- CALIFORNIA CHROME: THE PEOPLE’S CHAMPION
- BOB BAFFERT: ‘THE RIGHT HORSE WON IT’
- SHEER PLEASURE TRIES TURF IN CAL CUP OAKS
- MARTIN PEDROZA: RACING’S ENERGIZER BUNNY
ESPINOZA PROUD AND HONORED ON ‘AMAZING’ YEAR
All’s right with the world this morning. California Chrome is Horse of the Year.
When it comes to results, this wasn’t exactly Douglas over Tyson, Jets over Colts or
Mets over Orioles.
When winners of the Eclipse Awards were announced last night in Florida, there were no great shocks. On the whole, the results were pretty much vanilla, with Chrome being named Horse of the Year and male 3-year-old champion.
Victor Espinoza, the regular rider of California Chrome and two other Eclipse winners, American Pharoah (two-year-old male) and Take Charge Brandi (two-year-old female), understandably was sated with the evening’s outcome, since he also is the regular rider of both two-year-olds. Oh by the way, Chrome also was named 3-year-old male champion, thanks mainly to winning two-thirds of the Triple Crown.
“I was watching the show on HRTV last night,” Espinoza said on a pleasant Sunday morning at Clockers’ Corner, where it was business as usual for the 42-year-old rider. “First they announced the filly had won, then later American Pharoah, then California Chrome as three-year-old.
“I was more excited than I was after winning all the big races last year. I was thrilled that those young horses were champions. Then at the end it was California Chrome, Horse of the Year. Wow!
“I was very proud, and really proud of myself to be able to say that I rode those three champions. I never thought in a million years that would happen, in one year to have three great horses and be able to say I rode all three.
“We all hope everyone stays healthy for the new year. That’s the main thing. So far, it looks like all three are going to run in 2015. As a jockey, it’s amazing to say I rode all three. For me, it’s an honor to say that.”
Added Dan Ward, valued assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, who competed with and befriended California Chrome’s 77-year-old trainer Art Sherman when both plied their trade regularly in the Bay Area for many years:
“Class act,” is how Ward summed up his take on Sherman. “We were absolutely, 100 percent, rooting for him.”
Meanwhile, it’s back to work for The Chromester Monday morning. He works at 8 a.m. at his Los Alamitos headquarters for the $500,000 San Antonio Stakes on Feb. 7 and a likely meeting with the Hollendorfer-trained male 2-year-old champion of 2013 Shared Belief, and, if he recovers from an abscessed hind foot, possibly Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Bayern.
BAFFERT HAPPY WITH PHAROAH’S ECLIPSE AWARD
Understandably disappointed that Bayern didn’t win Horse of the Year or 3-year-
old male honors at last night’s Eclipse Award ceremonies, Bob Baffert took solace with American Pharoah being named two-year-old male champion of 2014.
“I’m happy with Pharoah,” said the Hall of Fame trainer, who turned 62 on Jan. 13. “Anytime you have a champion, it’s good. I don’t know how many I have now (12, including 2001 Horse of the Year Point Given), but I think I’m second to Wayne Lukas. I’m getting there, but he’s still going, too.
“There were no surprises (in the Eclipse results). It was entertaining to watch. The social media last year really followed California Chrome. Bayern (who was a finalist for Horse of the Year and three-year-old male) never really had that following . . . but at the end of the day, they gave it to the right horse. He deserved it. I don’t have any problem with it.”
Baffert said he hopes to have American Pharoah breezing by the end of the month.
D’AMATO HOPES TO DOUBLE HIS ‘PLEASURE’ IN OAKS
Sheer Pleasure lived up to her name when she won by 6 ½ lengths at first asking for trainer Phil D’Amato Dec. 19 at Los Alamitos, running six furlongs against California-bred maidens in a snappy 1:09.80, returning a generous $20 to her backers.
Next up: Saturday’s $200,000 California Cup Oaks at one mile on turf, one of five added money races worth a total of $1 million on Sunshine Millions California Cup Day.
“It was surprising to me that she won like that going six furlongs,” D’Amato remarked before the 3-year-old daughter of Birdonthewire worked five furlongs on Santa Anita’s firm turf course Saturday in 1:02.
“She was always training like a filly that wanted to go long,” D’Amato said. “Martin (Garcia) never used the stick on her. She just took off and did it on her on.”
Other probables for the Oaks include Heat the Rocks, Elvis Trujillo, and Light One, Rafael Bejarano.
Entries for California Cup Sunshine Millions Day will be taken on Monday. First post time next Saturday will be 12 noon, with gates opening at 10 a.m.
There also will be a trackside wine festival. For tickets and information, visit santaanita.com.
PEDROZA STILL GOING STRONG NEARING MID-CENTURY MARK
Martin Pedroza is the Stealth Bomber of jockeys. He flies beneath the radar. The unsinkable Panamanian turns 50 this July 20, but he still has the fire of youth stoking his motivational and competitive engines.
Overcoming umpteen injuries that would have dampened the sprit of a less-determined athlete, Pedroza moves ever forward, undeterred. Through 15 racing days, there he is, tied for third in Santa Anita’s jockey standings with nine victories.
“The key to success is working hard, and that’s never been a problem for me,” said Pedroza, who has 3,656 wins in a career that began in 1982. “I get up every morning and hardly ever take a day off.”
He has been represented for the better part of 28 years by agent Richie Silverstein. Like any marriage, there have been bumps in the road, but they’re still together. Ain’t love grand?
“What drives me?,” Pedroza said. “I just want to win. I motivate myself, working to keep up with these young puppies. I just love what I do.”
HOLLENDORFER EYES SIXTH STAKES WIN IN SANTA MONICA
Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer guns for his sixth stakes win of the young meet when he sends out Sam’s Sister in Monday’s Martin Luther King Jr. holiday feature, the Grade II Santa Monica Stakes for older fillies and mares at seven furlongs.
Winner of the Grade I La Brea Stakes at seven furlongs on Dec. 26, Sam’s Sister is the 9-5 favorite on Jon White’s morning line.
The Santa Monica, race five of nine: Master the Blues, Kent Desormeaux, 20-1; Dancinthenightaway, Tyler Baze, 5-2; Lexington Pearl, Victor Espinoza, 20-1; Sam’s Sister, Elvis Trujillo, 9-5; Harlington’s Rose, Joe Talamo, 10-1; My Sweet Addiction, Gary Stevens, 2-1; and Sweet Martini, Martin Garcia, 7-2.
Fans can “buck up” on another popular Dollar Day at Santa Anita Monday, the finale of a three-day holiday weekend at The Great Race Place.
On-track attendees can enjoy draft beers, hot dogs and sodas for a dollar each.
First post time is 12:30 p.m.
FINISH LINES: Jerry Hollendorfer on Cross The Line, 9-2 winner of the California Derby at Golden Gate Fields Saturday: “He’s been coming along very well and he ran a huge race. I look for a lot from him.” Next up: the $200,000, Grade III El Camino Real Derby at 1 1/8 miles on Feb. 14 . . .Seduire, winner of the Grade II Santa Ynez Stakes on Jan. 3, runs in the Grade II, $200,000 Forward Gal at seven furlongs at Gulfstream on Saturday, Jerry Hollendorfer assistant Dan Ward said . . . Congrats to Jon Hardoon on giving out Sr. Quisqueyano on the Roger Stein radio show to win Saturday’s Sunshine Millions Classic at a $43.20 payoff. Lucky that bettors don’t ask for the name of the horse when they go to the mutuel windows, like they do in the movies, because that one is nearly unpronounceable. All they had to do to buy a winning ticket was ask for the post position, “number one.” . . . Tyler Baze rides a steed named for him in today’s third race, a 5-year-old Affirmative horse called Warren’s T. Baze. A 6-1 morning line chance owned and bred by Benjamin C. Warren, the California-bred chestnut has been ridden by Baze twice before and is trained by Jorge Gutierrez . . . Santa Anita races through tomorrow, Monday, but will be dark Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday next week. First post time on Monday is 12:30 p.m. . . . Santa Anita will be open for simulcast racing on Thursday, however, with free admission and free parking.
|SANTA ANITA STATISTICS|
|(Current Through Saturday, Jan. 17)|
|Drayden Van Dyke||62||6||5||10||10%||$341,636|
|A. C. Avila||10||3||0||0||30%||$65,980|