- ESPINOZA WELL-SCHOOLED WITH CHROME
- DORTMUND, DREFONG DRILL FOR BAFFERT
- DESORMEAUX’S TRIPLE PUTS HIM NEAR TOP
CLASS IS NEVER OUT WITH ESPINOZA, CHROME
Victor Espinoza has been down this road before. Kentucky Derby wins, Breeders’ Cup wins, even a Triple Crown victory.
Come Saturday, the 44-year-old future Hall of Famer goes for the gold with California Chrome, a fairytale horse the gods have smiled upon again and again. Espinoza has ridden the five-year-old California-bred son of Lucky Pulpit 18 times in his 24-race career, all in a row, winning 13, the last six consecutively.
Can they do it one more time in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on Saturday?
“I’ve seen how many are nominated to the race for a rough idea as to who’s running, but obviously it will be clearer when the entries are drawn tomorrow,” Espinoza said. “Then I’ll see what post I get and how many horses are running.”
With the extensive time Espinoza has spent with California Chrome, approximately 30 minutes on his back in races, not counting training jaunts, he doesn’t have to burn the midnight oil doing his homework.
“I’ll study some, but I don’t need to,” Espinoza said. “I already know pretty much how all the horses in the Classic run. I’ve been watching them since the beginning of the year, so it’s easy to get a rough idea of what’s going to happen in the race.
“It all depends on how Chrome breaks from the gate and the post position. Arrogate is pretty much the horse to beat, not just from how he won the Travers, because all his wins have been impressive. He will be a challenge for California Chrome, as will Frosted. He’s a horse I have to keep an eye on, too.
“In a race like the Classic, you have to worry pretty much about every single horse, because they’re there for a reason and they’re going to be focusing on California Chrome. I’m glad Arrogate is in the race, because it takes a little bit of pressure off Chrome.”
Trainer Art Sherman, for what it’s worth, seems as confident about California Chrome’s chances as he did before the Awesome Again, in which Chrome won handily by 2 ¼-lengths over Dortmund, a win so overwhelming it diverted Dortmund from the Classic to the Dirt Mile.
Sherman offered fair warning to Chrome’s foes: “They better be tied on,” he said.
In other Breeders’ Cup news:
- With Martin Garcia aboard both horses (not at the same time, of course), Bob Baffert
worked Dirt Mile favorite Dortmund and streaking Sprint contender Drefong.
Dortmund went four furlongs in 47 flat, breezing, while Drefong went four furlongs in company with Mor Spirit, each getting a time of 47.40.
Also working for Baffert was Enchanting Lady (Filly & Mare Sprint, four furlongs in 47.40, breezing) in company with Lemhill Basr (47.80).
- Under the keen eye of Bill Mott, Acorn winner Carina Mia (Distaff) went four
furlongs in 47.60, breezing, while Gun Runner (Classic) went the same distance for Steve Asmussen in 48.40.
- Trainer David Hofmans plans to give Santa Anita Handicap and Gold Cup winner Melatonin
(Classic) a half-mile blowout on Wednesday.
- Masochistic, likely to vie for favoritism in the $1.5 TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint on
Saturday, had his second gate breeze Saturday, five furlongs in a minute flat under Mike Smith.
“Two works back he worked from the gate,” trainer Ron Ellis said of the six-year-old California-bred Sought After gelding. “I’ve done it to keep him sharp because he hasn’t run in a while (by design, since Aug. 27, when he was a handy winner of the Grade II Pat O’Brien by nearly four lengths).
“It’s kind of a routine I’ve done with him when he’s had breaks before and it’s worked. As far as I’m concerned, he couldn’t be better.”
- The post position draw for the Classic and the Distaff will take place Monday following a
reception at 3:30 in Santa Anita’s Chandelier Room, in the Club House, mezzanine level.
Post positions for the other 11 Breeders’ Cup races will be drawn Monday from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. at the Top of the Stretch on the ground floor near Santa Anita’s Clockers’ Corner.
FINISH LINES: Thanks to Cover Song‘s nose victory at 30-1 over 3-2 favorite Danilovna in Saturday’s Autumn Miss Stakes and ultimately withstanding a lengthy stewards’ inquiry, there is a Pick 6 carryover of $67,117 today, with the pool expected to surpass $500,000. The Autumn Miss was one of three winners on the day for resurgent Kent Desormeaux, moving him two behind leader Rafael Bejarano (19-17) in the battle for Autumn Meet riding honors . . . Jerry Hollendorfer, winner of more than 7,100 races in his long and storied career, seeks yet another with Dr. Fager’s Gal in Saturday’s Grade III Senator Ken Maddy Stakes for fillies and mares, three and up, at about 6 ½ furlongs on turf. The four-year-old bay filly is a daughter of Wild Desert, bred in New York. Asked how he came by a horse bred in the Empire State, Hollendorfer didn’t quibble. “I don’t care where they come from,” he said, “as long as they can run.”
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Saturday, Oct. 29)|
|Norberto Arroyo, Jr.||86||16||12||13||19%||48%||$632,583|
|Robert Hess, Jr.||15||4||1||2||27%||47%||$98,275|