- CROWN TRUMPS CLASSIC FOR HORSE OF YEAR
- PHAROAH, BEHOLDER WALK AFTER WORKOUTS
- FOREST CHATTER TRIES TO MAINTAIN PERFECTION
PHAROAH CAN’T BE DENIED HORSE OF THE YEAR
Even should American Pharoah end his racing days on the longest losing streak of his career, it would not prevent him from being named Horse of the Year.
If American Pharoah gets beat in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland on Oct. 31, and even if it’s by the magnificent mare Beholder, Pharoah, who was upset in the Travers in his last start, snapping a string of eight brilliant victories in a row, including the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes, would still get the nod.
Eclipse Award voters would have to spin long and hard to deny Horse of the Year honors to the first Triple Crown winner since 1978.
“I don’t think there’s any way the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years could not be Horse of the Year,” said respected private clocker Gary Young, whose reputation for thinking outside the box is widely known within the industry.
“I don’t think there’s any way that could happen,” Young said. “To see how good Yahilwa ran in the Spinster last Sunday (third in a three-horse photo finish behind victorious Got Lucky) and knowing how Beholder handled her (beating her seven lengths in the Grade I Clement L. Hirsch at Del Mar Aug. 1), it boosted Beholder’s stock a bit more, knowing that a filly she was toying with held her own against some of the better fillies not named Beholder in the Spinster, one of the most important races in the country for fillies and mares.
“But do I think Beholder could upend American Pharoah for Horse of the Year? No. No I don’t.”
That said, could Beholder win the Classic, leaving American Pharoah in her wake?
“Post positions will be pretty important in the Classic,” Young said of the $5 million event at 1 1/4 miles. “Beholder could win it, depending on how she trains for the race.
“It’s going to be between Pharoah, Beholder, and Tonalist, now that he’s shown he doesn’t have to be in another area code early in his races.
“The Classic is going to be a very, very big race. Post positions, track condition, how the track is playing that day will have a major bearing on the outcome.”
PHAROAH, BEHOLDER, WALK THE WALK SATURDAY
As is the norm the day after a workout, both Triple Crown winner American Pharoah and two-time Eclipse Award champion Beholder, the first and second choice, respectively, for the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland Oct. 31, walked the shed row Saturday morning as they continue on the road to their showdown in the $5 million race at 1 ¼ miles three weeks hence.
Pharoah worked five furlongs Friday morning in 1:01.20 for Bob Baffert while Beholder went the same distance in 1:02, breezing, for Richard Mandella.
Pharoah is listed as the 8-5 favorite for the Classic in Daily Racing Form’s early line, while Beholder is the second choice at 7-2.
Baffert has mentioned either Oct. 25 or 27 for Pharoah’s ship date to Kentucky, while Beholder is set to depart California on Oct. 19.
If American Pharoah wins the Classic, he would become the first horse to win the Triple Crown and the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
How popular is he? NBC Sports Group’s viewership for the Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Challenge series jumped 136 percent for the nine telecasts following American Pharoah’s Triple Crown victory in the Belmont Stakes June 6, according to official national data released by The Nielsen Company.
FOREST CHATTER ON FAVORITE COURSE MONDAY
Horse for course Forest Chatter blew out three furlongs Friday in a bullet 35.40 for Monday’s $100,000 California Flag Handicap at about 6 ½ furlongs on turf.
Forest Chatter is perfect in four starts over the aforementioned course.
It was the fastest of 18 drills at the distance, the average time of which was 37.32.
“He’s doing great,” trainer Richard Mandella said of the 4-year-old son of Dixie Chatter owned by Marty and Pam Wygod.
“I freshened him up a little bit after Del Mar (where he finished sixth while wide in the Green Flash on Aug. 19). I think he’ll run his best race.”
Forest Chatter has won all four starts on Santa Anita’s unique downhill turf course, all in a row from Jan. 8 this year through May 17.
The California Flag: Ambitious Brew, Gary Stevens; Rock Me Baby, Edwin Maldonado; K Thirty Eight, Alex Solis; Somethings Unusual, Drayden Van Dyke; Bold Fantasy, Corey Nakatani; Forest Chatter, Mike Smith; and Over Par, Mario Gutierrez.
FINISH LINES: California Chrome, America’s Horse of the Year in 2014, will return to training with Art Sherman at Los Alamitos this Tuesday . . . Flavien Prat was a visitor to Clockers’ Corner Saturday morning. The 23-year-old jockey is recovering from injuries in a spill at Los Alamitos on Sept. 17, still wearing a waist-to-neck brace to protect a punctured right lung. Said his agent, Derek Lawson: “He’ll wear the brace another three months before a cat scan is taken to decide if he can start a conditioning program that would lead to his return to riding.” . . . Undefeated Nyquist, winner of the Grade I Del Mar Futurity who worked four furlongs Friday in 52 seconds for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Oct. 31, came out well for the $2 million race at 1 1/16 miles. “He two-minute licked (yesterday) and finished up good the last half,” Doug O’Neill said. “If all goes well, we’ve got a couple more breezes before the big one. His last work will be here, then we’ll ship to Kentucky.” . . . Santa Anita Oaks winner Stellar Wind, bound for the Breeders’ Cup Distaff Oct. 30, worked six furlongs for John Sadler Saturday in 1:16.80. “Victor Espinoza worked her and he was very happy,” Sadler said. “If everything stays on course, she’ll work again next Saturday.” . . . Talco, who had a fees-paid berth to the Breeders’ Cup Mile by virtue of his victory in the Grade I Shoemaker Mile on June 13, died while undergoing arthroscopic surgery “a few days ago,” Sadler confirmed. Owned by Hronis Racing, Talco was a 4-year-old French-bred son of Pivotal who had a 5-5-3 record from 17 starts with earnings of $543,123. He finished fourth in his final race, the City of Hope Mile on Sept. 27 . . . Santiago Gonzalez rides San Clemente Handicap winner Prize Exhibit for Jim Cassidy at Keeneland today in the Grade I Queen Elizabeth II Cup, while Drayden Van Dyke pilots Miss Temple City for Graham Motion in the same race. . . Santa Anita offers holiday racing on Monday, Columbus Day. Fans can explore Dollar Day on track, with beers, hot dogs and sodas on sale for a buck.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Friday, Oct. 9)|
|J. Eric Kruljac||9||2||0||0||22%||$29,660|