- CLASSIC WINNER ARROGATE DRILLS FOR 2017 DEBUT
- LANGUAGE BARRIER NO PROBLEM FOR GARY STUTE
- SANTA ANITA WINTER MEET STARTS MONDAY, DEC. 26
- CHROME’S FAREWELL CALIFORNIA RACE SATURDAY
ARROGATE COULD RUN IN SAN PASQUAL STAKES JAN. 1
Juddmonte Farm’s Arrogate, who upset fan favorite California Chrome in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita on Nov. 6, worked five furlongs Tuesday at The Great Race Place in a bullet 58.40, fastest of 77 drills at the distance, the average time of which was 1:01.39.
Trainer Bob Baffert told bloodhorse.com that Arrogate could make his 2017 debut in the Grade II, $200,000 San Pasqual Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on Jan. 1, which could lead to the $12 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 28.
Martin Garcia was aboard for the drill.
“When he came back, he was just full of himself, it was like nothing for him,” Baffert said of Arrogate. “He’s so impressive. After retiring American Pharoah, I never dreamt I would be dealing with another horse of his caliber, but he’s just getting stronger and better every day.”
IN ANY LANGUAGE, CHAO CHOM’S A WINNER
Considering the owner doesn’t speak English and the trainer doesn’t speak Thai, S. Sandow, Inc. and Gary Stute have a business relationship made in heaven.
Stute trains Chao Chom for Sandow, who plans to be on hand when the upstart daughter of Tizbud runs in the Grade I La Brea Stakes for three-year-old fillies at seven furlongs on opening day, Dec. 26.
“It’s a big step up for her but as long as I get (Kent) Desormeaux, I’ll be happy,” Stute said. It was Hall of Fame rider Desormeaux who piloted 8-1 Chao Chom to a 1 ¾-length upset over 1-9 favorite Enola Gray in the Betty Grable Stakes for California-breds at Del Mar Nov. 13.
“He’s got those magic hands,” Stute said of Desormeaux, who was riding the filly for the first time. “He had a chance to ride another filly in the Betty Grable, but that owner wanted to try somebody else.”
Stute said Chao Chom’s owner, who owns a business that collects trash in Bangkok, usually visits the United States later in the year but is coming in specifically to see Chao Chom run in the La Brea.
“The difficult part of our relationship is, I don’t speak Thai and he doesn’t speak English, and I’ve been training for him 15 years,” Gary said. “My Dad (retired trainer Mel Stute) loves them. Every time they come here, his wife gives him a hundred-dollar bill.”
Chao Chom worked six furlongs on Santa Anita’s main track Tuesday in a bullet 1:12.20 under jockey Juan Ochoa.
SANTA ANITA OFFERS POPULAR WALL CALENDAR AND MUCH MORE OPENING DAY
In addition to four graded stakes, Santa Anita Park will again treat fans to its popular 2017 wall calendar and much more with the beginning of its traditional Winter Meet on Monday, Dec. 26. A fan favorite for decades, the Santa Anita 2017 wall calendar will be given free of charge to all attendees with paid admission. With a pair of Grade I stakes, the Malibu and the La Brea leading the way, Santa Anita’s Winter Meet opener will again command center stage among racing fans nationwide.
Mathis Brothers Furniture, for whom the opening day Grade II, $200,000 Mathis Brothers Mile is named, will provide a plush Thoroughbred toy to the first 5,000 kids 12 and under, as well as Mathis Brothers Gift certificates to all paid attendees. Santa Anita will also provide a Family Fun Zone in its spacious Infield Area. (General Admission and parking are free in the Infield, via Gate 6 off of Colorado Place).
Santa Anita’s luxurious Chandelier Room will again play host to the highly acclaimed Guest Chef Series as one of LA’s hottest restaurants will provide contemporary cuisine and post-holiday celebration. Ticketing, available online, includes innovative signature dishes throughout the afternoon, six delicious whiskey tastings, live music, a racing program, a wagering tip sheet and more. To purchase tickets, please visit santaanita.com/events.
With first post time set at 12 noon, admission gates will open at 10 a.m.
Here’s a schedule of opening day events:
–Grade I, $300,000 Malibu Stakes for 3-year-olds at seven furlongs.
–Grade I, $300,000 La Brea Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at seven furlongs
–Grade II, $200,000 Mathis Brothers Mile (turf) for 3-year-olds
–Grade III, $100,000 San Simeon Stakes for 3-year-olds and up, at 6 ½ furlongs down hillside turf
–Free 2017 Santa Anita Wall Calendar
–Free Mathis Brothers plush Thoroughbred toy to first 5,000 kids 12 and under
–A Mathis Brothers Gift Certificate, free with paid admission
–Craft Beer and Cider Festival on Grandstand Apron (packages available at santaanita.com/events)
–Guest Chef Series in the Chandelier Room featuring a catered menu from one of LA’s hottest restaurants, delicious whiskey tastings, live music and more, visit santaanita.com/events for details
–Infield Family Fun Zone featuring pony rides and much more, visit santaanita.com/events
–Bud Light Lounge, all you can eat buffet, first beer included, racing program and more, visit santaanita.com/events
Entries for opening day races will be taken Wednesday, Dec. 21. For more racing and event information, please visit santaanita.com or call (626) 574-RACE.
STORYBOOK HORSE LEAVES BIG VOID FOR SHERMAN
The penultimate chapter in California Chrome’s fairytale career is scheduled to unfold Saturday at Los Alamitos Race Course, as the soon to be 6-year-old California-bred son of Lucky Pulpit readies for a highly anticipated rematch with Arrogate in the inaugural $12 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational Jan. 28 at Gulfstream Park–Chrome’s farewell race before being retired to stud at Taylor Made Farm in Nicholasville, Ky.
“He looks very good,” trainer Art Sherman said three days after Chrome had his final workout for the Los Alamitos Winter Challenge. “He’s been training forwardly and I look for him to run a decent race.”
If all goes well after Saturday, plans call for Chrome to leave for Florida on Jan. 6 “and train at Gulfstream prior to the race.”
California Chrome will leave a gaping chasm not only in racing but in America’s mainstream. Winner of the Kentucky Derby in 2014 when he was named Horse of the Year, California Chrome won the $10 million Dubai World Cup last March, was second by a half-length to champion-in-waiting Arrogate in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Nov. 5 and is North America’s all-time leading money earner with $14,452,650, boasting a 15-4-1 record from 25 starts.
Chrome’s life as a stallion will require an adjustment for both horse and trainer.
“When I look at that stall and see he’s not in there, it will be a void for me,” Sherman said. “But he’s got some great mares lined up, so I’m hoping he’ll be a really decent stud.”
That, of course, remains to be seen. Meanwhile, Sherman can’t complain.
“It’s been one helluva ride for me,” said the Brooklyn native who turns 80 come Feb. 17. “He’s a once-in-a-lifetime horse. Every trainer hopes he can have a horse like him and I was lucky enough to have him. It’s been great for me, my family and friends.”
While the California Chrome story on the race track is due to end Jan. 28 at Gulfstream Park, his untarnished tale of the turf could live on in perpetuity.
Sherman said a book that would be authored by Daily Racing Form’s Eclipse Award-winning Executive Columnist Jay Hovdey has been discussed.
“There are a lot of memories,” Sherman said. “I can tell you that.”
FINISH LINES: As is its tradition, Santa Anita begins its Winter Meet at 12 noon the day after Christmas, Dec. 26, which falls on a Monday but is considered a holiday since Christmas is on a Sunday. Santa Anita will be dark for live racing Tuesday and Wednesday, Dec. 27 and 28, and resume live racing Thursday, Dec. 29, at 12:30 p.m. . . . The California Horse Racing Board will conduct its regular monthly meeting 9:30 a.m. tomorrow at Los Alamitos Race Course. An audio-only webcast of the Board meeting can be heard through a link on the CHRB website (webcast). The public is encouraged to attend.