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STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN
• SHERMAN PUTS A ‘GOOD HORSE’ ON THE DERBY TRAIL
• CALIFORNIA CHROME EARLY SANTA ANITA DERBY CHOICE
• ARETHUSA SHOULD LIKE DISTANCE IN SANTA ANITA OAKS
O’NEILL’S DERBY ADVICE: BRING BEST HORSE, ENJOY THE RIDE
It’s been nearly 60 years since Art Sherman had a horseman’s interest in the Kentucky Derby. He was 18 in 1955 when he accompanied the great Swaps and his trainer Mesh Tenney to Churchill Downs to prepare the colt for his victory in the Run for the Roses 59 years ago.
If the fates allow, Sherman, now 77, will make it back to Louisville for the 140th classic, this year with California Chrome, like Swaps a California-bred chestnut.
Sherman is advised to enjoy the ride, from no less an authority than Doug O’Neill, who fulfilled every trainer’s dream two years ago by winning the Derby with 15-1 longshot I’ll Have Another. After winning the Preakness, the upstart 3-year-old came within hailing distance of going for the Triple Crown but was sidelined with an 11th-hour injury a day before the Belmont Stakes.
But first things first, and for streaking California Chrome, that would be Saturday’s Grade I, $1 million Santa Anita Derby, a race O’Neill won the last two years, with Goldencents in 2013 and I’ll Have Another in 2012.
O’Neill’s bubble burst when he returned to the Kentucky Derby last year with Goldencents, who faded to 17th after prompting the pace in the mile and a quarter race. Lesson learned: the Derby is not a race to take for granted. Enjoy the ride.
O’Neill offered these words for Sherman: “Bring a good horse, which he has in California Chrome. The couple times we’ve been blessed to experience the Derby, it was about having a horse you have a lot of confidence in, and I know Art’s got a lot of confidence in California Chrome.”
As for hitting the Derby trail? “He’s going to have the time of his life.”
Sherman on California Chrome’s regimen at Los Alamitos, from whence horses are running with noticeable success at Santa Anita, including Sherman’s first-time starter Big Break, who won Saturday’s first race by nearly eight lengths:
“We jog California Chrome clean past the five-eighths pole, turn him around and gallop once completely around and then again, so he gets about two miles a day, galloping. The farther he goes, the better he likes it.”
The Santa Anita Derby will mark the first time in his training career Sherman will enter a horse in a one million dollar race.
“He walked today following his workout yesterday and I’ll bring him to Santa Anita no later than Wednesday,” Sherman said of California Chrome.
Possible for the West Coast’s major steppingstone to the May 3 Kentucky Derby: California Chrome, Victor Espinoza; Bayern, no rider; Hoppertunity, no rider; Candy Boy, Gary Stevens; Dublin Up, no rider; Big Tire, Edwin Maldonado; Friendswith K Mill, Tyler Baze; Rprettyboyfloyd, Rafael Bejarano; The Admiral, no rider; and Schoolofhardrocks, Joe Talamo.
Post positions for the Santa Anita Derby will be drawn on Wednesday. First post time next Saturday will be 12 noon.
Rebel Stakes winner Hoppertunity worked in company Saturday morning for Bob Baffert, going five furlongs under Martin Garcia in 1:01.20.
Victory in the Santa Anita Derby is worth 100 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the winner. Second is worth 40 points, third, 20, and fourth, 10. Nearly $2 million in stakes purses will be offered on Santa Anita Derby Day. In addition, Santa Anita will have a $500,000 guaranteed Late Pick 4 and present free Derby Day T-shirts with paid admission, while supplies last, and have more than 30 premium local food trucks throughout the infield.
The annual Santa Anita Derby Day 5K run also will take place, and the track’s spacious infield will be rocking with popular local breweries and epic cover tunes from Super Diamond, in addition to live world-class horse racing.
Special packages are available at santaanita.com/events. Use promo code DERBY for 50 percent discounts.
CALIFORNIA CHROME TO BE SANTA ANITA DERBY MORNING LINE FAVORITE
While the field for next Saturday’s Santa Anita Derby is not yet set, Santa Anita’s oddsmaker, Jon White, has determined which 3-year-old he will install as the morning line favorite for the Grade I event.
“I will be making California Chrome the morning line favorite,” said White, who also provides pre-race television commentary for the track’s simulcast network. “Right now, I don’t know what price I will be making him since we don’t yet know exactly who is going to be entered. The size of the field and whether or not Bayern is entered will impact the morning line prices for California Chrome, Candy Boy and everybody else.
“One of the many things I will be taking into consideration when deciding the morning line prices for California Chrome and Candy Boy is there was not a great deal of difference in their final odds in the Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool that closed yesterday before the Florida Derby and Louisiana Derby were run.
“California Chrome and Cairo Prince each closed at 9-1, with a little more money bet on California Chrome. A total of $18,433 was bet on California Chrome, while $17,793 was wagered on Cairo Prince. That made California Chrome the actual betting favorite among the 23 individual horses. But, like I said, there wasn’t a big difference between California Chrome and Candy Boy. Candy Boy closed at 13-1. Candy Boy was a lower price than Bayern and Hoppertunity, who both closed at 15-1.
“California Chrome was a 7-5 favorite in the San Felipe. He won by 7 ¼ lengths and recorded a 107 Beyer Speed Figure in what I would say was the most impressive performance by a 3-year-old in California this year. California Chrome now has run three big races in a row. He also has become quite a popular horse.
“So, all things considered, I will be surprised if California Chrome is not the favorite when they leave the starting gate in the Santa Anita Derby.”
ADDED DISTANCE SHOULD AID ARETHUSA IN SANTA ANITA OAKS
Eoin Harty is looking forward to two things for Arethusa in Saturday’s Santa Anita Oaks: added distance, and a track that’s not speed favoring.
“She will certainly appreciate the extra distance,” said Harty, who trains the daughter of A.P. Indy for owner/breeder Darley America. Arethusa rallied from seventh and last to finish third by a length and quarter to front-running winner Fashion Plate in the Grade I Las Virgenes Stakes at one mile on Feb. 1.
As to her chances of winning, Harty didn’t dance around diplomatically.
“It all depends on how the track is,” he said, “because if it’s the same way it was for the Big ’Cap and the San Felipe, she’ll be running for minor placings.”
Agent Brian Beach reports that Victor Espinoza will ride Artemis for Jerry Hollendorfer in the Santa Anita Oaks, joining Arethusa, Rafael Bejarano; Fashion Plate, Gary Stevens; Honey Ride, Tyler Baze; and Ria Antonia, Mike Smith.
SANTA ANITA HONORS RICHARD WHEELER ON HIS RETIREMENT
Today’s fifth race, the “Wheels in Motion,” honors Richard Wheeler, who is retiring after 42 years of dedicated service in various capacities at Southern California tracks.
“I’m not leaving town,” said the highly respected and well-liked Wheeler, who lives in nearby Monrovia. “I’ll do a little traveling but be back to visit from time to time.”
FINISH LINES: Agent Richie Silverstein expects Kayla Stra to miss “three to 10 days” with a dislocated right thumb suffered when her mount, Russian Silk, went down passing the quarter pole in yesterday’s ninth race on turf. “I’ll probably name her on mounts a week from Thursday,” Silverstein said. “I won’t be taking mounts this Friday and Saturday.” Added Stra: “The dislocation retracted quickly; it’s more like a sprain.” . . . With three wins yesterday including the Grade III Tokyo City Cup on Majestic Harbor for trainer Sean McCarthy, jockey Tyler Baze has moved into a tie for third at 37 each with Victor Espinoza. Baze rode in all nine races yesterday . . . Ten-pound apprentice Jimmy Guzman, a 21-year-old native of El Salvador, starts his riding career Thursday at Santa Anita aboard Puerto Williams in the fourth race for trainer Marcelo Polanco . . . John Sadler’s last five starters have won, putting him two victories behind leader Hollendorfer and one behind Bob Baffert in the race for training honors. The trio stands at 31, 30 and 29 . . . Bruce Headley, one of three trainers of the great racehorse and stallion Bertrando, reflected yesterday on the Eclipse Award winner as outstanding older male of 1993 who died recently at the age of 25. “I broke him as a yearling,” said Headley. “He was a great horse. He would have beat A.P. Indy and won the Santa Anita Derby in 1992 if he hadn’t bled out of his nose.” Bertrando, who won nine of 24 starts and earned just over $3 million, was later trained by Bobby Frankel and John Shirreffs . . . Agent Danny Thomas reports that Kent Desormeaux will return from the East Coast to ride at Santa Anita on Santa Anita Derby Day . . . Pete Siberell, Santa Anita’s Director of Community Services & Special Projects, notes that the following jockeys have entered the Santa Anita Derby Day 5K Run: Aaron Gryder, Orlando Mojica, Irving Orozco, Joe Steiner and Chantal Sutherland Kruse . . . Coming off a sixth-place finish in the Grade I Kilroe Mile on March 8, trainer Barry Abrams plans to return Lakerville to his favorite turf course, about 6 ½ furlongs down the hill, in the Grade III San Simeon Stakes on April 13 . . . Emma Hayes turned 101 yesterday and spent her birthday at Santa Anita, just like she does every year. Along with former Santa Anita trainer Sandy Shulman, his family and hers, Emma celebrated yet another successful year at The Great Race Place, her favorite spot. Being connected to the track isn’t just a coincidence. “The Sweet Emma” not only raised Ina Sue, Shulman’s wife, but went on to help raise both of their children, Eileen and Len. She began her day with lunch in the popular ‘Frontrunner’ Restaurant and a winning $62 ticket from the first race. Emma was so focused she held her program close as a snapshot of the special day was taken to ensure no one saw her winning picks, not even family. Happy Birthday Emma! . . . Marketing Vice Prez Nate Newby has announced that Sarah Harris will be the new store manager for Champions! Gifts & Apparel, in the East Paddock Gardens, effective Monday.