It’s the Golden State vs. the Bluegrass State Saturday.

California Chrome, bred in California, takes on seven rivals, all bred in Kentucky, in the Grade I, $1 million Santa Anita Derby, the West’s major steppingstone to the 140th Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs on May 3.

The 6-5 morning line favorite for the 77th running of the nine furlong Santa Anita Derby arrived around “noonish yesterday” from his Los Alamitos headquarters, Alan Sherman, son of trainer Art Sherman, said Thursday morning.

“He came in great and he galloped this morning. It’s a good draw (post five of eight). I’m happy with that.” As for the pace scenario, “if someone wants to go, they can go,” Sherman said. “He doesn’t have to be on the lead.”

Victor Espinoza, who has ridden California Chrome in his last three starts, all easy victories, concurred.

“I like my post,” Espinoza said. “Number five is great. There aren’t many horses in the race. I know it’s a tough race, but he’s ready to go. I have a few options. He can go either way. That’s what I like about him. He can rate or he can go to the front.

“He’s been working pretty good, so I’m really looking forward to Saturday. He went nice and easy in 46 and two (in his final major drill at Los Alamitos last Saturday). I wanted to go in 47, but he was doing it so easy, I let him stretch his legs around the race track. For him, it was an easy work.

“I feel confident about him. I think he’s going to run big. Of course, anything can happen, but I wouldn’t change positions with anybody, not at all. I’m good.”

As for the resurgence in his career at 41 under agent Brian Beach, Espinoza gave credit where credit was due.

“Brian’s done a great job for me, working hard finding the right horses to ride, and that makes my job easier in the afternoons,” he said. “Everything’s going well. I’m working hard and riding hard, and I’ll just keep going.”

In other Santa Anita Derby news:

Trainer Mark Glatt on Big Tire: “He runs hard every time and he’s getting better with each race. I don’t think we’ve seen his best yet. It’s a competitive field but he has a chance to hit the board, and the distance should be beneficial.”

Trainer John Sadler on Candy Ride, sire of Candy Boy and Big Tire: “Candy Ride gets a lot of nice horses, there’s no question about that. They come in all shapes and sizes. I’ve had lots of different ones. They’re all good; he’s a good sire.”

Schoolofhardrocks worked four furlongs Thursday for David Hofmans in 49.40. “He had a little blowout this morning,” Hofmans said. “It looks like a tough race to me.”

The field for the Derby, race eight of 11: Rprettyboyfloyd, Rafael Bejarano, 20-1, Friendswith K Mill, Tyler Baze, 20-1; Hoppertunity, Mike Smith, 3-1; Big Tire, Edwin Maldonado, 20-1; California Chrome, Victor Espinoza, 6-5; Candy Boy, Gary Stevens, 9-5; Schoolofhardrocks, Joe Talamo, 10-1; and Dublin Up, Kent Desormeaux, 30-1.

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 Saturday. 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 Use promo code DERBY for 50 percent discounts.

Horse Racing Radio Network (HRRN) will broadcast the Santa Anita Derby from 2 to 4 p.m. on Sirius channel 93 as well as select HRRN affiliates around the country, and streamed worldwide on its website,


Fashion Plate, front-running winner of the Grade I Las Virgenes Stakes on Feb. 1, drew the rail for Saturday’s Grade I, $400,000 Santa Anita Oaks at 1 1/16 miles, one of five stakes on Saturday’s lucrative program.

“I don’t think that’s going to hurt her too much,” trainer Simon Callaghan said of the Kentucky-bred daughter of Old Fashioned owned by Arnold Zetcher and Michael Tabor.

“She’s training really well.”

The field for the Santa Anita Oaks, which goes as race five: Fashion Plate, Gary Stevens, 5-2; Kissin Lucky Lips, Brice Blanc, 30-1; Ria Antonia, Mike Smith, 2-1; Honey Ride, Tyler Baze, 3-1; Arethusa, Rafael Bejarano, 4-1; Artemis, Victor Espinoza, 6-1; Bajan, Joe Talamo, 12-1; and Smoove It, Mario Gutierrez, 20-1.


Practising has been favored in three of her four career starts, but is not likely to be the choice in Saturday’s Grade III, $150,000 Providencia Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles on turf.

The English-bred daughter of Rail Link was fourth, beaten just three lengths, going a mile and an eighth on grass March 13, two months after breaking her maiden in her first U.S. start, Jan. 18 at Santa Anita at one mile on turf.

“She came out of the race in good shape,” trainer Paddy Gallagher said of the March 13 effort. “The Providencia is a tougher race, but she acts like she’ll move forward from her last start. But like I say, this is a tougher race, so she’ll need to come on.”

Practising retains the services of leading jockey Rafael Bejarano, who is named to ride in all 11 races on Saturday.

The field for the Providencia: Soresca, Chantal Sutherland Kruse, 30-1; Practising, Rafael Bejarano, 8-1; Tiz Kissable, Tyler Baze, 8-1; Nashoba’s Gold, Joe Talamo, 5-2; Full Ransom, Kent Desormeaux, 15-1; Savings Account, Mike Smith, 15-1; Margot Machance, Julien Couton, 9-2; Diversy Harbor, Gary Stevens, 9-5; Kukaluka, Victor Espinoza, 20-1; and One More, Mario Gutierrez, 6-1.


For second consecutive weekend, HRTV, the Network for Horse Sports, will offer racing fans another great weekend of action, with an on-site presence at both Santa Anita and Aqueduct for two important Grade I, $1 million Triple Crown preps on Saturday, the Santa Anita Derby and the Wood Memorial.

Aaron Vercruysse, Jeff Siegel, Laffit Pincay III, Kurt Hoover, Scott Hazelton and Christina Blacker will be part of the network's announcing team for blanket coverage of the busy day which, in addition to the Santa Anita Derby, includes four other stakes, including the Grade I Santa Anita Oaks and the Grade III Providencia Stakes.

The Santa Anita Derby has an outstanding eight-horse field, topped by the highly-regarded trio of California Chrome, Candy Boy, and Hoppertunity.

The Wood Memorial has always served as a major Triple Crown prep. HRTV's Richard Migliore will join NYRA's Maggie Wolfendale and be stationed trackside to report on the latest developments for the Wood, along with an undercard that features three graded stakes events: the Grade I Carter, the Grade II Gazelle and the Grade III Bay Shore.

The Wood has drawn a contentious 11-horse field headed by unbeaten Samraat.


Those wishing to spend the morning at Santa Anita’s Clockers’ Corner on Saturday are advised that Baldwin Ave. will be closed to vehicular traffic between the 210 Freeway and Huntington Drive from 7:45 a.m. until 9:30 a.m. in order to accommodate Santa Anita’s annual Santa Anita Derby Day 5k Run & Walk.

Accordingly, Santa Anita’s Gate 8, which adjoins the Westfield Shopping Mall on Baldwin Ave., and Gate 7, at the track’s northeast end, will also be closed to vehicles during the same time frame.

Those wishing to visit Clockers’ Corner will be able to enter the track on Santa Anita’s east end, through Gate 5, or on the track’s southern perimeter, through Gate 3. Gates 3 and 5 will be open for easy access to Clockers’ Corner beginning at 5 a.m. and will remain open throughout the day. Santa Anita’s main track will be closed for training at 7:30 a.m.

Gate 3 is located at the intersection of Holly Ave. and Huntington Drive. Gate 5 is located on the northeast end of the track, at the confluence of Colorado Place and Huntington Drive.

For additional information on the Santa Anita Derby and on the Derby Day 5k Run & Walk, fans are encouraged to visit, or call (626) 574-RACE.

FINISH LINES: Ten pound apprentice Jimmy Guzman makes his riding debut in today’s fourth race aboard 12-1 morning line chance Puerto Williams for trainer Marcelo Polanco. A 21-year-old native of El Salvador who has been in the U.S. since he was six years old, Guzman resides in Temple City and will be represented by agent Dudley Osborne. Guzman has been working horses for the past 18 months, primarily for trainers Ron McAnally and Howard Zucker . . . Martin Garcia will be at Aqueduct Saturday to ride The Admiral for Bob Baffert in the Grade III, $300,000 Bay Shore Stakes at seven furlongs and Kristo for John Sadler in the Grade I Wood Memorial . . . Sunland Derby runner-up Midnight Hawk, ticketed for the Kentucky Derby, worked four furlongs this morning for Baffert with Mike Smith up in a bullet 46 flat, fastest of 40 drills at the distance, the average time of which was 48.42 . . . Sunland Derby winner Chitu, also Derby bound, went four furlongs for Baffert in 46.40 . . . She’s a Tiger, Eclipse Award winner as outstanding 2-year-old filly of 2013, worked six furlongs for Jeff Bonde with Gary Stevens aboard in 1:12.80 . . . Puerto Rican champion Tonito M. was one of several Jerry Hollendorfer workers, going five furlongs in 1:00.40 . . . Tom Quigley’s East Paddock Gardens seminar guests this weekend will be bloodstock agent Dennis O’Neill and his handicapper son, Shane, on Saturday, and John DeSantis, Xpressbet Senior Vice President, on Sunday, at 11:20 a.m. . . Host Jason Levin of “Inside Racing,” which airs Saturdays from 7 to 8 a.m. on KEIB AM 1150, “The Patriot,” hosts a handicapping seminar Saturday in the Top o’ the Stretch area at Clockers’ Corner starting at 10:30 a.m. Cost is $25 and includes a free program and fun giveaways. Levin will be joined by handicapper Steve Pollack . . . Horses wearing saddle cloth No. 5 won five races Sunday, including races six through eight, for a Pick 3 payoff of $61.20. Toby Turrell’s Winner’s Card also had five winners on top Sunday.