Santa Anita Stable Notes Thursday, November 2, 2023
STABLE NOTES BY VICTOR RYAN
__THURSDAY, NOV. 2, 2023 __
• KRULJAC GETS 2ND CRACK AT BREEDERS’ CUP WITH THE CHOSEN VRON • COLLMUS SET TO CALL HIS 12TH BREEDERS’ CUP • FOUR UNDERCARD STAKES FRIDAY SERVE AS BREEDERS’ CUP APPETIZER • POST TIME FRIDAY IS 11:30 A.M.; 1ST BREEDERS’ CUP RACE AT 2 P.M. • GLATT, D’AMATO BATTLE FOR SANTA ANITA TRAINER’S TITLE
KRULJAC GETS 2ND CRACK AT BREEDERS’ CUP WITH THE CHOSEN VRON In 2009 at Santa Anita, veteran Southern-California based trainer Eric Kruljac had his one and only Breeders’ Cup starter, 17-1 longshot La Nez, who finished off the board in that year’s Juvenile Fillies turf.
Kruljac holds a much stronger hand for his second go-around at the Breeders’ Cup. On Saturday, the 70-year-old conditioner will saddle one of the top contenders in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, The Chosen Vron.
Listed at 5-1 on the morning line, The Chosen Vron will attempt to become just the sixth California-bred to win a Breeders’ Cup race. Three of those previous winners prevailed in the Sprint – Thor’s Echo (2006), Dancing In Silks (2009) and Amazombie (2011).
“This is really the highlight of my career,” said Kruljac, who has won 1,241 races and trained seven graded-stakes winners in a career that began in 1986. “At my age, to have a horse like The Chosen Vron, it’s an absolute gift.”
The Chosen Vron has been a win machine for Kruljac and co-owners Sondereker Racing, Robert S. Fatkin and Richard Thomburgh. A 5-year-old gelding by Vronsky, The Chosen Vron has won 13-of-17 starts including eight straight entering the Breeders’ Cup. Most recently, he provided Kruljac with his second career Grade I victory when taking the six-furlong Bing Crosby at Del Mar. Finishing two heads back in third that day was Dr. Schivel, who is also entered in Saturday’s Sprint.
“He’s doing absolutely fabulous,” Kruljac said of his Breeders’ Cup hopeful. “We freshened him up after the Bing Crosby and he couldn’t be training any better.”
The Chosen Vron’s win in the Bing Crosby pushed him over $1 million in career earnings ($1,032,678). He has worked seven times for the Sprint, all on the Santa Anita training track. Last Saturday, he drilled a half mile in 47.20 seconds, which was the second-fastest of 19 moves at the distance.
“In the Bing Crosby there were a couple of really formidable horses with (runner-up) Anarchist and Dr. Schivel,” Kruljac said. “But this race, you look at the field and it’s just like, wow.”
Bred by Tiz Molly Partners, The Chosen Vron is out of allowance winner Tiz Molly, by Tiz Wonderful. He will break from post six in a nine-horse field set for the Sprint. Jockey Hector Berrios, who has been aboard for the entirety of The Chosen Vron’s current winning streak, will again be in the irons.
“The Chosen Vron always gives us everything he’s got,” Kruljac said. “We just hope he’s good enough.”
In the first race on Saturday, Kruljac will saddle Kiss Today Goodbye in the marathon GIII Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance going 1 5/8 miles on the main track. Installed at 5-1 on the morning line, Kiss Today Goodbye most recently was second behind Breeders’ Cup Classic contender Missed the Cut in the GIII Tokyo City at 1 ½ miles here Oct. 1.
Kiss Today Goodbye will have a new rider Saturday. Berrios, who has been aboard for his last four, is being swapped out for Hall of Famer Victor Espinoza. Kruljac noted Kiss Today Goodbye can be tough on a jockey.
“He’s a horse you have to ride the entire way around,” he noted. “I wanted to give Hector a break so he would be at his best on The Chosen Vron.”
LARRY COLLMUS SET TO CALL ANOTHER BREEDERS’ CUP ON NBC
Born Oct. 13, 1966 in Baltimore, MD, Larry Collmus knew what he wanted to be early in life—a racetrack announcer. Calling his first race at age 18 in 1985 at Bowie Racecourse, the then-fledgling Collmus would become Assistant Announcer the following year at four Maryland tracks—Laurel Park, Pimlico, Bowie and Timonium.
In 1987, at age 20, he became America’s youngest full-time announcer at the newly minted Birmingham Turf Club in Birmingham, AL. One year later, he was on the West Coast, plying his trade at Golden Gate Fields and solidifying his well-earned reputation as a man who performed his duties with the clarity and prowess of someone many years his senior.
Having now called races full time at Monmouth Park, Saratoga, Belmont Park, Aqueduct, Gulfstream Park, Del Mar and for the first time, the Dubai World Cup this past March, Collmus approaches the 40th annual Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Santa Anita on Friday and Saturday as NBC’s Voice of both the Kentucky Derby and the Breeders’ Cup World Championships for the past 13 years.
With Santa Anita set to host racing’s Super Bowl for a record 11th time, we caught up with Larry on Wednesday during morning workouts. Q. How different is your approach to the two-day Breeders’ Cup as opposed to working as an everyday announcer? A. It’s incredibly different because you need to know all these horses and all of these races and you need to know them like the back of your hand. For the Kentucky Derby, it’s one race. And I put in as much effort for the Derby as I do for these Breeders’ Cup races, but you have to do it 14 times. I make flash cards, and I just keep putting them in front of me with the silks of all the horses and I just try to remember, remember, remember and get those names in my head. Q. Operationally, how does working at Santa Anita compare to some of the many venues you’ve worked at around the U.S. and around the world? A. The view I have is pretty good here at Santa Anita. I have a smaller room right next to the Announcer’s Booth and it gives me the opportunity to have an angle close to the finish line and you can’t beat the background when you’re looking out at the mountains and the beauty of this place. There are so many different places around the country where I’ve called races and Santa Anita is definitely one of my favorites. Q. Larry, fans should know that when the Breeders’ Cup wraps up on Sunday, you’re not going too far away, as you’ll again be the full-time announcer at Del Mar beginning next Friday for their Bing Crosby Meet. A. I’m looking forward to that for sure. As soon as the races are over Saturday, I’m going to take a plane back home to New Jersey, do my laundry for a couple days and then turn around and go right back to Del Mar. I can’t wait to be back there for the fall.
FOUR UNDERCARD STAKES FRIDAY SERVE AS BREEDERS’ CUP APPETIZER Breeders’ Cup Friday kicks off with four consecutive undercard stakes starting at 11:30 a.m. PT.
The first race is the $150,000 Qatar Golden Mile for 2-year-olds on turf, which drew a field of eight. The 5-2 favorite on the morning line is Go With Gusto for Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse. Jockey Joel Rosario will be aboard.
By Medaglia d’Oro, Go With Gusto won his debut at Woodbine in August then came back to be third in the GI Summer Stakes, both at a mile on turf.
Also set to go in the Qatar Golden Mile is Mo Fox Givin (6-1), who was entered in the Juvenile Fillies Turf but relegated to the also-eligible list. By Mo Town, Mo Fox Givin will be making her first start for Santa Anita-based trainer Leonard Powell. In two prior starts for trainer Kelsey Danner, he was a debut winner Colonial Downs at 1 1/16 miles on turf then second by a head in a one-mile allowance on turf Sept. 29 at Churchill Downs.
Following the Qatar Golden Mile is the $175,000 Golden State Juvenile Fillies going seven furlongs on the main track. It attracted a field of 11 including 8-5 morning-line favorite Mirinda for trainer Gary Mandella.
By Mitole, Mirinda exits a sharp front-running debut victory by 6 ½ lengths going five furlongs here Sept. 10. Hall of Famer Mike Smith, who was aboard for the debut, will again be in the irons Friday.
The third race Friday is the listed Senator Ken Maddy for fillies and mares on the hillside turf course. European import White Moonlight for Godolphin and trainer Saeed bin Suroor is the 3-1 morning-line favorite in a deep field of 13. White Moonlight was a multiple stakes winner in Europe and is exiting a seventh-place finish in the GIII Oak Tree Stakes at Goodwood Aug. 2.
The fourth race Friday is the $175,000 Golden State Juvenile for California-bred or California-sired 2-year-olds. A field of 12 is entered. The lukewarm 7-2 program favorite is Dr. No No for trainer Brian Koriner. A Kentucky-bred by California-based stallion Smiling Tiger, Dr. No No has won two of three starts including the six-furlong I’m Smokin Stakes here Sept. 8.
FINISH LINES: First post for Friday’s 10-race card is 11:30 a.m. PT. The first Breeders’ Cup race is the $1 million Juvenile Turf at approximately 2 p.m…First post for Saturday’s 12-race card is 10:10 a.m. PT. The first Breeders’ Cup race is the third, the $1 million Dirt Mile, which goes at approximately 11:30 a.m. PT…Entering the final week of the Santa Anita Autumn Meet, Mark Glatt leads the trainers’ standings with 11 wins. Phil D’Amato is next with 10 wins. Glatt has 13 horses entered this week. D’Amato, a perennial leading trainer here, has 24 horses entered…Sunday’s $1 Pick 6 at Santa Anita returned $28,661.20 to three winning tickets…Closing day of the Santa Anita Autumn meet is Sunday. First post 12 p.m. PT