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STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN
• CALIFORNIA CHROME ‘BREAKING ALL THE RULES’
• AFRICAN OIL STEPS UP IN GRADE II WHITTINGHAM
• COLOR OF COURAGE DEBUTS FOR RICHARD MANDELLA
• RAFAEL BEJARANO RELEASED FROM HOSPITAL
CALIFORNIA CHROME A ‘TREMENDOUSLY GIFTED ATHLETE’
Trainer Ron Ellis is among the growing list of horsemen who has been won over by California Chrome. The 53-year-old Glendale native had his reservations about the upstart California-bred until he won the May 3 Kentucky Derby at a mile and a quarter and then enhanced that performance with a similar triumph in last Saturday’s Preakness Stakes.
Next up: the Test of Champions, the mile and a half Belmont Stakes on June 7, when California Chrome will seek to become racing’s first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.
“He surprised me that he could get the mile and a quarter so I didn’t think the Preakness distance (a mile and three-sixteenths) would be any problem,” Ellis said. “There’s a question about a mile and a half.
“Pedigree-wise it really doesn’t seem like he can go that far, but he seems to be breaking all the rules, with his pedigree (Lucky Pulpit-Love the Chase, a sire who never won beyond 5 ½ furlongs and a dam who won only one race. The breeding cost $2,500, pocket change by today’s standards). It’s a great story, kind of rags-to-riches in that a good horse like that can come from anywhere.
“Any horse that gets sent to you as a trainer could have been a horse like him, just a little homebred who turns out to be California Chrome. He’s a tremendously gifted athlete who seems to be breaking all the rules.”
Asked about Seeking the Sherif, his bargain $12,500 claim on Dec. 28 who won his third race in row last Friday, a $60,000, second-condition allowance test, Ellis said, “One of the owners (Steve Zolatos) called me about him,” Ellis said. The group also includes Tim Goodwin and Sabina Romo-Zolatas.
“He asked me what I thought and I told him he’s obviously got a spotty record. He was off for a year and a half and then he was off another nine months.
“But I said, ‘Gary Mandella’s a good trainer, and if he’s running him he can’t be all that bad, so it’s worth giving it a shot. But I said don’t be surprised if we have to give him away the next day.’ We rolled the dice and it’s turned out well so far.”
CALLAGHAN HOPES FOR GUSHER WITH AFRICAN OIL
African Oil takes a major step up when he runs in Saturday’s Charles Whittingham Stakes for 3-year-olds and up at a mile and a quarter on turf.
A French-bred son of Royal Applause, African Oil is coming off three starts in overnight races in the United States. His 11 previous starts were in England, where he won twice. He was second, beaten only a head, at Santa Anita in his most recent start on May 1 at a mile and a quarter on turf.
“He’s definitely moving forward,” said Simon Callaghan, who trains the 4-year-old gelding for Gary Barber and Anthony Ramsden. “He’s getting better with each run. He’s doing really well and this is his distance.
“There is no standout in this division. There are some nice horses, but none that would really scare you, so we’re going to take a shot.”
The field for the Whittingham: Soi Phet, Martin Garcia, 15-1; Quick Casablanca, Joe Talamo, 7-2; Bright Thought, Victor Espinoza, 3-1; African Oil, Kent Desormeaux, 12-1; Irish Surf, Elvis Trujillo, 20-1; Fire With Fire, Tyler Baze, 4-1; Segway, Gary Stevens, 7-2; Joelito, Corey Nakatani, 9-2; and Dr Action, Tiago Pereira, 8-1.
COLOR OF COURAGE RETURNS FOR RICHARD MANDELLA
Color of Courage makes his first start in six months and his first start for Richard Mandella when he runs in Monday’s Memorial Day co-feature, the Grade III, $100,000 Los Angeles Stakes for 3-year-olds and up at six furlongs.
Previously trained by long-inactive Paco Gonzalez and more recently by Jorge Gutierrez when he finished second in the Grade III Vernon O. Underwood at Hollywood Park on Nov. 28, 2013, Color of Courage seeks his first stakes victory in the Los Angeles Stakes.
“He’s doing real well,” Mandella said of the 7-year-old son of 2002 Santa Anita Derby winner Came Home owned by John and Cheryl Toffan and bred by the Toffans in Kentucky.
Color of Courage, whose mother is the Holy Bull dam Color Magic, was not disgraced in two Grade I sprint attempts in the summer of 2011, finishing fifth in both the Triple Bend Handicap at Hollywood and the Bing Crosby at Del Mar.
Overall, the bay gelding has four wins from nine starts with earnings of $162,240.
TOP JOCK BEJARANO RELEASED FROM HUNTINGTON MEMORIAL HOSPITAL
Six-time leading Santa Anita jockey Rafael Bejarano, who led the recently concluded Winter Meet with 93 wins, 39 more than runner-up Joe Talamo, has been released from Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena and is now recuperating at home.
“Grateful to have a new opportunity to live and realize who my real friends are,” said the popular 32-year-old Peruvian native in a FaceBook posting.
Unseated as the result of a spill on May 10, Bejarano sustained a broken collarbone and other fractures, including four broken ribs. A projected date for his return to the saddle is as-yet undetermined.
POPULAR DOLLAR DAY RETURNS ON MEMORIAL DAY
Santa Anita offers another of its popular Dollar Days on Memorial Day, this Monday, May 26.
Beers, hot dogs and sodas will be available for just a buck apiece. First post time is 1 p.m. Gates open at 11 a.m.
RAINBOW 6 FIELDS OFFER MANDATORY MULTI-MILLION PAYOUT MONDAY
Let the Rainbow 6 handicapping begin!
The fields for Monday’s 20-Cent Rainbow 6 sequence at Gulfstream Park were drawn Thursday, giving bettors a jump on handicapping the popular multi-race wager that will offer a mandatory payout that could swell to the $16 million range if betting reaches $10 million estimates.
The potential for a life-changing score will highlight Gulfstream Park’s Memorial Day card if the Rainbow 6 goes unsolved on Saturday and Sunday’s programs. There will be a record $6,303,426.30 carryover jackpot available heading into Saturday’s card. In order to crack the jackpot, a Rainbow 6 bettor must hold the only unique ticket with the winners of the final six races on the card. However, on Monday, the whole multi-million pool must be paid out in full, whether there is a single ticket or multiple tickets with all six race winners.
Gulfstream's 10 race Memorial Day program drew full fields and a total of 120 horses. There were a total of 79 horses entered in the Rainbow 6 races.
Monday’s Rainbow 6 sequence will start on race 5 and finish on race 10.
FINISH LINES: Academy Award-winning Producer Jim Wilson’s latest film, the highly acclaimed “50 to 1,” which depicts the down-home Cinderella story of 2009 Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird, will make its California debut tomorrow in nearby Monrovia at Krikorian Premiere Theatre and at six other Krikorian venues in Southern California—in Buena Park, Downey, Pico Rivera, Redlands and Vista . . . Retired Hall of Fame riding great Laffit Pincay Jr. on California Chrome: “He looks like the Real Deal. I was very impressed with his Preakness win. I knew coming down the stretch he’d open up and he did . . . He looks really good for the Belmont. Hopefully, he can run another race like he’s been running and we might have a Triple Crown winner.” . . . Oaklawn Park track announcer Frank Mirahmadi will be Tom Quigley’s handicapping guest Saturday; Out-of-State VIP Player Jeff Schmitz on Sunday; and Ed Burgart, Los Alamitos track announcer, on Monday, Memorial Day, in the East Paddock Gardens, each day at 11:50 a.m.