Horse racing newsletter: Catching up on the news after the Belmont Stakes

Trainer Bob Baffert
Trainer Bob Baffert.
(Hayne Palmour IV / San Diego Union-Tribune)

Hello, my name is John Cherwa and welcome back to our horse racing newsletter as I already miss reading Jon White’s Triple Crown race previews.

There’s been a little bit of news since the Belmont Stakes, so let’s get right to it.

Bob Baffert and Amr Zedan are suing the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission for access to remaining samples from Medina Spirit’s post-race tests. Both samples came back positive for betamethasone, but the Baffert team wanted them tested for other compounds in the hopes of making the case that the medication was administered by an ointment, not inter-articular injection. They had worked out an agreement to have some of the sample sent to a testing lab, but before it got there it was “damaged or compromised.” It seems to me that this should be the one sample that you make sure gets to its destination in good shape. But, not unprecedented: In 2012, a case against Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers was thrown out when the specimen collector didn’t immediately take the sample to a FedEx office but took it home and put in his refrigerator. Anyway, want to read more? Just click here.

— And speaking of legal action, New York trainer Linda Rice received a temporary injunction to allow her to continue to train horses while legal action proceeds. The New York racing regulatory agency banned her for three years for allegedly getting inside information from the racing office that would give her a competitive edge on which races to enter. Now, that’s all on hold. You can read Matt Hegarty’s story in the Daily Racing Form. Just click here. Obviously, there is a legal strategy parallel between between this case and Baffert’s case. And, no doubt, Baffert will be seeking injunctive relief, which will allow him to continue to train horses to run at Churchill Downs. Now, that is a temporary fix, but it is a temporary work-around.

— Owner Rick Porter lost his long battle with cancer. He was 80. Porter, who owned Fox Hill Farm, campaigned many outstanding horses, including horse of the year Havre de Grace and Songbird. He also ran Omaha Beach. The last time I talked to him was before last year’s Pegasus at Gulfstream Park. He had planned to run Omaha Beach one last time before retirement, and he vowed never to sell breeding rights with a clause that allowed his horse to keep running if it was in the best interest of the horse. As it turned out, Omaha Beach scratched and I never wrote the story. Before that, he was always accessible when it was time to talk about Songbird. Eric Mitchell of the Bloodhorse did a nice remembrance. Just click here.


— Don’t know why this caught my attention, but the Meadowlands in New Jersey is holding a race announcer workshop July 10. It’s going to be conducted by longtime harness race caller Ken Warkentin. The cost is equal to two hot dogs and two soft drinks plus one dollar at Belmont Park. (That’s $25.) Participants may get the opportunity to call a non-betting, no-purse race. The proceeds go to the Harness Horse Youth Foundation. Veterans such as Trevor Denman, Frank Mirahmadi and Michael Wrona make it seem so effortless, yet I know I would freeze if I ever tried it. Could be a marketing idea for one of the local tracks. If you are interested and plan to be near New York that weekend, email

— And finally, I caught up with race caller Larry Collmus at Belmont last weekend, and he hinted at something coming up in his future. On Thursday, TVG announced he is joining the network’s crew at Monmouth on select days offering insights and analysis. Collmus, who lives in New Jersey, called at Monmouth from 1994 to 2013. He most recently filled in for Denman at Del Mar. TVG also announced Nick Luck will be reporting for them from Royal Ascot.

Enjoying this newsletter?

Subscribe to the Los Angeles Times.

Santa Anita preview

Santa Anita enters its penultimate week of racing for this meeting with an eight-race card beginning at 1 p.m. Half the races are on the turf (odd-numbered ones) and there will be five first-time winners. There’s one allowance/optional claimer, which we’ll designate as the feature. It’s for 3-year-olds going 6 ½ furlongs on the turf. The favorite, at 9-5, is Harbored Memories for trainer Mike Puype and jockey Jose Valdivia Jr. He’s won one of four races, with three second-place finishes. He broke his maiden last out with a neck win over 6 ½ furlongs on the turf. The second favorite, at 5-2, is Wyfire for Peter Miller and Flavien Prat. He broke his maiden in his second race and followed that up with a second in the Speakeasy Stakes. Post is around 4:24 p.m.

Here are the field sizes, in order: 8, 6, 7, 7, 6, 9, 6, 10.

Ciaran Thornton’s SA pick of the day

SECOND RACE: No. 3 Poseidon Wrath (6-1)

Poseidon Wrath ran second in the debut at Keeneland for trainer Bill Mott, then shipped out to California for Mark Glatt. Two weeks ago, under this jockey, they set the pace and faded deep stretch. Back to seven furlongs with Jessica Pyfer’s weight break, the gate-to-wire tactic will be employed again at a nice 6-1 value.

Sunday’s result: Freedom Flyer sat perfectly off the pace under the expert handling of Umberto Rispoli, who flew late to win by a length to win at 4-1 and pay $10.

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.

“Apprentice jockey Diego Herrera enjoyed the best weekend of his riding career, as he opened the month of June by winning with four of his 10 starts to take his win total up to 15. Herrera finished the week by winning the richest race of his young career when he rode Secretly Paranoide to an allowance victory on Sunday night. Later that night, he matched his richest win aboard a quarter horse when he guided Call It Close to an allowance win. In addition to his four wins, Herrera finished second once and had three third-place finishes from his 10 mounts.

“Herrera, who made his first riding appearance at Los Alamitos on Feb. 21, will look to keep his momentum going on Friday. He has five mounts on Friday, including a pair in quarter horse races to finish out the night. Around the turn, he will ride four-time winner Hoss Cartwright in the third at 4 ½ furlongs and then Journey Cake in the fourth, also at 4 ½ furlongs. Herrera has twice piloted the Angela Aquino-trainee to victory. He will also ride Norma’s Love in the fifth when she looks to upset Elemental in a 2 ½-furlong race. Elemental has two recent victories at that distance, both by runaway margins.


“On Saturday night, Mental Error, a stakes winner in each of his last two starts, Golden State Derby winner Circle City, and Mr Jet Moore Stakes winner Eagles Fly Higher are among the 15 aged horses that will race in the trials to the Grade 1, $154,800 Vessels Maturity. The 10 fastest horses will return in the final on July 3.

Ramon Sanchez will ride for Paul Jones. Mental Error gets top billing in the first of two trials after winning the Kaweah Bar Handicap on May 1 and the First Day of Spring Stakes on March 20. He also won his trial to the Grade 2 Southern California Derby at the end of the 2020 season, giving him three wins from his last four starts. His win in the Kaweah Bar also gave Sanchez his 150th stakes victory at Los Alamitos. The two will join forces from post No. 7 in the seventh race on Saturday night.

“Also in this race, Redneck Ryan, who ran second to Mental Error in the Kaweah Bar, will try to turn the tables his rival. He certainly has the quickness to jump into the early lead, having posted the meet’s fastest 300-yard time of :15.26 when winning his local debut on Jan. 17.

“After success at Remington Park, Eagles Fly Higher returns to California in the second Vessels trial. The son of One Famous Eagle comes in after winning a pair of Grade 2 stakes at the Oklahoma City track — the Mr Jet Moore Stakes and Eastex Stakes. He ran in the trials to the Brad McKinzie Los Alamitos Winter Championship last year.

“Terrible Ted has been nothing but delightful for his new connections of owner Lizbeth Medina and trainer Milton Pineda since being claimed for $5,000 on Jan. 8 at Los Alamitos. The 6-year-old gelding by Tribal Rule has three victories at 1,000 yards since the claim and has enough points to sit at the top spot for the $50,000 feature race at 1,000 yards on Nov. 27.

“The most impressive performance last weekend was posted by London Toby, who won an allowance at 330 yards by an astounding four-length margin and in the meet’s fastest time at this distance of :16.54. The lightly raced 3-year-old gelding was making only his fourth career start and is now two-for-two in 2021. London Toby will now be pointed to a stakes race on California Breeders Champions Night at the end of July.


“Streakin Victory, who won 26 races during his accomplished 121-race career, died at 33 earlier this week. He was owned by Scott Willoughby. Bred by Clarence Scharbauer Jr., Streakin Victory raced for 10 years, debuting at Ross Meadows on June 9, 1990, and continued racing for the rest of the ‘90s and beyond. He made his final start in the Viking Anne Handicap, running a game fourth on June 9, 2000.

“An eight-time stakes/handicap winner, he ran at 12 tracks during his career, including 30 starts for Willoughby, who owned and trained him at Los Alamitos.

“ ’Streakin Victory brought me to California,’ Willoughby said. ‘Streakin Victory was my first winner at Los Alamitos, my first stakes winner at Los Alamitos and my first Grade 1 winner period.’

“After his retirement at 12, Streakin Victory excelled in the roping arena for Willoughby. In his later years, Streakin Victory lived happily while pensioned on the green pastures at Ed Allred’s Rolling A Ranch in Atascadero, Calif.

“ ’I saw him two weeks ago,’ Willoughby said. ‘I took some chocolate donuts and we hung out and enjoyed some sweets together. He’ll always be my special horse.’”

Chris Wade’s LA pick of the day

SIXTH RACE: No. 1 Moonin Shyann (7-2)

She is a well-connected runner who debuted 26 nights ago when earning a quality figure with trouble and track variant factored in that outing. The filly broke a tad slow and inward to bump a rival at the gate opening to lose some valuable ground and her early racing momentum. After the less-than-stellar start, Moonin Shyann showed a nice turn of foot to garner a superfecta placing against a long-gone winner. The number earned puts her at the top of the chart for this evening. She also outran her OK C+ daylight prep prior and she’ll move forward immensely this evening with her career debut out of the way.


A final thought

I love getting new readers of this newsletter, and you certainly can’t beat the price. If you like it, tell someone. If you don’t like it, you’re probably not reading this.

Either way, send this along to a friend, and just have them click here to sign up. Remember, it’s free, and all we need is your email address, nothing more.

Any thoughts, you can reach me at You can also feed my ego by following me on Twitter @jcherwa.

And now the star of the show, Friday’s entries.

Santa Anita Entries for Friday, June 11.

Santa Anita, Santa Anita Park, Arcadia, California. 74th day of a 81-day meet.


5 Furlongs Turf. Purse: $61,000. Maiden Special Weight. 2 year olds.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Flash of GeniusAbel Cedillo122Peter Miller7-2
2Big Bar TabTyler Baze122Walther Solis15-1
3Hiding the BrickEdwin Maldonado122Paula S. Capestro8-1
4Baby's DreamKent Desormeaux119J. Keith Desormeaux10-1
5MackinnonJuan Hernandez122Doug F. O'Neill5-1
6RunningoutofloveUmberto Rispoli122Brian J. Koriner4-1
7Bet On MookieFlavien Prat122Peter Miller5-2
8Olympic LegendJose Valdivia, Jr.122Luis Mendez5-1


7 Furlongs. Purse: $40,000. Maiden Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $75,000-$50,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1AllaboutthemoneyRicardo Gonzalez120Vladimir Cerin6-175,000
2Silver Moon RoadTyler Baze119Tim Yakteen5-262,500
3Poseidon WrathJessica Pyfer115Mark Glatt6-175,000
4Honor Among MenFlavien Prat126Simon Callaghan5-275,000
5Willy the CobblerAbel Cedillo120Steve Knapp8-175,000
6Cant Stop This ManJuan Hernandez118Philip D'Amato2-150,000


6 Furlongs Turf. Purse: $28,000. Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 to u year olds. Claiming Prices $25,000-$22,500.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Navy QueenJessica Pyfer121John W. Sadler2-125,000
2VellaEswan Flores126Lloyd C. Wicker7-225,000
3Majestic GigiTyler Baze126Hector O. Palma5-225,000
4Season to RememberAlexis Centeno114Craig Anthony Lewis15-122,500
5Run Like KonaTrevor McCarthy125Robert B. Hess, Jr.12-122,500
6Best of ShowCesar Ortega112Steven Miyadi5-122,500
7Maggie's MagicAbel Cedillo119Robert B. Hess, Jr.5-122,500


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

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Sir FlatterAbel Cedillo120Peter Miller9-520,000
2No MaliceCesar Ortega115Walther Solis30-120,000
3Very IrishEswan Flores126Cesar DeAlba5-220,000
4Marksman On TargetDiego Herrera113Gary Stute5-120,000
5Mongol AltaiEmily Ellingwood119Enebish Ganbat12-120,000
6Stone's RiverAlexis Centeno115Craig Anthony Lewis15-120,000
7Gerlach'sKent Desormeaux120Vladimir Cerin2-120,000


1 Mile Turf. Purse: $36,000. Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $25,000-$22,500.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1OutlawJessica Pyfer117Vann Belvoir15-122,500
2Start a RunninTrevor McCarthy124Hector O. Palma8-125,000
3Truth SeekerAbel Cedillo124Lorenzo Ruiz3-125,000
4Maricopa CountyJose Valdivia, Jr.124Anthony K. Saavedra10-125,000
5Snazzy DresserKent Desormeaux126George Papaprodromou7-225,000
6Storm the Bastille Flavien Prat124Peter Miller4-525,000


6 Furlongs. Purse: $31,000. Maiden Claiming. Fillies. 3 year olds. Claiming Prices $30,000-$28,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Big MoonJuan Hernandez122Vladimir Cerin10-1
2Big Al's PrincessAlexis Centeno117Victor L. Garcia10-130,000
3Life's EmotionsEmily Ellingwood113Daniel Azcarate15-128,000
4Big BellFlavien Prat120Tim Yakteen4-128,000
5Princess SynskyDiego Herrera113Hector O. Palma30-128,000
6Consider Me GoneAbel Cedillo122Peter Eurton4-130,000
7Kind But She LiesKent Desormeaux122J. Eric Kruljac8-130,000
8NobuJessica Pyfer117Simon Callaghan5-230,000
9Dorita's HappyTyler Baze122J. Eric Kruljac7-230,000


6½ Furlongs Turf. Purse: $63,000. Allowance Optional Claiming. 3 year olds. Claiming Price $100,000.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Gator ShiningRicardo Gonzalez124Richard Baltas3-1
2WyfireFlavien Prat124Peter Miller5-2
3Swiss Swoo Juan Hernandez124Philip D'Amato5-1
4Jazz HandsMario Gutierrez124Edward R. Freeman4-1100,000
5SensemakerTyler Baze124Manuel Ortiz, Sr.20-1100,000
6Harbored MemoriesJose Valdivia, Jr.124Mike Puype9-5


6 Furlongs. Purse: $35,000. Maiden Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $50,000-$45,000. State bred.

PPHorseJockeyWtTrainerM-LClaim $
1Head for BusinessKent Desormeaux122Robert B. Hess, Jr.5-245,000
2Lazarus Come ForthAlexis Centeno117Bruce Dillenbeck50-145,000
3August IndyDiego Herrera119Ricardo S. Guillen30-150,000
4Hello HandsomeTrevor McCarthy120Mike Puype4-150,000
5Me MachoJessica Pyfer117John E. Cortez20-145,000
6Barzel ForceEswan Flores120Daniel Dunham30-150,000
7The Roan RangerCesar Ortega111David Bernstein6-147,500
8RevisionistJuan Hernandez120Craig Anthony Lewis6-150,000
9Active AccountTiago Pereira126Dean Pederson9-550,000
10Pick Your BidTyler Baze120Antonio Garcia15-150,000