01/23/2014 1:32PM

Santa Anita: California Chrome gets distance test in Cal Cup Derby

Barbara D. Livingston
California Chrome, winning the seven-furlong King Glorious last time out, will try to handle 1 1/16 miles in the California Cup Derby.

ARCADIA, Calif. – California Chrome will always be the answer to a Hollywood Park trivia question: Name the track’s final stakes winner?

California Chrome ended his 2-year-old season on the last day of racing there on Dec. 22 with an emphatic victory in the $200,000 King Glorious Stakes. He romped away from nine rivals to win the seven-furlong race by more than six lengths.

The win was an ideal finish to 2013, but has left questions about what the colt can accomplish this winter at Santa Anita.

Saturday, that may be better known after California Chrome runs in the $250,000 California Cup Derby for statebreds over 1 1/16 miles.

[California Cup Day: Get PPs, watch Saturday's card live]

“He could be with the top 3-year-old California-breds,” trainer Art Sherman said.

Owned by breeders Perry Martin and Steve Coburn, California Chrome has yet to win beyond seven furlongs. Sherman has spoken highly of California Chrome since last summer, and thinks he can get a distance.

“The farther, the better with him,” Sherman said. “He’s developing now. I thought he’d be a better miler.”

California Chrome is part of a field of 11 in the California Cup Derby, the final race on a 10-race program that includes four additional stakes for California-breds and the $200,000 Santa Monica Stakes, a Grade 2 for female sprinters.

Aside from California Chrome, the California Cup Derby field has four other stakes winners – Aotearoa (Zuma Beach Stakes), Better Bet (Golden State Juvenile), Tamarando (Real Quiet Stakes), and Life Is a Joy (Charlie Palmer Futurity).

Other runners include Electric Eddie, second in the Real Quiet; Lawly’s Gold, second in the Riley Allison Futurity at Sunland Park last month; and Lucky Views, third in the Eddie Logan Stakes on turf on Dec. 28.

California Chrome has started once at Santa Anita, finishing sixth behind Better Bet in the Golden State Juvenile over a mile on Nov. 1, the first day of the Breeders’ Cup races. The racetrack was friendly to speed that day, and California Chrome was essentially eliminated after a slow start.

“The last time he ran here he had a horrid trip,” Sherman said. “Let him have a clean trip and we’ll see how he does.”

Tamarando may be favored in the California Cup Derby. Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, Tamarando won the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity in September, and the Real Quiet Stakes against open company at Hollywood Park on Nov. 23. Tamarando was third behind 2-year-old champion, and stablemate, Shared Belief in the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity on Dec. 14.

The drop in class will help Tamarando, Hollendorfer said.

“He tries hard every time,” Hollendorfer said last weekend. “We always look at the Cal-bred races.”

Better Bet is winless in two starts since the Golden State Juvenile, including a fourth in the King Glorious. Aotearoa was sixth in the King Glorious, preceded by a second in the Grade 3 Generous Stakes on turf at Hollywood Park on Nov. 29.

The California Cup Derby will be Aotearoa’s first start on dirt. Trainer Leonard Powell was encouraged by Aotearoa’s half-mile workout on dirt in 48.60 seconds last Sunday.

“He handled it, so hopefully it will transfer to a good effort in the afternoon,” he said.

Oaks: Swiss Lake Yodeler tries turf

Swiss Lake Yodeler could give Hollendorfer a memorable Saturday when she starts in the $200,000 California Cup Oaks over a mile on turf. Hollendorfer also has a leading contender in the $250,000 California Cup Turf Classic with Summer Hit and in the California Cup Derby with Tamarando.

Swiss Lake Yodeler began her career with a win in a $32,000 maiden claimer when trained by Mike Pender. By Swiss Yodeler, Swiss Lake Yodeler won two $200,000 stakes last year after being switched to Hollendorfer – the Golden State Juvenile Fillies over a mile on Nov. 1 and the Soviet Problem Stakes over seven furlongs at Hollywood Park on Dec. 21.

The California Cup Oaks will be the first start on turf for Swiss Lake Yodeler, who races for breeders Larry and Marianne Williams. Swiss Lake Yodeler worked five furlongs in 1:01 on turf earlier this month.

The California Cup Oaks drew a field of 14, including three fillies supplemented to the Golden State series for $25,000 – Anniversary Kitty, Princess Genevieve, and Sprague River. The Cal Cup Oaks is part of the Golden State series of stakes for California-breds through the year. Horses are nominated for $300 as 2-year-olds or for $25,000 in advance of a stakes. They are then eligible to the series for the rest of their careers.

The field includes another two-time stakes winner in Sprouts, who won two sprints last summer. Sprouts was third behind Swiss Lake Yodeler in the Soviet Problem.