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HRN Original Blog:
Zipse At The Track

California Chrome owns the Santa Anita Derby

 

There’s no longer any question as to who the 2014 Kentucky Derby favorite will be. California Chrome took care of that matter today in scintillating fashion. Sent off as the 7-10 favorite in the $1 million Santa Anita Derby, the copper chestnut made it look like little more than a walk in the park in the California sunshine, galloping home an easy 5 1/4 length winner over Hoppertunity.


Trained by the 77-year-old Art Sherman, and ridden by Victor Espinoza, the California-bred broke a beat slow, but quickly recovered and sped his way into second outside of longshot leader, Dublin Up, with the second choice, Candy Boy, just to his outside.
 
 
"He broke a step slow but I put him right into race, I wanted to be aggressive," said the winning rider. "I bounced out of there as quick as possible." 
 
 
Dublin Up led all the way to the far turn, but Espinoza was sitting chilly waiting to press the button, as Candy Boy stayed in close contact and was outside those and Hoppertunity moved up from fourth on the rail. It liked for a fleeting moment as if the race might be on, but none of the others could match the effortless moving of California Chrome. He hit the front easily and quickly opened up on the highly regarded sophomores in his wake. From there, he cruised home the easiest kind of winner over the Rebel winner, Hoppertunity, with Candy Boy a distant third. 
 
 
The winning trainer was understandably pleased with his star. “It was awesome. That’s all I can say. I got a little spooked leaving the gate. He got banged around pretty good, but I really think he’s a better horse stalking," said Sherman. "When he won the San Felipe, he was on the lead all the way which is something new to me, but I really prefer this type of race where he’s right off the lead. I know that the horse likes to have to have company (when asked his thoughts early in the race). I’ve seen all his races; he’s pretty competitive. He doesn’t mind being hooked. Right now, he’s kind of freaky and I’m enjoying it. I can’t believe the races I’ve been seeing. A length or two might have been all right with me. 
  

California Chrome now streaks to the Kentucky Derby, four weeks from today, as not only the best prospect on the West Coast, but almost a certain favorite for the Run for the Roses.
 
 
"I don't think distance will be problem in the Kentucky Derby," added Espinoza.
 

Today’s grade 1 victory marked the sixth win in ten lifetime starts for California Chrome, and his fourth in a row. Coming off a series of seriously flashy performances, including most recently a 7 1/4-length victory in the San Felipe Stakes on March 8, the son of Lucky Pulpit led all the way that day finishing the 1 1/16 miles in 1:40.59, making it the second-fastest San Felipe in the race’s 77-year history. The Steve Coburn and Perry Martin homebred has now won his last four races by more than 24 lengths combined.
 

Today’s final time of 1:47.52 for the nine furlongs over the fast Santa Anita track, fits with the overall look of the performance. Much like his previous three wins, it was an eye-catching victory, and the strong time represents the fastest Santa Anita Derby in 16 years.

 

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Older Comments about California Chrome owns the Santa Anita Derby...

I am perfectly aware of the difference between the inherent speeds of different race tracks AND the day to day or even race to race variance on the same surface . I made my own speed figures and track to track differentials many years ago. Certainly unadjusted times are no more than rough guides. But take the 1.79 seconds difference between the Wood and S.A. Derby times CC's rate of 52.84 fps for his final furlong and you have 94 feet 7 inches, give or take an inch. Divide that by 8 feet per length ( if you don't think a length is 8 feet, read a quarter horse book ), and you have 11.8 lengths. The Aqueduct MAIN track is not that much slower than S.A. The INNER DIRT at the big "A" is . And besides all that, whre is that good closer ? Wickedly Strong looked like he was about to collapse right after the wire in THe Wood. CC galloped out easily and loooked like he could run 9 more furlongs. Horses that win big races are rarely closers, Zenyatta excepted. Horses who do well in big races have the speed an athleticism to obtain position and the ability to kick clear.
not babies? Ask ANY vet; WHen does a horse reach maturity? Answer age 5 as all the definitions of filly over mare or colt over horse pivot on that year. They are akin to young teenagers at BEST.
mispleed HINDOO
Yes SPEED types can NEVER win the Derby Affirmed, Spend A Buck, War Emblem, Winning Colors, Bold Forbes, Riva Ridge, Kauai King, Swaps, Dark Star, Jet Pilot, Hoop jr., Count Fleet, Johnstown, War Admiral, Clyde van Dusen, Bubbling Over, Zev, Morwich, Paul Jones, Sir Barton, Regret, Old Rosebud, Worth, Meridian, Donau, Wintergreen, Agile, Alan-a-Dale, His Eminence, Lieut. Gibson, Typhoon II, Halma, Chant, Lookout, MOntrose, Leonatus, Indoo, Fonso, Day Star or Aristedes
Also Bodemeister was a very talented individual..
No, Chrome is NOT another Bodemeister. He has a much better foundation and had a great gallop out after the SA derby.
It's meaningless to use "raw" times alone. This spring, the track differential alone between SA and Aqueduct is 11 lengths. Add that to the likely pace scenario of the KD, and you have CC fading in the stretch and passed by a good closer. CC is appearing to me to be another Bodemeister.... good horse and the best of California, but he won't be in Kansas anymore when he steps on the track at CD. 'nuff said.
After analyzing the raw fractinal and final times of the 4 preps just completed California Chrome looks about 11 lengths superior. Cut that down all you want to account for the difference between Santa Anita and Fair Grounds/Aqueduct ( no difference for Gulfstream ), and CC still wins.Visually he stands alone. He kicks clear. The fact that he can do that from his high cruising speed is imposing, to say the least. Distance ? All of them will be staring at that 660 extra feet. The only thing that beats CC at Louisville is the trip. If they ever wise up and cut that maximum field size to 14 then we won't have such a big risk of a bad trip compromising a reaaly good horse. 'nuff said.
tmalios: True, the term "babies" is an exageration. But, as you know a "3yr old" is not actually 3 years old, it is 2+something years old. So, for an animal with a lifespan of 30 years, if healthy, a colt who is less than 3 years old is at best, a teenager. And it isn't just the physical development which is a factor... it is the learning how to run, how to focus, how to rate, etc. Clearly, WS is a horse who has much learning still to do, and yet made mincemeat of a strong field in the Wood. I'm also not sayin' that CC has stopped growing and learning. All I'm saying that in my opinion, CC is farther along the learning and growth curve than WS; and that WS's Wood victory was just as strong as CC's SA victory; especially considering the likely KD pace scenario. CC will absolutely be a major player in my betting mix.... but he will probably be less than 2-1, maybe close to even money; and WS will probably be over 5-1, maybe even close to 10-1. The potential big payday is with WS.
Drayton.Nay, CC isn't like Social Inclusion, who you proclaimed a few days ago would run away with the wood, and no one would be able to catch him. Wicked Strong was the one who came up tired after the race, not CC.
have not seen the last two preps so one really cannot comment without that piece of the puzzle
Take CC in the Derby please.... Wicked Strong will run right by him when he hits the wall.
107 BSF for CC is the SA Derby!
Cugel these are not babies any more. That was a reasoning you could use as a 2yo. I agree horses like humans never stop developing mentally and sometimes physically to a point. At least in my experience,what you see now is what you will get for the next few months. People will use WTC as an example. He was always super talented,his failures in the TC races were not because he was not good enough,but he went through some changes. But to play the Devils advocate,i will give you that they can develop. Just like Wicked and others can develop. You make it sound as though CC has reached his peak and will not continue to grow and Mature. None of us know s that answer yet. But assuming that they all have more growing up to do,how scary will CC be when he does reach full maturity.
"to date he has shown that he is head and shoulders better than anyone else"..... true, but people tend to forget that these 3 year olds are still babies. they are still growing and still learning how to run. just because a young horse was the "best" at one snapshot of time (like the BC Juvenile) or the SA Derby, does not mean he/she will be the best months later or even one month later. There are many young horses, like Wicked Strong, who may be slower to mature but in the long run may be "better" horses; and others that matured quickly and dominated as 2 year olds and will fade from sight. with all the speed in the KD this year, the chances look good for a late maturing closer.
Please realize one thing,what this horse has done to date. That is far from a guarantee that he will win The Derby or any other T.C. race after that. All this does is finally gives him theinenviable task of being King of the Hill at this late stage. As someone posted earlier there are many variables that go into winning the Worlds greatest race. Not being 100% on race day,poor trip and allowing nerves to get in the way can detour the greatest of plans. Sometimes being the absolute best or having the Superior pedigree are rendered useless. Just like the tote board when we bet.This game is all about odds and probabilities. So assuming that those outside variables do not come into play. California Chrome is the likeliest of Winners. Not because he is bred or isn't bred to run a certain distance. But because to date he has shown that he is head and shoulders better than anyone else. I have not seen a horse go into the Derby at least 3 lengths faster on the track than his nearest competitor. But as someone said,he is one stumble or check from being considered a fraud. All depends if many will give him the benefit of the doubt. I appreciate the enthusiasm and excitement this guy is presenting. But for the sake of reality. The more we expect from someone,the harder the fall from the pedastil. Seems that if this guy does not win The T.C., rather than getting his fame in the Sun. Chrome will be branded as someone who never fullfilled his promise. Not fair to the horse or connections. Like i said the only thing that he has done with certainty to date ,is prove he is absoliutely the best. No more or no less.
Can you say Handride? Hr was never asked. You are probably looking at Tripple Crown winner! Could nor have been more impressive! Rocky
to think..i have a futures ticket of cal chrome...at 32-1...works for me!
Cali Chrome is the walter peyton of race horses... he for sure is the one to bet. but, i'm sticking to my first & original derby favorites Midnight Hawk & Vicar's In Trouble.
My beef with the whole thing is all the speed... look at the line up in the field right now. About 10/20 are speed horses. This does not bode well for Chrome, or any of the other speed horses. Even if he rates, he could be really far off the pace with that many speed horses. He needs a good post anywhere from about 4-7 and a super speedster to his inside. That was a dominanting performance today but I am still a skpetic as to whether he is good at CD in a field of 20 with a ton of speed. I am liking Constitution so far.

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Meet Brian Zipse 

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing since birth. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat, Forego, and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, and American Pharoah. 

Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. 
  
As Managing Editor of Horse Racing Nation, Brian authors a daily column as Zipse at the Track, or ZATT for short, and adds his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Brian also consults for Derby Wars, is on the the Board of Directors of ReRun Thoroughbred Adoption and is a Vox Populi committee member. 
  
A graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives just outside of Louisville with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra.  

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