden Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $50,000-$45,000. State bred.
|1||Fursace||Jose Valdivia, Jr.||126||Brian J. Koriner||3-1||50,000|
|2||Dual Reality||Alexis Centeno||115||Rolando Quinonez||15-1||45,000|
|3||Humor Me Harper||Heriberto Figueroa||122||Ricardo S. Guillen||30-1||45,000|
|4||Lady Doc||Tyler Baze||114||J. Eric Kruljac||6-1||45,000|
|5||Slewpys Last Song||Geovanni Franco||126||Javier Jose Sierra||30-1||50,000|
|6||Twentyseventrouts||Juan Hernandez||126||Mike Puype||5-2||50,000|
|7||My Tigress||Flavien Prat||126||Richard Baltas||9-5||50,000|
|8||Elgofranco||Mario Gutierrez||126||Ben D. A. Cecil||4-1||50,000|
6 Furlongs. Purse: $63,000. Allowance Optional Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 4 year olds and up. Claiming Price $20,000. State bred.
|1||Lovely Finish||Eswan Flores||124||Joe Herrick||12-1|
|2||Jan Jan Can||Juan Hernandez||122||Ronald W. Ellis||8-1|
|3||Kristi's Tiger||Umberto Rispoli||122||Thomas Ray Bell, II||2-1|
|4||Sing in the Wind||Abel Cedillo||124||Isidro Tamayo||5-2||20,000|
|5||Li'l Grazen||Tiago Pereira||124||Manuel Ortiz, Sr.||5-2||20,000|
|6||Time for Ebby||Tyler Baze||124||Gary Stute||6-1||20,000|
|7||Homehome||Mario Gutierrez||124||Doug F. O'Neill||6-1|
1 1/8 Mile Turf. Purse: $36,000. Claiming. 4 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $25,000-$22,500.
|1||Full of Luck||Eswan Flores||122||Steven Miyadi||4-1||25,000|
|2||New Year||Tyler Baze||120||Juan Andres Rodriguez||20-1||22,500|
|3||Marckie's Water||Abel Cedillo||120||Tim Yakteen||4-1||22,500|
|4||Noble Thought||Umberto Rispoli||122||Robert N. Falcone, Jr.||5-2||25,000|
|5||Mo Bob||Ruben Fuentes||120||Jesus Ramos||12-1||22,500|
|6||Move Over||Tiago Pereira||122||Hector O. Palma||12-1||25,000|
|7||Fabozzi||Juan Hernandez||120||Kristin Mulhall||6-1||22,500|
|8||French Getaway||Mike Smith||122||Robert B. Hess, Jr.||7-2||25,000|
|9||Worthy Turk||Mario Gutierrez||122||Reed Saldana||15-1||25,000|
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