California Chrome Breathtaking in San Felipe

California Chrome wins 2014 San Felipe.
Photo: Benoit Photo
In a breathtaking performance, California Chrome, under Victor Espinoza, won Saturday’s Grade II, $300,000 San Felipe Stakes in gate to wire fashion by 7 ¼  lengths, covering 1 1/16 miles in 1:40.59, the second fastest final time in the 77-year history of the race,  potentially stamping himself as the horse to beat in the $1 million Santa Anita Derby on April 5.

Breaking like a shot from the number two post position as the 7-5 favorite in a field of six 3-year-olds, the Art Sherman-conditioned California Chrome was quickly in-hand around the Club House turn with second choice Midnight Hawk to his outside and was full himself through splits of 23.09, 45.55, 1:09.45 and 1:35.94.

“He ran like I expected him to,” said Espinoza.  “I wanted to try something new today, so I let him go right out of the gate.  I don’t know if people expected me to go right to the lead, but I wanted to let him enjoy his race—I just let him go.

“In these races, you can’t just try and do too much with them.  I think it’s important for him to do his thing for the first five-eighths and be happy.”

A California-bred colt by Lucky Pulpit, California Chrome is owned by his breeders, Perry Martin and Steve Coburn.  With his San Felipe win, he picked up 50 all-important qualifying points to the Kentucky Derby on May 3, virtually assuring himself a berth in the Run for the Roses.

Based at Los Alamitos Racecourse, California Chrome had five works since a resounding win versus state-breds in the California Cup Derby at Santa Anita on Jan. 25.

“I didn’t think he’d be on the lead, but he was a handful today,” said Sherman, a former jockey who was an exercise boy for Hall of Fame trainer Mesh Tenney when his legendary California-bred Swaps won the 1955 Kentucky Derby.  “I just told Victor, ‘You got him.’  I told him he broke like that because of that Quarter Horse training at Los Alamitos…We all know Santa Anita’s a speed-biased type of track, so it was really great to see him with the hold he had on him.  It’s unbelievable.”

Asked if the Grade I Santa Anita Derby would be next, Sherman responded:  “We’ll kind of play it by ear.  I needed the 50 points and we’ll kind of see what happens…I don’t think the distance will make any difference, a mile and a quarter.  I think he’ll run all day.”          

California Chrome won for the third time in-a-row and picked up his fifth win from nine starts overall.  He paid $4.80, $2.60 and $2.10.  With the winner’s share of $180,000, he increased his earnings to $534,850.

Midnight Hawk, a winner of the Grade III, one mile Sham Stakes at Santa Anita Jan. 11, came off a third place performance in the Grade II, 1 1/16 miles Robert B. Lewis Stakes Feb. 8, was ridden by Mike Smith for Bob Baffert and finished second, 6 ¼ lengths clear of Kristo and Joel Rosario.

“He didn’t break as well as we’d like, but in saying that, he had no excuse,” said Smith.  “The winner just beat me.  I wish the outcome was different, but it is what it is.”

Midnight Hawk paid $3.00 and $2.20.

“I was a little disappointed running second,” said Baffert.  “He ran with that horse, but he couldn’t sustain it and he got a little tired there at the end.  I told Mike that was the horse to beat.  We just got out-run today.”

Kristo, who was ridden by Joel Rosario, was far back, in next-to-last position after a half mile and was never a factor, finishing third, 1 ½ lengths in front of Schoolofhardrocks and Joe Talamo.

The third choice at 7-2, Kristo paid $2.60 to show.

California Chrome's tail is all his rivals saw in the San Felipe




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Older Comments about California Chrome Breathtaking in San Felipe...

I love when these types win. He is not bred for 1 1/8 much less 1 1/4. Some who are exceptionally talented or face contenders who are distance challenged as well can overcome this deficiency.
I am loving how Sherman is handling the post race. He is sounding as though he might take the smart route and paass on the Santa Anita Derby and go to the real Derby instead. I am all for that,why waste an effort. Indian,please continue to trash this horse and show no respect.Just don't back it up with your hard earned money. You see words are meaningless. It is when you lay something down that makes you accountable. This was not a Mickey Mouse Track.Like i said ,i do not subscribe to Beyer figs. But they serve as a barometer,they are a fine product. Normandy Invasion ran a track record and got a 90 figure and a -3/4 on Thorograph. If it were a legit track they should of been alot better.Andy posted that GODs' fig was 116. That is a lifetime best.That translates to a thorograph fig of about -5. So Chromes race is legit,regardless of the dreamland fantasy speed biased track now cococted by most. Chrome as well as GOD ran their eyeballs out. Atip on when you know you have a Mickey Mouse track.When Allowance horses set or approach track records. Like that Pletcher horse at GP at 1 1/16th and the it was broken 3 days later. That was not only Mickey Mous,but throw in Bugs Bunny and Yogi Bear. Yesterdays track was fast and legit. It shows on Byeres evaluation.
  • indiancharlierules · You know the track was tremendously biased yesterday. If he doesn't have another start prior to the Derby he has no shot at the roses. Can you please tell me the last horse to have a 60 day break prior to the Derby and win? · 1351 days ago
Terrific performance By California Chrome in the S. Felipe. I've got him at 30-1 in KDFW pool 2. He's my #1 horse, #2 in Strong Mandate, looking for a strong performance from him in the Rebel. Cal. Chrome romped after a 6 wk. layoff. If the trainer wants to rest him and train him up to the Derby its ok with me. As long as he bolts out of the gate, gets good position, he has the pedigree and staying power, he will be fresh and training well, they will all be chasing him, and getting tired at the top of the long CD stretch. I look for Strong Mandate to be in the mix also, don't be surprised if Lukas trains Strong Mandate up to the derby if he wins the Rebel.
I hope Art Sherman doesn't try an 8 week layoff going into a 10 furlong race by a horse that hasn't even run 9 furlongs yet. The last horse I can remember that tried something similar was Friesan Fire and that didn't work out too well. Wait didn't Lukas try that too last year? I just think it's a recipe for disaster, especially for a horse that likes to race near the front.
WOW! I didn't think to much of California chrome before this race but he's approaching the top now.
Well if anything we have found Andy Beyer's pick for the KD.
Track was a joke yesterday, souped up for game on dude. Chrome is overrated and will get a goofy beyer and speed figs so race really doesn't matter in the big derby picture.
I think you meant 1:33.94 instead of 135.94 for the mile.

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