Santa Anita Stable Notes Thursday, January 5, 2023
STABLE NOTES BY VICTOR RYAN THURSDAY, JAN. 5, 2023
__• THE CHOSEN VRON RIDES WIN STREAK INTO CAL CUP SPRINT __ • MULTIPLE STAKES WINNER FASHIONABLY FAST IS RETIRED • SANTA YNEZ CONTENDERS RETURN TO WORK AFTER POSTPONEMENT • MANDATORY RAINBOW PICK 6 PAYOUT SATURDAY
THE CHOSEN VRON GOES FOR 4TH STRAIGHT STAKES WIN IN CAL CUP SPRINT
The ultra-consistent and versatile California-bred The Chosen Vron, a winner of three-straight stakes for trainer Eric Kruljac, will try and keep the good times rolling as the 4-5 favorite in Saturday’s $150,000 Don Valpredo California Cup Sprint for state-breds 4-year-olds and up.
The Chosen Vron on Wednesday was entered for both the Cal Cup Sprint going six furlongs on dirt and the $200,000 Unusual Heat Turf Classic going 1 1/8 miles on turf. On Thursday morning, Kruljac confirmed the 5-year-old Vronsky gelding would go in the Sprint, which sets up an intriguing rematch with the speedy Big City Lights for Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella.
“I think the sprint is the tougher race on paper, but it’s what he’s most familiar with,” Kruljac said.
Last month at Del Mar, The Chosen Vron and multiple-stakes winner Big City Lights squared-off in the restricted Cary Grant Stakes going seven furlongs at Del Mar. Big City Lights showed the way through fractions of 22.2 and 44.6 seconds as the 6-5 second choice, but in the stretch drive, even-money favorite The Chosen Vron surged past the leader under Hector Berrios and won going away by 3 ½ lengths. He earned a career-high 102 Beyer Speed Figure, which is also the highest for any entrant in the Sprint.
The Cary Grant was the third-straight win for The Chosen Vron, all in state-bred stakes, and the eighth overall in 12 starts. Previously, The Chosen Vron won the E.B Johnston going a mile on dirt at Los Alamitos on Sept. 17 and the California Flag going about 6 ½ furlongs on the hillside turf course at Santa Anita a month later.
“His versatility and ability to adapt to different situations has just been incredible,” Kruljac said.
The Chosen Vron’s seven overall stakes wins include two in the graded ranks, both coming in 2021 at Santa Anita in the Grade III Lazaro Barrera and Grade III Affirmed. The current win streak has pushed The Chosen Vron’s earnings to $522,678 for an ownership group that includes Kruljac, Sondereker Racing, Robert S. Fetkin and Richard Thornburgh.
“He was amazing,” Kruljac said of the gelding’s lucrative fall campaign. “Probably the highlight of my career.” Interestingly, The Chosen Vron has never raced the Cal Cup Sprint distance of six furlongs on dirt. He’s also never run on an off track, which is possible for Saturday given the heavy rain that has hit Arcadia this week.
Kruljac said he was not particularly concerned with the conditions or distance, noting “He’ll be running at the end.” The Cal Cup Sprint goes as the opener of Saturday’s 10-race card, which kicks off at 12 p.m. Pacific.
“It should be a good race to start Cal Cup day and we better have our running shoes on,” Kruljac said. “(Mandella’s) horse has every right to improve, I have all the respect in the world for that horse, but you got to worry about them all.”
In addition to the aforementioned Sprint and Turf, other stakes on Saturday’s card are the $200,000 California Cup Derby at 1 1/16 miles on dirt, $200,000 California Cup Oaks at a mile on turf and $150,000 Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf Sprint at about 6 ½ furlongs on the hillside turf course.
MULTIPLE STAKES WINNER FASHIONABLY FAST IS RETIRED
Fashionably Fast, a six-time stakes winner for breeder and co-owner Harris Farms, has been retired. Trained Dean Pederson said the 7-year-old gelding was sent last week to Harris Farms in Coalinga, Calif., where he will reside.
“He’ll have a great life there,” Pederson said. “Mr. (John) Harris will take really good care of him.”
By Lucky Pulpit, Fashionably Fast compiled a record of 33-10-8-7 in five seasons of racing with $807,143 in earnings. His final race was a fifth-place finish in the Oct. 8 Harris Farms Stakes at Fresno. Fashionably Fast’s six stakes wins included two additions of the Harris Farms Stakes at Fresno (2019, 2020), two runnings of the Tiznow Stakes for state-breds (2020, 2021), the 2020 California Cup Sprint Stakes and 2019 Cary Grant Stakes.
Fashionably Fast had been breezing at Santa Anita towards a possible tilt in this year’s edition of the Cal Cup Sprint on Saturday, but last week the decision was made to call it a career. He retires as the highest-earning horse ever trained by Pederson.
“He was just very competitive and the older he got, the more he enjoyed his work,” Pederson noted.
SANTA YNEZ CONTENDERS RETURN TO WORK AFTER POSTPONEMENT
With the Grade III, $200,000 Santa Ynez postponed a week to this Sunday, Jan. 8, a trio of contenders returned to the worktab for one final tune-up on Monday.
The seven-furlong Santa Ynez is a points-paying prep for the Kentucky Oaks with the top five finishers earning qualifying points on a 10-4-3-2-1 scale. The race was rescheduled after heavy rain in Arcadia forced the cancellation of this past Sunday’s card at Santa Anita.
Justique, the expected heavy favorite, drilled four furlongs Monday in 48.0 seconds for trainer John Shirreffs. The daughter of Triple Crown winner Justify has won two of three starts including the Desi Arnaz at Del Mar most recently on Nov. 19.
Also on Monday, two of Bob Baffert’s three Santa Ynez contenders worked as both Parody and Huntingcoco drilled five furlongs in 1:00.4. Not on the tab for Baffert was Fast and Shiny, who will return to dirt after a pair of off-the-board finishes on turf.
Parody and Huntingcoco both finished off the board in the Desi Arnaz. Parody checked in fourth, beaten about 10 lengths by Justique with Huntingcoco another neck back in fifth.
The Santa Ynez will serve as the co-feature on Sunday’s card along with the Grade III, $100,000 Sham Stakes, which is Santa Anita’s first official stop on the road to the 2023 Kentucky Derby. It also awards qualifying points to the top-five finishers on a 10-4-3-2-1 scale. First post Sunday is 12 p.m. Pacific.
MANDATORY RAINBOW SIX JACKPOT PAYOUT THIS SATURDAY AT SANTA ANITA
With a big 10-race card planned for California Cup Day this Saturday, Jan. 7, Santa Anita Park has announced there will also be a mandatory payout in the 20 cent Single Ticket Rainbow Pick Six Jackpot, with the likelihood of a $3 million total Rainbow Six pool. A total of five California-bred races, highlighted by the $200,000 Cal Cup Derby and the $200,000 Unusual Heat Turf Classic, will be included in the 10-race card which will begin with first post time at 12 noon.
The Rainbow Pick Six will be comprised of races five through 10, with fifth race post time scheduled for approximately 2 p.m. PT.
The Cal Cup Derby, which was won by eventual Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner California Chrome in 2014, will be contested at a mile and one sixteenth. The Unusual Heat Turf Classic, for older horses at a mile and one eighth on grass, is presented by City National Bank.
Additional Cal Cup races for Saturday are the $150,000 Leigh Ann Howard California Oaks, for 3-year-old fillies at one mile on turf, the $150,000 Don Valpredo California Cup Sprint, for older horses at six furlongs and the $150,000 Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf Sprint at about 6 ½ furlongs down the hillside turf course.
With first post time at 12 noon, admission gates will open Saturday at 10 a.m.
For additional information, please call (626) 574-RACE.
Finish Lines: On Saturday, Santa Anita will offer fans a mandatory payout in the 20 cent Single Ticket Rainbow Pick Six Jackpot. It is expected the total Rainbow Six pool will exceed $3 million…Also on Saturday will be the inaugural “1/ST Coast to Coast Pick 5” tying to together races from Santa Anita and sister track Gulfstream Park. It is a $1 minimum wager with a player-friendly 15 percent takeout. The sequence kicks off at 4:10 p.m. Eastern with race 9 at Gulfstream and continues with race 4 at Santa Anita, race 11 at Gulfstream, race 6 at Santa Anita and race 8 at Santa Anita.