Del Mar, Horse racing, Kentucky Derby, Santa Anita, Triple Crown

California Chrome’s connections fine with No. 5 draw in Derby

Jockey Victor Espinoza was more than happy when Kentucky Derby morning-line favorite California Chrome (5-2), who trains at Los Alamitos Race Course in Orange County, drew the No. 5 post for Saturday’s Run for the Roses in Louisville, Ky.

“It’s my lucky number,” said Espinoza.

Espinoza won the Kentucky Derby aboard War Emblem from post No. 5 for trainer Bob Baffert in 2002.

California Chrome also won the Santa Anita Derby from post five in his last start and the 3-year-old, trained by Art Sherman, will be looking for his fifth straight victory on the track.

With California Chrome’s tactical speed, the No. 5 post should not prove a problem as Espinoza should be able to get out quickly and place him where he wants.

“He’s an amazing horse to ride,” said Espinoza. “I let him do his own thing. I think that’s why he’s running so great.”

Sherman obviously didn’t want to draw the No. 1 hole like Louisiana Derby winner Vicars In Trouble (30-1) did or the outside post in the 20-horse field like Wood Memorial winner Wicked Strong (8-1).

“I like it fine,” said Sherman after the draw. “Victor says he likes it. I’m happy and I feel no pressure.”

California Chrome has been a step slow in two of his last five starts, but Sherman isn’t worried.

“We’re going to school (from the gate Thursday),” said Sherman. “(In a race) he’ll be standing there perfect and just before he gets anxious. When he puts those blinkers on he gets anxious because he knows it’s a whole new ballgame (race day).”

Arkansas Derby winner Danza (10-1) drew just inside California Chrome in the No. 4 post.

Other California horses drew toward the outside in Hoppertunity (6-1) at No. 11, Dance With Fate (20-1) at No. 12, Chitu (20-1) at No. 13 and Candy Boy (20-1) at No. 18 for trainer John Sadler and jockey Gary Stevens.

Hoppertunity, who finished second to California Chrome in the Santa Anita Derby, was made the second choice on the morning line after Wicked Strong drew the outside post.

However, four of the last six Derby winners have come from the auxiliary gate (post No. 15 and out) and the last three in a row have come from there.

Baffert trains both Hoppertunity and Chitu. He was fine with the draw for both.

“I’m happy with the way the horses are training and that’s more important,” he said. “The only disadvantage is that Hoppertunity is going to have to wait in the gate for a long time, but I’d rather wait in the 11-hole than wait in the one-hole. I think he’s second choice because he’s gotten the closest to California Chrome this year.”

Chitu is expected to be part of the speed in the 1¼-mile race.

“You don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Baffert. “The speed horses, you don’t know who’s going to break, who’s going to go, what if the pace isn’t fast? What if it’s a War Emblem pace and they keep going? I think nobody knows. We’re all assuming a lot of stuff but, this Derby, aside from that California Chrome has proven he’s a really good horse, there’s a lot of horses in there that are pretty close. There’s a lot of parity in this field so that’s why we have 20 horses, because everybody might have a chance. He’s fast. (Jockey) Martin Garcia thinks he can do it so he’s real confident about the horse.”

Trainer Peter Eurton didn’t have a problem with Blue Grass winner Dancer With Fate’s draw.

“I am thrilled with it,” he said. “There is a lot of speed to the inside of us rather than outside and that should give us a good chance to pick a spot.”

Sadler said he doesn’t worry about post draws.

“It’s OK,” Sadler said. “I’d rather be outside than in. And I don’t put a lot of energy into things I can’t control. We’ll figure out a strategy and go from there. I think we’ll be fine.”

Stevens said he was already planning a strategy as the draw progressed, but he wasn’t giving away any trade secrets.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

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Horse racing, Santa Anita

Trio heating up at Santa Anita

Last week was dominated by jockeys Rafael Bejarano and Drayden Van Dyke along with trainer John Sadler as everyone prepared for this Saturday’s Santa Anita Derby Day, which features big races and big money on the line.

Bejarano and apprentice Van Dyke both recorded six victories during the last four days of racing. For Bejarano (6-for-16) it was really three days of racing as he sat on Thursday, finishing a three-day riding suspension.

Van Dyke (6-for-20) has been so hot that he lost two pounds of his riding allowance in the middle of a program. He won a race with a seven-pound weight allowance and then went to a five-pound allowance, which he will keep for the remainder of his time before becoming a journeyman.

On the other end of the spectrum, jockey Joe Talamo had an 0-for-25 week. He went through similar droughts at Del Mar and may be should be avoided until he wins a race or two. Edwin Maldonado (0-for-15), Gary Stevens (0-for-6) and Mario Gutierrez (0-for-6) joined Talamo on the doughnut patrol.

In the training race, Sadler finally got hot with seven wins from 10 starters. Sadler tends to heat up coming into big weekends and he does have Candy Boy ready for Saturday’s Santa Anita Derby.

Jerry Hollendorfer stayed in the training lead, going 3-for-7.

On the cold end, trained Peter Miller was 0-for-9 and by my count hasn’t won a race in three weeks. If I’m wrong I stand corrected. Miller’s barn has too many horses to stay cold for much longer so pay attention.

Other cold trainers last week were Mike Puype (1-for-7), Marty Jones (1-for-5) and Tom Proctor (0-for-2).

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

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Horse racing, Santa Anita

Santa Anita picks for Saturday, March 22

FIRST RACE: 1. Peacenik, 2. Muchos Besos, 3. Senator Bob. LONG SHOT: Gnarly Dude.

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SECOND RACE: 1. La Sorella, 2. Miss Super Quick, 3. Sweet as a Rose. LONG SHOT: Shapely.

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THIRD RACE: 1. Wistfullee Mine, 2. We Have Lift Off, 3. Street Maven. LONG SHOT: Roman Tizzy.

WISTFULLEE MINE, a 4-year-old gelding, was bred to run all day, yet in his eighth career start this is the longest he has run. He ran against winners last time for some reason and now returns to the maiden claiming ranks. Veteran jockey Iggy Puglisi has seven wins at the meet from limited starters and knows what to do.

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FOURTH RACE: 1. Temeraine, 2. Vagabond Shoes, 3. Lucayan. LONG SHOT: Niagara Falls.

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FIFTH RACE: 1. Louden’s Gray (best bet), 2. Midnight Storm, 3. Twenty Percent. LONG SHOT: Gameboy Luke.

OK, we’re bucking a couple of bad trends here, but we feel something is up with LOUDEN’S GRAY. Trainer Kristin Mulhall is 0-for-36 at the meet and just 1-for-17 with first-time starters the last two years, yet she is able to attract jockey Martin Garcia, even though trainer Bob Baffert has a horse in the race. This son of Street Sense has two big works showing and might be ready to roll.

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SIXTH RACE: 1. Mega Heat, 2. Stoney Fleece, 3. Hog’s Hollow. LONG SHOT: El Commodore.

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SEVENTH RACE: 1. Twin Six, 2. Londinium, 3. Anabaa Premium. LONG SHOT: Joe Carl.

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EIGHTH RACE: 1. Home Run Kitten, 2. Diamond Bachelor, 3. Enterprising. LONG SHOT: Quotient.

This son of Kitten’s Joy, HOME RUN KITTEN, is bred to run all day on the grass, but this is the first time he’s being allowed to do that. Trainer David Hofmans tried him on the dirt, finishing fifth in the Robert B. Lewis to Candy Boy, hardly a disgrace. Jockey Joe Talamo keeps the mount and we always like “Talamo on the turf.”

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NINTH RACE: 1. Teasing Moment, 2. Corinthian Melody, 3. Brnadon’s Princess. LONG SHOT: It’s Aine.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

Friday’s top choice winners: 4 (Clearly Confused $5.80, second race; Bettys Bambino $4, fifth; Road Ready $6, sixth; Charbroiled $3.60, eighth)

Friday’s second choice winners: 3 (Magic Spot $5.80, first; Provenance $8.40, third; Mambo Man $7.20, seventh)

Friday’s third choice and long shot winners: 0

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Horse racing, Santa Anita

Updated Santa Anita picks for Saturday, Oct. 12

FIRST RACE: 1. Cervaro, 2. Seamark, 3. Tortola. LONG SHOT: Ella’s Kitten.

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SECOND RACE: 1. Dunmore East, 2. Truelee Scrappin, 3. Silver Wings. LONG SHOT: Gallant Gent.

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THIRD RACE: 1. Takem by Surprise, 2. Capo, 3. Papa Smitty. LONG SHOT: Hitter’s Alley.

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FOURTH RACE: 1. Gift Exchange, 2. Candy Boy, 3. Hold Everything. LONG SHOT: Songforjohnmichael.

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FIFTH RACE: 1. High Test, 2. Zuboff, 3. Trelawny. LONG SHOT: Major Magic.

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SIXTH RACE: 1. Know More, 2. Cast a Doubt, 3. Woodmans Luck. LONG SHOT: Awesome Indy.

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SEVENTH RACE: 1. Ismene, 2. Bella Viaggia, 3. Qiaona. LONG SHOT: Dancingtothestars.

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EIGHTH RACE: 1. MASTER CHEF (BEST BET), 2. Candy’s Sunrise, 3. Pilla Train. LONG SHOT: Life a Riley.

MASTER CHEF, A 6-year-old gelding, has four wins and two seconds in seven races over the Santa Anita track and you can bet that’s the reason trainer Kristin Mulhall claimed him for $25,000 at Del Mar. He looks like he perked up in his last work on the dirt and jockey Joe Talamo, who has three wins showing with the son of Vronsky, taking over.

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NINTH RACE: 1. Christopher Street, 2. Brown Boss, 3. Tribe. LONG SHOT: Empty Headed.

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10th RACE: 1. Hye I’m Jack, 2. Pray Hard, 3. Mass Transit. LONG SHOT: Frensham.

HYE I’M JACK HAS BEEN SCRATCHED BY TRAINER DOUG O’NEILL. I now give a big shot to FRENSHAM, who is also trained by O’Neill. FRENSHAM is by the freshman sire Square Eddie, who has gotten quite a few first-time winners.

Friday’s top choice winners: 3 (Kill Shot $2.40, third race; Denzel $6.80, fifth; Appealing Resume $10.60, seventh)

Friday’s second choice winners: 0

Friday’s third choice winners: 2 (Big Wags $7.40, first; Charlie Time $12.20, ninth)

Friday’s long shot winners: 2 (Golden Dynamo $18.80, second; This One’s for Mel $6.20, sixth)

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

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Del Mar, Horse racing

Updated Del Mar picks for Saturday, Aug. 17

FIRST RACE: 1. Legacy, 2. Indygo F M A, 3. Jazz On The Beach. LONG SHOT: Playful Humor.

Leading trainer John Sadler won two races on Friday he looks tough here with LEGACY. Jockey Julien Leparoux jumps aboard and he’s one of the best turf riders around.

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SECOND RACE: 1. Cal Gal, 2. Meinertzhageni, 3. Singleinthelast. LONG SHOT: Good Proof.

CAL GAL comes from the red hot Doug O’Neill barn. The trainer won two more races on Friday to give him 12 in the last eight racing days. CAL GAL finished third in her debut and leading jockey Rafael Bejarano keeps the mount.

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THIRD RACE: 1. Hard Buns, 2. Chestnut Moon, 3. Sharp Bella. LONG SHOT: Jaya Roo.

Trainer Vann Belvoir claimed HARD BUNS out of a winning effort last time. The 3-year-old filly faces winners for the first time, but Bejarano stays on.

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FOURTH RACE: 1. Candy Boy, 2. Yes Yes Yes, 3. Can the Man. LONG SHOT: Flying Open.

CANDY BOY is a son of Candy Ride, who loved Del Mar. Sadler trains and CANDY BOY has been training well for his debut. YES YES YES is by the top sprint sire City Zip and trained by Peter Eurton, whose only win first time out came earlier in the meet via disqualification.

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FIFTH RACE: 1. Lil Bit O’ Fun, 2. Gab Power, 3. Kid Edward. LONG SHOT: Bio Pro.

LITL BIT O’ FUN was claimed by trainer Richard Baltas, who won three races Sunday and Wednesday. Baltas is 29 percent first off the claim and jockey Garrett Gomez takes over.

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SIXTH RACE: 1. Gravity Force, 2. Hoosier Dada, 3. New Year’s Day. LONG SHOT: Little Shack.

GRAVITY FORCE is from the O’Neill barn and it puts jockey Patrick Valenzuela aboard. They teamed up to win Friday’s first race. GRAVITY FORCE is by the awesome first out sire Malibu Moon and this colt has been training well for his debut. HOOSIER DADA is interesting because jockey Edwin Maldonado jumps on after riding HI FASHIONED to a second place finish last time. HI FASHIONED could very go favored in this race, but it looks wide open.

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SEVENTH RACE: 1. Marchman, 2. Know More, 3. Germany Bay. LONG SHOT: Master Clip.

MARCHMAN turned in a decent third place run in his Del Mar debut last time and now Bejarano jumps aboard. Beware.

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EIGHTH RACE (Grade I Del Mar Oaks): 1. Kitten’s Dumplings, 2. Discreet Marq, 3. Wishing Gate. LONG SHOT: Pearlside.

The Oaks is full of shippers from the East Coast and Europe looking for that Grade I placing for breeding purposes. KITTEN’S DUMPLINGS has done little wrong for owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey. She won the Regret at Churchill Downs and then the Lake George at Saratoga. The Ramseys also have EMOTIONAL KITTEN in the race, too. The other Kitten just finished second in the Grade I American Oaks for trainer Wesley Ward. DESCREET MARQ ships in after winning two straight at Belmont for trainer Christophe Clement.

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NINTH RACE: 1. HEAVEN AND EARTH (best bet), 2. Say’s Who, 3. My Lucky Rose. LONG SHOT: Too Obvious.

HEAVEN AND EARTH is a first-timer starter from the Jerry Hollendorfer barn and he gets Leparoux to ride. The daughter of Ministers Wild Cat has been training well at Del Mar and is bred to be a sprinter.

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10th RACE: 1. Star Vesta, 2. Twelve Folds, 3. Showgirl Form. LONG SHOT: Corlett Drive.

STAR VESTA just won for fun and moves up for Hollendorfer and Bejarano. The daughter of Master Command also has a big work since her big win. She looks tough right back.

@Jeff_Nahill on Twitter

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