Horse racing newsletter: Preakness rankings are here

John Velazquez on Medina Spirit, third from right, leads the pack into turn one during the Kentucky Derby.
John Velazquez on Medina Spirit, third from right, leads the pack into turn one during the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby.
(Associated Press)

Hello, my name is John Cherwa as Jon White digs down with all the latest news from the second leg of the Triple Crown.

The Kentucky Derby is over but Jon White is not done 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 first Preakness rankings. It’s brought to you courtesy of Take it away, Jon.

“Just two days after Medina Spirit provided trainer Bob Baffert with a record-breaking seventh Kentucky Derby victory, there was big news regarding the Preakness Stakes when it was announced that Concert Tour would be running in the May 15 classic at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore.

“The Concert Tour news, reported Monday by Daily Racing Form’s Jay Privman, was big because Baffert also trains Concert Tour, who skipped last Saturday’s Kentucky Derby after finishing third as the 3-10 favorite in the April 10 Arkansas Derby.

“On Wednesday, Baffert revealed that Mike Smith will ride Concert Tour for owners Gary and Mary West in the Preakness. Joel Rosario had been aboard the Kentucky-bred Street Sense colt in all of his races to date. Of course, John Velazquez, who won the Kentucky Derby on Medina Spirit for owner Zadan Racing Stables, again will pilot the Kentucky-bred Protonico colt in the Preakness.


“Concert Tour was three for three prior to his Arkansas Derby setback. Following the loss at Oaklawn Park, it was decided that Concert Tour needed more time than the three weeks between the Arkansas Derby and 1 1/4-mile Kentucky Derby before he raced again. West especially did not want to run Concert Tour again so soon after such a disappointing effort at Oaklawn Park. ‘I’ve never had an owner talk me out of running in the Kentucky Derby before,’ Baffert said.

“With Concert Tour now scheduled to start in the Preakness, Baffert risks stopping himself from a possible third Triple Crown after having accomplished the rare feat with American Pharoah in 2015 and Justify in 2018.

“Baffert in 2015 was in danger of spoiling his own Triple Crown by running a horse in the Preakness against a Kentucky Derby winner from his own barn.

“In the 2015 Kentucky Derby, Baffert started both American Pharoah and Dortmund. American Pharoah won. Dortmund finished third, the first loss of his career.

“American Pharoah then took the Preakness, while Dortmund finished fourth. American Pharoah went on to win the Belmont Stakes, ending a 37-year Triple Crown drought.

“In 1995, trainer D. Wayne Lukas came quite close to denying himself a Triple Crown when training Thunder Gulch and Timber Country.

“Thunder Gulch won the Kentucky Derby and Belmont. Timber Country was victorious in the Preakness.

“In the Preakness, 25-1 longshot Oliver’s Twist edged Thunder Gulch for second. If Thunder Gulch had won that photo for second, the only reason Lukas would not have won the Triple Crown is he prevented himself from achieving the feat by beating himself with Timber Country.

“Another aspect to Baffert running Medina Spirit and Concert Tour in the Preakness is they have a similar running style in that they both possess early speed. During an NTRA teleconference Thursday, Baffert was asked how he would avoid having both horses go head-and-head on the front end. ‘I always leave it up to those riders,’ Baffert said. ‘But the break is so important and how they draw. Once they draw, we’ll figure something out. I have two Hall of Fame riders. But I never discuss strategy [with the media] before a race.’

“As for Medina Spirit’s Kentucky Derby performance, he led down the long Churchill Downs stretch while holding off Mandaloun, Hot Rod Charlie and 5-2 favorite Essential Quality to the end of the race.

“Mandaloun, Hot Rod Charlie and Essential Quality finished second, third and fourth in the field of 19.

“Medina Spirit won by a half-length. Baffert praised Medina Spirit for exhibiting so much determination. ‘Turning for home, they came to him and he just dug in,’ Baffert said. ‘I still didn’t know if he was going to do it. But he just dug in and fought hard. It was sort of the same race as he ran at Santa Anita when he won the Robert Lewis. They came to him and he just fended them all off. He’s a blue-collar horse, but he has a huge heart.’

“Thanks to Medina Spirit, Baffert won the Kentucky Derby for the seventh time after his first Run for the Roses triumph with Silver Charm in 1997. Baffert now stands alone as the trainer with the most Kentucky Derby victories. Ben Jones trained six Kentucky Derby winners from 1938-1952.

“Also, thanks to Medina Spirit’s Kentucky Derby victory, Baffert increased his record total number of wins in Triple Crown races to 17. Lukas is second with 14.

“Baffert now sets his sights on breaking the record for most Preakness wins by a trainer. His seven Preakness victories put him in a tie with R. Wyndam Walden, who won the race the same number of times from 1875 to 1888.

“In other Preakness news, trainer Brad Cox said Thursday that Mandaloun and Caddo River would not be running. Cox earlier had ruled Essential Quality out of the Preakness.

Todd Pletcher, whose election to the Hall of Fame was announced Wednesday, will be represented by Unbridled Honor in the Preakness. After finishing fourth in the Tampa Bay Derby on March 6, Unbridled Honor ran second on a sloppy track in the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland on April 10.

“Santa Anita Derby winner Rock Your World is possible for the 1 1/2-mile Belmont Stakes on June 5. ‘The only definite is he’s out of the Preakness,’ trainer John Sadler said to Daily Racing Form’s Steve Andersen. ‘We’ll look at the Belmont.’

“Rock Your World won his first three career starts. Sent off as the 9-2 second favorite in the Kentucky Derby, he finished 17th after a messy start that put him much farther back early than he had ever been before.

“France Go de Ina is traveling to Pimlico to run in the Preakness. Victorious in two of three starts last year in Japan, the Kentucky-bred Will Take Charge colt finished sixth in the UAE Derby in Dubai on March 27 in his only 2021 start.

“According to Daily Racing Form’s Marty McGee, Pimlico officials reported France Go de Ina arrived Wednesday in Los Angeles following a flight from Japan. After clearing quarantine, France Go de Ina is to be flown Saturday to Newark, N.J., then vanned to Pimlico.

“Here are this week’s Preakness Stakes rankings, courtesy of Xpressbet:

1. Medina Spirit

2. Concert Tour

3. Midnight Bourbon

4. Keepmeinmind

5. Crowded Trade

6. Rombauer

7. Unbridled Honor

8. Risk Taking

9. France Go de Ina

10. Ram”

Santa Anita preview

It’s an eight-race card beginning at 1 p.m. but the real story is the lack of horses. It’s getting grim again. There are three races with five horses and three with six. The average field size is 6.25. This is going to be the big number everyone is going to watch as Santa Anita finishes its season for a little more than a month. OK, with that good news, lets look at the feature. It’s a six-furlong allowance for Cal-breds 4 and older. It carries the high purse of the day of $70,000.

Brickyard Ride is the 4-5 favorite for trainer Craig Lewis and jockey Alexis Centeno. He is coming off a win the Grae 2 San Carlos and a second, behind Cezanne, in the Grade 3 Kona Gold. The 4-year-old colt has won seven-of-14 lifetime starts. Loud Mouth is the 7-2 second favorite for Steve Knapp and Abel Cedillo. The 5-year-old has won seven of 26 and was ninth in the San Carlos. Last out he was fourth in an allowance.

Here are the field sizes, in order: 5, 6, 6, 5, 6, 9, 5, 8 (1 also eligible).

Ciaran Thornton’s SA pick of the day

SEVENTH RACE: No. 5 Posterize (10-1)

Posterize at 10-1 in a five horse field screams value to me. A winner last out at this distance and a record of 5-4-2 from 11 starts at Santa Anita trainer Daniel Azcarate jumps the horse to this allowance race. He is winning 39%, winner last race, and 65% in-the-money for a profit so when he makes this move it works.

Sunday’s result: Capital Heat popped the gates as expected and cruised to an easy lead but deep stretch the favorite Lalic passed for the win. The exacta did pay $17.50. Next out a shortening to five or six furlongs could be ideal.

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

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.

The racing week at Los Alamitos begins with an eight-race program on Friday night. Business seems to be going well as last Saturday’s all-sources handle was $2,129,046, the highest since June 7, 2020. The early Pick 4 pool on Sunday was more than $250,000, which is the second highest of the year, and the total pool for the Pick 6 on Sunday was $87,615, a record for the track’s $10,000 Pick 6 promo.

“On Saturday night, Rodrigo Aceves, who ranks seventh all-time in both quarter-horse and stakes wins at Los Alamitos, will make his first riding appearance here in more than a year when he pilots promising juvenile sprinter Zoe Diamond in the fifth.

“Aceves’ last mount at Los Alamitos was on March 8, 2020. His last win was Dec. 15, 2019. A top quarter-horse jockey at Los Alamitos for most of his career, Aceves was the leading quarter-horse rider at this track five times, including four years in a row from 2006 to 2009. Foot and knee injuries slowed him down from 2014 to 2019. In his quarter-horse riding career, he won 1,827 races and 102 stakes races at Los Alamitos. He has 48 graded stakes wins with 12 in Grade 1 stakes. His biggest win came in the 2010 Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity aboard One Quick First Down. His best years in earnings came in 2010 and 2012 when his mounts earned more than $2.6 million each year.

“Teller Jazz Mrl, who set a 110-yard track record in her last start, leads a lineup of 10 sophomore fillies in the $30,000 La Pacifica Handicap at 350 yards Saturday. Ridden by Ramon Sanchez for trainer Paul Jones, Teller Jazz Mrl ran a perfect dash when setting the new mark on March 26. She won the 110-yard race by a half-length, a huge margin considering the distance. Sanchez won his 150th quarter-horse stakes at Los Alamitos last Sunday night when he guided Mental Error in the Kaweah Bar Handicap. Sanchez is only three away from equaling Eddie Garcia’s all-time record of 153 stakes wins.

“Other top fillies in the field include recent allowance winners Chance It Now and Powerline Road. Chance It Now is a full sister to Grade 1 stakes winner Chance To Excel. Powerline Road will come in after consecutive allowance wins.

“Also on Saturday, Oklahoma Futurity finalist Apolitical Jeanius will make her local debut when she takes on impressive maiden winners Golden Boi and Apolitical Thunder plus three others in a strong field of winning juveniles in the seventh race, a $12,900 allowance at 300 yards. Purchased for $46,000 at the Ruidoso Yearling Sale, Apolitical Jeanius won her 300-yard trial to the Oklahoma Futurity for trainer Monty Arrossa before running seventh in final to Revenant Moon. Griffindore, a debut winner by 1 ½ lengths at 300 yards, and the Favorite Trick colt Lukka, and the strong finisher Good Reason To Run will complete the field.

“The richest race this weekend is the $45,000 Miss Princess Handicap for fillies and mares on Sunday. The top three finishers from the April 11 New Moon Handicap reunite with Wambui the top choice following her neck victory in the New Moon. Victor Salazar will ride Wambui, replacing Oscar Andrade Jr., who has moved to Ruidoso Downs for the summer. Fayvorite Chick and All Prettied Up, who were second and third, respectively, in the New Moon return for the Miss Princess.”

Chris Wade’s LA pick of the day

FIRST RACE: No. 6 Bounty Of Gold (9-2)

She exits a better than looked sixth against a strong cast of starter allowance rivals up north at Golden Gate while earning a quality and competitive figure for Friday’s endeavor. Prior to that Golden Gate start, she posted an easy four-length win here back in March in what was her first outing since last December. What makes her an attractive play for me is that she looks to have a speed advantage from the good outside post. With that in mind, we’ll push this runner steadily hopefully to cross and clear and give her rivals a big run at a good price.

A final thought

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And now the stars of the show, Friday’s results and Saturday’s entries.

Santa Anita Entries for Friday, May 7.

Santa Anita, Santa Anita Park, Arcadia, California. 58th day of a 81-day meet.


1 Mile Turf. Purse: $28,000. Starter Optional Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 4 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $25,000-$22,500.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Pushing SixtyMario Gutierrez124Ben D. A. Cecil8-5
2Nicole GraceJessica Pyfer119Patrick Gallagher12-1
3Gallantlystreaming Heriberto Figueroa122Samuel Nichols20-122,500
4GoodtingscominpinkJuan Hernandez124Jeffrey Metz4-5
5Vegas PalmFlavien Prat124Gary Mandella7-2


4½ Furlongs. Purse: $61,000. Maiden Special Weight. Fillies. 2 year olds.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Distorted DivaTiago Pereira122Walther Solis7-2
2Endless ThirstCesar Ortega115Edwin Alvarez15-1
3Munny PennyFlavien Prat122Walther Solis5-2
4LoveherheartAbel Cedillo122Andrew Lerner3-1
5At the SpaTyler Baze122Jorge Periban2-1
6First PromiseJuan Hernandez122Molly J. Pearson6-1


1 Mile Turf. Purse: $36,000. Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 4 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $25,000-$22,500.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Wind Tartare Jose Valdivia, Jr.122Vann Belvoir4-125,000
2SugaryJuan Hernandez120Martin F. Jones5-222,500
3Lady RobinAlexis Centeno115Lorenzo Campuzano7-222,500
4ZabavaFlavien Prat122J. Keith Desormeaux4-525,000
5QuinnieJessica Pyfer115Vladimir Cerin9-222,500
6Tizno's DilemmaTyler Baze120Andreas Psarras8-122,500


1 Mile. Purse: $36,000. Starter Optional Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $50,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Mongolian LegendAlexis Centeno121Enebish Ganbat3-1
2Phantom DanceRicardo Gonzalez126Philip D'Amato9-5
3Club CalVictor Espinoza118Cynthia A. Kelley7-2
4OnenightstandardsFlavien Prat118Mark Glatt2-1
5AchilleusJuan Hernandez118Hector O. Palma8-1


1 Mile Turf. Purse: $63,000. Allowance Optional Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $20,000. State bred.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Ultimate HyUmberto Rispoli126Blake R. Heap3-1
2Harper's GallopJuan Hernandez126Leonard Powell4-120,000
3I'll Do It for YouEdwin Maldonado126Quentin B. Miller5-1
4Mucha WomanAlexis Centeno113Doug F. O'Neill6-1
5Big ClareFlavien Prat118Philip D'Amato3-1
6SherilindaTyler Baze126George Papaprodromou5-2


1 Mile. Purse: $22,000. Maiden Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $20,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1BlazinonbayouCesar Ortega119Ruben Gomez8-120,000
2Starship SkyJuan Hernandez126Robert B. Hess, Jr.3-120,000
3KatlaTiago Pereira126Carla Gaines5-120,000
4Bottle NeckTyler Baze126Jeffrey Metz30-120,000
5Keep It ClassyJose Valdivia, Jr.126Joe Herrick4-120,000
6Lady DocEdwin Maldonado118J. Eric Kruljac15-120,000
7RowangoeshollywoodJessica Pyfer121Alfredo P. Marquez5-220,000
8MoreavinoAlexis Centeno121Gary Mandella5-120,000
9Dual RealityEmily Ellingwood119Rolando Quinonez30-120,000


6 Furlongs. Purse: $70,000. Allowance. 4 year olds and up. State bred.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Colt FictionTiago Pereira122William Spawr4-1
2Loud MouthAbel Cedillo124Steve Knapp7-2
3Brickyard RideAlexis Centeno119Craig Anthony Lewis4-5
4El Diablo RojoFlavien Prat122Craig Anthony Lewis4-1
5PosterizeGeovanni Franco122Daniel Azcarate10-1


6 Furlongs Turf. Purse: $36,000. Claiming. 4 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $25,000-$22,500.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1EroticTyler Baze122Mike Puype5-125,000
2AwhitesportscoatCesar Ortega117Cesar DeAlba15-125,000
3Bad BeatJessica Pyfer115Adam Kitchingman15-122,500
4SigalertTiago Pereira122John W. Sadler6-125,000
5BedrockFlavien Prat120Peter Miller9-522,500
6Restless RamblerEdwin Maldonado122Mark Glatt12-125,000
7CastleAbel Cedillo122Mark Glatt2-125,000
8ItalianoAlexis Centeno119Doug F. O'Neill8-125,000
Also Eligible
9Eskimo RosesGeovanni Franco122Milton G. Pineda30-122,500