Santa Anita Derby winner and Kentucky Derby favorite California Chrome had his final major workout before next Saturday’s 140th Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs, going four furlongs at his Los Alamitos headquarters this morning in 48 1/5 under regular rider Victor Espinoza.

“It was a great work,” trainer Art Sherman said. “He galloped out (five furlongs) in 1:01. Everything’s looking good. I’m happy.”

Sherman said California Chrome would leave for Kentucky from Ontario Airport at 3:30 a.m. Monday, along with other Southern California-based horses scheduled to run at Churchill Downs next weekend.

“The horse will go at 3:30, but I’ll leave later, at 8 a.m.,” Sherman said. “Alan (Sherman’s son and assistant and a trainer in his own right) and (exercise rider Willie) Delgado will leave Sunday to be there early and have everything ready when the horse arrives.

“He’ll stay at (trainer) Tom Proctor’s barn there. Everything looks good right now. It’s all worked out nice.”

Asked if there was any undue pressure on him, what with California Chrome being the favorite and seeking to become the first California-bred to win the Derby since Decidedly in 1962, the 77-year-old Sherman took it in stride.

“No problem,” he said. “I’d rather be 5-2 than 20-1. I’m looking forward to it.”

Sherman had yet to read the deftly definitive article on California Chrome titled “The Accidental Favorite” by Tim Layden in this week’s Sports Illustrated, saving that for the plane.

“I saw it on line,” Sherman said, “but I’ll read the story on the plane.”

Added Espinoza: “It was just what we wanted, 48 seconds. I kind of timed it right. It wasn’t too fast, it wasn’t too slow. I just let him do his thing. I let him gallop out a little bit, not too much. I’m very happy and looking forward to the race.” In other news:

Blue Grass Stakes winner Dance With Fate worked four furlongs on Santa Anita’s main track Saturday in 47 flat for Peter Eurton.

“He looked great,” the trainer said. “He galloped out (five furlongs) in a minute. He was just kind of cruising along. Amir Cedeno worked him. He always works him. I get good feedback from the guy who knows him better.” Corey Nakatani has the mount in the Derby.

Eurton had contemplated working Dance With Fate on the turf, but aborted those plans.

“They canceled workouts on grass today,” he said, “but I wouldn’t have worked him on it anyway, because the rain made it a little slippery.” Dance With Fate also is scheduled to leave on Monday’s early morning flight from Ontario. “I’ll be a couple hours after that,” Eurton said.

Fashion Plate, winner of the Grade I Las Virgenes Stakes and the Grade I Santa Anita Oaks, worked five furlongs in company for Simon Callaghan in 1:00.40, her final major drill for the Kentucky Oaks next Friday.

“She worked great,” the trainer said. “It was what we were looking for, a maintenance kind of breeze. She looked super. She’ll walk tomorrow and then she’ll ship on Monday.”

Trainer Jeff Bonde said She’s a Tiger worked four furlongs under Gary Stevens Saturday at Churchill Downs in 48 2/5.

“Gary said she went great,” said Bonde, on hand at Santa Anita for today’s Gold Rush card. She’s a Tiger, Eclipse Award winner as outstanding 2-year-old filly of 2013, is set to make her 3-year-old debut in the Grade III, $175,000 Eight Belles at Churchill Downs next Friday.


Yesterday’s Hall of Fame announcements from Saratoga Springs, New York, were met enthusiastically by horsemen, fans and management at Santa Anita Park, as news spread that Santa Anita “alums” trainer Gary Jones and jockey Alex Solis will be inducted Aug. 8 into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame.

Jones, a two-time winner of the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap, with Best Pal in 1992 and Stuka in 1994, was a four-time leading trainer at Santa Anita’s Winter Meet and he ranks eighth on the track’s all-time win list with 576 victories. He’s also eighth all-time by number of stakes wins, with 72. The Long Beach, California native won 15 overall training titles in Southern California.

Jones, who retired due to health reasons in 1996, has been succeeded in the business by his son, Marty, who is currently one of Southern California’s top trainers. Gary Jones, 69, and his wife of 47 years, Joan, also have a son, Davey, who is an attorney based in Sherman Oaks. Jones and his wife currently reside in Del Mar.

“This is really the ultimate,” said Jones by phone from his home in Del Mar. “Santa Anita is home to me. It’s where I met my wife, it’s where I came from. I also want to congratulate Alex. He’s a great rider and we won a lot of races together. We won a Grade I with Freedom Cry in the (1993) Santa Monica (Handicap).”

Marty Jones, when reached by phone Friday morning on the Santa Anita backstretch, was understandably elated.

“I couldn’t be more excited and proud of both my mom and dad,” he said. “It’s just a really special day and I’m looking forward to going back with them to Saratoga this summer.”

Jones’s late father, Farrell (Wild Horse) Jones, was an eight-time leading trainer at Santa Anita and amassed 413 victories prior to retiring in 1975.

A Panamanian native, Solis, 50, came to California full-time from Florida in 1985 and quickly stepped onto the national stage courtesy of retired trainer Melvin Stute, who legged him up for eight graded stakes wins aboard California-bred Snow Chief, including the 1985 Norfolk Stakes, ’85 Hollywood Futurity, and 1986’s Santa Anita Derby, Florida Derby, Preakness and Jersey Derby.

A winner of 16 riding titles in Southern California, he was a three-time leading rider at Santa Anita’s Winter Meet. Solis prevailed in a three-way photo in winning his first title in 1992, winning 100 races to Eddie Delahoussaye’s 98 and Kent Desormeaux’s 97. Solis ranks sixth all-time at Santa Anita in both stakes and total races won with 151 and 1,354, respectively.

Through Thursday, Solis ranked 26th on racing’s all-time win list with 4,986 career victories and his purse money-won of $234,994,221 put him 10th all-time.

A winner of Santa Anita’s George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award in 1997, Solis’s class was on display when interviewed live on HRTV Friday morning, as he was quick to assert that Stute, who has been nominated to the Hall of Fame a number of times, is also well deserving of induction into racing’s ultimate fraternity.

“Snow Chief was one of my best horses, actually my ‘big horse,’ thank you to the guy (Mel Stute) that hopefully should be inducted into the Hall of Fame soon,” Solis said. “He gave me my best chance and my first big horse.”

In addition to Snow Chief in 1986, Solis won the Santa Anita Derby again in 2006 with Brother Derek. He is also a three-time Breeders’ Cup winner, the 2000 Sprint aboard the Bruce Headley-conditioned Kona Gold, the 2003 Turf at Santa Anita aboard the Richard Mandella-trained Johar, and the 2003 Classic aboard Mandella’s Pleasantly Perfect.


Santa Anita Derby Millionaire contestant Edward Espinoza will return to Santa Anita next Saturday, Kentucky Derby Day, as The Great Race Place will provide Espinoza with a $7,500 win ticket on California Chrome in the Run for the Roses.

Espinoza, 72, from Whittier, banked $8,500 on California Chrome’s Santa Anita Derby win, as the track provided him with a $5,000 win ticket on the California-bred sensation.

In the event that California Chrome wins the Kentucky Derby, Espinoza will win his original $7,500 bet, plus the profits, if any, from his Derby wager.

If California Chrome wins the Derby and is entered for the May 17 Preakness Stakes, Espinoza will be flown to Baltimore courtesy of Santa Anita and the track will place a $10,000 wager on “Chrome” in the second leg of the Triple Crown at Pimlico Race Course.

If the Art Sherman-trained chestnut wonder wins at Pimlico, Espinoza will be in line to win a $1 million bonus if California Chrome wins the Belmont Stakes June 7, and thus would become racing’s first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.


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