Published Saturday, November 29th, 2014   ( 7 years ago )

California Chrome
Wins Hollywood Derby

Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner California Chrome enhanced his claim to consideration for year-end Horse of the Year honors Saturday with a brilliant victory in the Grade I $300,000 Hollywood Derby at Del Mar.
Showing a return to the form which propelled him to six straight victories this year, California Chrome and regular rider Victor Espinoza won the Hollywood Derby by two lengths, with the star filly from Canada, Lexie Lou, finishing second. Talco was third, a length behind the runner-up. Sawyer’s Hill faded to fourth in the field of six three-year-olds. Completing the order were Cabral and Flamboyant.
California Chrome, the California-bred son of Lucky Pulpit owned and bred by Steve Coburn and Perry Martin and trained by Art Sherman, demonstrated a new facet of his ability as he won impressively in his debut on grass. He ran the mile and one-eighth on the infield turf course in 1:47.88 for his ninth triumph in 16 career starts. First money of $180,000 increased his lifetime earnings to $4,222,650.
Going postward to the applause of the biggest crowd of Del Mar’s inaugural fall Bing Crosby Season and backed down to 3-5 favortism, California Chrome returned $3.40, $2.60 and $2.10. Lexie Lou, lone female in the field, paid $3 and $2.60, while Talco returned $3.60 to show.
Breaking alertly from the gate, California Chrome went to the front in the initial furlong but relinquished command to Sawyer’s Hill who rushed up under Rafael Bejarano to take the lead heading into the backstretch
California Chrome was content to stalk Sawyer’s Hill until the far turn where he moved strongly, surging to the top in the upper stretch. He was under light urging from Espinoza in the stretch to ensure his triumph.
The Hollywood Derby marked California Chrome’s fourth success of 2014 in a Grade I race, following wins in the Santa Anita Derby, Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. Seeking to become the first horse since Affirmed in 1978 to win the Triple Crown, California Chrome could do no better than a deadheat for fourth in the Belmont Stakes.
Sixth in the Pennsylvania Derby after a freshening, California Chrome was third beaten only a neck behind Bayern and Toast of New York in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Nov. 1.
In supporting features on the Hollywood Derby program, 2-1 favored Big  Cazanova and jockey Elvis Trujillo led from start to finish to win the Grade III $200,000 Native Diver Stakes for older horses and 21-1 longshot Ol’ Fashion Gal prevailed in the $150,000 Jimmy Durante Stakes for two-year-old fillies.
Big Cazanova, a five-year-old bred in Argentina, scored decisively by 3 ¼ lengths over Blue Tone, with Avanzare third and Fleet Eagle fourth in a field of seven runners.
Big Cazanova, who established the main track record of 1:48.85 for a mile and one-eighth last summer, ran Saturday’s nine-furlong distance in 1:49.28 and returned $6.20.
Owned by the Wachtel Stable, Barber et al and trained by Peter Miller, Big Cazanova was scoring his fourth victory in 20 career starts. First money of $120,000 increased his earnings to $393,692.
In the Jimmy Durante Stakes at one mile on the infield grass course, Ol’ Fashion Gal and jockey Joe Talamo won by a neck over 7-5 favored Rainha Da Bateria, with Don’t Blame Me third and Jaded Glory fourth in a line-up of eleven fillies.
Ol’ Fashion, a filly by Sky Mesa owned by Bill and Vicki Poston and conditioned by Mark Casse, raced the mile in 1:37.27 and paid $45.60 to win. It was her second success in three starts and first money of $90,000 increased her bankroll to $123,850.
With no perfect tickets in Saturday’s Pick Six, a carryover of $130,533 will be offered Sunday on closing day of the fall season.
Post time for the first race Sunday is 12:30 with the Pick Six conducted on the fourth through ninth races. Featured will be the $150,000 Cecil B. DeMille Stakes for two-year-olds and the Grade I $300,000 Matriarch Stakes for older fillies and mares.

VICTOR ESPINOZA (California Chrome, winner) – “That kick at the end, that acceleration. It was just like when he won the (Kentucky) Derby. It all went well today. The horse inside (Sawyer’s Hill) didn’t break as fast as I thought he would and my horse went right to the front. I thought the other horse would go, but I was ready for most anything happening there at the beginning. I let the other horse go by going into the first turn and I was happy right where I was. He was going easy. Then when we got to the far turn, he was ready to roll.  Oh, was he ready to roll. He just turned it on and I knew we were home. You can see now that grass is no problem. Grass, dirt, synthetic – you name it. This horse likes it and he’ll run on it.” 
COREY NAKATANI (Lexie Lou, second) – “She ran great. She beat them all but one. You’ve got to tip your cap to the winner. He’s a heckuva horse. But my filly is a real runner. She fired it up today.”
DRAYDEN VAN DYKE (Talco, third) – “A good race for him and he ran well. The winner – well, what can you say. I guess there was supposed to be a mystery as to whether he could run on the grass. There’s no mystery anymore.”
RAFAEL BEJARANO (Sawyer’s Hill, fourth) – “I got away a little slow, but my horse really wanted to go. I was surprised that California Chrome broke so fast and went away from there so quickly. I let my horse go by him hoping it would let him relax after we were in front, but he just wanted to go. No excuses, though. The winner was best.”
KENT DESORMEAUX (Cabral, fifth) – “I’m happy for all these fans. They got to see what they came here to see.”
MIKE SMITH (Flamboyant, sixth) – “My trip was fine. A salute to the winner.” 
ART SHERMAN (California Chrome, winner) – “We’ve got a lot of options. Royal Ascot wants us to come over to England. They said ‘We’ll treat you royally.’ And we’ve got Dubai (World Cup) in March. That’s another option. We’re going to definitely run him another year. And he’s a good shipper. He gets on an airplane like he’s a frequent flier.
“I knew he was going to be sharp leaving the gate and I told Victor not to be too far out of it. When he broke really sharp, I said ‘Oh, wow.’ But Victor knew what to do when Sawyer’s Hill wanted the lead. There was never any point where I was really anxious. I was confident. We’re here on our home ground, he’s got all the people here and he’s such a favorite with everybody. It makes me feel good to know I can run him on the grass. Just another option.”
STEVE COBURN, (California Chrome owner) – “Art said he had a real strong gut feeling that this horse would run on the grass. We said, ‘OK Art, if you really feel that strong, let’s find a race for him.’ This was it. This is for the fans.” 

FRACTIONS:  :23.56  :46.95  1:11.48  1:35.76  1:47.88
This is the first running of the Hollywood Derby at Del Mar.  Previously it had been run at Hollywood Park 72 times.
This was the third stakes win of the meet for Victor Espinoza and his 83rd overall at Del Mar, which ties him with Gary Stevens for seventh best all time at Del Mar.
This was the first stakes win of the meet for Art Sherman and his 10th all time at Del Mar.
California Chrome is owned and was bred by Steve Coburn of Wellington, NV and Perry Martin of Yuba City, CA.
This was California Chrome’s ninth win in his 16th start. He also has one second and one third. The winner’s share of $180,000 from the gross purse of $300,250 gives him lifetime earnings of $4,222,650.