02/08/2014 2:54PM

Santa Anita: Espinoza tests out Los Alamitos with San Felipe prospect California Chrome

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Scott Martinez
California Chrome, with Victor Espinoza aboard, preps for the San Felipe by working at Los Alamitos on Saturday morning.

CYPRESS, Calif. – California Chrome, who has dominated California-bred stakes in recent months, worked a half-mile in 48 seconds at Los Alamitos on Saturday, preparing for the $300,000 San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita on March 8.

Ridden by Victor Espinoza, California Chrome worked alone on the newly expanded dirt track at Los Alamitos, which began housing Thoroughbreds in late January after the closure of Hollywood Park’s barn area.

Espinoza, aboard California Chrome for easy wins in the King Glorious Stakes at Hollywood Park on Dec. 22 and the California Cup Derby on Jan. 25, did not urge California Chrome in Saturday’s workout.

“He went nice,” Espinoza said. “It was easy.”

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For Espinoza, 41, the trip to Los Alamitos was a first. He has not ridden the lower-level Thoroughbreds that have been part of the Orange County venue’s nighttime programs along with Quarter Horses for the past 21 years.

In December and early January, Los Alamitos was expanded from five-eighths of a mile to a mile to accommodate two Thoroughbred meetings in July and December later this year.

The five-eighths of a mile track remains, but the final turn of that portion of the track is blocked with temporary rails during morning training.

During Saturday’s workout, Espinoza noticed a slight rise and decline on the backstretch of the new track between the five-eighths and half-mile poles, but said it was minor. The newly expanded track has a stretch slightly longer than a quarter-mile, or 100 yards longer than the stretch at Santa Anita.

“It’s the first time I’ve been here,” Espinoza said. “It’s a little different. The turn is a little tight. It’s a long stretch. I like this.”

California Chrome has won 4 of 8 starts and earned $354,850 for breeders Steve Coburn and Perry Martin. In his only graded stakes appearance, California Chrome was a troubled sixth in the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity over seven furlongs last summer.

“I don’t have to train him hard,” trainer Art Sherman said. “I can maintain his work. We know he can get a route of ground.”

The California Cup Derby was run over 1 1/16 miles, the same distance as the San Felipe. The Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes is a prep for the $1 million Santa Anita Derby over 1 1/8 miles on April 5.