09/12/2016 10:30AM

Hartman settling in for the long run

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Churchill Downs/Coady Photography
The sprinter Alsvid is among trainer Chris Hartman's best horses.

CYPRESS, Calif. – Trainer Chris Hartman had a rough introduction to Del Mar in late July and early August. The stable lost with its first 14 starters after arriving from Kentucky.

“Our horses needed to acclimate,” he said earlier this month. “I came in a little late.”

The second half of the Del Mar meeting was kinder to Hartman. He won with seven of his final 22 starters and tied for 10th in the trainers’ standings for the meeting, his first in Southern California.

It will not be his last.

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Hartman has 19 horses at Santa Anita and plans to remain on the circuit. He was granted 24 stalls at Santa Anita and expects to fill the remaining stalls through claims.

“Our numbers fluctuate because we claim so many,” he said. “We’re trying to adjust.”

On Thursday, Hartman has his first starter at the Los Angeles County Fair meeting at Los Alamitos when Far Out Kailee starts in a $12,500 claimer for non-winners of two at a mile.

“That’s a good spot for him,” Hartman said.

Far Out Kailee is typical of several Hartman-trained horses based in California. The 4-year-old gelding was claimed by Hartman for $25,000 at Del Mar on July 21. Thursday’s race will be the second for Far Out Kailee with Hartman, following a fourth-place finish in a $25,000 claimer for non-winners of two at Del Mar on Aug. 11.

Hartman made 14 claims at Del Mar for prices ranging from $8,000 to $40,000. He had 11 horses claimed away from him for prices ranging from $10,000 to $62,500. He said his foray to California is not designed to dump his horses from the Midwest and acquire new runners to take back to Kentucky.

“They’ll claim from me, and I’ll claim from them,” he said. “I think our ratio has leveled off. You’ve got to win the shakes.”

Hartman said he plans to race sporadically during the Los Alamitos meeting, which runs through Sept. 25, and will become more active when the Santa Anita autumn meeting begins Sept. 30.

“We’ll go into Santa Anita and try to keep rolling,” he said.

Hartman, 43, grew up in a racing family in Arizona and has trained since the early 1990s. He was the leading trainer at Oaklawn Park in 2015 and was second at Oaklawn this year. Earlier this year, Hartman was third in the standings at the Churchill Downs spring-summer meeting.

Hartman has a stable in Kentucky and was at Churchill Downs over the weekend before he shifted his attention to the Keeneland September yearling sale, which began Monday. This year, Hartman has four stakes wins – two by Alsvid at Churchill Downs, including the Grade 3 Aristides Stakes in June, and two by Rivers Run Deep at Belterra Park and Thistledown in Ohio.

Alsvid was third in the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Stakes at Del Mar in July. He was Hartman’s only stakes runner at Del Mar. Alsvid is being pointed for the $150,000 David Vance Stakes at six furlongs at Remington Park on Sept. 25. After that, plans are fluid for Alsvid.

“I was thinking Breeders’ Cup, but my owners aren’t thinking Breeders’ Cup,” Hartman said. “We’ll wait and see how it plays out.”

Still, the Santa Anita autumn meeting will be an important one for Hartman, who will try to stay relevant on a new circuit.

“I’m hoping to have a strong meet there,” he said. “We’re trying to stay competitive.”