It looks like Bob Baffert has another golden horse in line to compete in this year’s Kentucky Derby after heavily favored Collected won the $100,000 Sham Stakes for 3-year-olds by 1 1/4 lengths Saturday at Santa Anita, yesterday. The 3-year old colt by City Zip out of Helena Bay ran the mile in 1:38 under the guidance of jockey Martin Garcia, beating stablemate Let’s Meet in Rio, who survived a stewards’ inquiry into a minor bumping incident at the top of the stretch. Laoban was another 1-1/2 lengths back in third.
Collected broke from the far outside post in the field of 8, and pressed the early pace before taking command past the furlong pole.
“I knew the post was going to be tough on him. He really had to work a little extra hard on the outside like that,” commented Baffert. “He kept on digging away at it. This race will do him some good. He’s a very fast horse and there’s something about him in the mornings that really encouraged me that he’s going to be a runner.”
Collected won his debut over the track’s turf course on Oct. 12 and was coming off a second-place finish in the Grade 3 Cecil B. DeMille Stakes at Del Mar on Nov. 29.
In the meantime, 2014 Kentucky Derby/ Preakness winner California Chrome showed he still has a lot of shine on him by winning the $200,000 Grade 2 1-1/16 mile San Pasqual Stakes for older horses at Santa Anita by 1-1/4 lengths after a 9-month layoff following his 2nd place finish in the $5 million Dubai World Cup last March. Chrome and regular rider Victor Espinoza took the lead from longshot Alfa Bird with a ¼-mile remaining, crossing the wire 1-1/4 lengths ahead of Imperative, who rallied from 4th to 2nd Thanks to the win it looks like Chrome and Espinoza are now expected to return to Dubai for this year’s World Cup on March 26th.
”He’s been wanting to run quite a bit right now by watching his workouts,” trainer Art Sherman said. ”He could’ve opened up turning for home, but Victor (Espinoza) put the full-nelson on him. It was just what we needed. It’s very heartwarming to see his fans and the reception he received. It was just jammed full of people around the paddock.”
Note: California Chrome now races for Perry Martin and Taylor Made Farm.(which bought breeder and previous minority owner Steve Coburn’s 30 percent share last summer). He also sports new colors. Gone are the old green and purple silks, featuring a picture of a jackass, which have now been replaced by newly commissioned silver and gray ones to “reflect the horse’s surname.”