- BAYERN, CHROME WORK FOR POSSIBLE REMATCH
- STEADY VELVET MESQUITE SET FOR THE MONROVIA
- HRTV TO ANNOUNCE ECLIPSE FINALISTS WEDNESDAY
SAN ANTONIO COULD LURE RACING’S BIG THREE
Bayern and California Chrome, each a strong contender for Horse of the Year and male
3-year-old champion honors for 2014, worked at Santa Anita and Los Alamitos, respectively, Saturday morning, in what could lead to a Breeders’ Cup Classic rematch in the $500,000, Grade II San Antonio Stakes at Santa Anita on Feb. 7.
Male 2-year-old champion of 2013 Shared Belief, winner of seven of eight starts including the Grade I Malibu Stakes on Dec. 26, also is ticketed for the San Antonio. The gelded son of Candy Ride suffered his only loss when he finished fourth after a rough start in the Nov. 1 Classic. Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer plans to work Shared Belief Tuesday at his Golden Gate headquarters.
“He worked real nice,” Bob Baffert said of Bayern, who had regular rider Martin Garcia aboard for a five furlong move in 1:00.40. “He was very comfortable. We’re just working to get him back to the races. We have a few spots in mind, including the San Antonio and the Donn.”
The Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park is a Grade I, $500,000 race at 1 1/8 miles the same day as the San Antonio, which also will be decided at 1 1/8 miles.
Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome went six furlongs at Los Al in 1:12.60 with regular pilot Victor Espinoza up. Wearing blinkers and on a cleared track just after 8 a.m., California Chrome cut fractions of 23 4/5, 48 2/5 and 1:00 2/5, according to Los Alamitos head clocker Russ Hudak.
“Great” is how the drill was termed by Alan Sherman, son of and assistant to Art Sherman, trainer of California Chrome.
“It would be fun to see these three horses come together again in the San Antonio.”
MARE SMOOTH AS VELVET ON DOWNHILL COURSE
Rival trainers might have second thoughts about tackling Velvet Mesquite when she
runs on Santa Anita’s unique downhill turf course at about 6 ½ furlongs.
That said, a full field of 12 was entered for Sunday’s Grade II, $200,000 Monrovia Stakes for older fillies and mares, Velvet Mesquite drawing the outside post against 11 opponents.
Owned and bred by Harris Farms in Coalinga, California, the 5-year-old daughter of In Excess has won five of six starts on the layout, finishing fifth in her only loss last March when she was off slow and steadied.
“I think she has natural speed that puts her in a pretty good spot in the race, and she
can have a little left,” said trainer Blake Heap in explaining Velvet Mesquite’s penchant for the course. “That makes it hard for closers to catch her.
“She handles the grass, but she can handle the dirt a little bit, too. She just handles the downhill turf course awfully well.”
The field for the Monrovia, the eighth of nine races: Shrinking Violet, Kent Desormeaux, 12-1; To My Valentine, Fernando Perez, 15-1; Baruta, Tiago Pereira, 15-1; Heat Trap, Victor Espinoza, 4-1; Gender Agenda, Tyler Baze, 5-1; Warm Breeze, Kieren Fallon, 20-1; Wishing Gate, Gary Stevens, 6-1; Biorhythm, Drayden Van Dyke, 9-2; One More, Mario Gutierrez, 20-1; Sky Treasure, Corey Nakatani, 12-1; Judy In Disguise, Joe Talamo; and Velvet Mesquite, Mike Smith, 7-2.
HRTV’ TO ANNOUNCE ECLIPSE FINALISTS WEDNESDAY
Media and horsemen are invited to attend HRTV’s live announcement of the finalists for the 2014 Eclipse Awards next Wednesday, Jan. 7, at 8:30 a.m.
Hosted by Laffit Pincay III and Christina Blacker, with reporters Scott Hazelton and Caton Bredar, it will take place in the Baldwin Conference Room and on HRTV and HRTV.com.
The Eclipse Award winners will be announced on Jan. 17.
FINISH LINES: Alonso Quinonez, riding in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on the Crown Prince Cup card earlier today, won aboard Hha Yem and was fifth on Model Pupil in the Crown Prince Cup, agent Tony Matos reported . . . Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Texas Red, expected to make his 3-year-old debut in the Grade II San Vicente Stakes at seven furlongs on Feb. 1, worked five furlongs in 1:02.40 for Keith Desormeaux, while Gold Cup at Santa Anita winner Majestic Harbor went the same distance in a bullet 59 flat for Sean McCarthy, who plans to run the son of the late Rockport Harbor in the Grade II San Pasqual Stakes next Saturday, Jan. 10 . . . Sam’s Sister, who at 12-1 upset odds-on favorite Taris in the Grade I La Brea Stakes on opening day, worked four furlongs for Jerry Hollendorfer in a bullet 45.60, fastest of 55 drills at the distance, the average time of which was 48.53 . . . Trainer Richard Baltas and jockey Martin Pedroza were each fined $250 for their “Row at Los Al” on Dec. 21 by the California Horse Racing Board, who cited violation of CHRB rule #1874 (disorderly conduct–fighting) . . . Trainer Steve Knapp has the Grade II Santa Monica Stakes on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Jan. 19, or the $150,000 Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf Sprint at about 6 ½ furlongs on Jan. 24, in mind for Kalookan Queen winner Harlington’s Rose . . . Santa Anita offers Dollar Day on Jan. 19, which ends a three-day weekend at The Great Race Place. Fans can enjoy draft beers, hot dogs and sodas for just a buck. First post time on Martin Luther King Jr. Day is 12:30 p.m. Gates open at 10:30 a.m.