Hello, my name is John Cherwa and welcome back to our horse racing newsletter as the Kentucky Derby gets closer.

A lot to catch up on, so let’s get right to it.

In case you missed these stories in The Times.

–Here’s a story on how the ADWs are battling it out for your betting dollar. (just click here)

–Bolt d’Oro has had some bumps in the road but now he’s ready. (just click here)

Jeff Siegel and Aaron Vercruysse of XBTV.com are doing a series of exclusive video reports on the horses and strategies in the Kentucky Derby. Here’s a look at them, if you’ve missed any, plus a couple of new ones.

First up, the entire XBTV crew debates the Kentucky Derby. Believe me, when I say it’s worth watching. I’m not kidding. Opinions and theories are flying like a day at a UFO conference. Anyway, this will give you plenty to think about. It’s worth your time. (Just click here.)

It’s a pretty big backstretch so I can’t get to everybody. Here’s some information from the Churchill Downs notes team, headed by Gary Yunt, put together for the media.

–The four Todd Pletcher horses (Audible, Magnum Moon, Noble Indy, Vino Rosso) all galloped 1 ¼ miles on Wednesday. Noble Indy also went to the starting gate, where he stood briefly.

–Blended Citizen, for Doug O’Neill, is still hoping for a scratch by 9 a.m. on Friday so that he can get in the race. Jack Sisterton is doing the horsesitting duties while Doug remains in California. The colt galloped 1 3/8 miles on Wednesday.

Mick Ruis, Bolt d’Oro’s trainer, made a $1,200 bet in Las Vegas last year. He got pretty fantastic odds of 40-1. “But you can’t put a money value on winning the race,” Ruis said.

Wayne Lukas kept the same routine with his colt Bravazo, galloping him 1 ½ miles. “He does everything right,” Lukas said. “He’s a real, real nice horse to be around. He’s not hard to train.”

Steve Asmussen was predictably dismayed by his colt Combatant drawing the 20 hole. “Obviously it’s not what I was looking for,” Asmussen said. “The horse has been horribly unlucky with his draws. The difference with the Derby is you have at least a quarter mile into the first turn. When you’re only going 1 1/16 or 1 1/8, you have very few options.”

–Enticed, for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, was gate schooled on Wednesday. “Sometimes you have to school them because they are a problem, but he’s a perfect gentleman, and [the gate crew] got to see that.”

–It’s trainer Jason Servis first start in the Derby. On Wednesday, he had Firenze Fire jog 5/8ths of a mile and gallop another mile.

Dale Romans has both Free Drop Billy and Promises Fulfilled. Free Drop Billy was named for Bill Collins by owner Dennis Albaugh. “Bill and I would always play golf and get into arguments about the actual rules of a ‘free drop,’” Albaugh said. “Bill on the other hand, would always take more drops than I would and somehow always dropped in a much better spot than he was supposed to. Hence the name Free Drop Billy.”

Chad Brown continues to be sky high on Good Magic, who galloped 1 3/8 miles but wanted to go longer.

–Hofburg galloped 1 ½ miles on Wednesday and stood at the starting gate. “We were probably a little stronger galloping today,” said Bill Mott’s assistant, Kenny McCarthy. “We got hooked up with a little bit of company coming down the stretch, but that’s a good thing. His head was up and his ears were up.”

–Assistant Christina Jelm was filling in for Jerry Hollendorfer talking about Instilled Regard’s 1 ½ mile gallop. “He moved very well and was very alert. He’s really showing how the class is coming through in his pedigree and he’s being a professional and enjoying himself.”

Bob Baffert had both Justify and Solomini do gate work before galloping 1 ½ miles. “They’re here and they’re still doing well,” Baffert said.

–Lone Sailor galloped 1 ½ miles on Wednesday. “We know he needs to improve but he showed us in the Louisiana Derby (finished second by a neck) he belongs,” said trainer Tom Amoss.

–Mendelssohn was cleared by quarantine on Wednesday afternoon and will train on Thursday.

Keith Desormeaux is still high on My Boy Jack after just a jog on Wednesday. “We’re checking all the clues and he’s making us happy,” the trainer said.

Ruh-roh. We’re hoping Thursday’s short fields are a byproduct of a big Derby weekend, but half of the fields on an eight-race card have only six horses. Throw in a scratch here and there and you’ve got a lousy betting card. We’re back to a 12:30 p.m. post. There are three turf races, the feature being an allowance/optional claimer down the turf-course hill for horses 3 and up. It’s the seventh race at about 3:45 p.m.

Here are the field sizes, in order: 6, 6, 6, 8, 6, 8, 9, 11.

Golden Gate weekend preview

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

“Beginning Thursday, first post time at Golden Gate Fields will change from 12:15 p.m. to 12:45 p.m. That change will go for the remainder of the meeting, which concludes June 10. Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes days will have a first post time of 11:45 a.m.

“Good news to report: Jockeys Francisco Duran and Irving Orozco, both involved in separate spills last week, are OK days after their incidents. Their horses also escaped injury. On Monday, Orozco said by text: “I do not feel bad at all, thank goodness.” I spoke with Duran over the phone Wednesday, in which he told me: “I am a little body sore but that’s it. I’ll be ready to ride [Thursday].” Surely, we will see Francisco and Irving back in the winner’s circle very soon.

“A trio of Northern California trainers will saddle participants in major stakes at Churchill Downs on Friday and Saturday. Blaine Wright has 4-year-old colt Riser slated to run in Friday’s Grade 3 $200,000 Twin Spires Turf Sprint for older horses going five furlongs on the turf. The grey/roan son of Mizzen Mast won a pair of stakes at Emerald Downs last summer and makes his 2018 debut in the ‘Turf Sprint. He has been training regularly over the Golden Gate Fields tapeta in preparation this race.

“Twenty-six-year-old conditioner Ari Herbertson will run Pyscho Sister, who most recently won an allowance race at Golden Gate last month. The New-York bred will be facing 10 other fillies and mares in the Grade 2 $300,000 Longines Churchill Distaff Turf Mile. Hollendorfer is represented in the Kentucky Derby with Lecomte Stakes (G3) winner Instilled Regard, who recently ran third in the Santa Anita Derby behind 3-1 Kentucky Derby morning-line favorite Justify and Bolt D’Oro.

“Ten races are scheduled on Derby Day at Golden Gate, with the program featuring a trio of allowance races. Fans on-track have a chance to take part in the annual ‘Derby Day Hat Contest, where patrons can show off their stylish Kentucky Derby hats and win cash vouchers for their creativity and style. Food and drink specials will be offered throughout the afternoon, multiple food trucks will be on hand and local band “The Spirit of 29” will be performing.”

Bob Ike SA pick of the day

SEVENTH RACE: No. 7 Arms Runner (7-2)

Comebacker from the red-hot Peter Miller barn showed big ability last year, winning his first two starts over this downhill turf layout before going to the sidelines after the Oceanside Stakes at Del Mar. The expensive half-brother to Calculator obviously can fire fresh, so tab off the layoff.

Sunday Result: War Heroine ($6.20) wired her opponents as we had hoped, helping us go three for four with newsletter picks last week.

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, May 3.

Santa Anita, Santa Anita Park, Arcadia, California. 11th day of a 42-day meet.


1 Mile Turf. Purse: $48,000. Claiming. 3 year olds. Claiming Prices $100,000-$85,000.

PP Horse Jockey Wt Trainer M-L Claim $
1 Primo Touch Geovanni Franco 122 Dan L. McFarlane 5-2 100,000
2 Samdar Tiago Pereira 119 Gary Stute 8-1 85,000
3 True Loyalty Joseph Talamo 122 James P. DiVito 2-1 100,000
4 Honeymoonz Over Tyler Conner 122 Doug F. O’Neill 8-1 100,000
5 Magic Musketier Asa Espinoza 112 Jerry Hollendorfer 4-1 85,000
6 Platinum Equity Franklin Ceballos 115 Richard Baltas 3-1 90,000


7 Furlongs. Purse: $29,000. Maiden Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $50,000-$40,000. State bred.

PP Horse Jockey Wt Trainer M-L Claim $
1 Black Storm Brayan Pena 123 Lloyd C. Wicker 8-1 40,000
2 Big Bad Gary Franklin Ceballos 115 Ruben Gomez 6-1 50,000
3 Extreme Heat Asa Espinoza 118 Michele Dollase 5-2 50,000
4 Johnny Ray Tyler Baze 120 Blake R. Heap 2-1 50,000
5 Git On Your Pulpit Tiago Pereira 120 Kathy Walsh 9-5 50,000
6 Severin Alonso Quinonez 120 Paula S. Capestro 12-1 50,000


7 Furlongs. Purse: $20,000. Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $16,000.

PP Horse Jockey Wt Trainer M-L Claim $
1 Ransomed Franklin Ceballos 121 Sal Gonzalez 7-2 16,000
2 Party Hostess Asa Espinoza 119 Jerry Hollendorfer 9-5 16,000
3 She’sluckythatway Octavio Vergara, Jr. 126 James F. Sayler 20-1 16,000
4 Little Nati Alonso Quinonez 126 Victor L. Garcia 7-2 16,000
5 Gemini Journey Tiago Pereira 126 William Spawr 5-1 16,000
6 Tiki Bar Logic Joseph Talamo 126 Michael Machowsky 5-2 16,000


1 Mile Turf. Purse: $23,000. Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $25,000-$22,500.

PP Horse Jockey Wt Trainer M-L Claim $
1 So Golden Joseph Talamo 125 James M. Cassidy 8-1 25,000
2 Looking At Thelake Tyler Baze 125 John W. Sadler 7-2 25,000
3 Rooms Mario Gutierrez 125 George Papaprodromou 5-2 25,000
4 Road Test Tyler Conner 125 Jack Carava 6-1 25,000
5 Oh Scatty Oh Franklin Ceballos 118 Steven Miyadi 6-1 22,500
6 Khaleesi Brice Blanc 123 Michael Machowsky 6-1 22,500
7 Instinctual Kash Geovanni Franco 120 Jeffrey Metz 8-1 25,000
8 Hotsy Dotsy Asa Espinoza 118 Hector O. Palma 6-1 25,000


1 Mile. Purse: $56,000. Allowance. Fillies and Mares. 3 year olds and up. State bred.

PP Horse Jockey Wt Trainer M-L Claim $
1 Queen Bee to You Edwin Maldonado 126 Michael Pender 5-2
2 Tapitha Bonita Franklin Ceballos 113 Sal Gonzalez 6-1
3 Starr of Quality Tiago Pereira 124 William Spawr 4-1
4 Donut Girl Tyler Conner 118 Hector O. Palma 6-1
5 Silverspun Pickup Martin Pedroza 120 Michael Machowsky 8-1
6 Lostintranzlation Geovanni Franco 126 Richard Baltas 7-5


6 Furlongs. Purse: $25,000. Claiming. 3 year olds. Claiming Prices $20,000-$18,000.

PP Horse Jockey Wt Trainer M-L Claim $
1 Pachi the Grey Asa Espinoza 115 Jerry Hollendorfer 8-1 20,000
2 Gringo Star Alonso Quinonez 122 Ian Kruljac 4-1 20,000
3 Joeray Tyler Conner 122 David Jacobson 3-1 20,000
4 Don’t Stalk Me Franklin Ceballos 117 Steven Miyadi 3-1 20,000
5 Royal Trump Tyler Baze 122 John W. Sadler 5-2 20,000
6 Lipster Heriberto Figueroa 115 Jorge Periban 12-1 20,000
7 Optic Edwin Maldonado 122 George Papaprodromou 10-1 20,000
8 Curly’s Mark Geovanni Franco 122 Philip A. Oviedo 10-1 20,000


About 6½ Furlongs Turf. Purse: $58,000. Allowance Optional Claiming. 3 year olds and up. Claiming Price $62,500.

PP Horse Jockey Wt Trainer M-L Claim $
1 Conqueror Geovanni Franco 123 Vladimir Cerin 6-1
2 Ann Arbor Eddie Mario Gutierrez 125 Doug F. O’Neill 6-1
3 Fly to Mars Asa Espinoza 116 Peter Miller 4-1
4 Acceptance Stewart Elliott 125 Kenneth D. Black 6-1
5 Brandothebartender Franklin Ceballos 120 Andrew Lerner 12-1
6 Cimpl Man Tyler Baze 125 Gary Mandella 6-1 62,500
7 Arms Runner Israel Ocampo 123 Peter Miller 7-2
8 Tristan’s Trilogy Joseph Talamo 123 Rafael Becerra 12-1
9 Bombard Martin Garcia 123 Richard E. Mandella 5-1


5½ Furlongs. Purse: $21,000. Maiden Claiming. Fillies. 3 year olds. Claiming Price $30,000.

PP Horse Jockey Wt Trainer M-L Claim $
1 Bragging Rights Heriberto Figueroa 115 John W. Sadler 6-1 30,000
2 Heather’s Wish Brayan Pena 122 Caesar F. Dominguez 50-1 30,000
3 A Little Romance Tyler Conner 122 David Jacobson 8-1 30,000
4 Mongolian Princess Stewart Elliott 122 Enebish Ganbat 10-1 30,000
5 Pray for Corday Martin Pedroza 122 Sal Gonzalez 20-1 30,000
6 Spacerika Ruben Fuentes 122 Salvador Orozco 6-1 30,000
7 Mongolian Rahy Diego Sanchez 122 Gerard Piccioni 4-1 30,000
8 Complete Discreet Tiago Pereira 122 Sam J. Scolamieri 8-1 30,000
9 Teen Angel Mario Gutierrez 122 George Papaprodromou 8-1 30,000
10 Daisy’s Stormcat Octavio Vergara, Jr. 122 Marcelo Polanco 50-1 30,000
11 Sea Glass Geovanni Franco 122 Ian Kruljac 9-5 30,000


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