- PEGASUS UNFURLS BITTERSWEET STORYLINE
- CHAMP CHAMPAGNE ROOM VS. UNIQUE BELLA
- SHEER FLATTERY WORKS FOR GRADE III LEWIS
- GRAZEN WINNERS AMONG STRING OF CHALK
- VAN DYKE IS RECOVERING FROM BROKEN ARM
ARROGATE REIGNS SUPREME AFTER PEGASUS VICTORY
If there were any doubts after the Breeders’ Cup Classic, there should be none now.
There’s a new sheriff in town and his name is Arrogate.
California Chrome, on the other hand, is heading out of Dodge.
Sure, The People’s Horse had an excuse with a bum right knee in the final performance
of his storybook career, never mounting a threat in Saturday’s inaugural $12 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Gulfstream Park won geared down by Arrogate, who was 4 ¾ lengths clear of 19-1 runner-up Shaman Ghost.
California Chrome came out of the race with a possible chip in his right knee.
Thus the widely anticipated rematch between Arrogate and Chrome, who were a dramatic half-length apart at the finish of the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita on Nov. 5, never got close to becoming a reality.
Arrogate will race again. Californian Chrome will not. He will make his new home in Kentucky as a stallion at Taylor Made Farm.
The Pegasus thrill of victory, agony of defeat storyline stood out in bold relief, emotions ranging from euphoric to crestfallen in a heartbeat.
Jerry Hollendorfer, winner of 7,218 races in his remarkable career, has felt both.
“I was standing on the other side of the race track when Shared Belief pulled up (after
the start of the 2015 Charles Town Classic, in which he suffered an injury that prevented him from finishing the race), and there’s just nothing you can do,” Hollendorfer said. “You’re helpless.” Hollendorfer was helpless too when Shared Belief, champion two-year-old male of 2013 and winner of the 2015 Santa Anita Handicap, died on Dec. 3, 2105, after colic surgery.
The 70-year-old Hall of Fame trainer is not prone to high fives after a big victory, or extended periods of mourning after major setbacks. “I try to stay steady,” Hollendorfer said, adding he had no remedy as to how to deal with the inevitable disappointments. “You just hope that it never happens,” he said, “but if you run enough horses, it’s going to happen.”
Added private clocker and bloodstock agent Gary Young: “Arrogate is a great horse, but it was really sad to see a great horse like California Chrome so empty so early. Starting up the backside at a time when Victor’s (Espinoza) usually got his arms full just trying to restrain him, you could see he wasn’t restraining him at all.
“Soon after the five-eighths pole, he was actually chirping to him and trying to get him up there. He had all he could do to hold his position to try and keep Mike (Smith) boxed in there.”
Chrome and his legion of fans can savor cherished memories of a fairytale better scripted for Hollywood, but for the unhappy ending. Chrome’s successes on the racetrack will be embellished in retirement, perhaps to the point of legend.
“Now,” as Secretary of War Stanton said after Lincoln died from an assassin’s bullet, “he belongs to the ages.”
Unfortunately, through no fault of his own, he went out like Willie Mays.
CHAMP CHAMPAGNE ROOM WORKS FOR LAS VIRGENES
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner and eventual Eclipse Champion Champagne Room worked five furlongs Sunday in a minute flat, breezing, in preparation for her three-year-old debut against monster Santa Ynez winner Unique Bella in next Sunday’s Grade II Las Virgenes Stakes at one mile.
“Awesome” is how trainer Peter Eurton summed up the drill under exercise rider Jose (Pepi) Aragon. “I’m very pleased with her work.”
Champagne Room, a bay daughter of Broken Vow, has been firing bullets since her Breeders’ Cup win last Nov. 5 at Santa Anita. Four of her last seven recorded breezes were the fastest at their respective distances.
Among the 123 recorded works on Santa Anita’s fast main track Sunday was a seven furlong move by Sheer Flattery, a contender for Saturday’s Grade III Robert B. Lewis Stakes for three-year-old Triple Crown prospects. Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer called it “a nice workout’ under exercise rider Freddie Rodriguez.
FAVORITES ROLL A SEVEN IN ‘NICK’ OF TIME
Owner/breeder Nick Alexander had back-to-back winners sired by Grazen Saturday when Enola Gray captured the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf Sprint for trainer Phil D’Amato and All of a Sudden came back to take the next race for trainer Steve Miyadi.
The two winners were part of a string of seven straight favorites Saturday, ranging from And Then Some (5.80) in the first race; Enola Gray (3.20) in the second; All of a Sudden (4) in the third; Gypsy Ju Ju ($5.20) in the fourth; Sircat Sally ($3.80) in the fifth; Richards Boy (6) in the sixth; and Ashleyluvssugar ($4) in the seventh.
River Echo ended the chalk streak big time when he won the eighth race paying $44.40 for trainer Peter Miller, who also saddled 19-1 longshot Aldrin ($21.40 to place) to finish second, forming a $246 exacta for $1.
“I’m relieved to win,” Alexander said after Enola Gray’s victory. “We haven’t won a race since the last race she won in October. We’ve been nosed out twice. We got disqualified once, on New Year’s Eve so, we needed a win.
“She’s a neat horse, she really is. The dam had not had anything worth a darn before that. Everyone that gets on her says you can’t even feel her hit the ground. She just has one of those big, long strides. She’s a sweetheart.
“She threw in two horrible races at 1-9 and 1-5 and she got beat, with no apparent excuse. I think she has to be on the lead, or fighting for it. I think you have to go as fast as you can and that’s the way she likes it. That’s the way her daddy liked it, too.”
VAN DYKE RECOVERING FROM SURGERY
Drayden Van Dyke was doing well at Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena Sunday recovering from surgery on his broken right arm suffered when the 22-year-old rider was involved in a two-horse spill at Santa Anita in Thursday’s fourth race.
“He’s resting, he’s got a right forearm fracture and he’ll take his time and let it heal,” his agent, Brad Pegram, said Sunday morning, taking solace in the fact that the other rider he represents, Hall of Fame member Mike Smith, won the $12 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational Saturday aboard Arrogate.
“There’s no time frame (on how long it will take before Van Dyke resumes riding),” Pegram said. “We’ll take our time. The good thing is he’s young, it’ll heal and go from there.”
FINISH LINES: Santiago Gonzalez, who has been aboard Grade I-winning stretch runner Hard Aces in his last six races, including a victory the Grade III Cougar II Handicap, retains the mount in Saturday’s Grade II San Antonio Stakes for four-year-olds and up at 1 1/16 miles . . . Multiple graded stakes winner Masochistic, prepping for the Grade I Triple Bend Stakes on March 11, worked six furlongs Sunday for Ron Ellis in 59 flat . . . Santa Anita hosts the Dumpling and Wonton Festival next Saturday, Feb. 4. Patrons can snack on scrumptious Asian and Asian-inspired dumplings and wontons on Santa Anita’s trackside apron. Buy online and save at www.santaanita.com/events . . . Next Sunday, Feb. 5, the day of The Big Game, live racing at Santa Anita begins at 11 a.m., allowing fans to watch The Big Game at Sirona’s Sports Bar after the races or to be home in time to view it. General admission to the track that day is only one dollar. Santa Anita is dark for live racing Monday through Wednesday. Live racing resumes Thursday, Feb. 2, at 1 p.m.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Saturday, Jan. 28)|
|Norberto Arroyo, Jr.||59||8||5||3||14%||27%||$401,485|