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Shootout In The San Antonio

Posted by on 2/4/2015 9:48:10 PM

The vehicle for older horses this weekend at Santa Anita will be the $500,000 Grade 2 San Antonio Stakes at 9 furlongs and fans should be in full happiness to see the Horse of the Year California Chrome back in action.

By all accounts, this racer has grown up and matured rapidly of late. And nobody knows him better than his regular rider, Victor Espinoza.

The jockey first rode California Chrome in his final start of 2013 and he guided him to an over 6-length lead in a $200,000 stakes. He was aboard for his next 5 wins including the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness before the rough trip in the Belmont Stakes. And he got revenge on his BC Classic rivals by ending 2014 winning the Hollywood Derby, which tipped the scales to his Eclipse Award.

More good things are to come according to his rider, Espinoza: “I think he’s stronger this year. The way he feels when I work him, he’s bigger and more mature. From last year to this is a big difference. He’s been working really strong and I believe he’ll run as good as a 4-year-old as he did at three.”

His work pattern coming to the San Antonio has been solid. He started the year with a 1:12 3/5 drill, followed it with a 1:11 3/5 spin and got 7 furlongs in 1:27 2/5.

Trainer Art Sherman got a nice foundation work into him the end of January when he went a mile in 1:42 2/5. On February 1st, Espinoza did not ask for too much as California Chrome posted a 1:01 3/5 drill.

He galloped out in 1:11.80 and was very strong pulling up.

California Chrome will have to be on top of his game, as he will be facing some stiff competition. Bronzo, who has 2 races now to draw from in the states, is trained by Neil Drysdale and will be ridden by Gary Stevens.

Leading Santa Anita pilot Rafael Bejarano will ride Tonito M. but that racer will have to have his running shoes on to turn the tables on Hoppertunity, who just beat him in the San Pasqual Stakes.

Both Imperative and Clubhouse Ride should be back for more in the San Antonio but California Chrome biggest challenge will be his arch rival Shared Belief.

Shared Belief has won 9 of 10 races and could very well be unbeaten if not for the horrible trip he encountered in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Owned in part by TV personality Jim Rome, Shared Belief is trained by the prolific Jerry Hollendorfer and he has been going through his morning routing.

Since winning the Malibu Stakes opening day at Santa Anita, Shared Belief has worked the proverbial hole in the wind in Northern California at Golden Gate.

He has 2 best of the morning works there, drilled the end of January in 1:11 4/5 and will wrap up his preparation Wednesday.

For a little break in Triple Crown action, fans can get the popcorn ready and get a good seat for this showdown.

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