02/22/2014 1:35PM

Santa Anita: California Chrome sharp in San Felipe drill

Scott Martinez
California Chrome works six furlongs under Victor Espinoza at Los Alamitos on Saturday.

CYPRESS, Calif. – California Chrome worked six furlongs in 1:11.80 at Los Alamitos on Saturday, his final major workout for the $300,000 San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita on March 8. The Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes, a key prep for the $1 million Santa Anita Derby on April 5, will play a defining role in how California Chrome is campaigned this spring.

“We’ll learn where he fits with those horses,” trainer Art Sherman said. “It will be a good test for him.”

This winter, California Chrome has risen to the top of the California-bred division, winning the King Glorious Stakes over seven furlongs at Hollywood Park on Dec. 22 and the California Cup Derby over 1 1/16 miles on Jan. 25. The win in the California Cup Derby left Sherman and owners Steve Coburn and Perry Martin thinking about the Triple Crown trail.

[ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Prep races, point standings, replays]

California Chrome has won 4 of 8 starts and earned $354,850. He won the California Cup Derby by 5 1/2 lengths over Tamarando, who returned to win the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields on Feb. 15. Better Bet, fifth in the California Cup Derby, won an allowance race on turf at Santa Anita on Friday.

On Saturday, California Chrome was ridden by Victor Espinoza in a solo workout.

“He went very well,” Espinoza said. “I’m getting excited going into the race. We’ll find out what kind of horse he is.”

Sherman said California Chrome will have one more workout before the San Felipe, which is run over 1 1/16 miles.

“He’s the kind of horse that doesn’t need a whole lot of work,” Sherman said. “I like to keep him fresh. He just won at a mile and a sixteenth and won big.”

No Hollendorfer in Big Cap?

Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said Friday that he might not have a runner in the $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap on March 8.

Hollendorfer had considered Blueskiesnrainbows, Fury Kapcori, and Rousing Sermon as candidates but said they could go in other races in the next month.

“I don’t have anything definite for that,” Hollendorfer said of the Big Cap.

The Big Cap field is expected to be led by Mucho Macho Man and Will Take Charge, the first two finishers in the Breeders’ Cup Classic here in November. Mucho Macho Man worked Saturday at Gulfstream Park prior to being sent to California. Other candidates are American Blend, Appealing Tale, Blingo, Game On Dude, Imperative, Majestic Harbor, and Setsuko. Game On Dude won the Santa Anita Handicap in 2011 and 2013 but was fifth behind Blingo in the San Antonio Stakes on Feb. 8.

Better Bet takes to grass

Better Bet may have found a home on turf after winning his debut on the surface in his 13th career start Friday.

Ridden by Edwin Maldonado, Better Bet ($28.80) led throughout a one-mile race, holding of a sustained threat from Lucky Views in the final furlong to win by a nose in 1:35.27. Owner and trainer Mike Harrington said the turf race was a gamble.

“I wanted to try something different,” Harrington said. “I didn’t know if it would work. The horse fought back. I thought he was beat.”

Better Bet has won three races, including the Golden State Juvenile in November. A springtime goal could be the $250,000 Snow Chief Stakes for California-breds over 1 1/8 miles on turf at Santa Anita on April 26.

Weewinnin gets a break

Weewinnin, the winner of the California Cup Turf Classic on Jan. 25, has been turned out for 30 days, trainer Brian Koriner said last week.

Weewinnin underwent a battery of physical tests in early February after showing signs of soreness. When nothing surfaced, Koriner decided to give the 4-year-old a monthlong break.

“Nothing popped up, but he wasn’t right,” Koriner said. “He’ll get some time off in the barn and go back in training in 30 days.”

Weewinnin has won 3 of 6 starts and earned $281,880.