By Nicholas Godfrey 1:44AM 2 OCT 2016
Report: USA, Saturday
Santa Anita: Awesome Again Stakes (Grade 1) 1m1f, dirt, 3yo+
CALIFORNIA CHROME (Art Sherman/Victor Espinoza) will go to the Breeders’ Cup Classic on the back of a flawless season after an easy victory over old rival Dortmund in the main Santa Anita trial for America’s richest race.
Pressed by the giant Dortmund all the way, California Chrome set fast fractions (22.76s, 46.08s) which had his opponent in trouble before the far turn, after which the 2-5 favourite went on to establish a five-length advantage in the stretch.
Though the winning margin was only two and a quarter lengths, he was virtually pulled up by his rider in what was another thoroughly accomplished performance by the Dubai World Cup winner, who has won six out of six in 2016. He stopped the clock in 1m48.07s.
“When he gets in front, he’s a hard horse to get by, and I knew he’d wear Dortmund down with the fractions the way they were,” said veteran trainer Art Sherman.
“He took Dortmund’s game plan away from him. He tried and ran a hell of a race, but you’re looking at maybe the best horse in the world right now. I can’t say enough about him. I’m just blessed to be able to train him.”
California Chrome was one of three Grade 1 wins on the card for jockey Victor Espinoza. “I ran the first part fast but then eased up on him,” he said. “I didn’t want to overuse him today – we’ve got a big race coming up. It seemed like he was doing everything today very easily. Hopefully he’ll run big in the Breeders’ Cup.
“If someone wants to try and run with us again, maybe I’ll take back the next time. That’s the best part, he doesn’t have to be up there on the lead.”
Dortmund’s jockey Rafael Bejarano said: “Second best – no excuses. “The winner had a lot of pressure on him and that was the only chance I had.”
Also on Saturday
Santa Anita: Zenyatta Stakes (Grade 1) 1m½f, dirt, 3yo+ f/m
Beholder’s bid to win this for the fourth year in a row came unstuck as Stellar Wind (John Sadler/Victor Espinoza) inflicted a second defeat on the three-time champion after a stretch duel.
Last year’s champion three-year-old filly stalked front-running Beholder before joining issue on the far turn and then getting the better of the favourite by a neck. In what is becoming a famous rivalry, Stellar Wind had also come off best, by a half-length, in the Clement L Hirsch at Del Mar.
Santa Anita: FrontRunner Stakes (Grade 1) 1m½f, dirt, 2yo
A surprise result here as the Frontrunner is won by a front-runner in the shape off 11-1 chance Gormley (John Shirreffs/Victor Espinoza), who made all and comfortably held the late rally of odds-on favourite Klimt, who missed the break.