- CALIFORNIA CHROME ARRIVES FOR SAN PASQUAL STAKES
- UNBEATEN SONGBIRD WORKS FOR THREE-YEAR-OLD DEBUT
- D’AMATO TAKES DISPARATE MEASURES FOR SAN GABRIEL
- TEAM HEADLEY HAS SAN ONOFRE SET FOR MIDNIGHT LUTE
- PORTLAND MEADOWS STARTS $100,000 RAINBOW 6 WAGER
‘CHROME’ COUNTDOWN IS ON FOR SAN PASQUAL
California Chrome arrived at Santa Anita before sunrise Friday morning at 6:15 to prepare in earnest for his first race in more than nine months, the Grade II, $200,000 San Pasqual Stakes a week from tomorrow, Saturday, Jan. 9.
The 2014 Horse of the Year had an uneventful “45 or 50-minute” van trip from his Los Alamitos headquarters in Cypress and galloped a mile-and-a-half over the main track at 9 a.m.
California Chrome last raced on March 28, when he finished second in the $10 million Dubai World Cup.
Tomorrow at approximately 12 noon, before the first race which is scheduled to go at 12:30 p.m., California Chrome will work six furlongs under regular rider Victor Espinoza.
“The horse looks great,” said Alan Sherman, assistant to his father, Art, who trains the California-bred son of Lucky Pulpit.
“It’s exciting to have him back. He compiled a lot of frequent flier mileage over the last nine months although he didn’t race, but he did win $2 million in Dubai, so that was good.”
In 18 career starts, California Chrome has won nine races, finishing second three times and third once, earning $6,322,650. A successful venture in the San Pasqual is expected to lead to a return trip to Dubai for this year’s World Cup on March 26.
HOLLENDORFER ‘VERY HAPPY’ WITH SONGBIRD’S BREEZE
Undefeated Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Songbird, a likely unanimous choice as two-year-old filly champion of 2015, worked a half-mile under regular rider Mike Smith Friday in 47.20 as she prepares for her three-year-old debut in the Las Virgenes Stakes on Feb. 6.
“I’m very happy with where she is at this point,” Jerry Hollendorfer said. “The Las Virgenes is the race we’re pointing to,” referring to the Grade II, $300,000 race at one mile.
“She’s an absolute professional,” the Hall of Fame trainer added.
The link to Songbird’s work: https://youtu.be/1wT8TXZGiPM
D’AMATO HAS ONE-TWO PUNCH IN SAN GABRIEL
Trainer Phil D’Amato has horses with disparate and in a sense desperate styles entered in Saturday’s Grade II San Gabriel Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on turf, deep closer Big John B and committed front-runner Obviously.
Ideal outcome: a dead-heat for win.
“That would be good,” D’Amato said. “It would keep both owners happy. It’s a good one-two punch. One’s on the lead, one comes from way out of it, but both are doing really well, so we’ll give it a shot.”
Big John B, a Hard Spun gelding owned by Michael House, has been a gem of consistency, winning 14 of 36 career starts with earnings of $767,175. He came from 14th and last to be second last out, beaten two lengths by The Pizza Man in the Grade II Hollywood Turf Cup on Nov. 26.
The Irish-bred Obviously also knows where the winner’s circle is, having won 11 of 24 starts for owners Anthony Fanticola and Joseph Scardino. In those races, Obviously has been on the lead at some point in the race 21 times. He led early on last out in the Breeders’ Cup Mile Oct. 31, eventually winding up ninth in a wide trip under 126 pounds.
The field for the San Gabriel, race eight: Flamboyant, Brice Blanc, 20-1; Big John B, Rafael Bejarano, 7-2; Poshky, Victor Espinoza, 12-1; Texas Ryno, James Graham, 10-1; Power Red, Mario Gutierrez, 12-1; Class Leader, Kent Desormeaux, 20-1; Bal a Bali, Flavien Prat, 7-2; Obviously, Joe Talamo, 3-1; Wanstead Gardens, Gary Stevens, 20-1; Chiropractor, Corey Nakatani, 4-1; Macro Access, Martin Garcia, 20-1; and also-eligibles Kenjisstorm, Edwin Maldonado, 50-1; Southern Freedom, Mike Smith, 15-1; and Quick Casablanca, Tyler Baze, 20-1.
HEADLEYS HOPE TO KEEP ROLLING IN MIDNIGHT LUTE
Trainer Karen Headley, who saddled Silver Spirit to a three-length triumph in Thursday’s second race, hopes to continue her winning ways when she sends out San Onofre in Saturday’s Grade III Midnight Lute Stakes for older horses at 6 ½ furlongs.
A gelded son of Surf Cat bred by Karen’s father, trainer Bruce, and owned by her mother, Aase, who campaigns as Matson Racing, San Onofre hasn’t raced since finishing fourth in the Grade I Triple Bend June 27.
“I wanted to run him in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship (Oct. 3) before the Breeders’ Cup (Sprint on Oct. 31), but he got cast in his stall badly and I had to scratch him,” said Karen, who had San Onofre blow out three furlongs Thursday in 37.80.
The field for the Midnight Lute, race six of nine: Seattle Serenade, Mike Smith, 6-1; San Onofre, Alex Solis, 7-2; Distinctiv Passion, Edwin Maldonado, 3-1; Pulling G’s, Victor Espinoza, 5-1; Raised a Secret, Fernando Perez, 12-1; All Run, Mario Gutierrez, 5-2; and Salutos Amigos, Martin Garcia, 3-1.
PORTLAND MEADOWS OFFERS $100,000 RAINBOW 6 JACKPOT
(Reprinted from Daily Racing Form)
Mondays during the winter months typically don’t offer many opportunities for horseplayers to make a meaningful score, but Portland Meadows is changing that in 2016.
On Monday, Jan. 4, the track presents its National Racing Club Sweepstakes Rainbow 6 Jackpot with a $100,000-guaranteed pool.
The wager will be offered on the last six races of each Monday card for six weeks, and if no unique winning ticket is sold during that time, there will be a mandatory payout Feb. 8. The bet has a 10-cent base, and each ticket must total at least $1. The takeout rate is 22 percent.
During week one on Monday, each race will cover a quarter-mile and offer a purse of $3,000, with jockeys being randomly assigned mounts. Jockeys will be awarded points based on the performances of their mounts, and those with the most points at the end of the contest will be eligible for bonuses.
Monday’s sequence begins with race nine at 3:44 p.m. Pacific Time. Each race in the sequence drew a full field of a dozen fillies and mares ages four and up.
In the opening leg, trainer Jennifer Rodriguez has a top contender in City Sensation, who has shown speed in most of her nine starts.
In race 10, Power Down will look to move forward for trainer James Young in her second start following an eight-month layoff. In her return Dec. 22 at this track, she led through an opening quarter-mile in 22.18 seconds before finishing fourth in a $3,200 claimer.
Race 11 is for fillies and mares that went winless in 2015, and Kameron’s Token should be hard to deny. Prior to running fifth in a Quarter Horse race last out, she had either grabbed an early lead or pressed the pace in all six of her Thoroughbred races in 2015.
Race 12 also is for fillies and mares that did not win in 2015, and Slacker appears to hold an edge. In April at Mountaineer, she had the lead in a second-level $5,000 claimer going five furlongs before finishing second for trainer Troy Gayheart.
The final two races in the sequence are open to all older fillies and mares. In race 13, Cardinal N Gold appears to have the earliest zip. In the final leg, many likely will single Gamblin Miss, who has three consecutive sharp efforts at this track. Two starts back, on Dec. 7, she scored a front-running 6 1/4-length victory in a $2,000 claimer going six furlongs in the slop.
WHAT RACE DID BEHOLDER LOSE AT SANTA ANITA?
With apologies to Alex Trebek, two-time Eclipse Award champion Beholder has won 11 of 12 starts at Santa Anita.
What race did she lose?
FINISH LINES: Trivia answer: Favored at 20 cents to the dollar, in 2013 Beholder lost the Santa Ynez Stakes by three-quarters of a length to Renee’s Titan, trained by Doug O’Neill for owners Paul and Zillah Reddam. The field for Saturday’s Grade II Santa Ynez Stakes: My Dynamo, Fernando Perez, 8-1; Decked Out, Kent Desormeaux, 6-1; Treasuring, Victor Espinoza, 5-1; One Last Shot, Mike Smith, 8-1; Code Warrior, Anne Sanguinetti, 7-2; Pretty N Cool, Martin Garcia, 5-2; and Forever Darling, Rafael Bejarano, 7-2. Rockantharos was scratched . . . Agent Dudley Osborne is back in action with veteran jockey Agapito Delgadillo. “We’re lining up a lot of business with eight or 10 different trainers,” Osborne said. “All the responses have been very positive.” One of the trainers is Bill Spawr, who has enjoyed considerable success with the 49-year-old mustachioed rider. “He’s a good horseman and a good rider,” Spawr said of Delgadillo. “He likes winning.” . . .Trainer Gary Stute sees the glass half full as the New Year starts. “Right now,” he says, “I’m tied with Todd Pletcher in earnings.”