- THE FUTURE IS NOW FOR TEAM CALIFORNIA CHROME
- HOPPERTUNITY WORKS FOR GRADE II SAN PASQUAL
- MIRACLE HORSE RECOVERS IN THE ‘NICK’ OF TIME
- BIG MACHER FIRES BULLET FOR CAL CUP SPRINT
BUSY DAYS AHEAD FOR TEAM CALIFORNIA CHROME
Art Sherman not only trains California Chrome, he’s also a fan. Like the rest
of the racing world, Sherman, who turns 78 on Feb. 17, is looking forward to Feb. 7, when the one-three-four finishers in the Breeders’ Cup Classic–Bayern, California Chrome and Shared Belief–could meet in the Grade II, $500,000 San Antonio Stakes at Santa Anita.
Towards that goal, California Chrome worked six furlongs at his Los Alamitos base Saturday in 1:12.60 under regular rider Victor Espinoza.
“He worked unbelievable,” Espinoza said. “He went in one twelve and change which is what I wanted from him. He was pulling a lot. He’s getting tougher; he’s on his toes right now. He’s basically better than before.
“He has completely changed as he’s getting older. As a 4-year-old, he’s going to be a different horse. He works differently. Yesterday was the slowest I could go. He’s pulling hard, which he never used to do. He’s tough.
“He’s building back up big time physically. He tries to jump around and bite the pony every chance he gets and I believe in 2015 he’ll run the best races of his life . . . He’s an amazing horse and he did unbelievable things in 2014 but I’m really looking forward to 2015.”
But first things first.
“We’ve got a lot of things going on,” said Sherman, who sent out Well Maybe to a neck victory in Saturday’s second race at 40-1 under Joe Talamo for owner Dr. Ed Allred, President and Chairman of the Board of Los Alamitos Race Course.
“Next Saturday,” Sherman said, “we’ve got the Secretariat Award (fifth annual Vox Populi Award at Santa Anita. It starts at 11 a.m. in Santa Anita’s East Paddock Gardens, where Sherman, Espinoza and owners/breeders Steve Coburn and Perry Martin will be available to sign autographs for the first 2,000 fans attending the session, while supplies last).
“Then,” Sherman said, “we’ve got the California-bred awards in February, and we’re going for the Eclipse Awards on Jan. 17. We’ve got a lot of action going on.”
As for California Chrome’s action on the track, Sherman couldn’t be more pleased.
“He looks really good right now,” Sherman said of the California-bred son of Lucky Pulpit. “It will be nice if all three horses can hook up in the San Antonio. I think they will. I’ve got a good feeling about it.”
HOPPERTUNITY PREPS FOR SATURDAY’S SAN PASQUAL
Hoppertunity, winner of the Grade I Clark Handicap last out at Churchill Downs on Nov. 28, worked six furlongs under Martin Garcia Sunday morning in 1:12.60 in his final major drill for Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 San Pasqual Stakes for older horses at 1 1/16 miles.
Garcia, who rode the 4-year-old son of Any Given Saturday to a half-length victory for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert in the Clark, retains the mount for the San Pasqual.
Others expected for the 78th edition of the San Pasqual include Blue Tone, Kent Desormeaux; Majestic Harbor, Tyler Baze; Quadrivium, Mike Smith; and Tonito M., no rider.
Baffert will be seeking his fifth win the San Pasqual, having previously won with champion Silver Charm (1999), Wooden Phone (2002), Congaree (2003) and Coil (2013).
TOUGH SUNDAY ONE TOUGH HORSE FOR NICK ALEXANDER
It’s not only amazing that Tough Sunday made it to the races, it’s a miracle the 3-year-old colt is even alive.
A California-bred by Grazen trained by Steve Miyadi for owner/breeder Nick Alexander, Tough Sunday won last Sunday’s second race by 6 ¼ lengths as the odds-on favorite under Tyler Baze.
Alexander, a supporter and aficionado of the sport in California for 36 years, retired a few years back to devote full time to his ranch in Santa Ynez, leaving his kids to run his Nick Alexander’s Imports auto dealership specializing in BMW’s and Mini Coopers at Gage and Alameda Streets in the wholesale district of Los Angeles.
Alexander gave the following detailed account of Tough Sunday’s extreme ordeal:
“This colt had a tough beginning,” Alexander said. “He was very big and got stuck during delivery, and in struggling to get out, his (umbilical) cord was severed and by the time we pulled him out, he had been without oxygen for some time.
“We rushed him and his mom (Sunday Dress) to Alamo Pintado Clinic just a few minutes from our ranch in Santa Ynez. The news was bad: he was blind, deaf, had no nursing instinct, and a heart murmur.
“Dr. Erin Burn and her staff worked around the clock to stabilize him, but he developed pneumonia. He could stand up but couldn’t lie back down. He looked like a pin cushion with so many tubes, IVs, etc.
“Because he didn’t know how to nurse, his mom abandoned him. About the fifth day, he wasn’t improving and I was told to make a decision whether or not to keep at it. The next morning I went to the clinic, and as I walked up to his stall, his eyes followed me.
“That was enough progress for me, but he still was in an ICU almost a month before he was strong enough to bring home. We pale-fed him and eventually got his mom to accept him, although he never did learn to nurse.
“A month or so later, we turned him out with other foals and mares.”
If there was an Eclipse Award for courage, Tough Sunday would be a prime candidate.
BIG MACHER IN SHARP WORK FOR CAL CUP SPRINT
Big Macher, winner of the Grade I Bing Crosby Stakes at Del Mar last July, worked five furlongs Sunday morning in a bullet 59 seconds flat as he prepares for the $150,000 California Cup Sprint at six furlongs on Jan. 24.
With Rafael Bejarano aboard, the California-bred son of Beau Genius worked in company with Black Betsy, who was timed in 49.60 for four furlongs, but Baltas got her in 59 3/5 for five furlongs.
“He went off in 24 4/5, but the gallop out is what was impressive,” Baltas said of Big Macher, claimed for $20,000 by Baltas in 2013.
“He galloped out (six furlongs) in 1:11 4/5 and (seven furlongs) in 1:25 3/5.”
FINISH LINES: Bob Baffert reports that FrontRunner Stakes winner American Pharoah, a contender for an Eclipse Award as male 2-year-old champion of 2014, is scheduled to begin working for his return to the races late this month . . . Los Alamitos Futurity winner Dortmund worked four furlongs for Baffert in company with Wabel, getting a time of 48.60 with Martin Garcia up. Wabel also was clocked in 48.60 . . . Rock Shandy, one of a trio of 3-year-old’s Peter Miller could run in Saturday’s Grade III Sham Stakes at one mile, worked six furlongs in 1:12.20. Under sunny skies and on a fast track, 235 workouts were recorded at Santa Anita Sunday . . . Flavian Prat has caught the eye of handicappers and horsemen alike early on this meet with three wins from 10 mounts, including $62.20 winner by a half-length Athens for trainer George Papaprodromou in Saturday’s fifth race. “I hope to get some more winners,” said the 22-year-old Frenchman whose agent is Derek Lawson. “I’ve got my visa straightened out and plan to ride throughout the meet.” Lawson credits Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella with giving Prat a vote of confidence when he rode here sparingly in the past. “He’s got what is called a P-1 visa which is good for the next five years,” Lawson said. “He can stay in this country legally until 2019.” Said Papaprodromou of the heady ride on Athens, a 4-year-old ridgling by Giant’s Causeway: “He’s a good rider and he did exactly what I told him. He can ride.” . . . Cozmic One, Zenyatta‘s first foal, is scheduled to work Monday under Victor Espinoza as the son of Bernardini nears his debut for owners Jerry and Ann Moss and trainer John Shirreffs . . . Alston, a son of 2008 Santa Anita Derby winner Colonel John who finished second in Saturday’s first race, is named for the late Walter Alston, a member of baseball’s Hall of Fame who managed the Dodgers longer than any other man, 23 years, from 1955 through 1976 . . . Congrats to seven-pound apprentice rider Brandon Boulanger, son of veteran jockey Gary Boulanger, on winning his first race at Santa Anita aboard rank outsider Turn On, 50-1 on Jon White‘s morning line, who paid $176.20 in Saturday’s ninth race, capping a Pick 6 carryover into Sunday of $87,422. Eight of the nine winners paid off in double figures, with only Mio Me ($8.40) in the fourth race missing the mark. No favorite won. There are two other enticing carryovers today, $392,388 in the Pick 5 and $41,273 in the Super High Five . . . On a day of box car payoffs, clocker Toby Turrell tabbed trainer Hector Palma’s Empowering Force on his Winners Card sheet at a $48 win payoff. Turrell also nailed Kalookan Queen winner Harlington’s Rose ($37.60) last Sunday . . . Jockey Christian Aragon has been suspended three racing days (Jan. 10, 11 and 15) for careless riding on Ruby N Diamonds in Saturday’s ninth race . . Santa Anita offers Dollar Day on Jan. 19, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, 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 will be 12:30 p.m.. . . Little Jerry, who finished third in Friday’s sixth race, is named for the Seinfeld episode that first ran Jan. 9, 1997, featuring an alleged fighting rooster named Little Jerry. “Jason Tackitt, one of his owners, named the horse after that show,” said Richard Baltas, who trains the 5-year-old Candy Ride gelding. The rerun aired on KCOP, Channel 13, Friday night, and has been in syndication since the last Seinfeld aired in 1998. Scatterbrain Seinfeld character Kramer thinks Little Jerry is a chicken, but when Jerry tells him it’s a rooster, Kramer looks quizzically at the bird’s derriere and says, “That would explain his poor egg production.”