The San Antonio has captured the fancy of the whole of racing, California Chrome trainer Art Sherman included.

“I think you’ll see a lot of people at Santa Anita Saturday,” the 77-year-old said. “Being Horse of the Year now and being as popular as he is here in California, I think you’ll see one of the biggest crowds you’ve seen at Santa Anita in a long time.

“My good friend’s horse, Shared Belief, is in there and he’s a good horse. I’m very excited to hook up again. It’s an old-timer’s thing with me and him (Jerry Hollendorfer).”

As the colt’s regular rider, Victor Espinoza is a charter member of the California Chrome Fan Club. “I’m very excited,” he said. “For once, I have a good post. I’m really looking forward to it. I think it will be an exciting race for California Chrome and a good day for racing. The race isn’t that easy, but California Chrome is doing good, and we’ll see what happens.

“I know there are a couple tough horses in there. Shared Belief is an amazing horse, but I have a lot of confidence in California Chrome.”

Suggested there would be less pressure on Chrome than there was last year during his Triple Crown run and pursuit of Horse of the Year honors, which he ultimately won, Espinoza had a refreshing take.

“Now,” he said, “I have to ride him like Horse of the Year.”

Regarding strategy, California Chrome should be forwardly placed early on from his No. 8 post position

“He’s got enough tactical speed but he’ll get out and get over,” said Alan Sherman, Art’s son and assistant.

Alpha Bird, 30-1 on Jon White’s morning line, is just outside California Chrome in post nine and has been on the lead virtually from start to finish in four of his five starts, although his class is unproven since the San Antonio is his first stakes start.

“There are a couple of horses in there that probably shouldn’t be,” Alan Sherman said. “But our horse is doing good and we’re looking forward to starting the New Year.”

The San Antonio field: Hoppertunity, Martin Garcia, 4-1; Tonito M., Rafael Bejarano, 15-1; You Know I Know, Drayden Van Dyke, 30-1; Imperative, Flavien Prat, 20-1; Shared Belief, Mike Smith, 7-5; Clubhouse Ride, Aaron Gryder, 30-1; Bronzo, Gary Stevens, 20-1; California Chrome, Victor Espinoza, 6-5; and Alfa Bird, Tyler Baze, 30-1.

The San Antonio, with an approximate post time of 4 p.m., will be televised nationally on Fox Sports 1.



Jerry Hollendorfer manages his vast operation with clock-like precision. You don’t approach 7,000 career victories steering a slapdash ship.

That said, the Hall of Fame trainer is known to give a word of advice to his riders before giving them a leg up in a race, not that it always matters once the gates open (see the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic).

That’s why Hollendorfer employs the best jockeys he can get, among them Hall of Fame great Mike Smith, who will be aboard once-beaten Shared Belief in the San Antonio Stakes.

“It’s a rider’s race,” Hollendorfer said Friday morning, as the San Antonio countdown began in earnest. “That’s why you use good riders like Mike Smith and Russell Baze, so they can make good decisions.

“In a race like the San Antonio, everyone knows they are all good horses. You devise a basic plan before the race, but that’s about all you can do.”

Shared Belief galloped on Santa Anita’s main track at 7 a.m. Friday morning in a picturesque setting and under ideal conditions. Hollendorfer said the gelding’s last work (four furlongs in 50.80 at Golden Gate Tuesday) “was just what we wanted. A nice, easy blowout.”

As to running against California Chrome and his long-time friend, Art Sherman, Hollendorfer was looking forward to it. “We’re always happy to run in a big race,” he said. “Hopefully, it will be a great race for the fans and a great race for both horses.”



For a guy who has been “living on the rail,” Bob Baffert got a breather with Dortmund, the unbeaten colt who makes his 3-year-old debut in Saturday’s Grade III Robert B. Lewis Stakes, which offers 17 qualifying points to the Kentucky Derby, 10 to the winner, four to the runner-up, two to the third horse and one to the fourth.

“Well, he’s going to be wide the whole way,” Baffert said of the chestnut son of 2008 Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown owned by Kaleem Shah.

Not necessarily. On paper, there doesn’t appear to be that much speed inside him in the field of six going a mile and a sixteenth.

The Robert B. Lewis lineup: Tizcano, Martin Pedroza, 15-1; Rock Shandy, Victor Espinoza, 6-1; Sebastian’s Heart, Agapito Delgadillo, 30-1; Hero Ten All, Tyler Baze, 10-1; Firing Line, Gary Stevens, 7-5; and Dortmund, Martin Garcia, 4-5.



American Pharoah, who on Monday had his first published workout since last Oct. 26, prior to missing the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on Nov. 1 due to a suspensory-related injury, is a candidate for the San Felipe Stakes on March 7, Bob Baffert said.

“Either that or the Rebel,” Baffert said of the Eclipse Award winner as leading 2-year-old male of 2014. “He looks good. He’ll come around quick. We have the Rebel, and the San Felipe. If all goes well, he’ll be in one of those.”

The Rebel will be run at 1 1/16 miles at Oaklawn Park March 14. The Grade II, $400,000 San Felipe at 1 1/16 miles will be run at Santa Anita March 7.

American Pharoah was 12-1 in Pool 2 of the 2015 Kentucky Derby Future Wager which opened at 9 a.m. Pacific Time today.



Drayden Van Dyke lost the bug but not his confidence or ability.

The 20-year-old riding star, who surrendered his five-pound apprentice allowance on Jan. 20 and has been riding as a full-fledged journeyman since, has maintained his place among Santa Anita’s leading riders and has no intention of losing it.

“I had a good first week once I lost the allowance,” Van Dyke said during a rare lull on another busy work day. Through 25 racing days, Van Dyke, who tacks 111 pounds and is represented by agent Sarah Wolfe, had 11 wins, 13 seconds and 16 thirds. His mounts have earned $656,626.

“I had my first winner (as a journeyman) my first ride back, which was really cool to do. I’m riding the same. If anything, I’ll ride better because I’ll be stronger and weigh a little more.

“I just have to get the better horses, that’s all.”

One such horse is Patrioticandproud, a 6-year-old Pennsylvania-bred gelding he rides in Saturday’s Grade II San Marcos Stakes at 1 ¼ miles on turf.

Trained by Mark Casse, Patrioticandproud rallied for second, beaten only a length by Finnegans Wake last out in the Grade II San Gabriel Stakes. In the race prior, Finnegans Wake again got the better of Patrioticandproud, winning by a neck in the Grade II Hollywood Turf Cup.

“Finnegans Wake got the jump on me in that race,” Van Dyke said of the San Gabriel. “In fact, my horse’s last two races were pretty much the same. If we can get the jump on Finnegans Wake and a better trip this time, I think I can beat him.”

The field for the San Marcos: Finnegans Wake, Victor Espinoza, 5-2; Patrioticandproud, Drayden Van Dyke, 4-1; Majestic Harbor, Mike Smith, 8-1; Power Ped, Flavien Prat, 9-2; Little Jerry, Edwin Maldonado, 12-1; Diamond Bachelor, Martin Pedroza, 20-1; Dynamic Sky, Corey Nakatani, 3-1; and Power Foot, Kieren Fallon, 8-1.

Quadrivium was scratched.



When it comes to winning races, there is no wasted motion with Hector Palma.

Through 25 racing days at Santa Anita, the 77-year-old trainer had five wins and two seconds from 12 starts, a sparkling 42 percent average, not too shabby for a barn of 25 horses.

Palma hopes to enhance his norm with The Mad Hungarian, 9-5 morning line favorite in today’s second race, but win or lose, he’ll take it in stride.

“The key in this game is having the right horses,” said Palma, who owns the speedy son of Dixie Chatter along with George Yager, who races as B G Stable.

“I’ve been training since 1971 and been coming to Santa Anita since 1956, when I was here as a groom with (the late) Riley Cofer,” said Palma, who with Yager recently purchased a 50-acre spread in Hemet from Benjamin Warren, and operates as BJ Thoroughbred Farms.

“I’ve won over 1,000 races and I’m going for 1,100,” Palma said. “For someone who came from Mexico with nothing, that’s pretty good.”


FINISH LINES: PromisingCalifornia-bred 3-year-old Acceptance, who suffered hisfirst defeat when finishing fourth as the 1-2 favorite in the California Cup Derby on Jan. 24, has been turned out at the Old English Rancho in Sanger. “He left today,” said Kenny Black, assistant to trainer Don Warren. “He’ll be freshened to deal with some shin issues.” . . . Agent Ron Anderson reports that Joel Rosario will return to Santa Anita on Presidents’ Day, Monday, Feb. 16, to ride Matriarch winner La Tia for trainer Armando De la cerda in the Grade II, $200,000 Buena Vista Stakes for older fillies and mares at one mile on turf . . . Trainer Peter Eurton has Betty’s Bambino pointed to the $100,000 Sensational Star Stakes on the hillside turf course Feb. 21, and Kobe’s Back ticketed for the Grade II San Carlos Stakes at seven furlongs on March 7 . . . Agent Tony Matos has booked Corey Nakatani on Mr. Z for D. Wayne Lukas in the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park on Presidents’ Day . . . Flavien Prat rides Minks Aprise for Jerry Hollendorfer in the $75,000 Sweet Life Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at about 6 ½ furlongs on turf next Saturday, Feb. 14, agent Derek Lawson said . . . HRTV analyst Michelle Yu will be Tom Quigley‘s guest handicapper Sunday in the East Paddock Gardens at 11:20 a.m. . . . Apprentice jockey Gonzalo Nicolas has been suspended three racing days(Feb. 15, 16 and 20) for causing interference on Master Master in Sunday’s fourth race.


(Current Through Thursday, Feb. 5)
Jockey Mts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% Money Won
Rafael Bejarano 120 29 21 18 24% $1,421,394
Kent Desormeaux 85 19 14 9 22% $1,103,992
Victor Espinoza 75 14 14 8 19% $801,470
Tyler Baze 119 14 11 16 12% $913,344
Elvis Trujillo 102 12 14 9 12% $804,026
Joseph Talamo 104 12 12 15 12% $896,334
Mike Smith 56 12 11 9 21% $917,121
Drayden Van Dyke 99 11 13 16 11% $656,626
Martin Pedroza 83 10 15 6 12% $395,170
Fernando Perez 90 9 9 7 10% $377,204
Corey Nakatani 63 9 8 8 14% $515,350
Gary Stevens 45 9 5 7 20% $617,992
Martin Garcia 57 8 12 7 14% $820,050
Flavien Prat 51 7 2 6 14% $295,830
Trainer Sts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% Money Won
Jerry Hollendorfer 81 17 11 10 21% $1,545,334
Peter Miller 68 13 16 6 19% $756,240
Bob Baffert 46 8 11 7 17% $919,118
Doug O’Neill 67 8 7 9 12% $420,136
Peter Eurton 38 8 4 7 21% $364,508
Mark Casse 34 6 5 4 18% $545,520
John Sadler 52 5 8 10 10% $359,432
Philip D’Amato 36 5 8 6 14% $319,190
Mark Glatt 38 5 8 6 13% $288,574
James Cassidy 32 5 5 6 16% $193,610
Richard Mandella 26 5 3 5 19% $234,000
Richard Baltas 28 5 3 3 18% $163,528
Carla Gaines 23 5 3 1 22% $290,865
Hector O. Palma 12 5 2 0 42% $93,310