11/27/2014 1:54PM

California Chrome enters Hollywood Derby with lots on the line

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Benoit & Associates
California Chrome, a three-time Grade 1 winner, makes his turf debut in the Hollywood Derby.

DEL MAR, Calif. – Throughout the first part of the year, trainer Art Sherman would often muse that as good as California Chrome was performing on dirt, he’d love one day to get him on the turf.

That day has come.

After making nine starts on dirt and six on synthetic, California Chrome races on turf for the first time when facing five other 3-year-olds Saturday in the Grade 1, $300,000 Hollywood Derby at Del Mar.

There really was no earlier opportunity for California Chrome to race on turf. It was his own damn fault. California Chrome ran so well earlier this year that there was no point in deviating from a dirt schedule that eventually saw him win the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes and make a bid for the Triple Crown in the Belmont Stakes.

This fall, his initial goal was the Breeders’ Cup Classic, in which he finished a close third to fellow 3-year-olds Bayern and Toast of New York.

Sherman initially thought he’d give California Chrome the rest of the year off. But a week after the Classic, he thought California Chrome had bounced out of the Breeders’ Cup so well that it was worth coming back for one more start this calendar year, especially since the race is on turf.

“The timing is great,” Sherman said Thursday.

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The long-term implications are many. Should California Chrome prevail, it would open up far more opportunities for races for him next year. More immediately, though, a win would boost California Chrome’s chances for both champion 3-year-old male and Horse of the Year. He owns three Grade 1 wins this year – the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Santa Anita Derby. This would be his fourth. He would be the only horse with that many Grade 1 wins on two different surfaces.

A loss, though, would be his fourth straight and would leave him winless since the Preakness.

After watching California Chrome gallop over the Del Mar turf Thursday morning with exercise rider Willie Delgado, Sherman was ready for Saturday.

“I thought he looked good,” Sherman said. “He looked like he was on the bit pretty good when he went by me.”

The largest crowd of this fall meeting is expected. The Derby is one of three graded stakes on the card. There is a beer and cider fest during the day. The popular band Cake performs after the races. This will be the first time since 2006 that a horse who won the Kentucky Derby has subsequently raced at Del Mar. And California Chrome is wildly popular.

“We should have a few Chromies out,” Sherman said.

KEY CONTENDERS

California Chrome (Last 3 Beyers: 113-98-98)

As good as California Chrome ran in the Breeders’ Cup, in which he got a career-best Beyer Speed Figure, Sherman thought he was a race away from his best. “The race at Parx,” he said, referring to the Pennsylvania Derby, “was of no benefit at all.”

California Chrome landed post 5 in a field of six, the kind of outside draw he prefers. He figures to get a perfect stalking trip, just outside of the expected pacesetter, Sawyer’s Hill.

“I don’t think he’ll be too far off the pace,” Sherman said.

Lexie Lou (Last 3 Beyers: 90-44-93)

A filly racing against males, she already proved she could beat the boys when capturing the Queen’s Plate in July.

She has won twice in three grass races, including the Autumn Miss at Santa Anita last time out.

She also was entered in the Grade 1 Matriarch on Sunday, but trainer Mark Casse on Thursday said the Hollywood Derby was where she would run.

“Our intention has always been to run in the Derby, and I haven’t seen anything to make me feel otherwise,” Casse said.

Sawyer’s Hill (Last 3 Beyers: 88-88-89)

He suffered a brutal beat in the Twilight Derby at Santa Anita, leading every step but the last two when dropping a neck decision to Long On Value.

He won twice in three starts on this course this summer, his lone loss a second-place finish in the Del Mar Derby.

Flamboyant (Last 3 Beyers: 87-78-88)

He was a close fourth in the Twilight Derby, his first start since a disappointing eighth-place finish in the Del Mar Derby.

He will wear blinkers for the first time in this race.

TomN More than 1 year ago
Informative article Jay. Was there a need to list 4 of 6 runners as contenders [and leave out the runner that got nosed fro 2nd]. Is there any reason that racing reporters feel the need to show their handicapping skills. Report the news boss, and move on.
Ian GW More than 1 year ago
Put the Simulcast Racing Form back to its original version so people can play the game.
JilMcIntosh More than 1 year ago
Art Sherman is all class. He credits the horse when he wins, and makes no excuses when he doesn't. He understands how important fans are to the races, along with the gambler whales. I'm so glad to see him finally getting his due.
Billy Spathanas More than 1 year ago
Shermans alright but you say he makes no excuses. I thought he blamed Victor for his loss in the Penn. Derby by not having him in the race. Should have been closer to the pace he said. Wasn't he disappointed with Victor after that race ?
mike More than 1 year ago
So what?
Billy Spathanas More than 1 year ago
The best horse in this race is California Chrome period ! It won't matter if he doesn't handle the turf at all he will still win because he is all class and heart, again because he is the best horse by far in this race. As for Shermans comment CC will be off the pace, nope, he will go gate to wire because he I believe he wont have to be half of what he was going into the BC Classic. CC is a gate to wire romp. A paid workout as a lot are gonna say. HOY will be yes, California Chrome.......
Pagani Zonda More than 1 year ago
Casse is just downplaying his filly to please the Chromies. He knows his filly is locked and loaded, and throws down a serious run every race. Sherman better have him ready, because the Plate winner will be.
tommy More than 1 year ago
I love mark casse is woodbine because I don't need to read the program and bet his horses because races are fixed for him to only win lol. Anyway the filly won the queens plate because it was in woodbine and the race was fixed. Then the filly ran in another track and the dilly was dead last losing by 26 lengths against the boys at 1 1/8 at the distance of this race.
Pagani Zonda More than 1 year ago
Um..no. She ran last at WOODBINE in the Canadian Stakes. Clearly you don't know what your saying.
Hail No More than 1 year ago
Despite the short field, I think it is an excellent race, how often do we get to see a QP winner vs the Derby winner?
Lmaris Lmarislmaris More than 1 year ago
There is only one other graded stakes winner in the race, the filly. This race is is filled with mostly allowance company, as the better turf horses have returned east of the Mississippi. Hoppertunity beat similar quality today in the Clark, but in the process did something Chrome has yet to do: win against older horses. Even if he wins here, which is no sure thing, only someone held in close confinement and unable to follow racing since mid-May would vote Chrome champion 3yo, let alone HOY.
Hail No More than 1 year ago
Art did tout this race for CC a while back, perhaps the short field is due to other trainers not wanting to face CC?
mike More than 1 year ago
You're always trolling, always bashing Chrome/connections. It's obvious you don't follow racing or you would get a reality check and know just how good he is.
Chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Art Sherman is lengths in front of the Trainer of The Year race. He's invited the Racing Fan all along the way, letting us in on every move he was making including tomorrows' turf debut at Del Mar. Even with huge setbacks he's not one to come up with excuses but just goes on with his horse. Racing is lucky to have him.
Lmaris Lmarislmaris More than 1 year ago
What color is the sky on your planet? One horse does not make top trainer. If I had a horse and could only choose between Sherman and Casse, it would go to Casse in a heartbeat,
mike More than 1 year ago
Do you actually own a "I'm a slow learner" t shirt? Beginning to think you must.
Chuck Seddio More than 1 year ago
he liked the synthetics so he should like the turf. this is a great move by sherman. if he wins he will give the turf writers an excuse to not name bayern 3yr old and horse of the year. under any other set of circumstances bayern is a slam dunk for 3yr old and horse of the year.how can a bc classic and graded stakes winner not get the nods. but lets face it his victory in the classic is not certified among the writers and a victory by cc will give them an easy out to vote for cc and ignore bayern. this will be intresting i always cc would run on the turf in his 4 yr old campaign,espinoza should not fool around,put cc on hte lead and improve his position
mike More than 1 year ago
You're always neg against Chrome. Sorry to break it to you he will prevail for HOTY.
Vernon France More than 1 year ago
This is a bold move and as the article states, everything is on the line. Still, if he does not win he has the excuse of never having run on the turf. I hope he wins to put justice to the HOY voting after the mugging at the start of the Classic .
Howard Schwartz More than 1 year ago
He was not bothered, The simple fact is he hung in the stretch and would not go by the first two.
Scott More than 1 year ago
Truthfully, the only horse that has a legitimate gripe about the mugging a the start of the BCC was Moreno. Being a need the lead type, being squeezed at the gate definitely ruined any chance (I didn't think he had a real chance anyway) of winning. Now, if you're saying that California Chrome winning this Turf Race can stop Bayern from winning HOTY, then I see your point. However, I don't think that Bayern will win HOTY either way. For one, he has two bad losses this year and then the questions about his win in the BCC will keep most voters away. Bayern is a nice horse, but he would have never lasted 10F's if Moreno was allowed the chance to press him. Just look at his meltdown in the Travers and you will see my point. Great sprinter who can go a long ways on the lead when left alone, but pretty much a loser when pressed by other talent. (Kind of reminds me of another Baffert horse who just retired this year, except Bayern did actually win the BCC and Game On Dude didn't).
Tim More than 1 year ago
Too bad Sherman didn't give Chrome a race before the PA Derby; he would have been even sharper for the BC Classic and we wouldn't be having ANY discussion about which horse should be horse of the year...
tommy More than 1 year ago
This is an easy race to bet and I'm back in!!! First all, I will knock off Lexie Lou because she is a girl going against the big boys. Unless the race is fixed Lexie Lou is out of the trifecta! Then we are left with 5 horses which I will pick 3 horses and go 3 for first, 3 for 2nd and 4 all boys for 3rd
Pagani Zonda More than 1 year ago
I hope everyone thinks like you. That way I can bet the filly with both fists of cash. Chrome will only see her @*s in the final couple hundred yards.
mike More than 1 year ago
You have no shot.
Diana Leeson More than 1 year ago
A girl going against the big boys won the Queen's Plate in Canada. I was there and she took it to 'em with a smile on her face!!
tommy More than 1 year ago
The queens plate race was fixed!!
Lenny Mamola More than 1 year ago
Sherman WRONG..The Penn race was xlnt for him to tighten But you should have never raced him there..Now he is Gillette and its only a matter of how far he will win by..
Hail No More than 1 year ago
The PA Derby was an excellent tightener, a "paid work", if you will. A neck behind under 2:00 in the BC was spectacular for his next outing, despite the Bayern controversy.