- ESPINOZA TOURS DUBAI AFTER SPARKLING CHROME ROMP
- DESORMEAUX SEEKS BETTER FINISH IN SANTA ANITA DERBY
- HENDRICKS LIKES MARATHON DISTANCE OF TOKYO CITY CUP
SANTA ANITA WELCOMES ESPINOZA ON THURSDAY
Victor Espinoza had more reason than usual to smile yesterday after guiding California Chrome to an eventful yet facile victory in the $10 million Dubai World Cup, worth $6 million to the winner and making the five-year-old California-bred son of Lucky Pulpit North America’s all-time leading earner with $12,532,650.
“I spoke to Victor about midnight our time last night,” said his agent, Brian Beach, Sunday morning. “He’s staying in Dubai for a couple days because he’s never had a chance to see the sights, but he’ll be back at Santa Anita in time to ride on Thursday.”
Espinoza is named on Lynne’s Legacy for trainer Jim Cassidy in the second race and El Huerfano in the fourth for trainer Peter Miller.
Espinoza, who turns 44 on May 23, two weeks after the Kentucky Derby on May 7, won the World Cup despite a wide trip and having the saddle slip, never losing his cool and winning on cruise control by 3 3/4 lengths.
“It was an impressive win,” Beach said, “but I was talking with Alan (Sherman, son of and assistant to California Chrome’s trainer, Art Sherman) every once in a while since he’s been over there, and he kept telling me, ‘This horse is doing better than at any point they’ve ever had him, better than his three-year-old year (2014).’ They were expecting a big effort.”
“Chrome,” who made his 5-year-old debut in the Grade II San Pasqual Stakes here on Jan. 9, winning by 1 ¼ lengths, will be flown from Dubai to Chicago, where he’ll then be vanned to Kentucky.
The long-range agenda for California Chrome’s future races would likely culminate with the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita on Nov. 5, but first things first.
“They want to get him back to Taylor Made (Farm in Kentucky) and spend some time there before making plans,” Beach said. Taylor Made and Perry Martin own California Chrome.
Meanwhile, Espinoza, the transnational tourist, is laughing all the way to the bank, although the self-proclaimed “happy Mexican” doesn’t need a vault of dinero to appease him.
Espinoza’s cut of the $6 million winner’s share is $600,000.
“Victor has a smile on his face 24-7,” Beach said.
TRAINER WANTS BIG FINISH FROM EXAGGERATOR
The jury is still out on Exaggerator for the $1 million, mile and an eighth Santa Anita Derby on April 9, at least in the mind of trainer Keith Desormeaux.
The trainer has little doubt about the colt’s ability, but the question lingers on why he didn’t finish after making a bold move on the far turn in the San Felipe Stakes at 1 1/16 miles March 12. The son of Curlin was beaten 2 ¾ lengths despite trouble in the race.
“I don’t have any complaints about how the San Felipe set up,” Desormeaux said about Exaggerator’s third-place finish behind front-running Danzing Candy and closer Mor Spirit. “He ran a decent middle quarter to make up the distance that he was from off the pace, and he should be able to do that.
“The horse is very talented, yet I still can’t explain why he didn’t finish better. Even if there’s more speed in the Santa Anita Derby, it doesn’t matter to me. The way my horse ran last time, I hope he does the same thing, except for the finish.
“I can’t explain why he didn’t finish.”
Probable for the Grade I Santa Anita Derby: Danzing Candy, Mike Smith; Mor Spirit, Gary Stevens; Exaggerator, Kent Desormeaux; Uncle Lino, Fernando Perez; Smokey Image, Victor Espinoza; Iron Rob, Stewart Elliott; and Denman’s Call, Rafael Bejarano.
TOKYO CITY CUP DISTANCE SUITS CHINA DOLL LOVER
China Doll Lover tackles a mile and a half for the first time when he runs in next Sunday’s Grade III, $100,000 Tokyo City Cup for older horses. He has a lot of company.
The distance is rarely run in the United States, especially on dirt, but trainer Dan Hendricks feels it will be right in the wheel house for the six-year-old gelded son of Lawyer Ron. “His works have been great. It seems a mile and a half will be better for him,” Hendricks said.
FINISH LINES: Turf marathon specialist Big John B, seventh in the grassy San Luis Rey Stakes March 13 after a wide trip, worked six furlongs Sunday in 1:14.20. Trainer Phil D’Amato has the seven-year-old Hard Spun gelding nominated to next Sunday’s Tokyo City Cup at a mile and a half on dirt . . . Early probables for next Saturday’s Grade III San Simeon Stakes for older horses at about six and a half furlongs on turf are Guns Loaded, Rafael Bejarano; No Silent, Gary Stevens; and Producer, Drayden Van Dyke . . .Santa Anita morning line maker Jon White relates that California Chrome spotted runner-up Mubtaahij “about nine lengths” in winning yesterday’s Dubai World Cup . . . Santa Anita will host Christine A. Moore for a Trunk Show on Saturday, April 9, at Champions Gift Shop where her Spring 2016 Collection will be showcased. Fans are invited to see a great selection of women’s and men’s styles.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Saturday, March 26)|
|Drayden Van Dyke||163||16||16||26||10%||36%||$1,001,672|
|J. Keith Desormeaux||48||8||6||10||17%||50%||$351,629|