- CALIFORNIA CHROME IS READY, WEATHER OR NOT
- UFC SUPERSTAR MCGREGOR SETS PEGASUS ‘BUZZ’
- HEAVY RAINS CAUSE THURSDAY CANCELLATION
- TIZ A KISS EYES FIRST STAKES WIN ON DOLLAR DAY
CHROME AWAITS PEGASUS AT GULFSTREAM PARK
The Chromie Countdown is on.
It’s just over two weeks until the world’s most popular race horse, California Chrome, makes his final start before going to stud, this in the $12 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 28.
The six-year-old California-bred son of Lucky Pulpit has been in Florida with assistant trainer Alan Sherman since Jan. 6, preparing for the inaugural race at 1 1/8 miles. His trainer, Art Sherman, heads to the Sunshine State a week from today.
Meanwhile, like everyone else inundated in Southern California recently, Sherman was holed up at his Los Alamitos base early Thursday morning, thankful that the highest-earning Thoroughbred in North America history ($14,502,650) was safe and sound and not at the whim of the weatherman.
“He galloped this morning and he’ll work five-eighths Saturday and probably gallop out three-quarters,” Sherman said. “The horse is doing great.”
Arrogate, who overtook front-running California Chrome in deep stretch to register a dramatic half-length victory in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Nov. 5, is scheduled for a rematch in the Pegasus which will be his first start since the Classic.
The four-year-old son of Unbridled’s Song trained by Bob Baffert for Juddmonte Farms had a public workout before the first race Sunday, and with rain due to abate over the next few days, could breeze again before departing for Florida.
Fortunately, Sherman has no such concern. Wet weather didn’t bother him, especially when he was a jockey back in the day.
“One meet in Vancouver it rained for 30 days and we never missed a day,” said the Brooklyn native, who turns 80 on Feb. 17. “I used to wear five sets of goggles.”
But that was then and this is now.
Sherman’s primary focus is on California Chrome and his well-being coming up to the Pegasus. Of course, adding a 2016 Horse of the Year title to the one he captured in 2014 would be more than welcome.
“It would be a great honor to win it a second time,” Sherman said. “He won $8 million last year and no horse has done that, plus he won seven out of eight races. I don’t see how he doesn’t deserve the Eclipse Award.”
That, of course, still must play out. The votes are in and Eclipse Award winners, along with Horse of the Year, will be announced at the 46th annual ceremony at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 21.
There is one done deal, however. California Chrome is on site at Gulfstream to prepare for the Pegasus. “It’s the best move I ever made,” Sherman said about getting him there early and not having to fidget over the weather. “I would have had a heart attack,” he said.
UFC SUPERSTAR MCGREGOR CREATES PEGASUS ‘BUZZ’
Reigning UFC Lightweight Champion Connor McGregor, who was at Santa Anita this past month to star in a series of four short comedic films entitled “The 13th Jockey,” which is intended to promote the inaugural $12 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational on Jan. 28 at Gulfstream Park, has already helped to generate five million views via Episode 1 across Pegasus World Cup and McGregor social media platforms.
More importantly, these views are generating a high percentage of “shares,” which indicates The 13th Jockey is being seen by millions of people who perhaps have little or no familiarity with racing. These “shares” are thus exposing the sport in a very significant way to the highly coveted 25-34-year-old demographic that is so vital to racing’s future.
In addition to wide-ranging social media exposure, Episode 1 has generated mentions in Forbes, Rolling Stone, Sports Illustrated, US Weekly, Extra TV, the Washington Post, Irish Independent, Globo Brazil, the Herald Sun (Australia), Maxim, USA Today, Yahoo, the Paulick Report, Thoroughbred Daily News, America’s Best Racing and other media outlets.
Due as much to his magnetic personality as his phenomenal fighting skills, McGregor is currently one of the most highly recognized athletes in the world. His co-star in The 13th Jockey is comedian Jon Lovitz. Frank Coraci (The Wedding Singer) directed the four-part series.
Episode 2, which was also shot on location at Santa Anita, was unveiled yesterday, while the remaining two episodes will be distributed on Jan.18 and on Pegasus World Cup Day, Jan. 28. The Pegasus World Cup Invitational, which could include as many as 12 horses, is scheduled to feature an epic rematch between Breeders’ Cup Classic Champion Arrogate and 2014 Horse of the Year, California Chrome.
In conjunction with The 13th Jockey advertising campaign, fans can now take a chance at winning a $1 million prize by participating in the Pegasus Win-Win Contest at pegasusworldcup.com/win.
THURSDAY RACING CANCELLED DUE TO HEAVY RAINS
Santa Anita Park officials announced that Thursday’s eight-race program has been cancelled due to continued heavy rainfall in the Arcadia area which has resulted in local flooding and road closures. Santa Anita has already received seven inches of rainfall from significant winter storms over the past week and up to two additional inches are predicted to fall along the San Gabriel Mountain foothills throughout the remainder of the day.
According the National Weather Service, the most recent storm is scheduled to move out of the area later this evening resulting in predicted sunny skies over the three-day Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend.
Santa Anita was open for simulcast wagering on Thursday, with free parking and admission available. .
Santa Anita has notified horsemen that substitute races will be offered in the coming days for all horses that were entered on Thursday’s program.
First post time at Santa Anita on Friday is at 1 p.m., while first post time on Saturday, Sunday, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Day will be at 12:30 p.m. Fans are encouraged to visit santanita.com for the latest track condition updates as well as entry and morning line information.
TIZ A KISS EYES FIRST STAKES WIN IN MEGAHERTZ
Richard Baltas hopes Tiz a Kiss continues to outrun her odds when she goes in Monday’s Martin Luther King Jr. holiday feature, the Grade III, $100,000 Megahertz Stakes for older fillies and mares scheduled for one mile on turf.
A victory would result in her first stakes win. She was second by a nose in the restricted Solana Beach last August at Del Mar.
A seven-year-old California-bred daughter of Cee’s Tizzy, Tiz a Kiss has been favored only once under the direction of Baltas, that in her first start for him on Sept. 5, 2015. In 11 starts since, she has never been the favorite, going off at 10-1 when second in the Grade II Goldikova Stakes last Nov. 6 and at 21-1 when a respectable seventh in the Grade I Matriarch at Del Mar Dec. 4.
“She was sitting on the rail in the Matriarch,” said Baltas, who has four wins through the first nine days at Santa Anita’s Winter Meet. “She got through and they weren’t going that fast (a mile on a firm course in 1:35). They were kind of walking, actually, I thought.
“Twenty-three and change, 48 and 1:12 for Grade I horses. It was a little step up. They were the best fillies in the country she ran against.”
Kent Desormeaux, who has ridden Tiz a Kiss nine times, winning twice, is back aboard.
Monday is Dollar Day at Santa Anita. Beer, sodas and hot dogs will be a buck apiece. First post time is 12:30 p.m. Admission gates open at 10:30 a.m.
FINISH LINES: Congrats to Hollywood heavyweights Gary Barber, Kevin Tsujihara and Les Moonves, CEO’s of MGM, Warner Brothers Entertainment, and CBS, respectively, on winning Sunday’s third race with Forest Blue, a chestnut gelding trained by Peter Miller. Forest Blue, who won by nearly three lengths as the $5.40 favorite, was claimed for $16,000 out of the six furlong race by trainer Jeff Mullins. “He’s a solid horse and I wish the new owner and trainer well,” said Miller, tied for the training lead through nine days with six wins and leading in stakes victories with four . . . With seven inches of rain pelting Santa Anita in just over a week, Thursday’s live races were cancelled. Live racing resumes Friday at 1 p.m. Admission gates open at 11 a.m.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Sunday, Jan. 8)|
|Norberto Arroyo, Jr.||38||7||2||0||18%||24%||$303,780|
|Drayden Van Dyke||37||4||6||0||11%||27%||$234,060|
|J. Keith Desormeaux||10||2||2||2||20%||60%||$254,915|
|Robert Hess, Jr.||10||2||1||0||20%||30%||$150,145|