Racing! Jon White’s Belmont rankings are in

Hello, my name is John Cherwa and welcome to our horse racing newsletter as we count down the final 12 racing days at Santa Anita.

Since we were last with you, here are a couple things you missed:

--PETA calls on horse racing to shut down nationwide unless tracks adopt California reform measures. Just click here.

-Gov. Gavin Newsome supports a bill that would allow the CHRB to move more quickly on suspending licenses or moving races. Just click here.


Jon White’s Belmont rankings

The Belmont Stakes is almost upon us and we’ve got Jon White ready to share his insights. Jon makes the morning line at Santa Anita, he’s a licensed steward, and he’s the pre-eminent historian on racing. We’re lucky to have him. So, let’s continue with his analysis of the Triple Crown races and a look at the Belmont, courtesy of Jon, the floor is yours.

“When the 1 1/2-mile Belmont Stakes is contested on June 8, War of Will is going to be the only horse in the race who already has snagged a coveted Triple Crown jewel. He won the 1 3/16-mile Preakness Stakes on May 18.

“Country House also collected one of this year’s three Triple Crown jewels when he was declared the winner of the 1 1/4-mile Kentucky Derby on May 4 following the disqualification of Maximum Security from first to 17th for causing interference. But after Country House exhibited signs of getting sick following the Run for the Roses, he missed the Preakness and also will not be participating in the Belmont.

“War of Will, who prevailed by 1 1/4 lengths in the Preakness for trainer Mark Casse, looks like he is going to be the only horse to run in all three Triple Crown events this year. Prior to the Preakness, War of Will finished eighth in the Kentucky Derby after being impeded on the far turn, then was moved up to seventh through the disqualification of Maximum Security.

“Sweeping the Triple Crown is widely recognized as being one of the most difficult feats not just in horse racing, but in all sports. There have been only 13 Triple Crown winners. Justify joined the select club last year.

“While there will be no Triple Crown winner this year, War of Will has a chance to do something that is even rarer. If War of Will gets the job done in the Belmont, he will become just the 12th horse to win both the Preakness and Belmont after a loss in the Kentucky Derby.

“Also, if War of Will succeeds in the Belmont, he will become only the fifth horse in history to finish worse than third in the Kentucky Derby before winning the Preakness and Belmont.


“Below are the 11 horses to have won the Preakness and Belmont after a Kentucky Derby defeat:

“Year Horse (Derby finish)

“2005 Afleet Alex (3rd)

“2001 Point Given (5th)


“1994 Tabasco Cat (6th)

“1992 Hansel (10th)

“1988 Risen Star (3rd)

“1974 Little Current (5th)


“1967 Damascus (3rd)

“1955 Nashua (2nd)

“1953 Native Dancer (2nd)

“1949 Capot (2nd)


“1940 Bimelech (2nd)

“These are the seven horses to win the Preakness and Belmont after not running in the Kentucky Derby:

“1922 Pillory

“1920 Man o’ War


“1895 Belmar

“1881 Saunterer

“1880 Grenada

“1878 Duke of Magenta


“1877 Cloverbrook

“As for this year’s Belmont, Game Winner, who was No. 3 on my rankings last week, and Owendale, who was No. 4, will not be running. A field of nine currently is expected.

“Japan’s Master Fencer still is considered probable for the Belmont despite an incident Wednesday during a five-furlong workout in 1:01.48 on the Belmont Park main track. Assistant trainer Yusuke Kono was in the saddle when Master Fencer appeared to stumble approaching the sixteenth pole. An X-ray was taken of Master Fencer’s front ankles as a precaution.

“Kono, via interpreter Mitsuoki Numamoto, was quoted in Thursday’s Belmont Park notes as saying that Master Fencer was sound and in good order. ‘He got a little inflammation because of the breezing, which is normal,’ Kono said. ‘The X-rays came back totally fine. The vet is not concerned about anything.’


“In terms of Belmont Stakes betting, it will be interesting to see whether Tacitus or War of Will is the favorite. I think it will be Tacitus, but not by a lot over War of Will. Tacitus skipped the Preakness to point for the Belmont after exhibiting good late energy to finish fourth in the Kentucky Derby before being elevated to third via the DQ of Maximum Security.

Bill Mott trains Tacitus for Juddmonte Farms. Mott won the 2010 Belmont with Drosselmeyer. Juddmonte won the 2003 Belmont with Empire Maker. Tapit is the sire of Tacitis and another Belmont Stakes candidate, Intrepid Heart. Tapit has sired three of the last five Belmont winners (Tonalist in 2014, Creator in 2016 and Tapwrit in 2017).

Todd Pletcher trains Intrepid Heart and another 3-year-old with designs on the Belmont, Spinoff. Pletcher has won the Belmont three times (Rags to Riches in 2007, Palace Malice in 2013 and Tapwrit in 2017).

“Here are my Belmont Stakes rankings for this week, courtesy of Xpressbet:


1. War of Will

2. Tacitus

3. Sir Winston

4. Spinoff


5. Intrepid Heart

6. Everfast

7. Tax

8. Master Fencer


9. Joevia”

Santa Anita preview

Not much to talk about in Friday’s eight-race card. There are four turf races. The feature is one of the two $67,000 purse races. We’ll pick the fifth race, a one mile allowance/optional claimer for fillies and mares. The other race is for Cal-breds so the purse price is always inflated.

The favorite, at 9-5, is Kaydetre for trainer David Randall and jockey Brice Blanc. The 5-year-old mare has run only seven races and won only one, two back in a maiden special. The second favorite, at 2-1, Sapphire Kid for Matthew Chew and Jorge Velez. This 4-year-old filly has run 20 races, having won three of them.


Here are the field sizes, in order: 8, 6, 8 (4 also eligible) , 6, 5, 6, 5, 9.

Field size is a big metric we’ll be looking at in a few weeks at Del Mar. There is the concern that it might have to go to four days a week instead of five, but it is nothing more than a contingency at this point should it have trouble filing fields.

Ciaran Thornton’s SA pick of the day

RACE SEVEN: No. 1 Nap Lajoie (5-1)


Nap Lajoie is 5-1 morning line and races protected today for trainer Steve Miyadi. He adds blinkers today to this horse and he is winning 42% adding blinkers. They have go fast early jockey Edwin Maldonado riding so we know the strategy. Trainer is also 24% route to sprint and 27% sprint to route to sprint like today. This horse looks fantastic on paper at this price and the jockey/trainer in the money stats make it a must use.

Monday’s result: Power Down went off at 12-1 odds and after a slow start flew down the stretch to run a closing second. Almost a very nice score for us and if the race was a little longer we had the big win. Watch this horse next out.

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

Golden Gate weekend preview


We’re back with our weekly look at the best racing at Golden Gate Fields. As with the last couple meetings, we’re delighted to have race caller and all-around good guy Matt Dinerman as our host for previews and other musings. So, take it away, Matt.

“Five-year-old gelding Grecian Fire stamped himself as one to watch in the second half of 2019 with an authoritative win in the Grade 3 $100,000 All American Stakes on Monday. Ridden by William Antongeorgi III, the son of Unusual Heat sat fourth in the first six furlongs of the one-mile race before powering to the lead at the 3/16ths pole, opening up by three lengths in mid-stretch, and finishing 1 1/2 lengths clear of late-running Builder. Grecian Fire is trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, who has won the All American a record nine times.

“’Between the last race and [the All American], he really picked up on his training,’ Hollendorfer said. ‘His last work was excellent.’

“Hollendorfer said Grecian Fire is possible for the $125,000 California Dreamin Stakes at Del Mar on July 26, a 1 1/16-mile turf race for California-breds.


“An eight-race program Friday features Leg D of the $100,000 guaranteed Stronach 5 wager, which goes as the fifth race. A field of eight maiden claimers sprint five furlongs on the Tapeta. I give the nod to No. 6 Badger at 5-2 on the morning line: he cuts back in distance, meaning he’ll be plenty fit, and drops in class to a level where he should be competitive after a number of poor runs against much tougher company. Gloria Haley trains and Silvio Amador rides. First post is 12:45 p.m.

“There are nine-race programs on Saturday and Sunday with a first post of 1:15 p.m.

“Saturday’s program has two allowance races: the fourth, a six-furlong sprint and the seventh, a 1 1/16-mile grass race with nine entrants. The third race is the second ‘baby race’ of the year, five furlongs for 2-year-olds, while the eight is a Cal-bred or Cal-sired maiden race for 3-year-old fillies.

“Sunday afternoon is highlighted by the seventh race, 1 1/16-mile second-level allowance race on turf for 3-year-olds and up. The entrants include graded stakes placed gelding Many Roses, who wheels back in just six days after an off-the-board finish in the All American; stakes winner Respect the Hustle; $400,000 earner Unusually Green and hard knockers Alive and Well, Arch Prince, Calle Kingpin and Harvest a Storm. The sixth race, beginning the late Pick 4, attracts a field of nine sprinters with plenty of backclass. Entered are stakes winner Whatwasithinking, stakes-placed Argosy Fleet and Sunset Dragunn and tough geldings Awesome Silver, Bullet Drill, Kiwi’s Dream, Malibu Alex, Mal Verde, Sweet River Baines.


“After this week, we’ve got one more live racing week (Thursday-Sunday). Jockey Abel Cedillo holds a 120-102 win lead over Juan Hernandez in the rider standings while Jonathan Wong has an insurmountable lead in the trainer standings, with 44 wins more than second-place Hollendorfer.”

Los Alamitos weekend preview

It’s time to turn things over to marketing and media guru Orlando Gutierrez, who will tell us about the upcoming weekend at Los Alamitos. Orlando, the floor is yours.

“Ray Donovan will look for his third win from his last four starts when he takes on a field of high-level claimers in the $11,525 eighth race at 330 yards on Friday at Los Alamitos. The claiming price for each of the horses in this race is $40,000, which is among the highest offered for quarter horses at the Orange County track.


“Trained by Clemente Hurtado, Ray Donovan stumbled leaving the gate in his last outing and was fifth during the early going before coming back to post a gutsy nose victory at 300 yards on April 13. A qualifier to the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Winter Derby last year, Ray Donovan spent some time at Ruidoso Downs in the summer, finishing second in his trial to the Ruidoso Derby before running out of the money in a trial to the 440-yard All American Derby. Since his return, he has finished second or better four times and looks like a top contender on Friday.

“The field also features L Bar D Razle Dazle, who has hit he board in each of his last three starts while moving up the ranks, and Jimbosecrets, who scored a nose victory at 330 yards in his last start. Energetic and Eagles Policy, a pair of solid performers will complete the field.

“Jessafamouslady, a $230,000 purchase at the 2018 Ruidoso Sale, will headline a field of 2-year-olds in Friday’s seventh race. The Louisiana-bred filly by Mr Jess Perry and out of 2015 All American Derby finalist Famous Corona Lady, is a full sister to champion millionaire One Famous Eagle.

“On Saturday night, Tell Cartel will lead a good looking group of winning 2-year-olds who will get together for the featured $11,525 allowance at 330 yards. Ridden by Erasmo Gasca for trainer Matt Fales, Tell Cartel outdueled a field that included the highly-regarded Up And Atem on May 11, posting a ¾-length victory in the process. Tell Cartel will start from post number one, the same spot from where he scored in his debut.


“Recapping last Sunday’s feature, KR Hi Five, winner of the Grade 2 John Deere Juvenile Challenge Championship in 2018, earned a spot in the 2019 Bank of America Challenge Championship after recovering from a stumble at the start to score a half-length victory over Hez Jess A Secret in the Adequan California Derby Challenge on Sunday. The gelding was on the lead shortly after the start and maintained his advantage throughout the 400-yard Derby en route to his fifth career victory at Los Alamitos. Three of those have come in stakes races.”

Ed Burgart’s LA pick of the day

FOURTH RACE: No. 4 Fancy Terrace (5-2)

Since joining the Valentin Zamudio barn three months ago, this gelding has scored two wins in three starts while showing solid early speed under jockey Minor Arana. He tried hard throughout in last third-place try vs. streaking Unobtainable, who was posting his sixth straight victory. Fancy Terrace figures to control the pace and must contend with Johann’s Command, who has tactical speed that has carried him to two wins in his last three outs. I suggest keying Fancy Terrace in the Pick 4 and rolling Pick 3’s while also making a 4-7 exacta box.


Final thought

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