Hello, my name is John Cherwa and welcome back to our horse racing newsletter as we enter the first week of the final major preps before the Kentucky Derby.

These next four weekends will make us forget about everything we thought we knew about who was going to win this year’s Kentucky Derby. Saturday will be the Louisiana Derby (worth 170 points) and on Sunday is the Sunland Derby (85 points).

The following week is the UAE Derby and Florida Derby. Then the next week is the equivalent of New Year’s Day in college football with the BlueGrass Stakes, Wood Memorial and, the granddaddy of them all to continue the college football metaphor, the Santa Anita Derby.

The week after that is Arkansas Derby, where you will likely learn what 1882 and 2018 may have in common.

We’ll be going into greater detail on all those races both here in the newsletter and also the print and online editions of the Los Angeles Times.

But a few things have happened since we last met, so here are some news headlines.

Peter Miller, who trains in Southern California, was handed a seven-day suspension and fined $2,500 for his seventh disorderly conduct offense. Miller was said to have made derogatory comments about one of his former assistants about her unborn baby. Learn more about this from Jeremy Balan of Bloodhorse. (just click here)

–Jockey Jose Flores was not expected to live after he suffered brain and spine injuries after falling in a race at Parx, near Philadelphia. It would be the first jockey death since October 2017, when Mario Chavez had fatal injuries at Will Rogers Downs in Oklahoma. To learn more about what happened and the jockey who won 4,650 races, see Jim Dunleavy’s story in the Daily Racing Form. (just click here)

–Aqueduct closed its door to simulcast wagering on Wednesday because of weather. It should reopen on Thursday with live racing to resume on Friday. Aqueduct is running a three-day racing week.

–U.S.-based horses set to run next Saturday in Dubai are headed that way. There are 15 scheduled from the U.S. that are scheduled to run in Dubai and five of them in the World Cup —Forever Unbridled, Gunnevera, Mubtaahij, Pavel and West Coast, who is the likely favorite. Read more from the Paulick Report. (just click here)

It’s a pretty good Thursday card with the new first post of noon. It’s eight races with only one of them on turf, a departure from the usual two or three. The feature is the seventh, a six-furlong race for 3-year-olds. In it is Ax Man, who we wrote about earlier (you can read it here) before his disappointing fourth-place finish in the San Vicente on Feb. 10. Ax Man was thought to be a Derby hopeful but he got caught up in a speed duel and was badly beaten. He’s the 6-5 favorite for trainer Bob Baffert.

Baffert has another colt in the race Zulfikhar, who won his debut easily but didn’t fair as well going around two turns. Jockey Martin Garcia makes his first start for Baffert since returning from Aqueduct. Garcia has been Baffert’s longtime favorite when it comes to working horses in the morning. He has also ridden some of Baffert’s best horses. Zulifikhar is 2-1.

The field sizes are decent, in order: 7, 7, 12 (2 also eligible), 6, 9, 8, 6, 10.

Golden Gate weekend preview

Now a look at the best racing coming up at Golden Gate. New race caller and all-around good guy Matt Dinerman is our host to previews and other musings. So, take it away, Matt.

“It’s important to note that nominations close Thursday for the Grade 3 $200,000 San Francisco Mile. The San Francisco Mile, a one-mile turf event for 3-year-olds and up, will be run next Saturday. Everyone in attendance will receive a San Francisco Mile Day Cap (one per paid admission) and fans can also watch and wager on the Florida Derby Day card at Gulfstream Park, beginning at 10 a.m.

“Mended, a $12,500 claim who has gone on to become a stakes performer, continued her success with a solid second in the Grade I Santa Margarita at Santa Anita last weekend. With the Grade I placing, Mended now has even more appeal as a broodmare prospect. Wednesday morning, trainer John Martin said Mended came out of her race in good shape. She has won more than $305,000 for owners Troy and Maritza Onorato while winning 10 of 12 starts since being claimed.

“Mother of Dragons won the $50,000 Camilla Urso Stakes last weekend for older fillies and mares. Mother of Dragons has made more than $84,000 for owner-trainer Andreas Psarras, who purchased the filly for just $3,000 as a yearling.

“Lastly, jockey Rocco Bowen is ‘very sore’ but is otherwise OK after a spill following the running of the Camilla Urso. Bowen was transported to Highland Hospital in Oakland after the incident and X-rays came back negative. Silvio Amador and Pedro Terrero, also unseated from their mounts in the same incident, were able to walk off the track under their own power. All three riders are named on mounts this week.

“Four live racing days this week (Thursday-Sunday), with first post time at 12:15 p.m. each day.”

Bob Ike’s SA play of the day

EIGHTH RACE No. 7 Tiz Toffee (8-1)

Newcomer from the Phil D’Amato stable was second in both outings as a 2-year-old and could be live in her SoCal debut while making her first start since November. Although her numbers are relatively slow, she tried very hard in defeat last time and should be a square price. She’ll have to beat favorite Wild At Midnight, who ran well in her only start last May.

Sunday Result: Midnight Crossing (11-1) fired big but couldn’t hold off her stablemate Madam Dancealot near the wire and had to settle for second in the Santa Ana.

Bob Ike is a Partner/VP of Horsebills.com (here’s a video) and the proprietor of BobIkePicks.com (full-card picks, 3 Best Plays and betting strategy).

Still looking to jump the circulation of this newsletter. Can’t beat the price. If you like it, tell someone. If you don’t like it, then you’re probably not reading this. Either way, send to a friend and just have them click here and sign up. Remember, it’s free, and all we need is your email, nothing more.

Any thoughts, drop me an email at my new address johnacherwa@gmail.com or feed my ego by following me on Twitter @jcherwa

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

Santa Anita Entries for Thursday, March 22.

Santa Anita, Santa Anita Park, Arcadia, California. 49th day of a 59-day meet.


1 Mile. Purse: $16,000. Claiming. 4 year olds and up. Claiming Price $12,500.

PP Horse Jockey Wt Trainer M-L Claim $
1 Reverend Al Evin Roman 124 Blake R. Heap 8-1 12,500
2 Dad’s a Gambler Brayan Pena 124 George Papaprodromou 7-2 12,500
3 Yo La Tengo Tiago Pereira 124 Charles S. Treece 20-1 12,500
4 Fire to the Wire Santiago Gonzalez 124 Brian J. Koriner 2-1 12,500
5 Liberation Alonso Quinonez 124 Val Brinkerhoff 20-1 12,500
6 Uncle Billy Asa Espinoza 114 Peter Miller 3-1 12,500
7 Moonman Kent Desormeaux 124 J. Keith Desormeaux 5-2 12,500


5½ Furlongs. Purse: $17,000. Maiden Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 4 year olds and up. Claiming Price $16,000.

PP Horse Jockey Wt Trainer M-L Claim $
1 Her Royalness Rajiv Maragh 123 Bruce Headley 8-1 16,000
2 Veiled Heat Franklin Ceballos 118 Nestor M. Capitaine 4-1 16,000
3 So Euro Tyler Conner 123 Michael Machowsky 8-5 16,000
4 Angel Tears Asa Espinoza 113 Vann Belvoir 15-1 16,000
5 Louder California Fernandez Rojas 123 Rafael DeLeon 30-1 16,000
6 Blame the Weather Edwin Maldonado 123 Jeff Bonde 2-1 16,000
7 Knowitallhousewife Evin Roman 123 Adam Kitchingman 5-2 16,000


1 Mile Turf. Purse: $56,000. Allowance Optional Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 4 year olds and up. Claiming Price $40,000.

PP Horse Jockey Wt Trainer M-L Claim $
1 Tammy’s Window Tyler Conner 120 William E. Morey 12-1 40,000
2 Proud ‘n’ Ready Drayden Van Dyke 120 Michael W. McCarthy 8-1
3 Kitty Boo Victor Espinoza 122 James M. Cassidy 12-1
4 Morning Dance Santiago Gonzalez 122 Philip D’Amato 8-1
5 War Moccasin Kent Desormeaux 124 Robert B. Hess, Jr. 6-1 40,000
6 Vasilika Rajiv Maragh 120 Jerry Hollendorfer 3-1
7 Siberian Iris Flavien Prat 122 Richard E. Mandella 4-1
8 Meanie Irenie Franklin Ceballos 115 Richard Baltas 15-1
9 Rooms Evin Roman 122 George Papaprodromou 15-1
10 Gone to Town Alonso Quinonez 120 Hector O. Palma 12-1
11 Princess Kendra Ruben Fuentes 124 Reed Saldana 20-1 40,000
12 Fahan Mura Edwin Maldonado 120 Vladimir Cerin 6-1
Also Eligible
13 Lady Ninja Drayden Van Dyke 120 Michael W. McCarthy 7-2
14 Starr of Quality Tiago Pereira 120 William Spawr 5-1


6 Furlongs. Purse: $54,000. Maiden. 3 year olds and up.

PP Horse Jockey Wt Trainer M-L Claim $
1 Blaze of Glory Flavien Prat 120 Richard E. Mandella 8-1
2 King Cause Evin Roman 120 Doug F. O’Neill 9-2
3 Kidmon Tyler Baze 126 John W. Sadler 8-1
4 Twisted Road Joseph Talamo 126 Richard E. Mandella 3-1
5 Beneficent Geovanni Franco 126 Art Sherman 9-5
6 Captivate Drayden Van Dyke 126 Mike Puype 5-2


1 1/16 Mile. Purse: $21,000. Maiden Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $30,000.

PP Horse Jockey Wt Trainer M-L Claim $
1 Victoria Falls Santiago Gonzalez 126 Jorge Gutierrez 9-2 30,000
2 Onassis Asa Espinoza 110 Peter Miller 5-2 30,000
3 Cee Sam’s Girl Franklin Ceballos 115 George Papaprodromou 8-1 30,000
4 Silversonic Rajiv Maragh 120 Peter Eurton 10-1 30,000
5 Sexy Star Kayla Stra 120 Derek Meredith 30-1 30,000
6 Grecian Fort Brayan Pena 120 Antonio Garcia 30-1 30,000
7 Mischievous Song Tyler Conner 120 Jerry Hollendorfer 6-5 30,000
8 Eye of the River Ruben Fuentes 126 Martine Bellocq 10-1 30,000
9 Dixie Bobbie Barrington Harvey 120 Jesus J. Enriquez 50-1 30,000


1 1/16 Mile. Purse: $16,000. Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 4 year olds and up. Claiming Price $12,500.

PP Horse Jockey Wt Trainer M-L Claim $
1 Dixie Crystal Tiago Pereira 123 Marcelo Polanco 20-1 12,500
2 Quiet No More Felipe Martinez 123 Doug F. O’Neill 5-1 12,500
3 Albeit Franklin Ceballos 118 Sal Gonzalez 5-1 12,500
4 Briartic Gal Tyler Baze 123 Melissa Saldana 4-1 12,500
5 Tizno’s Dilemma Evin Roman 123 Sean McCarthy 3-1 12,500
6 Lovely Linda Tyler Conner 123 Eoin G. Harty 6-1 12,500
7 Tiki Bar Logic Joseph Talamo 123 Michael Machowsky 5-2 12,500
8 Reinahermosa Efrain Hernandez 123 Ricardo Zamora 20-1 12,500


6 Furlongs. Purse: $56,000. Allowance Optional Claiming. 3 year olds. Claiming Price $75,000.

PP Horse Jockey Wt Trainer M-L Claim $
1 Zulfikhar Martin Garcia 122 Bob Baffert 2-1
2 Madarnas Kent Desormeaux 120 Eddie Truman 8-1
3 Master Ruler Evin Roman 124 John W. Sadler 15-1
4 Joeray Tyler Conner 120 David Jacobson 8-1
5 Graycaster Flavien Prat 122 Jerry Hollendorfer 7-2
6 Ax Man Drayden Van Dyke 122 Bob Baffert 6-5


5½ Furlongs. Purse: $54,000. Maiden Special Weight. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up.

PP Horse Jockey Wt Trainer M-L Claim $
1 Dutton’s Legend Tyler Baze 126 Mike Puype 20-1
2 Copper Fever Flavien Prat 126 Richard E. Mandella 5-1
3 Red Shelby Victor Espinoza 126 Peter Miller 6-1
4 Wild At Midnight Drayden Van Dyke 126 Bob Baffert 5-2
5 Life of Illusion Evin Roman 126 Steven Miyadi 15-1
6 Fluorescent Rajiv Maragh 126 Jerry Hollendorfer 12-1
7 Tiz Toffee Edwin Maldonado 120 Philip D’Amato 8-1
8 Baby’s Got Class Matt Garcia 120 John Casey Selvester 15-1
9 Gracious Me Martin Garcia 120 Peter Miller 5-1
10 Pretty Owl Joseph Talamo 126 Bob Baffert 4-1


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