Whether California Chrome wins the Breeders’ Cup Classic or not remains to be seen, but one thing for sure: for the first time in seven races, he won’t be favored.

The Santa Anita Derby, Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner has been favored in his last six starts, four times at odds-on. But coming off two straight out-of-the money losses, that won’t happen when he runs in the $5 million, mile-and-a-quarter Classic Nov 1 at Santa Anita, a race that could determine Horse of the Year as well as male 3-year-old champion of 2014.

After a grueling Triple Crown run that had the eyes the of world focused on California Chrome this spring, Art Sherman agrees that the pressure is off for the Classic. “Oh, yeah,” the trainer said. “He’ll be five, six to one in that race. He’s been even-money every time he’s run every place else.”

That’s not to say Sherman doesn’t expect the California-bred son of Lucky Pulpit to rebound.

“He’ll work the next two Saturdays and ship to Santa Anita to school a week before the race,” Sherman said. “I think he’s excellent right now.” Asked if he was as good as he was before the Santa Anita Derby last April, Sherman said, “He’s doing good. He was sharp back then because he’d been running (having previously won the King Glorious and the California Cup Derby by a combined margin of nearly 12 lengths, followed by the San Felipe by 7 ¼ lengths).

Owned and bred by Steve Coburn and Perry Martin, California Chrome finished sixth in the Pennsylvania Derby on Sept. 20, his first race since his dead-heat for fourth in the Belmont Stakes June 7.

“I think he’ll be awful tough in the Breeders’ Cup,” Sherman said. “I think he’s going to run big. In the Pennsylvania Derby, he had no place to go. They were running him up a horse’s butt. You can’t run a horse like that.”

Asked if the Breeders’ Cup Classic might be California Chrome’s last race, with life as a stallion in the offing for 2015, Sherman said, “I just don’t know what the future is for the horse. It’s up to the owners. I kind of don’t know for sure.”



            Breeders’ Cup Sprint contender Private Zone, courageous winner of the Grade I Vosburgh Invitational at Belmont Park for the second straight year on Sept. 27, has been moved from trainer Bob Hess Jr.’s barn at Santa Anita to Barn 47, which is home to trainer Julio Canani, Hess said Thursday morning.

Private Zone, trained by Doug O’Neill prior to the Vosburgh, is owned by the Good Friends Stable, LLC and will be ridden in the Sprint by regular pilot Martin Pedroza, who has ridden the 5-year-old Macho Uno gelding 13 times, the last 11 in a row, winning three, including the Vosburgh twice, each time by a game neck.

Alfredo Velazquez was the listed trainer for this year’s Vosburgh and will remain his conditioner for the run-up to the Breeders’ Cup. Private Zone has a 6-7-1 record from 23 starts, with earnings of $921,820.



            While Velvet Mesquite is a horse for course with four wins from five starts over Santa Anita’s downhill turf course at about 6 ½ furlongs, the 4-year-old daughter of In Excess will make her first stakes start in Saturday’s $100,000 California Distaff Handicap over the aforementioned venue.

“We freshened her up a little bit,” said trainer Blake Heap, who has not raced the filly owned and bred by John Harris since July 17. “Mike Smith’s been working her, so we’ll see what happens.” Smith has the mount on Velvet Mesquite in the race, a handicap for Golden State series eligible California-bred or sired fillies and mares, age three and up.

The field: Global Hottie, Martin Garcia, 8-1; Warren’s Veneda, Tyler Baze, 6-1; Sprague River, Edwin Maldonado, 20-1; Qiaona, Rafael Bejarano, 6-1; Twelve Folds, Fernando Perez, 20-1; Heat Trap, Brice Blanc, 6-1; Ciao Bella Luna, Elvis Trujillo, 6-1; Star Field, Aaron Gryder, 10-1; Tribal Spy, Joe Talamo, 7-2; Go West Marie, Martin Pedroza, 8-1; Velvet Mesquite, Mike Smith, 9-2; and also-eligible Smoove It, Mario Gutierrez, 30-1.



            Trainer Barry Abrams announced Thursday morning that popular downhill turf course specialist Lakerville has been retired.

“We don’t know where he’ll stand yet,” Abrams said of the 6-year-old son of Unusual Heat. “Hopefully in California. He’s still the fastest horse ever to run the last quarter of a race in under 21 seconds. He’s the only Thoroughbred to have ever done that, at Del Mar on July 25, 2012. He ran the last three furlongs in 32 seconds and the last quarter in 20 and four (fifths).”

Owned by Abrams and Madeline Auerbach, LLC, Lakerville won five of 11 career starts, with four seconds. He earned $318,910. He raced nine times in turf sprints, four on Santa Anita’s unique downhill course at about 6 ½ furlongs, where he won twice by unleashing explosive stretch runs.

His lone stakes win came in the Clockers’ Corner on Jan. 26, 2014.



Santa Anita Park and the New York Racing Association have announced an all-new $2 wager called the “Belmont/Santa Anita Cross-Country Double,” which will link Belmont Park’s final race each day to a selected race at Santa Anita and will be available beginning today. (Santa Anita’s fourth race will be the second half of the wager today and Friday, and on Saturday, Santa Anita’s fifth race will complete the wager).

“We’re excited to be able to offer this new wager in conjunction with NYRA,” said Tom Ludt, President, Santa Anita Park. “We’re confident this bet will feature large fields and offer our players good value on a consistent basis. We think this cross-country daily double will generate significant interest around the country and help create additional exposure for both of our racing programs.”

David O’Rourke, Vice President of Corporate Development for NYRA, echoed Ludt’s sentiments: “Our new partnership with Santa Anita and the launch of the new, cross-country double provides exciting opportunities for our horseplayers while adding additional continuity between tracks from coast to coast,” he said.

Santa Anita’s current Autumn Meet runs through Nov. 2, and will be highlighted by the two-day Breeders’ Cup World Championships, run at The Great Race Place for an unprecedented third consecutive year on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1.

Belmont’s current Fall Championship Meet runs through Oct. 26. For additional information, please visit, or call (626) 574-RACE.



Alex Solis took the death of two-time Horse of the Year Cigar with mixed emotions Thursday morning. It was Solis who was aboard Dare and Go when they upset Cigar in the 1996 Pacific Classic at Del Mar, ending Cigar’s winning streak of 16 in a row.

Cigar died Tuesday following surgery at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Ky. He was 24.

“It’s sad to see a horse like that die, of course,” Solis said. “You don’t see too many like him. The day we beat him, we had a tough task and my horse ran really good, but Cigar was such a great horse, he kept fighting.

“I thought I’d be sitting just off the pace and hopefully get a good pace in front of us, and that’s what happened. We were very lucky. It was just our day.”


FINISH LINES: Goldencents will defend his title in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile on Oct. 31 and pass the $1.5 million Xpressbet Sprint at six furlongs, towards which Team O’Neill had been leaning before the son of Into Mischief‘s tough nose defeat to Rich Tapestry in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship last Saturday. “That’s the plan,” said Doug O’Neill assistant Steve Rothblum. “He’s going to run huge. I still think it’s probably a coin toss, but with all the horses coming to the Sprint, I think the (Dirt) Mile probably looks like the place he’s going to end up. The worst that can happen is he wins the Mile and is a repeat winner. If it were up to me, I’d go to the Classic. If we’re going to try something for his last hurrah, let’s do that.” Goldencents will be retired to stud following the Breeders’ Cup . . .Beholder and Moulin de Mougin continue to gallop well as they prepare for their respective Breeders’ Cup starts in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff and the Filly & Mare Turf. “They’ll work Monday or Tuesday of next week, I’m not sure which day at this point,” trainer Richard Mandella said . . . Merit Man, second by a nose in the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint, has been retired after suffering an injury to his right knee. “We don’t know where he’ll stand at stud yet,” trainer Bob Hess Jr. said of the 4-year-old Florida-bred son of With Distinction, who had four wins from nine starts with earnings of $462,030. He was scratched from last Saturday’s Santa Anita Sprint Championship. His last race came in Del Mar’s Green Flash Aug. 13, which he won by a half-length . . . Gary Stevens said he will be “getting on horses shortly,” but he won’t make the Breeders’ Cup . . . Agent Tony Matos has Corey Nakatani booked on the following Breeders’ Cup mounts: Candy Boy in the Classic and Daddy D T in the Juvenile Turf, both for John Sadler; and Conquest Eclipse for Mark Casse in the Juvenile Fillies . . . Trainer Ron Ellis said he is pointing Pirate’s Bounty winner Seeking the Sherif to the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. “He came out of his last race (a win in the Katella at Los Alamitos on Sept. 20) well,” the trainer said of the fleet son of Officer, claimed for $12,000 last Dec. 28. “We’ll pre-enter for the Sprint.” . . . An ad in today’s Los Angeles Times reads there will be an auction this Sunday, Oct. 12, at 10 a.m., offering the late actor, racing owner and turf enthusiast Jack Klugman‘s racing trophies. Klugman’s Jaklin Klugman, trained by the late Riley Cofer, finished third behind the filly Genuine Risk in the 1980 Kentucky Derby . . . Santa Anita presents holiday racing this Monday, Columbus Day, which also is Dollar Day. Fans can enjoy draft beer, hot dogs and sodas for just a buck. Gates open at 11 a.m. First post time is 1 p.m. . . . This Sunday, Santa Anita will host the Road Kings of Burbank Car Show in the Infield. Approximately 400 vehicles will be on display from 11 a.m. through the last live race, including Muscle Cars, Sports Cars, Restored Classics, Modified Hot Rods and Street Rods.


(Current Through Sunday, Oct. 5)
Jockey Mts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% Money Won
Joseph Talamo 44 9 8 9 20% $616,220
Rafael Bejarano 38 7 9 6 18% $611,132
Drayden Van Dyke 48 7 5 5 15% $236,702
Mike Smith 25 6 2 3 24% $580,750
Martin Pedroza 24 4 1 3 17% $133,150
Mario Gutierrez 19 4 0 2 21% $159,268
Elvis Trujillo 47 3 7 6 6% $363,472
Martin Garcia 25 3 3 2 12% $259,220
Kent Desormeaux 15 3 2 2 20% $167,550
Tyler Baze 49 2 7 4 4% $304,364
Victor Espinoza 18 2 3 2 11% $321,550
Agapito Delgadillo 18 2 2 1 11% $56,200
Alonso Quinonez 24 2 1 2 8% $78,184
Rosie Napravnik 3 2 0 0 67% $213,850
Trainer Sts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% Money Won
Bob Baffert 24 5 4 2 21% $530,548
Philip D’Amato 17 3 3 5 18% $220,470
Jerry Hollendorfer 25 3 2 3 12% $381,398
Robert Hess, Jr. 8 3 1 1 38% $87,760
Peter Eurton 13 3 0 2 23% $109,634
Steven Miyadi 5 3 0 0 60% $59,470
Richard Mandella 6 3 0 0 50% $238,770
Doug O’Neill 33 2 3 1 6% $190,174
Mark Glatt 10 2 3 0 20% $92,870
Donald Warren 4 2 1 0 50% $52,400
J. Keith Desormeaux 7 2 0 2 29% $107,770
George Papaprodromou 11 2 0 1 18% $57,940
Mike Puype 11 2 0 1 18% $62,738