- CHROME SET FOR SAN ANTONIO; HOPPERTUNITY IN
- SISE GETS EARLY DOSE OF KENTUCKY DERBY FEVER
- SANTA ANITA RIDERS SET FOR BASKETBALL CHARITY
BIGGER, BETTER VERSION OF CHROME IN 2015
Take it from a man who’s been as close to the horse as anyone: California
Chrome is bigger and better than last year.
So says Victor Espinoza, who rode the California-bred son of Lucky Pulpit to victories in four Grade I races last year en route to Eclipse Awards as Horse of the Year and male 3-year-old of the year.
“I think he’s stronger this year,” said Espinoza, who worked the immensely popular chestnut five furlongs Sunday morning at his Los Alamitos base in 1:03.60 in his final major breeze for Saturday’s $500,000 San Antonio Invitational at Santa Anita.
With blinkers on and over a cleared race track, Chrome’s fractional times were 25 1/5 and 49 4/5, according to Los Alamitos head clocker Russ Hudak.
“He went good; we’re happy with him,” said Alan Sherman, son of and assistant to his father, Art, who trains California Chrome. “He’ll ship to Santa Anita on Tuesday and gallop on the track Wednesday.”
Added Espinoza: “The way he feels when I work him, he’s bigger and more mature. From last year to this is a big difference. He’s been working really strong. I believe he’ll run as good as a 4-year-old as he did at three.”
Said Art Sherman: “I thought he was going to work him faster. Victor told me that he goes so easy he was afraid he would go too fast if he clucked to him. I was looking for a minute and change; that would have helped me a lot more going into this race.
“I think it’s a good work but I would have liked a sharper workout for this race. He’s doing so good though, so . . . his gallop out was stronger than it has been. He galloped out (six furlongs) in 1:11.80. He was so strong pulling up. He’ll be fresh and ready, I can tell you that.”
Chrome is expected to face once-beaten male 2-year-old champion of 2013 Shared Belief and eye-catching San Pasqual winner Hoppertunity, among others in the eagerly anticipated San Antonio Invitational, which will decided at a mile and an eighth for older horses.
“He’s running,” Baffert said unequivocally after Hoppertunity worked six furlongs in company Sunday morning in 1:14.20 under Martin Garcia. Stablemate Doctor Dempsey was clocked in 1:14.60.
“That’s good for him,” Baffert said of Hoppertunity’s time.
Shared Belief is scheduled to have his final major breeze for the San Antonio at his Golden Gate Fields base on Tuesday, then ship to Santa Anita on Wednesday. “He’ll work a half-mile under Russell Baze,” Jerry Hollendorfer said by phone Sunday morning.
Shared Belief, who could very well be unbeaten had his chances of winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic not been compromised by a rough start, will be seeking his ninth win from 10 career starts in the San Antonio.
“He’s a very consistent horse,” Hollendorfer said.
Probable for the San Antonio, which will be limited to 10 starters: Bronzo, Gary Stevens; California Chrome, Victor Espinoza; Clubhouse Ride, Aaron Gryder; Hoppertunity, Martin Garcia; Shared Belief, Mike Smith; Tonito M., Rafael Bejarano; Alfa Bird, Tyler Baze; and Imperative, Flavien Prat.
In other San Antonio news:
Trainer Bob Hess Jr. said Sunday morning he was “50-50” on running San Pasqual third-place finisher Blue Tone in the San Antonio or the Donn at Gulfstream the same day. “If he runs here,” Hess said, “Kent (Desormeaux) will ride him.”
Blue Tone worked five furlongs Sunday morning in a bullet 59 flat, fastest of 59 drills at the distance, the average time of which 1:01.31.
Trainer Mark Casse said he “wasn’t sure” on Dynamic Sky, who also is nominated to Saturday’s San Marcos Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on turf, where the son of Sky Mesa owned by John Oxley has run seven times in his 21-race career.
“We’ve been preparing him like he’s going to run in the dirt race,” Casse said. “We’re definitely thinking about it and appreciate being invited. We’ll talk to Mr. Oxley and decide.”
Trainer Sean McCarthy said Gold Cup at Santa Anita winner Majestic Harbor will go in the San Marcos, not the San Antonio. Majestic Harbor worked five furlongs on Santa Anita’s main track Sunday in 1:00.40.
The race will be televised nationally on Fox Sports 1.
SISE DREAMING OF DERBY FEVER WITH PROSPECT PARK
Cliff Sise Jr. couldn’t be blamed for being smitten with Derby Fever after Prospect Park aired to a 5 ¼-length victory in a one-mile overnight race at Santa Anita on Friday.
It wasn’t just the margin of victory that impressed not only Sise, but hard-core race trackers. The 3-year-old son of Tapit owned and bred by Marty and Pam Wygod barely took a deep breath as Kent Desormeaux had the Kentucky-bred colt in hand the final sixteenth.
It was the second straight win from five starts for Prospect Park, who does his training at San Luis Rey Downs where the 63-year-old Sise has some 30 horses in training, including some promising youngsters.
“Marty always wanted me to break his babies,” Sise said. “Marty was nice enough last year to send all the 2-year-olds to me. I didn’t know if I was going to get them ready for other trainers, or what.
“But he came out one day and we had a little celebration at the barn and told me he was going to let me run Prospect Park, so as of right now, everything’s good.
“I loved the horse on Friday. He changed so much from the race before (a neck victory in a maiden allowance route at Santa Anita on Dec, 27). He ran good that day but he got sick two nights before with a little colic. We don’t know how much that took out of him.
“He was OK the morning of the race so we ran him and he won. After that race he came back and trained like a different horse. He was stronger, and everything’s going good at the right time now.”
Asked if he had a race in mind, Sise said, “Not really. I’ll leave that up to Marty Wygod. We’ll try to find the easiest spot for him.”
Sise, who at 20 was the youngest to get a trainer’s license at that time when he started his career, has never run a horse in the Kentucky Derby, but that doesn’t stop him from dreaming.
“I had a couple I hoped would run there,” he said, “but something always happened.”
Sise recently returned to training a year after another endeavor.
“I stopped as a trainer to run Rancho Paseana for Jenny Craig for two years,” Sise said. “That was enjoyable, but when San Luis Rey reopened, I came back to training in January of last year.”
SANTA ANITA JOCKEYS-HOLY ANGELS ON TAP FEB. 12
The 48th annual Santa Anita Jockeys vs. Holy Angels School Charity Basketball Game will take place Thursday, Feb. 12, at La Salle High School in Pasadena with proceeds to benefit the Holy Angels athletic program, the Kentucky-based Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF) and the Eye on Jacob Foundation.
Sponsored by J. Paul Reddam’s CashCall and Santa Anita Park, game time is 7:15 p.m., with admission doors opening at 6:15 p.m.
Hall of Fame jockeys Kent Desormeaux, Laffit Pincay, Jr., Mike Smith, Alex Solis and Gary Stevens will be available for an autograph signing session beginning at 6:30 p.m.
With Pincay serving as honorary team captain, Desormeaux, Smith and Solis will comprise a team of fellow active riders such as William Antongeorgi, Tyler Baze, Rafael Bejarano, Brice Blanc, Brandon Boulanger, Alex Canchari, Victor Espinoza, Santiago Gonzalez, Mario Gutierrez, Aaron Gryder, Edwin Maldonado, Felipe Martinez, Corey Nakatani, Irving Orozco, Martin Pedroza, Fernando Perez, Tiago Pereira, Flavien Prat, Iggy Puglisi, Kayla Stra, Joe Talamo, Elvis Trujillo, Drayden Van Dyke and perhaps others.
“We look forward to this game every year,” said Nakatani, perennially one of the most competitive jockeys on the squad. “The game is fun for everyone, the jocks, the Holy Angels’ kids, all of our families and the fans who come to support us. It’s a great night where we can all get together, have fun and help raise money for some great causes. I’ve really enjoyed it over the years.”
The PDJF helps assist permanently disabled jockeys nationwide, while the Eye on Jacob Foundation, named for Jacob Desormeaux, who is the 16-year-old son of Kent, benefits those suffering from Usher’s Syndrome. An extremely rare neurological disorder, Usher’s Syndrome causes progressive loss of hearing, imbalance, and eventual loss of sight in approximately 14,000 children in the United States.
HRTV’s Kurt Hoover, a former standout cager at Arcadia High School, will again coach the jockeys’ team. Known for his laid-back approach, Hoover stated his game-day philosophy will be similar to that of past years–“We’ll keep the clock runnin’ and just let ’em run and gun.”
Tickets are $5 per person, and for every two tickets purchased, individuals receive one free admission ticket to Santa Anita. Additionally, there will be opportunities to win a trip to Las Vegas and a Paintball Package to Hollywood Sports Paintball and Airsoft Park.
La Salle High School is located at the southwest corner of Michillinda Ave. and Sierra Madre Blvd. in Pasadena, approximately four miles northwest of Santa Anita. Admission tickets and promotional tee shirts are on sale now at Champions! Gifts and Apparel in Santa Anita’s East Paddock Gardens, or through Holy Angels School.
FINISH LINES: Trainer Jeff Bonde said Distinctiv Passion came out of his fourth-place finish as the 2-1 favorite in Saturday’s Palos Verdes Stakes in good order after the speedster broke from the No. 1 post position in the six furlong sprint. Asked about a possible run in the $2 million Golden Shaheen in Dubai on March 28, Bonde said, “We’ll regroup. He’s a good horse. We’ll find a race.” . . . With four wins yesterday, Joe Talamo ended a dry spell and jumped into a tie for sixth in Santa Anita’s standings with 10 victories.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Saturday, Jan. 31)|
|Drayden Van Dyke||93||10||10||16||11%||$594,126|
|A. C. Avila||15||4||0||1||27%||$83,410|