04/25/2011 7:43PM

California dreamless

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California can feel a sense of pride when a 3-year-old ships out and wins on the road.

It happened when The Factor won the Rebel at Oaklawn Park. It happened when Twice the Appeal finished second in the Turf Paradise Derby, and won the Sunland Derby.

The Factor won. Twice the Appeal won. That is all. It is a short list of winning shippers.

Perhaps others that raced at Santa Anita would have made a splash if they stayed sound – horses such as Sham one-two finishers Tapizar and Clubhouse Ride, or San Felipe one-two finishers Premier Pegasus and Jaycito. They are out.

As spring arrives, it appears the remaining California 3-year-olds are a cut below.

Silver Medallion continued the trend in the Lexington Stakes. A surprising lopsided 1.30-1 favorite after finishing fourth in the Santa Anita Derby, Silver Medallion regressed and finished off the board.

The Factor, a Santa Anita Grade 2 winner, was ready to take on the world after crushing the Rebel at Oaklawn. He displaced next out and finished seventh as the Arkansas Derby favorite.

Indian Winter won a sprint stakes in his Jan. 17 comeback at Santa Anita, then shipped to Arizona and finished a distant third as the odds-on favorite in the Turf Paradise Derby.

J P’s Gusto did not race at Santa Anita, but was among the top California 2-year-olds last fall. Then he shipped to Arkansas and got progressively worse at Oaklawn – second as the favorite, followed by a seventh and eighth. Good luck in the Kentucky Derby.

Sway Away did something few California shippers have done – he improved. He finished sixth in the Rebel, and then made what looked like a winning move in the Arkansas Derby. But he pulled himself up, and finished fourth. On the road, he is 0-for-2.

Albergatti and Tapaway ran well at Santa Anita. Albergatti shipped to Oaklawn and finished a respectable second as the favorite in a minor stakes. Chalk it up as another beaten favorite. Tapaway, a maiden, regressed in his next start at Fair Grounds.

The bottom line is the 3-year-old shippers from California have accomplished little outside the state.

Fusa Code shipped from Santa Anita and upset the Borderland Derby at Sunland, then regressed and was unplaced in the Sunland Derby. Le Mans was nowhere at 48-1 in the Louisiana Derby.

Special Kid, a Santa Anita maiden winner, finished third as the Borderland favorite. Southern Sculptor shipped to Hawthorne and beat one horse as a 30-1 longshot in the Illinois Derby.

The 2011 Derby crop appears fairly average. The 3-year-olds that raced this winter in California are perhaps a little less than that.

The disappointing finish by Lexington favorite Silver Medallion was not a shocker.

Nor will it be a surprise if California shippers Midnight Interlude and Comma to the Top – one-two in the Santa Anita Derby – find they are in over their heads in the Kentucky Derby.

Bill Smart More than 1 year ago
I don't understand why Midnight Interlude is being dismissed as a serious candidate in the Derby. He's the only horse that has run a 48 and change in a Grade 1 race. True, Santa Anita is running about one second faster than the other eastern tracks, but even at that, it's as good as the rest. I'm betting him on top of Mucho Macho Man.
peter kreutzer More than 1 year ago
Before the Arkansas Derby and on other occasions, Baffert has marveled at The Factor's speed, calling him a runaway train and that he cannot alter his style.Then post-Arkansas Derby he says the plan was to take back and rate. I know one must read between the lines with some trainer's comments, but as one who bet the horse to utilize his heretofore only style of running, I found his post-race comments highly disconcerting.
Dan More than 1 year ago
The Arkansas Derby isn't the first time Baffert threatened to leave the gate running. In order to avoid a speed duel, he announces his intentions to go all out for the lead. Just a bluff and there's nothing wrong with that. The other trainers and jockeys know that Baffert uses this public bluff and if they have early speed horses, they gun it from the gate and never give Baffert a thought.
Keith More than 1 year ago
Pioneerof the Nile was good. This year Premier Pegasus was hurt. Comma to the Top should be racing a mile and under. Both Anthony's Cross and Silver Medallion are racing off of long layoffs. I think it's too early to knock the West Coast horses. Midnight Interlude should finish in the money in the Derby.
charlie More than 1 year ago
What I don't get is what exactly is a California horse? Is that horse bred in California? You hardly call any horse from the East a New York horse, a Florida horse, a New Jersey horse or whatever. What would you call Uncle Mo if he folds after eight furlongs in the Derby? If a number of horse pointing to the Derby were from Maryland and don't perform pre-Derby, do we call them Maryland horses? I guess we couldn't call them West Coast horses because there are no other racetracks in the west except California. Is that right? No wonder there is an East Coast bias versus California. It shouldn't be that case because horse population-wise, the East Coast outnumbers the California horses by quite a bit and the Californians has done quite well with their limited entries. But then again what exactly defines a California horse? When 95 percent of these horses were all bred in Kentucky. Don't tell that to a newbie, I am pretty sure they would be confused and not even care and that is exactly what is wrong with racing.
wilson More than 1 year ago
Midnight Interlude has only raced four times I wouldn't close the door on his upside just yet. But please feel free to sleep on him. I'd love to see him 20-1 or more and be able to use him in exactas and tris at that price. People like Pyro ... I mean Nehro, a lot more in general, so hopefully I can take advantage of that.
peter kreutzer More than 1 year ago
Agree, on Santa Anita Derby day First Dude went a mile and a sixteenth in 1:42.48; Midnight Interlude went a mile and an eighth in 1:48.66 while showing uncommon gameness. As for those behind, Comma is certainly accomplished, Silver ran back quickly while shipping cross-country to get in the Derby, and in my opinion Mr. Commons will be a major force this year.
GunBow More than 1 year ago
I agree. Much was made of the likelihood that with a return to dirt, SoCal 3-year-olds would become more competitive in the Triple Crown and the preps. This has proven not to be the case. Say what one will of synthetics, but last year SoCal shippers won the Southwest, Rebel, Arkansas Derby, and Illinois Derby(when it still carried a $500k purse). In 2009, SoCal shippers won the Wood and Arkansas Derby among other races. And I don't think the disappointing main-track performers in SoCal are limited to the 3-year-olds. In general, I found the Santa Anita main-track stakes to be disappointing. And SA main-track shippers in general haven't exactly been dominating on the road. Blind Luck and especially Switch ran well in big stakes at Oaklawn, but both were beaten be Havre de Grace. Baffert's duo of Misremembered and Game on Dude also ran well in big out-of-town stakes, but also had to settle for second. The same was true for Euroears in Dubai. Gladding continued the trend this past weekend with a runner-up in the Texas Mile. Then there are the likes of Evening Jewel, who disappointed in the Madison at Keeneland, one of many SoCal shippers that have performed poorly at that track. There have been exceptions. Recently, Smiling Tiger won the Count Fleet and Turbulent Descent the Beaumont, but both totally outclassed their fields. It would appear the SoCal turf horses, particularly the males, match up better nationally than do the main-track runners. The turf stakes run this year in SoCal have been consistently highly rated in terms of Beyers, and third-tier runners like Expansion and Riviera Cocktail have gone East with success. Of course, one would be remiss not to mention the terribly disappointing runs of Champ Pegasus and Bourbon Bay in Dubai.
MD More than 1 year ago
I just want to ask, when has a horse come from the East come West and won one of the big races like the Santa Anita Handiap, Hollywood Gold Cup or Pacific Classic? Einstein, Skip Away and Cigar. Not very many in the last 20 years. I think the West has shipped out more and won more than the East, and the West has a lot less tracks to ship from.
pittsburgh jd More than 1 year ago
This seems like a non-story. California cannot produce a serious contender every year, especially when Premier Pegasus gets hurt and does not get a chance to show his stuff.