California Chrome’s Last Full Sibling Nears Debut

By Jeremy Balan
Time has a funny way of warping in the human brain.

Only four years ago, a humbly bred chestnut with a white blaze was just starting his racing career for trainer Art Sherman, but it almost feels like ancient history.

Part of that can probably be attributed to the closure of Hollywood Park. California Chrome   began his journey toward 16 wins, seven group/grade 1 victories, two Horse of the Year honors, and more than $14.7 million in earnings at the Inglewood, Calif., racetrack, which isn’t even ruins on the west side of Los Angeles any longer. The new Los Angeles Stadium development for the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers is being constructed on top of the former racetrack grounds.

Sherman laughed at the thought June 3 at his new base, Los Alamitos Race Course.

“We had the horse in training for (almost four years), so it feels like longer,” the 80-year-old conditioner said.

The nostalgia and good vibes California Chrome provided for Sherman, and his son and top assistant Alan Sherman, still linger five months after the horse’s retirement. Those feelings remain not only because of the lasting impression of California Chrome, but because the horse currently occupying his old stall happens to share his genetics.

When Faversham, the only full brother to California Chrome (by Lucky Pulpit  , out of Love the Chase), popped out of his sibling’s old double-wide stall for a work Saturday morning at Los Alamitos, the resemblance wasn’t hard to spot. Also a chestnut, the white blaze on his face is different, and only scoops down to touch the left side of his nose, but the colt displayed a similar energy. Springy on his feet, energetic, and eager to get to work, Faversham was escorted out to the track by his brother’s former groom, Raul Rodriguez.

California Chrome’s exercise rider, Dihigi Gladney, who was watching from the rail, caught the colt coming to the track and hollered out.

“Just wait until you see this guy galloping in the mornings,” Gladney said. “He’s got that same attitude.”

The Shermans admit they’ve seen similarities too, even down to the way he stands in the stall.

“He has so many characteristics like him,” Art Sherman said. “He’s smart, he cocks his leg in the stall the same way Chrome used to, and he’s got a lot of the same habits. He loves people, he loves his cookies—if you didn’t know, you’d think it was Chrome when he was a 2-year-old.”

Unlike his brother’s regular early morning workouts, there was no “Chromie” entourage sitting with the Shermans on the deck of Schwanies At The Gap, Los Al’s trackside grill, but the group in attendance was still familiar. After Faversham worked in company, inside 3-year-old filly Ruled by Girls, and covered five furlongs in 1:01 1/5 under jockey Stewart Elliott, Art Sherman called up Los Al clocker Russ Hudak to get the colt’s official time, and was immediately ribbed by Quarter Horse trainer John Cooper.

“I don’t know. I had him a little faster,” Art Sherman said, looking down at his stopwatch that read 1:00 flat.

“Oh, you always get them faster,” shot back Cooper, who has often been the Shermans’ Schwanies companion since they moved their stable to the Orange County racetrack. “Maybe it’s that watch of yours.”

Just before the work started Saturday, Alan Sherman looked through his binoculars as he watched Faversham approach the half-mile pole and added his opinion.

“He does have a lot of the same mannerisms,” the younger Sherman said.

“I just hope he has the same talent,” the elder responded.

To be fair, the record of California Chrome’s full siblings has not been promising, albeit from a small sample size.

The first was Hope’s Love, who was born in 2013, two years after her famous brother. She showed promise in her first start for Steve Sherman (another one of Art’s sons) at Golden Gate Fields, where she finished second, but never hit the board again in four following starts, and has been retired to be a broodmare in 2018.

The second was R Sunday Surprise, another filly who placed in her debut (and again in her third maiden try), but has yet to find the winner’s circle in five attempts. She started racing with trainer Doug O’Neill, but has since been moved to Kristin Mulhall, who is training her steadily toward her 3-year-old debut.

Faversham is the only full brother in the family, however, and the Shermans are hoping to debut him June 16 at Santa Anita Park in a five-furlong, state-bred maiden race. With Lucky Pulpit’s death in February, there will certainly be no more full siblings to the out-of-nowhere champion known as California Chrome. And with Love the Chase sold for $1.95 million at the 2016 Fasig-Tipton November sale, it would be a longshot for a half sibling to find its way into the Sherman barn at Los Al. Love the Chase had a foal by Tapit   in 2017.

So the hope is, maybe—just maybe—they can catch lightning in a bottle once more with owner Perry Martin.

“It’s pretty cool to have the last of that breeding. It’s kinda like an era going by,” Sherman said. “The sire died. The mare is sold. That is the last one. Chrome was a little more mature at this stage, but this horse is still growing and getting bigger.

“But this horse is doing everything right. He can be inside or outside, he doesn’t have any bad habits, and he’s good-feeling like Chrome was. He’s got a little oomph to him. It’s just fun having him in the barn.”

If that “oomph” carries him to the winner’s circle June 16, the Schwanies deck may not be so empty this summer.

STORMY LIBERAL, AMBITIOUS BREW HEAD GRADE III, $150,000 DAYTONA STAKES AT 6 ½ FURLONGS DOWN HILLSIDE TURF SATURDAY

ARCADIA, Calif. (May 24, 2017)—Trainer Peter Miller’s Stormy Liberal, in search of his fourth consecutive win going 6 ½ furlongs down Santa Anita’s hillside turf course, and Marty Jones’s venerable California-bred gelding Ambitious Brew head a field of six 3-year-olds and up in Saturday’s Grade III, $150,000 Daytona Stakes.

Undefeated in three hillside turf starts this year, Stormy Liberal will no doubt go favored, while 7-year-old Ambitious Brew, a close second to Stormy Liberal when last they met, has six wins from 12 tries over Santa Anita’s unique hillside layout.

STORMY LIBERAL: Owned by Rockingham Ranch, this 5-year-old Stormy Atlantic gelding has proven a profitable claim since being haltered six starts back for $40,000 on Oct. 16. With six wins and three seconds from 11 starts over the course, Stormy Liberal is equally effective on the early lead or pressing it. With a cozy outside draw, regular rider Norberto Arroyo, Jr., would appear to be in the garden spot in terms of early tactics. With an overall mark of 19-6-6-1, Stormy Liberal has earnings of $342,070.

AMBITIOUS BREW: A joy to behold over parts of five racing seasons, this California-bred gelding has been a gem of consistency throughout his career. Second, beaten three quarters of a length by Stormy Liberal in the Siren Lure Stakes down the hill on April 23, Ambitious Brew was a game nose victor versus statebreds over the course two starts back in the Sensational Star Stakes on Feb. 25. Head and head early in his last two starts, he may inherit that role again on Saturday as he’s drawn the rail with regular pilot Mike Smith. Owned and bred by Pamela Ziebarth, Ambitious Brew has six wins and three seconds from 12 hillside starts. He’s 23-8-8-0 overall with earnings of $579,425. The seven-year-old son of Tizbud was born and raised at Harris Farms. Ambitious Brew received his initial training at Harris Farms and has also enjoyed vacations and rehabilitation time at both the River Ranch and Harris Farms Horse Division.

THE GRADE III, $150,000 DAYTONA STAKES WITH JOCKEYS & WEIGHTS IN POST POSITION ORDER
Race 3 of 9 Approximate post time 2 p.m. PT
1.    Ambitious Brew—Mike Smith—124
2.    Blackjackcat—Rafael Bejarano—122
3.    Eddie Haskell—Mario Gutierrez—122
4.    Roy H—Edwin Maldonado—122
5.    Home Run Kitten—Joe Talamo—122
6.    Stormy Liberal—Norberto Arroyo, Jr.—122
First post time for a nine-race card Saturday that will include four graded stakes, is at 1 p.m. Admission gates open at 11 a.m.

Lucky Pulpit Sires Another Juvenile Winner

Benoit Photo

Arcadia, CA (May 18, 2017)-Ismelucky was second in her debut in a maiden race for California-bred 2-year-old fillies on May 4. On Thursday, she won a Santa Anita maiden race against open company under jockey Martin Garcia.

After disputing the early pace, Ismelucky won by 2 1/2 lengths over Empress of Lov, who closed well from the back of the field. Ismelucky was timed in 52.67 seconds. The filly, bred by Stephen Ferraro is by Lucky Pulpit, is trained and co-owned by Jeff Bonde, she was purchased for $90,000 at the 2016 Barretts October Yearling Sale.

Ismelucky is out of Ismene, who won two stakes for 2-year-old fillies at Santa Anita in 2011 – the Anoakia Stakes and California Breeders’ Champion Stakes. Ismelucky earned $42,120 for her daylight score increasing her earnings to $52,920.

Unusual Heat Filly Fetches $195,000

Del Mar, CA (May 18, 2017)-Hip #26 a daughter of Unusual Heat brought $195,000 as the most expensive filly and was the second-highest price. She previewed in 10 and one and was consigned by McCarthy Bloodstock, Agent

Harris Farms bred the Unusual Heat filly, named Super Patriot. She is out of the Reddatore mare Patriot C H, a half sister to graded winner Lucky J. H.

Unusual Heat has done so much for the industry,” said McCarthy. “As a consignor, I always love when I have an Unusual Heat because they can run—on anything.”

Added Lloyd, “Great horses keep coming. On his last day, Unusual Heat had two horses sell here for good money. He had a great day at the sale.” In addition to the $195,000 filly, Unusual Heat is the sire of a $70,000 purchase also from the McCarthy consignment, a colt named Hot Decision, out of the Huddle Up mare Team Decision, sold to Halo Farms.

Lucky Pulpit had a pair of juveniles knocked down for $70,000 and $42,000. Tizbud‘s only sale horse brought $50,000.

Unusual Heat Dies at 27

May 18, 2017 – Coalinga, CA – Unusual Heat, the All Time Leading Sire in California Progeny Earnings has passed away at 27 due to complications from arthritis induced laminitis.

“It is with a very heavy heart that I have to report the passing of Unusual Heat today”, said Harris Auerbach, managing partner of the Unusual Heat Syndicate. “He gave so much to racing, breeding and Thoroughbred Retirement here in California. He provided the impetus for Cal-breds to be at the forefront of California Racing with runners that filled fields and raised the quality standard of the state breds during his era. He was also the driving force behind the creation of CARMA which has led to millions of dollars of funding for our retirees here in California. He will be sorely missed, especially to those of us who loved and admired him.”

Co-owner and former trainer Barry Abrams remarked about Unusual Heat, “He’s done more for California racing than anybody. His legacy will continue forever.”

And finally, co-owner Madeline Auerbach on Unusual Heat- “I will miss him sorely. He has been part of my family and life for the last 20 years. Being a part of him is a gift and a blessing that cannot be replicated. What his stature and presence has allowed me to do for retired thoroughbreds is incalculable.”

Bred in Kentucky by John T.L. Jones, Jr., Unusual Heat was the son of Nureyev and Danish Champion mare Rossard. In 1991, he became one of the highest priced horses ever sold at a Barrett’s yearling auction fetching a price of $250,000. He went on to race both in Europe and The United States under the tack of trainers Dermot Weld, Richard Mandella and Barry Abrams. He was a multiple listed stakes winner who finished with a career record of 16-6-2-2 and career earnings of $142,605.

Where Unusual Heat made his indelible impact was in the breeding shed. Under the ownership and management of Auerbach and Abrams, Unusual Heat stood his first season at Walter Greenman’s Farm in Hemet, CA before moving to Old English Rancho in Sanger, CA where he spent the bulk of his early stallion career. In 2010, he moved to John C. Harris’ Harris Farms in Coalinga, CA where spent the last 6 seasons of his career at stud finished his career covering 30 mares in his 19th and final season in 2016.

The impact of Unusual Heat on California Breeding and Racing was far reaching during his career. From a humble first crop of 15, Unusual Heat had 11 runners and 10 of them won in their first start starting a ride like has never been seen in the Golden State. To date, his runners have amassed $54.3 Million in worldwide progeny earnings. He has produced 12 graded stakes winners (5 G1 winners), 54 overall stakes winners, 18 additional graded stakes horses and an astounding 157 earners of over $100,000 and 81 earners of over $200,000 out of just 572 starters. He has won 6 California Leading Sire Championships and is still the reigning California Conceived Leading Turf Sire with 13 straight championships (2004-2016).

Unusual Heat has also produced 15 California Champions, including 2 time California Horse of the Year and 2011 Eclipse Award Winner Acclamation. Other notable runners include stakes winners The Usual Q.T., Lethal Heat, Unusual Suspect, Golden Doc A, Gervinho, Burns, Pretty Unusual, Lennyfromalibu, Spenditallbaby, Mensa Heat, Tucked Away, Betty’s Bambino, Unusual Way, Lakerville, He Be Fire N Ice and Lightmyfirebaby. Currently, he represented by stakes runners Cheekaboo, Pacific Heat, Boozer, Central Heat, Real Heat, Grecian Fire, Lily Kai, How Unusual and Majestic Heat.

An important part of Unusual Heat’s story is his impact away from the races and the breeding shed in California. His rise to stardom as stallion and the success of his runners gave Madeline Auerbach the impetus and the stature to start raising awareness about thoroughbred retirement and taking care of the sports equine athletes after their careers were over. Through her election to the Thoroughbred Owners of California Board of Directors, Auerbach was able to work with the California Horse Racing Board on the formation, certification and funding of CARMA- California Retirement Management Account funding thoroughbred retirement in California. Using Unusual Heat and his progeny as inspiration, under Auerbach’s leadership CARMA has granted over $5 Million to racehorse retirement, placement and retraining since 2008.

A final chapter to the story of Unusual Heat is his impact on California Racing and Breeding. Doug Burge, longtime President of the California Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association remarked “He’s been the perennial leading sire in California for over a decade and his influence on CA breeding and racing through his sons and daughters will be prevalent for years to come. I take pride in the fact that I was able to play a small role in the early decisions that led to his dominance as the best sire to ever stand in the state.”

Unusual Heat holds the All-time record for progeny wins in a single Santa Anita Meet, a single Del Mar Meet and turf wins at both major Southern California race tracks. He is the only known sire to have a “Superfecta” of runners in a Santa Anita Allowance race when four of his daughters ran 1-2-3-4 in a Maiden Special Weight on January 6, 2011. Along those lines his progeny have filled California fields and been instrumental in the success of California Racing Programs such as the Golden State Series and Cal-bred Maiden bonus programs.

Unusual Heat is currently represented by 6 sons at stud, 5 of whom stand in California along with Unusual Suspect in Australia. He is also making an impact as a broodmare sire with 7 graded stakes winners since 2015 including 2 grade 1 winners and 2017 Grade 3 Transylvania Stakes Winner Big Score. His impact will be felt for years to come.

For more information about Unusual Heat contact Harris Auerbach at harris@unusualheat.com or go to www.unusualheat.com .

For more information about Harris Farms contact Dave McGlothlin at davem@harrisfarms.com or go to www.harrisfarms.com .

Grecian Fire Responds to Addition of Blinkers in Alcatraz

Shane Miceli/Vassar Photography

By Chuck Dybdal
Grecian Fire  responded gamely in the lane to pull off an impressive victory in the $75,675 Alcatraz Stakes at Golden Gate Fields on Sunday.

A gelded son of Unusual Heat, a top California turf sire, out of Maggie’s Odyssey, a turf stakes-placed daughter of Kitten’s Joy, one of the nation’s top turf sires, Grecian Fire ($11) wore blinkers for the first time and sat closer than he had in his first two turf starts. He sat just outside Harvest a Storm down the backstretch and moved up to stick his head in front at the quarter pole.

But he was immediately challenged by favored Anyportinastorm, who was stretching out for the first time, and had his head in front at the eighth pole.

While those two were dueling, More Power to Him, who had run second in both the California Derby and Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby (on a disqualification), was unleashing his closing kick.

But Grecian Fire dug in as jockey William Antongeorgi III went to the left-handed whip.

“He responded for me and kicked back on,” said Antongeorgi as Grecian Fire began to edge away from his rivals in the one-mile turf stakes for 3-year-olds.

At the wire, Grecian Fire was 1 1/4  lengths in front of More Power to Him, who edged Anyportinastorm by a nose for second.

Antongeorgi said that trainer Jerry Hollendorfer “wanted [Grecian Fire] to get out on his way” and added blinkers.

“Harvest a Storm went so we sat off him,” said Antongeorgi. “After the quarter pole, the horse on the outside Anyportinastorm headed us, and I got into him left-handed.

“He was on his toes in the paddock and in the post parade. I knew he would be alive out there, and he dug in for me.”

A KMN Racing homebred, Grecian Fire earned $45,000 for his first stakes victory, nearly doubling his bankroll or $90,625. It was the second win in six starts for the California-bred.

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 Sires a 1-2 Finish in Golden Gate Juvenile Race

Albany, CA (April 30,2017)-Lucky Pulpit sired the first two finishers in a maiden special weights four and a half furlong juvenile race at Golden Gate Fields.

Defeating males and winning by a length was the filly Song From Above. She was bred in California by her owners Mr. and Mrs. Larry D. Williams and is out of Ermine’s Song.

The second place horse Generally Lucky was also a homebred of Mr. and Mrs. Larry D. Williams.

The winner clocked a 52.09 time and was a few ticks off the nine-year-old track record of 51.31.

Lucky Pulpit is represented by over 100 juveniles this year and has another pair of babies running at Santa Anita this upcoming weekend.

Harris Farms’ Record Highs All Heart in Feature

Benoit Photo

SantaAnita.com
ARCADIA, Calif. (April 20, 2017)–Harris Farms’ homebred Record Highs broke sharply, pressed the pace throughout and gamely held sway late in winning Thursday’s $56,000 Santa Anita allowance feature by a half length while covering 6 ½ furlongs down the track’s hillside turf course in 1:14.53.  Ridden by Tyler Baze and trained by Carla Gaines, Record Highs, a 4-year-old California-bred gelding by Heatseeker out of the multiple stakes winning High Brite mare Super High, notched his second win from 11 career starts.

“He dug in and ran like his momma today,” said Baze, who guided Record Highs to a fourth place finish down the hill on March 24.  “He showed a lot of heart when that other horse (7-5 favorite, Heat) came to him.  He ran great.”

Off at 7-1 in a field of nine California-bred or sired older horses, Record Highs paid $16.00, $5.20 and $4.00.

With the winner’s share of $33,600, Record Highs, whose dam banked $669,668, increased his earnings to $114,840.

Ridden by Corey Nakatani, favored Heat was unhurried early, found a seam while three deep at the dirt crossing turning for home but proved second best on the day, finishing one length in front of Los Gatos.  Off at 7-5, Heat paid $3.20 and $2.60.

Los Gatos (also bred by Harris Farms), who was ridden by Rafael Bejarano, was off at 9-2 and paid $4.00 to show.

Fractions on the race were 22.43, 45.29 and 1:08.47.

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.