- CHROME IN ‘OUTSTANDING’ DRILL FOR SAN ANTONIO
- ESPINOZA TAKES SOLACE IN A JOB WELL DONE
- STEADY WARREN’S VENEDA EYES PASEANA GOLD
CALIFORNIA CHROME WORKS TOWARDS 4-YEAR-OLD DEBUT
Horse of the Year finalist California Chrome had an “outstanding” workout at his Los
Alamitos headquarters Saturday morning as the Kentucky Derby king prepares for his 4-year-old debut in the $500,000 San Antonio Stakes at Santa Anita on Feb. 7.
With regular rider Victor Espinoza aboard and California Chrome wearing blinkers, the
California-bred son of Lucky Pulpit, also up for an Eclipse Award as outstanding male 3-year-old of 2014, went six furlongs in 1:11.60.
Alan Sherman, son of and assistant to trainer Art Sherman, termed the move “outstanding. I got him in 1:11 2/5, but the official time was 1:11 3/5,” Alan said.
Los Alamitos head clocker Russ Hudak recorded fractional times of 23 1/5, 47 2/5 and 59 1/5. “He looked really good,” Hudak said. “He was kind of being eased up at the finish.”
If the stars align properly, the Grade II San Antonio at a mile and an eighth could bring together Bayern and Shared Belief for a Breeders’ Cup Classic rematch in the San Antonio everyone in racing wants to see.
Bayern led throughout the mile and a quarter Classic to win by a nose, with Chrome third by a neck and Shared Belief four lengths back in fourth after losing considerable ground due to a rough start.
California Chrome, in a weekly work pattern each Saturday, will deviate from his agenda for his next breeze, which will be Monday, Jan. 19, instead of Saturday, Jan. 17.
“Mom, Dad and I will be in Florida for the Eclipse Awards next Saturday,” Sherman said.
ESPINOZA A WINNER DESPITE ECLIPSE SNUB
Last year, Victor Espinoza recorded victories in the Santa Anita Derby, the Kentucky
Derby and the Preakness, and posted solid efforts in the Belmont Stakes and the Breeders’ Cup Classic, Grade I races all. He was the regular rider of three potential champions and was a giving and gracious ambassador of the sport, but he won’t win an Eclipse Award as Outstanding Jockey of 2014.
What’s a man to do?
When you’re not one of the three finalists for the honor, to be announced Jan. 17 at Gulfstream Park Racing and Casino, you can’t win. The three finalists are Javier Castellano, Joel Rosario and John Velazquez.
“I’m a little disappointed,” said Espinoza’s agent, Brian Beach, “because his body of work over the entire year, from January to December, was pretty good, and it wasn’t just a one-horse show.
“He rode the winners of nine Grade I stakes and was tied for third with Castellano in that category. He went to Royal Ascot and won a race there, and he did a lot of good things for racing throughout the year.
“There are four Eclipse Award finalists that Victor was a big part of (American Pharoah and Hootenanny, 2-year-old male; Take Charge Brandi, 2-year-old filly; and California Chrome, 3-year-old male and Horse of the Year).
“I don’t know how that stacks up in the history of Eclipse voting, whether there ever were three horses that won Eclipse Awards one jockey had ridden regularly, but it’s pretty impressive to me, anyway,” Beach said.
Espinoza couldn’t have been more obliging during the Triple Crown run, signing autographs, making public appearances, bantering with David Letterman on “Late Night” TV.
“Besides me, we had two or three other people handling all the requests for Victor,” Beach said. “Because he’s bi-lingual, the Hispanic media wanted time with him as well. Victor accommodated every single person and gave one-on-one interviews when he could, all the way until hours before the Belmont.
“In addition to Letterman, he rang the bell on Wall Street for the traditional stock market opening, did all the things he was asked to do, and was such a good sport about everything.
“Because this was his second time experiencing the Triple Crown (the 42-year-old Espinoza won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness in 2002 aboard War Emblem), I think this time he was trying to enjoy it more. The first time, I don’t think he knew what to expect.”
WARREN‘S VENEDA ‘OUTRUNS HER PEDIGREE’
Warren’s Veneda isn’t in the exclusive company of Clubhouse Ride, a $22,000 bargain who has earned more than $1 million, but the 5-year-old mare is doing all right for a homebred.
The California-bred daughter of Affirmative, owned by and bred by Benjamin C. Warren and trained by Craig Lewis, who also conditions Clubhouse Ride, has earned $407,012 with five wins, three seconds and five thirds from 19 starts.
Lewis hopes she’ll add to her bankroll when she runs in Sunday’s $75,000 Paseana Stakes for older fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles.
“She’s outrun her pedigree, that’s for sure,” Lewis said. “Not bad for a handshake deal. She’s better than an empty stall. That was a heartbreaker there,” Lewis said, referring to the chestnut’s head defeat last out in the Bayakoa Stakes at Los Alamitos Race Course Dec. 6.
The field: Legacy, Edwin Maldonado, 12-1; Valiant Emilia, Rafael Bejarano, 10-1; Zilber, Tiago Pereira, 20-1; Tiz Midnight, Victor Espinoza, 8-5; Warren’s Veneda, Tyler Baze, 3-1; My Sweet Addiction, Mike Smith, 3-1; Eblouissante, Gary Stevens, 10-1; and Taste Like Candy, Kent Desormeaux, 9-2.
FINISH LINES: Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Texas Red, an Eclipse Award finalist for top male 2-year-old of 2014, worked seven furlongs at Santa Anita Saturday in 1:17.80, handily from the gate. Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux was aboard for his brother, Keith, who trains the son of Afleet Alex, ticketed for the San Vicente Stakes at seven furlongs on Feb. 1 . . . From HRTV’s Scott Hazelton via Twitter comes word that 2014 Robert B. Lewis Stakes winner Candy Boy, formerly trained by John Sadler, is now being trained by Doug Watson and is a candidate for the $10 million Dubai World Cup on March 28 . . . Drayden Van Dyke, heavily favored to win an Eclipse Award as Outstanding Apprentice of 2014, has dropped his appeal of Nov. 15, 2014 and will serve a three-day suspension Jan. 16, 17 and 18.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Friday, Jan. 9)|
|Drayden Van Dyke||48||3||4||7||6%||$231,356|
|J. Eric Kruljac||8||2||1||0||25%||$73,170|
|A. C. Avila||7||2||0||0||29%||$30,210|