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STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN
• CALIFORNIA CHROME PREPS AT LOS ALAMITOS FOR SAN FELIPE
• BIRDLOVER FRESH FOR SUNDAY’S WISHING WELL STAKES
DERBY HOPEFUL CALIFORNIA CHROME IN ‘PERFECT’ DRILL
California Chrome, seeking to become the first California-bred to win the Kentucky Derby since Decidedly in 1962, worked towards his ultimate goal Saturday morning at Los Alamitos, going four furlongs in 48 seconds under regular rider Victor Espinoza.
“Perfect,” is how trainer Art Sherman described the move for the chestnut son of Lucky Pulpit, owned and bred by Martin Perry of Yuba City, California, and Steven Coburn of Wellington, Nevada.
“He went in 48, just breezing,” Sherman continued. “Espinoza said he went really nice.”
In eight career starts, California Chrome has faced open company twice, finishing fifth in the Willard Proctor Memorial Stakes at Hollywood Park last June, and sixth, beaten only two lengths, in the Grade I Del Mar Futurity on Sept. 4.
He daylighted Cal-breds in his last two races, winning the King Glorious by 6 ¼ lengths and the California Cup Derby by 5 ½ lengths. Next up: the Grade II San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita on March 8.
“He may be a contender for the Derby,” Sherman said. “You don’t know. The next step will prove where he belongs.”
Meanwhile, Team Sherman is enjoying the exposure the colt is drawing. “We were well-treated at Los Alamitos,” Sherman said. “They welcomed us with open arms. Getting this publicity is cool. It’s great for the horse and great for racing.”
BIRDLOVER ‘STRONGER THAN EVER’ FOR WISHING WELL STAKES
A seven-week break proved beneficial for Birdlover, who returned fresh and fit to win over Santa Anita’s unique downhill turf course by a length on Jan. 3 under Mike Smith.
Trainer Doug O’Neill is confident the English-bred filly will hold her form for Sunday’s $75,000 Wishing Well Stakes over the same venue on which Birdlover won less than five weeks ago.
“We freshened her up briefly and she’s come back stronger than ever,” O’Neill said. “I love the continuity of Mike Smith back on her. I’d rather be on the outside than the rail, but she’s doing great and we expect a big effort from her.”
Birdlover, who drew the rail in a field of eight, had not raced since Nov. 10 before winning on Jan. 3. Overall, the chestnut daughter of Byron has three wins and four seconds from 12 starts.
The field for the Wishing Well, race eight of nine: Birdlover, Mike Smith, 4-1; Sky High Gal, Corey Nakatani, 7-2; Royal Empress, Flavien Prat, 20-1; Fanticola, Joe Talamo, 5-2; Miss Lucky Sevens, Rafael Bejarano, 6-1; Purim’s Dancer, Gary Stevens, 2-1; Caraquista, Victor Espinoza, 15-1; and Oscillator, Edwin Maldonado, 12-1.
FINISH LINES: Martin Pedroza reportedly will be sidelined for an indefinite period after a starting gate mishap aboard first-time starter Sargentina in yesterday’s eighth and final race. The 48-year-old jockey suffered a fracture in his left leg, “low by the shin,” according to his agent, Richie Silverstein. “Doctors said it was a straight break; he was lucky.” A cast is expected to be placed on the leg “in three or four days.” Through 28 racing days, Pedroza had six wins, four seconds and nine thirds from 58 rides. He was scheduled to ride 3-1 morning line second choice Blueskiesnrainbows in today’s San Antonio Stakes, his only mount . . . With four wins yesterday, Rafael Bejarano opened a 43-25 lead over runner-up Mike Smith in Santa Anita’s standings, although Bejarano has ridden twice as many horses (165 to 82) . . . Kobe’s Back, prepping for next Sunday’s San Vicente Stakes, worked six furlongs on the main track Saturday in 1:11.80 for John Sadler . . . Yahilwa, a 4-year-old daughter of Medaglia d’Oro, worked five furlongs for the Buena Vista Stakes on Presidents’ Day, Feb. 17, in 1:05.20 for Jim Cassidy with Tyler Baze up . . . Zenyatta’s half-sister Eblouissante, nominated to next Saturday’s Santa Maria Stakes, worked seven furlongs for John Shirreffs in 1:26.40 . . . Citation Handicap winner Silentio moved nearer to the March 8 Kilroe Mile with a six furlong move for Gary Mandella in 1:15.40 . . . Agent Tony Matos reports that Corey Nakatani will be at the Fair Grounds Feb. 22 to ride Golden Hawk in the Grade II, $400,000 Risen Star for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles and Prayer for Relief in the Grade III, $150,000 Mineshaft Handicap for older horses at the same distance, both for trainer Steve Asmussen . . . Greg Wolf, Richard Migliore, Andy Serling, Simon Bray and Alyssa Ali will handle on-air duties for The Jockey Club Tour on Fox racing series which debuts tomorrow with the Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park. The race will also be covered live on FOX Deportes.