At long odds, California hopefuls have real shots in Kentucky Derby

By Debbie Arrington
Don’t forget California in Saturday’s 143rd Kentucky Derby.

Representing the Golden State, Gormley, Irap and Battle of Midway will be long odds in one of the most wide open Derby fields in decades.

“California is being overlooked,” said trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, who will saddle 30-1 long shot Battle of Midway.

That dismissal bucks recent Derby history; four of the last five winners trained in California.

Fresh off major victories in April, Gormley and Irap both boast Derby-winning connections, but their morning line odds are 15-1 and 20-1, respectively.

Gormley, winner of the $1 million Santa Anita Derby, is trained by John Shirreffs and owned by Jerry and Ann Moss, who won the 2005 Derby with 50-1 shocker Giacomo.

Aboard Gormley, regular rider Victor Espinoza will try to capture his third Derby in four years and fourth overall; the newly elected Hall of Famer won with War Emblem (2002), California Chrome (2014) and American Pharoah (2015).

“With a little luck, we can win this race,” Espinoza told reporters after arriving at Churchill Downs. “I don’t see any outstanding horse going to the Derby this year. I believe what I see, that everyone is pretty much even. I think any horse with a good trip can have a chance to win.”

Irap, who won his first race in the $1 million Blue Grass Stakes, reunites the winning Derby combo of trainer Doug O’Neill, owner Paul Reddam and jockey Mario Gutierrez. They won with I’ll Have Another in 2012 and Nyquist just last year. They could have another surprise with Irap.

“He’s training like a beast,” O’Neill said this week. “We’re looking forward to Saturday.”

In racing’s Hall of Fame, Hollendorfer has saddled more than 7,000 winners, but the 70-year-old trainer is 0-for-4 in the Derby.

Battle of Midway, a son of Smart Strike, cost $410,000 as a yearling. Former owner Rick Porter sold the colt two weeks ago for an undisclosed sum as a stallion prospect to WinStar Farm and Don Alberto Stable.

“He came to me well thought of; they gave some money for him,” said Hollendorfer, the colt’s trainer before and after the transaction. “He was pretty heavy. It took him a while to get fit. But now, he looks great. He’s doing really well.”

Battle of Midway earned his Derby berth when he finished a close second to Gormley in the Santa Anita Derby.

“The Santa Anita Derby is a fairly good indicator of horses that compete well in the Derby,” noted Hollendorfer.

Winner of two of four starts, Battle of Midway may be blossoming at the right time.

“Actually, he’s very composed,” Hollendorfer said. “We’ve taken him over to the paddock and the crowd; he doesn’t pay much attention to anything. He stays focused.”

According to the weather forecast, rain looks likely in Louisville, Ky., on Saturday. An off track could help the chances of both Battle of Midway and Gormley; they’ve won on wet tracks.

French jockey Flavien Prat, a Santa Anita sensation this winter, will make his Derby debut aboard Battle of Midway.

“I think he’s one of the best riders around, maybe the best rider at Santa Anita right now,” Hollendorfer said.

Prat, 24, grew up on turf racing in Europe and didn’t pay much attention to the Derby.

“But since I’ve been riding here, I realize the importance of the Derby and the magnitude it has,” Prat said. “It’s really a big day. (After watching the race at Churchill Downs last year) with all the tumult and excitement it generated, I realized that one day I had to ride in it. I’m grateful the opportunity came this year.”

Lucky Pulpit Filly Fetches $360,000

Photo: Barretts Sales/Cecilia Gustavsson
Hip 6, a Lucky Pulpit filly

A filly by Lucky Pulpit, who recorded the fastest time at the Barretts under tack preview, brought a finally bid of $360,000 from Dennis R. O’Neill.

The filly had worked a furlong in :09 4/5 in preparation for the Barretts sale.

Bred by The Cole Ranch in California, the filly who breezed in :09 4/5 was the only horse in the catalog by the late Lucky Pulpit, sire of two-time Horse of the Year California Chrome. Andy Havens’ Havens Bloodstock Agency consigned the youngster as Hip 6.

Now named Californiabyanose, the filly is out of the Mr. Greeley mare Nine to Five Lady, from the family of Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner Concern. Californiabyanose sold for $42,000 to John Brocklebank, as agent, at last year’s Barretts October sale.

Lucky Pulpit Juvenile Post Fastest Time at Barretts

Photo: Barretts Sales/Cecilia Gustavsson
Hip 6, a Lucky Pulpit filly

By Tracy Gantz
A filly by Lucky Pulpit recorded the fastest time at the Barretts under tack preview at Del Mar March 27.

The filly worked a furlong in :09 4/5 in preparation for the Barretts select 2-year-old sale March 29.

“We had a wonderful breeze show,” said Kim Lloyd, general manager of Barretts. “I was very pleased with the turnout and very pleased with the performance of the horses.”

Bred by The Cole Ranch in California, the filly who breezed in :09 4/5 is the only horse in the catalog by the late Lucky Pulpit, sire of two-time Horse of the Year California Chrome. Andy Havens’ Havens Bloodstock Agency consigned the youngster as Hip 6.

Now named Californiabyanose, the filly is out of the Mr. Greeley mare Nine to Five Lady, from the family of Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner Concern. Californiabyanose sold for $42,000 to John Brocklebank, as agent, at last year’s Barretts October sale.

Smiling Tiger Juveniles Headed to Barretts March Select Sale

Two juvenile fillies by the multiple grade one winning millionaire Smiling Tiger are entered into the  Barretts 2017 March Select Sale to be held on March 29th at Del Mar.

Hip 8 consigned by Checkmate Thoroughbreds LLC, Agent is named Spiced Perfection and is out of the Pleasantly Perfect broodmare Perfect Feat. Perfect Feat was a multiple winner of $52,000 plus and has a three-year-old unraced to date by Acclamation as her first foal. The juvenile filly foaled on March 10th was bred by Premier Thoroughbreds LLC and is a Cal-bred. She was purchased for $6,500 by John Brocklebank, agent from the consignment of Woodbridge Farm at the October Barretts sale.

Hip 80 consigned by Eddie Woods, Agent LXI is named Hold That Smile and is a February 27th foal from Chasseur Dame (French Legionaire). Chasseur Dame is a stakes winner of over $100k and is the dam of two stakes winners and another stakes placed horse and all of her starters are winners. Dale Mahlum bred Hold that Smile and she is a Cal-bred, she was a $26,000 purchase from the Washington yearling sale by Ten Broeck Farm.

Ambitious Brew up to Win $100,000 Sensational Star S.

Benoit Photo
ARCADIA, Calif. (Feb. 25, 2017)–With California-bred or sired horses engaged, Saturday’s $100,000 Sensational Star Stakes came down to an inch–with 2014 winner Ambitious Brew just getting up to win by a nose under Mike Smith over Richard’s Boy and Victor Espinoza.  A Pamela Ziebarth homebred 7-year-old gelding by Tizbud, he’s trained by Marty Jones and got the 6 ½ furlongs down Santa Anita’s hillside turf course in 1:12.05.

Ridden by Mike Smith, Ambitious Brew, idle since well beaten down the hill in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint on Nov. 5, sat a close second to Richard’s boy the entire trip and gradually wore him down right on the money.

“The field was short but tough,” said Smith.  “I really wasn’t looking around too much, it was just about getting comfortable.  Marty had him ready to go today.  I thought I had it at the wire.  Victor’s horse is game though.  When I stayed close, his horse really responded…I didn’t want to stay too close and have Richard’s Boy fight harder and hold us off…I was hoping it would work…For a minute, I didn’t think I was going to get by him.”

Off at 3-1 in a race that offered win wagering only, Ambitious Brew paid $8.20.

“This is amazing,” said Ziebarth.  “We’ve had a really slow year so far, but this is a good way to get things going.  He just tries every time he goes out there.  You can always depend on him to give his all.  This whole family tries, everything out of this mare (Kathwen, by Forest Wildcat) tries.”

A winner of the Grade III Eddie D. Stakes over the course two starts back on Sept. 30, Ambitious Brew now has six wins from 11 tries over the unique layout.  With the winner’s share of $60,000, he now has earnings of $559,225, while his overall mark now stands at 22-8-7-0.

“When they were going head and head like they were, I was thinking, ‘I hope he’s fit enough,’” said Jones.  “Mike knows where that wire’s at.  A three-horse race is a real tactical race for the jockeys and Mike’s the best, but the horse is a special horse.  From day one he acted like a special horse and he’s been a lot of fun the last four years…He’s getting a little older so maybe we’ll give him a little more time between races and pick our spots.”

Richard’s Boy, who was also off at 3-1, finished 1 ½ lengths in front of Bettys Bambino, who was heavily favored at 2-5 and trailed throughout.

Fractions on the race were 22.45, 44.52 and 1:06.17.

Lucky Pulpit Succumbs to Heart Attack

Coalinga, CA (February 13, 2017)-Lucky Pulpit suffered an apparent heart attack this afternoon while covering his first broodmare of the 2017 season. Both David McGlothlin (farm manager) and Raul Rosa (stallion manager) were in the Harris Farms breeding shed with Lucky Pulpit when he collapsed coming off the mare.

Lucky Pulpit was owned and raced by Mr. and Mrs. Larry Williams and stood his entire career at Harris Farms in Coalinga.

The 16-year-old son of Pulpit out of Lucky Soph, by Cozzene, currently sits atop California’s 2017 general sire list. He was the state’s leading sire last year by progeny earnings, with more than $10.7 million and was the states leading sire in three of the past four years.

From seven crops of racing age, Lucky Pulpit is the sire of 148 winners, including the multiple Eclipse Award winning Californian Chrome. His 229 starters to date have amassed progeny earnings of $24 million.

“The California and national thoroughbred racing industry, where Lucky Pulpit has ranked at the top of the sire lists year after year with world class performers, will still have another three crops from this stellar sire yet to race. Lucky Pulpit hit homerun after homerun with his offspring both in the sales ring and on the racetrack and from early on we had a glimpse of what he would become as a sire.” David McGlothlin.

Lucky Pulpit, who was bred and raced by Mr. and Mrs. Larry Williams, was a winner in his second outing at two. He then placed in a grade 3 at two and a placing in a grade 2 at three, before capturing the five furlong turf Smile Stakes at Arlington Park as a four-year-old. Overall, he won three races from twenty-two starts with five seconds and five thirds earning $209,928.

$10 Million Stallion History Repeats in 2016 Sire Standings

by Tracy Gantz
Lucky Pulpit will forever be known as the sire of California Chrome, a feat that gives the stallion a special place in racing history. As California Chrome’s earnings have grown, so have the statistics of his sire.

Thus, it is not surprising that in 2016 Lucky Pulpit led all other California sires by money won, nor that he nearly doubled the progeny earnings of his closest competitor. Lucky Pulpit was earning his second title, having led all California stallions by money won in 2014.

Lucky Pulpit’s runners earned $10,788,375 in 2016, $8,180,000 coming from California Chrome. Not only did California Chrome win the rich Dubai World Cup Sponsored by Emirates Airline (G1) in 2016, he captured the TVG Pacific Classic (G1), Awesome Again Stakes (G1), San Pasqual Stakes (G2), San Diego Handicap (G2), and the Winter Challenge Stakes.

You’re Late, winner of the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association Stakes at Del Mar, was among Lucky Pulpit’s other runners in 2016. Multiple stakes winner Luckarack, also by Lucky Pulpit, continued adding to his bankroll in 2016, bringing his lifetime earnings to $608,387. Fantasy of Luck finished third in the Fleet Treat Stakes, and Floating Feather ran second in the ITA Thoroughbred Classic.

Altogether, Lucky Pulpit’s offspring put him atop the California general sire list by average earnings per runner ($67,009) and average earnings per start ($10,864) as well. Lucky Pulpit stands at Harris Farms in Coalinga for $7,500.

California Chrome California-bred Horse of the Year

PASADENA, Calif. (Feb. 8, 2017) – California Chrome was named the California-bred Horse of the Year for 2016 at the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association’s Annual Meeting and Awards Dinner held Wednesday night at the Langham Huntington in Pasadena.

Ashleyluvssugar and Masochistic were the other finalists for Horse of the Year, an award California Chrome also won in 2014.

The other champions presented at the dinner:
Champion Sire of California Conceived Foals by Earnings – Lucky Pulpit, property of Mr. and Mrs. Larry D. Williams.
Champion Sire of California Conceived Foals by Turf Earnings – Unusual Heat, property of The Unusual Heat Syndicate.
Champion Sire of California Conceived Two-Year-Olds by Earnings – Square Eddie, property of Reddam Racing LLC.
Champion Freshman Sire of California Conceived Foals by Earnings – Empire Way, property of Heinz Steinmann.
Champion Sire of California Conceived Foals by Number of Winners – Lucky Pulpit, property of Mr. and Mrs. Larry D. Williams.
Champion Breeders of California Foaled Thoroughbreds by Earnings – Perry Martin & Steve Coburn.
Trainer of the Year – Kenny Black.
Broodmare of the Year – Love the Chase.
Champion California-bred Two-Year-Old Female – Sircat Sally, bred by Joe Turner.
Champion California-bred Two-Year-Old Male – California Diamond, bred by Stormy Hull.
Champion California-bred Three-Year-Old Female – Enola Gray, bred by Nick Alexander.
Champion California-bred Three-Year-Old Male – Gold Rush Dancer, bred by John Parker.
Champion California-bred Older Male – California Chrome, bred by Perry Martin & Steve Coburn.
California-bred Older Female – Lost Bus, bred by John Haagsma & Wesley Ward.
Champion California-bred Turf Horse – Ashleyluvssugar, bred by Estate of Alesia, BranJam Stables & Ciaglia Racing.
Champion California-bred Sprinter – Masochistic, bred by Francoise Dupuis & Louise Julian.
Also at the dinner, Bob Baffert, Art Sherman and Donald Valpredo were inducted into the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association Hall of Fame.

California Chrome’s X-rays Come Back Clean

NICHOLSVILLE, Ky. (Jan. 30, 2017) –Two-time Horse of the Year California Chrome is settling in at Taylor Made Farm near Nicholasville, Ky., after arriving Jan. 29. X-rays following his final race are all clear.

After finishing ninth in the Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) Jan. 28 at Gulfstream Park, trainer Art Sherman said there was a small amount of swelling in California Chrome’s right knee, which the trainer didn’t think was too serious. To be cautious, Taylor Made conducted X-rays of the knee and found no injury, according to Taylor Made’s Duncan Taylor.

In fact, as it has after every California Chrome race, Taylor Made conducted a full set of X-rays and the champion is all clear.

“They thought that when he jogged he may have been a little off in the right front, and they thought there might have been a little heat in his right knee,” Duncan Taylor said Jan. 30. “We’ve been X-raying him after every race, so we went ahead and did a full set of X-rays and everything looks good. There’s not any problem there.”

Taylor said the 6-year-old son of Lucky Pulpit   is on schedule to start the breeding season on time.

“He’s settling in good, he’s been out in his paddock and everything is going good so far,” Taylor said. “You know it feels great, the idea that he’s coming here has already sunk in.”

The Taylor Made team is excited to have the two-time Horse of the Year preparing for his first season at stud, which is expected to begin in mid-February.

California Chrome retires as the leading North American-based horse by earnings with more than $14,752,650 powered by 10 graded stakes wins, including seven at the group/grade 1 level, two of those being classics.

“We’ve had a really good response to the stud fee ($40,000). I haven’t heard anybody saying ‘You stood him too high,’” Taylor said. “We’re able to pick through the mares. We’ve had a really good response from the breeders.”

As for the off-the-board finish in his final start—his first since 2014—Taylor noted that the outside post presented a high hurdle for California Chrome.

“It’s sort of a letdown that his last performance is what it was—I think that’s not the (typical) Chrome,” Taylor said. “Not to make excuses. Even if we were right next to Arrogate, we might not have been able to beat Arrogate; he’s a great horse. I’m not taking anything away from them.”

Taylor thanked the fans who cheered California Chrome throughout his racing career.

“We really appreciate all the fans, and the people who have got to enjoy Chrome and seeing that has been a lot of our enjoyment,” Taylor said. “You really get to see first-hand how much a lot of people really love horses. You see these fans, when they fall in love with a horse, how much they actually care about them; it’s really moving and rewarding to see. And you realize how blessed you are to be around these animals every day.”

Jeranimo’s graded stakes wins

2010 Strub Stakes G2 –
2011 Oak Tree Mile G2 –
2010 San Gabriel G2 –
2011 Citation Handicap G2 –
2012 Shoemaker Mile G1 –
2013 San Gabriel G2 –
2013 Eddie Read Hcp G1 –
2014 San Gabriel G2 –