Hello, my name is John Cherwa and welcome to our horse racing newsletter as we have lots of news from the Baffert barn, Del Mar dates and Jon White’s Belmont rankings, which have changed a lot.
A lot of news this week, and most of it runs through the Bob Baffert barn. On Tuesday, word leaked of an alleged positive test from Charlatan after winning one division of the Arkansas Derby. The story of the positive was first broken by Tim Sullivan of the Louisville Courier Journal and then followed up by Jay Privman of the Daily Racing Form.
Off to the races
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Then on Thursday, Nadal, the winner of the other division of the Arkansas Derby, suffered a career-ending injury after working at Santa Anita. He will now start a career as a stallion. It was first reported by Bob Ehalt and Byron King of BloodHorse. Just click here.
The undefeated colt had already earned 150 qualifying points and was ranked No. 1 in the National Thoroughbred Racing Assn. poll of 3-year-olds. The Arkansas Derby was his fourth straight win. The colt underwent surgery at Santa Anita, and two screws were inserted to repair a lateral condylar fracture. He had completed a half-mile workout.
As for Charlatan, this is a developing story, so not all the facts are known. There were multiple reports that Charlatan, after winning the other division of the Arkansas Derby, tested positive for lidocaine, an anesthetic that can also be used to to treat arrhythmia.
It is FDA approved for horses and allowed at a certain level. There has been no reporting on how much of it was detected in the first sample. Truesdail is normally the lab that does testing in Arkansas, but it just lost its accreditation. So the work was outsourced to a lab in Colorado.
As is standard in any testing, be it on person or animal, a second sample is always kept for verifying the results, if necessary. Baffert will be presented a list of labs and will pick one and have the sample retested. The second test almost always backs up the first test, but the key word there is “almost.” So, we’ll see.
Now, there was another positive test for the same substance from the Baffert barn, believed to be a filly named Gamine, who won an allowance on that day.
If the second Charlatan sample comes back negative, no harm, no foul, except for whatever damage is done to everyone’s reputation.
If positive, Charlatan, after an investigation, could lose the $300,000 purse money and the 100 Kentucky Derby qualifying points. But there are plenty of races left to make the starting field.
So, that’s where we are. As for the immediate future of Charlatan, just keep reading after this brief update from Del Mar.
Del Mar dates
Del Mar announced it will be cutting back to three days a week for its signature summer meeting. But because of an early opening on July 10 and cards of 10, 11 and 10, there will be only six fewer races than there were last year. Currently, there are no plans for spectators, but that could change if the situation with COVID-19 gets better.
It’s a bold, and likely very smart, move by Del Mar, given the track’s rich summer history. The thinking, no doubt, is to keep racing going and not risk an outbreak and have the health department shut things down. Of course, who’s to say the track could even get the OK to open racing with fans.
It will be interesting to see what Saratoga does with its meeting. And, the idea of 150,000 fans at the Kentucky Derby on Labor Day weekend seems like a pipe dream at this point. We had a quick story on the Del Mar changes and a look at new policies for owners at Santa Anita. Just click here.
Jon White’s Kentucky Derby Top 10
As always, we’re lucky to have top expert Jon White take a look at what’s happening on the Kentucky Derby trail. Jon makes the morning line at Santa Anita, he’s a licensed steward, and he’s the preeminent historian on racing. We’re lucky to have him. So, here are his Kentucky Derby rankings, brought courtesy of Xpressbet.com, or is it 1/ST BET?
“The retirement of Nadal necessitates a new No. 1 for this week’s Belmont Stakes Top 10. The undefeated colt had occupied the top spot last week.
“Charlatan was ranked No. 2 last week. But when it was reported Wednesday by BloodHorse’s Bob Ehalt that Charlatan ‘most likely’ would run in the seven-furlong Woody Stephens Stakes at Belmont Park rather than in the 1 1/8-mile Belmont Stakes at that same track the same day, I had planned to take Charlatan off this week’s Top 10.
“Trainer Bob Baffert said Wednesday that he really did not want to run both Nadal and Charlatan in the Belmont. Unfortunately, after Nadal’s injury Thursday, Baffert no longer has to ever worry about that.
“Does Nadal’s retirement mean the Belmont is seriously back in play for Charlatan? I would think so. It’s not as if the Belmont had been completely ruled out for the Kentucky-bred Speightstown colt. According to Ehalt, Baffert had left the door open that if he did not like the way Nadal was training, he might skip the Belmont with him and start Charlatan.
“Because there now seems to be more of a chance that Charlatan will run in the Belmont after all as a result of Nadal’s retirement, I am elevating Charlatan to the No. 1 spot on this week’s Belmont Stakes Top 10.
“Moving up a notch to No. 2 this week is Florida Derby winner Tiz The Law. Four for four when racing on a fast track, he recorded a sharp five-furlong workout in :59.75 last Sunday at the Palm Meadows training center in Florida. Barclay Tagg trains the New York-bred Constitution colt. Tiz The Law’s only defeat came on a sloppy track when he finished third in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs last year.
“Climbing a notch to No. 3 this week is Maxfield, who ranked No. 4 last week.
“Maxfield made a marvelous return when victorious in the Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill Downs last Saturday for trainer Brendan Walsh. The Godolphin-owned colt, who had not raced in 33 weeks, kept his perfect record intact. He’s now three for three.
“In light of Maxfield’s victory at 1 1/16 miles last Saturday, he will be a major player in the Belmont. Or will he?
“As of this writing, a decision regarding Maxfield’s next race is undecided, according to Walsh. ‘We’ll talk it over with the Godolphin team and plan for our next target, whatever that may be,’ Walsh said in a Churchill Downs news release Sunday.
“Walsh said Monday on Steve Byk’s SiriusXM radio program that the Belmont definitely is under consideration, along with other races. One of the ‘other races’ is believed to be the Blue Grass Stakes, which is to be run at Keeneland on July 11.
“In the Matt Winn, Maxfield raced in heavy traffic entering and rounding the first turn. He got shuffled back to eighth in the field of 10 before reaching the backstretch. Generating a strong rally in the final five-sixteenths of a mile, he mowed down the leaders late to prevail by one length in 1:43.05.
“Maxfield now is a Grade 3 stakes winner at Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby, which this year will be held Sept. 5. In his final start last year, he won Keeneland’s Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity by 5 1/2 lengths.
“Street Sense, Maxfield’s sire, had an affinity for the main track at Churchill Downs. His two most significant victories — the 2006 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and 2007 Kentucky Derby — came on that oval. Now Maxfield is two for two on that same track. Maxfield won a one-mile maiden race when unveiled at Churchill last year on Sept. 14.
“Maxfield’s Matt Winn triumph brought him 50 points toward getting into the Kentucky Derby starting gate on Sept. 5, increasing his total to 60 points. Nadal had been the leader in Kentucky Derby points with 150. Tiz The Law is the new leader among active horses with 122 points.
“It now appears that trainer Todd Pletcher might have as many as three starters in the Belmont — Dr Post, Farmington Road and Gouverneur Morris.
“Dr Post, who has won two of three career starts, took Gulfstream Park’s 1 1/16-mile Unbridled Stakes last time out on April 25. Farmington Road finished fourth in the second division of Oaklawn Park’s 1 1/8-mile Arkansas Derby won by Nadal on May 2. Gouverneur Morris ran third in the first division of the Arkansas Derby won by Charlatan.
“In addition to Maxfield, Belmont Park has listed Matt Winn runner-up Ny Traffic and Florida Derby runner-up Shivaree as possible for the Belmont Stakes. But Ny Traffic seems more doubtful than possible based on what his trainer, Saffie Joseph Jr., said in a Daily Racing Form story written by Marty McGee on Monday. Joseph said that while the Belmont ‘has not been ruled out’ for Ny Traffic, the Blue Grass or the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park on July 18 are probably better, timing-wise.
“Meanwhile, the field is starting to take shape for the 1 1/8-mile Santa Anita Derby on June 6. The two biggies are Authentic and Honor A.P., who finished one-two in Santa Anita’s 1 1/16-mile San Felipe Stakes on March 7.
“Authentic, who is three for three, worked six furlongs in 1:12.00 last Sunday at Santa Anita. The Kentucky-bred Into Mischief colt won the Sham Stakes by 7 3/4 lengths at Santa Anita on Jan. 4 prior to registering a 2 1/4-length victory in the San Felipe.
“Honor A.P. looked terrific in a five-furlong workout in a bullet :59.20 last Friday at Santa Anita. The Kentucky-bred Honor Code ridgling has posted a win and two seconds in three career starts and will be seeking to turn the tables on Authentic on June 6.
“Azul Coast, Rushie and Shooters Shoot also are expected to run in the Santa Anita Derby.
“The Baffert-trained Azul Coast has not raced since winning the El Camino Real Derby by 1 1/2 lengths on a synthetic surface Feb. 15 at Golden Gate Fields. He worked seven furlongs in 1:25.40 on Monday at Santa Anita. His sire, Super Saver, won the 2010 Kentucky Derby.
“Rushie, trained by Michael McCarthy, has won two of his last three. The Florida-bred Liam’s Map colt worked five furlongs in :59.40 last Saturday at Santa Anita. Rushie won a maiden race at Santa Anita on Feb. 1, finished a distant second to Charlatan at the Arcadia track on March 14, then won at Oaklawn Park on May 2.
“Shooters Shoot heads into the Santa Anita Derby off back-to-back wins. He earned his maiden diploma at Santa Anita on March 15, then also won at Oaklawn on April 14. Peter Eurton trains Shooters Shoot, a Kentucky-bred Competitive Edge colt.
“The first four finishers in the Santa Anita Derby will be rewarded with 170 Kentucky Derby points on a 100-40-20-10 scale.
“Here are this week’s rankings for the June 20 Belmont Stakes, courtesy of Xpressbet:
1. Charlatan (2)
2. Tiz The Law (3)
3. Maxfield (4)
4. Sole Volante (5)
5. Max Player (6)
6. Modernist (7)
7. Basin (8)
8. Gouverneur Morris (9)
9. Farmington Road (10)
10. Shivaree (NR)
NOTE: Last week’s Kentucky Derby rankings in parentheses”
Santa Anita preview
It’s only been two weeks but the field sizes seem to be shrinking. The first week back, the Friday card averaged 10 horses a race, but we know that was an oddity. Last week, it was a nine horse average. On Friday, it’s down to 7.1. Nonetheless, Friday’s card is eight races starting at 12:30 p.m. There are three three turf races and one allowance.
All of which means the feature is the only allowance, 5 ½ furlongs on the turf for 3-year-old fillies. It only has five starters and our own Jon White, the morning-line maker, has it pretty even. The favorite, at 9-5, is Lofty for trainer Michael McCarthy and jockey Geovanni Franco. She has won three of six races including three of her last four. In her last race, an allowance, she finished second.
The second favorite is just a tick off at 2-1. Lighthouse runs for Simon Callaghan and Drayden Van Dyke. She has won one of four but is coming off a second in the Grade 3 Sweet Life at Santa Anita.
Just so you know, Kustom for Karl and Bella Vita is at 3-1. Since we’ve named four of the five we might as well fill out the field with Mean Sophia at 12-1.
Ciaran Thornton’s SA pick
Race 5: No. 6 Fantastic Day (8-1)
Fantastic Day cost $500,000 and was given away by trainer Bob Baffert in the February debut after being fractious in the gate and eased. Trainer Dan Blacker now calls the shots and Flavian Prat is enticed to ride and at 8-1 a great value if we get it. Dam has three winners from six starters, including a turf winner, so Friday they move to turf. Blacker is on fire in recent days, winning three of six races.
Monday’s result: Sapphire Silk looked ready to run down the favorite after breaking nicely, but the favorite was not catchable and deep stretch Silk was swallowed up. Make a note of this horse next out, especially if they run six furlongs or less.
Ciaran Thornton is the handicapper for Californiapick4.com, which offers daily full card picks, longshots of the day, best bets of the day. (Of course, that’s when there is racing.)
Los Alamitos weekend preview
It’s time to preview the only nighttime racing in the area, and for that we turn things over to marketing and media guru Orlando Gutierrez, who will tell us about things going on at Los Alamitos. Orlando, the floor is yours.
“Jaime Gomez has had hot streaks before, but not too many as good as the one he is enjoying at Los Alamitos Race Course. Since May 1, Gomez has won 10 races from his 37 quarter-horse starters for a terrific win ratio of 27%. All 10 of those victories have come with his 2-year-olds, including two more wins last Sunday night.
“ ’I am so lucky to have my great friend Carlos Lopez as my assistant trainer,’ Gomez said. ‘He’s a great horseman who has trained some incredible horses during his own training career. My son, Leonardo, has been a great help and I cannot say enough about our entire team of professionals. They deserve all the credit.’
“Gomez will look to keep it going Friday night when he saddles 2-year-olds Holiday Hocks (7-2) in race five, the Favorite Cartel filly My Favorite Ocean (5-2) in the sixth and the Mr Jess Perry filly Jess Beautiful Fire (8-1) in the eighth. The eight-race program will start at 6 p.m.
“Taking a look at Saturday’s program, Old School Icon will look to return to the outstanding form he showed when running second to stablemate Tell Cartel in the $213,300 El Primero del Ano Derby on March 29 when he leads a seven-horse field in the $13,100 allowance feature. Old School Icon will enter the ninth race after finishing eighth in the Dillingham Handicap on May 16, the only time in his 13-race career in which he has been out of the top five.
“ ’I drew a line across his Dillingham race,’ trainer Matt Fales said. ‘It was a disappointing outing, but I’m looking forward to seeing him back in action on Saturday. The horse is a talented runner. He is like [multiple stakes winner] Yanque in style. They both close hard. Old School Icon is not a quick-footed horse, but he can finish strongly.’
“Ridden by Oscar Andrade Jr., Old School Icon will face a field that includes the allowance-placed runners Doctor Gene and Excessive Cartel. Doctor Gene was third in a condition allowance event on April 24 and second at a similar level on March 29. Excessive Cartel finished second in a 330-yard allowance on April 26. First post for the nine-race card on Saturday is 6 p.m.”
Chris Wade’s LA pick
RACE THREE: No. 2 Sierra Echo (6-1)
He is a “one good race and one bad race” type who lost all chance in his most recent start after getting bumped back at the start to lose multiple lengths away from the gate. His strength is his quickness, as in two outings ago when he cleared his rivals on the way to posting a 26-1 upset to help create a $3,000 plus Pick Four payout on May 1. In a race devoid of any real interior speed, we will push the chances of this 5-year-old, as he figures to set the early pace and make the others catch him if they can Friday.
A final thought
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Now, the star of the show, Friday’s entries.
Santa Anita Entries for Friday, May 29.
Santa Anita, Santa Anita Park, Arcadia, California. 50th day of a 60-day meet.
4½ Furlongs. Purse: $50,000. Maiden Special Weight. Fillies. 2 year olds. State bred.
|1||Monicat||Aaron Gryder||122||Jose Hernandez, Jr.||4-1|
|2||Felicidad Legada||Eswan Flores||122||Lisa Bernard||12-1|
|3||Stars of Bluegrass||Drayden Van Dyke||122||Andrew Lerner||7-2|
|4||Smoothlikebuttah||Ruben Fuentes||122||Luis Mendez||5-2|
|5||Governor Goteven||Tiago Pereira||122||Lisa Bernard||6-1|
|6||Koko’s Mom||Carlos Lopez, Jr.||122||Charles R. Stutts||20-1|
|7||Miss Glorious||Abel Cedillo||122||Andrew Lerner||2-1|
5½ Furlongs. Purse: $29,000. Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $25,000.
|1||Busy Paynter||Flavien Prat||124||Mark Glatt||8-5||25,000|
|2||Perfect Promise||Jorge Velez||124||Jeffrey Metz||12-1||25,000|
|3||Swirling||Edwin Maldonado||126||Reed Saldana||5-1||25,000|
|4||Sheza Factor||Ruben Fuentes||124||Victor L. Garcia||4-1||25,000|
|5||Uno Trouble Maker||Umberto Rispoli||124||William Spawr||3-1||25,000|
|6||Come On Kat||Abel Cedillo||124||Mark Glatt||7-2|
5½ Furlongs Turf. Purse: $50,000. Maiden Special Weight. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. State bred.
|1||Lets Get Wild||Abel Cedillo||120||J. Eric Kruljac||2-1|
|2||Tiger’s Princess||Jose Valdivia, Jr.||126||Matthew Chew||30-1|
|3||Our Romance||Ruben Fuentes||126||Philip D’Amato||5-1|
|4||Gifted Talk||Aaron Gryder||126||Philip D’Amato||10-1|
|5||Ride Sally Ride||Tiago Pereira||120||Jose Hernandez, Jr.||12-1|
|6||What a Family||Mario Gutierrez||120||Ben D. A. Cecil||12-1|
|7||Bella Chica||Umberto Rispoli||126||Mike Puype||5-2|
|8||Fireproof||Flavien Prat||120||Richard Baltas||3-1|
|9||Cassie Belle||Aaron Gryder||126||Sean McCarthy||4-1|
|10||Seems Logical||Drayden Van Dyke||120||Dan Blacker||12-1|
|11||Queensbeccaandjane||Eswan Flores||120||Gary Stute||15-1|
|12||Va Va Voom||Ruben Fuentes||126||Antonio Garcia||6-1|
1 Mile. Purse: $15,000. Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $12,500.
|1||K P Whirlwind||Umberto Rispoli||120||Jeff Mullins||5-2||12,500|
|2||Super Bunny||Agapito Delgadillo||126||William Spawr||8-1||12,500|
|3||Truth Prevails||Heriberto Figueroa||126||Charles S. Treece||20-1||12,500|
|4||Info’s Treasure||Geovanni Franco||126||Ian Kruljac||5-1||12,500|
|5||Billy K||Jorge Velez||120||Ryan Hanson||2-1||12,500|
|6||Boonesboro Beauty||Abel Cedillo||126||J. Eric Kruljac||9-5||12,500|
1 Mile Turf. Purse: $30,000. Maiden Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $62,500.
|1||Munnings’ Pilot||Umberto Rispoli||120||Richard Baltas||5-1||62,500|
|2||I’m Leaving You||Victor Espinoza||120||Vann Belvoir||12-1||62,500|
|3||Cool Runnings||Mario Gutierrez||120||J. Keith Desormeaux||8-1||62,500|
|4||Railsplitter||Abel Cedillo||120||Doug F. O’Neill||7-2||62,500|
|5||Fengari||Ruben Fuentes||126||John W. Sadler||5-2||62,500|
|6||Fantastic Day||Flavien Prat||120||Dan Blacker||8-1||62,500|
|7||Palace Prince||Geovanni Franco||120||William Spawr||12-1||62,500|
|8||Camps Bay||Jorge Velez||126||John W. Sadler||4-1||62,500|
|9||Negotiator||Brice Blanc||120||Gary Mandella||15-1||62,500|
|10||Twirling Derby||Eswan Flores||120||Ruben Gomez||30-1||62,500|
|11||Tallien||Mario Gutierrez||126||Matthew Chew||5-1||62,500|
|12||Infatuate||Edwin Maldonado||120||Vann Belvoir||50-1||62,500|
|13||Exhort||Abel Cedillo||120||Doug F. O’Neill||20-1||62,500|
5½ Furlongs. Purse: $19,000. Maiden Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $25,000.
|1||Reds Tribal Heart||Agapito Delgadillo||120||Lisa Bernard||15-1||25,000|
|2||Curvaceous||Edwin Maldonado||120||Adam Kitchingman||4-1||25,000|
|3||Caught in a Trappe||Assael Espinoza||126||Val Brinkerhoff||3-1||25,000|
|4||Big Passion||Jorge Velez||120||Tim Yakteen||5-1||25,000|
|5||Golden Melodie||Heriberto Figueroa||120||Craig Anthony Lewis||7-2||25,000|
|6||Thick Smoke||Abel Cedillo||120||Steven Miyadi||6-1||25,000|
|7||Polar Route||Jose Valdivia, Jr.||120||Matthew Chew||6-1||25,000|
|8||Dozo||Tiago Pereira||120||Steven Miyadi||8-1||25,000|
5½ Furlongs Turf. Purse: $51,000. Allowance Optional Claiming. Fillies. 3 year olds. Claiming Price $80,000.
|1||Kustom for Karl||Umberto Rispoli||122||Jeff Mullins||3-1|
|2||Bella Vita||Flavien Prat||122||Simon Callaghan||3-1|
|3||Lighthouse||Drayden Van Dyke||122||Simon Callaghan||2-1|
|4||Lofty||Geovanni Franco||122||Michael W. McCarthy||9-5|
|5||Mean Sophia||Abel Cedillo||122||Peter Miller||12-1|
1 Mile. Purse: $33,000. Starter Optional Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $40,000.
|1||Itsthattime||Mike Smith||120||Jeff Bonde||6-1|
|2||Zorich||Umberto Rispoli||124||Mark Glatt||4-1|
|3||Big Hoof Dynamite||Flavien Prat||120||Eddie Truman||5-1|
|4||Abusive Gary||Evin Roman||124||Philip D’Amato||6-1|
|5||Takeo||Brice Blanc||124||John A. Shirreffs||6-1|
|6||Tejon||Abel Cedillo||124||Richard Baltas||5-1|
|7||Outright||Jorge Velez||118||Ryan Hanson||10-1|
|8||Mongolian Hero||Victor Espinoza||124||John W. Sadler||3-1|