Chrome draws rail for Pa­cific Clas­sic

Daily Racing Form Saturday Stakes Preview - - FRONT PAGE - – Jay Priv­man – David Gren­ing

DEL MAR, Calif. – One day af­ter she turned in her fi­nal work for a de­fense of her ti­tle in the Grade 1, $1 mil­lion Pa­cific Clas­sic on Satur­day, Be­holder went right back to the track Wed­nes­day morn­ing here at Del Mar, an in­di­ca­tion that she’s com­ing up to the race as good as trainer Richard Man­della could de­sire.

“She was a lit­tle bit fresh,” Man­della said at his barn, mar­veling at Be­holder’s for­ti­tude. “She’s tough.”

She will need to be on Satur­day, for this Pa­cific Clas­sic field is a cut above the run­ners Be­holder em­bar­rassed last year. Nine were en­tered Tues­day even­ing, headed by Cal­i­for­nia Chrome – who has a Ken­tucky Derby, Horse of the Year ti­tle, and Dubai World Cup on his ré­sumé – and Dort­mund, who re­turned from an eight­month lay­off and fin­ished just a half-length be­hind Cal­i­for­nia Chrome in last month’s Grade 2 San Diego Hand­i­cap, the lo­cal prep for the Pa­cific Clas­sic.

Bob Baf­fert, the trainer of Dort­mund, also en­tered Hop­per­tu­nity, who was third in the Dubai World Cup in March be­hind Cal­i­for­nia Chrome.

Cal­i­for­nia Chrome was in­stalled as the 8-5 fa­vorite on the line set by Rus­sell Hu­dak of Del Mar, with Dort­mund the sec­ond choice at 5-2 and Be­holder at 3-1. The draw pro­vided a bit of drama, as Cal­i­for­nia Chrome, who is known to pre­fer rac­ing out­side of horses, landed the rail. Art Sher­man, Cal­i­for­nia Chrome’s trainer, tossed his head back and looked sky­ward when the post was an­nounced.

“I think there were a lot of happy faces when he drew the rail,” Sher­man said Wed­nes­day, re­fer­ring to his op­po­nents. “But there’s an eter­nity to get into the turn here.”

Sher­man is count­ing on jockey Vic­tor Espinoza be­ing able to se­cure a de­cent po­si­tion in the five-six­teenths of a mile the field will run be­fore en­ter­ing the club­house turn. Gary Stevens rides Be­holder, who drew post 7, while Rafael Be­jarano is on Dort­mund, who drew post 8.

“It’s go­ing to be a jock­eys’ race,” said Sher­man, a for­mer jockey.

The field, from the rail out, for the 1 1/4-mile race, is Cal­i­for­nia Chrome (Espinoza the rider), Hop­per­tu­nity (Flavien Prat), War Story (Ri­cardo Me­jias), Hard Aces (Santiago Gon­za­lez), Win the Space (Joe Talamo), Im­per­a­tive (Nor­berto Ar­royo Jr.), Be­holder (Stevens), Dort­mund (Be­jarano), and Dal­more (Kent De­sormeaux).

Saratoga: Alabama Stakes

The way Song­bird won the Grade 1 Coach­ing Club Amer­i­can Oaks here four weeks ago, one would have thought the rac­ing of­fice would have had dif­fi­culty round­ing up horses to face her in Satur­day’s Grade 1, $600,000 Alabama.

Such was not the case as six 3-year-old fil­lies – four of whom are graded stakes win­ners – were en­tered Wed­nes­day against the cham­pion Song­bird, who is un­de­feated in nine ca­reer starts.

Song­bird, who will be rid­den by Mike Smith, drew post 6 in the Alabama, which will go as race 10 on a 12-race card that be­gins at 1 p.m. Eastern.

Trainer Dale Ro­mans as much as any trainer sub­scribes to the “gotta be in it to win it” the­ory. It was the Ro­manstrained Keen Ice who up­set Triple Crown win­ner Amer­i­can Pharoah in last year’s Grade 1 Travers. Ro­mans will send out Go Mag­gie Go against Song­bird in the Alabama, run at 1 1/4 miles.

“A year ago proves you can’t duck one horse,” said Ro­mans, adding that Song­bird “is ob­vi­ously a phe­nom­e­nal filly. Ac­tu­ally, the first time I saw her in the flesh was the other morn­ing when she breezed. She was more im­pres­sive to look at and watch move than her form. She’s go­ing to be dif­fi­cult to beat, but if she stubs her toe, we’re do­ing good. If not, there’s no shame in run­ning sec­ond in a race the qual­ity of the Alabama.”

Go Mag­gie Go won the Gulf­stream Oaks in her sec­ond ca­reer start, a race that pro­duced Paola Queen, the 55-1 up­set win­ner of the Grade 1 Test, and Off the Tracks, the win­ner of the Grade 1 Mother Goose. Go Mag­gie Go also won the Grade 2 Black-eyed Su­san be­fore run­ning fourth be­hind Ca­rina Mia in the Grade 1 Acorn.

Go Mag­gie Go will break from post 4 un­der Luis Saez.

Dark Nile will bring a four­race win­ning streak into the Alabama, in­clud­ing a 1 1/4-length vic­tory in the Grade 3 Delaware Oaks on July 9. She is 4 for 4 in races con­tested around two turns.

“It’s a mon­u­men­tal task,” said El­liott Walden, pres­i­dent and chief ex­ec­u­tive of Win­star Farm, which owns Dark Nile. “It’s some­thing we’re go­ing in with a re­al­is­tic view of things, but at the same time, horses do get beat, and horses that are im­prov­ing like Dark Nile is de­serve a chance; that’s why we’re run­ning. Some­times horses don’t run as well the sec­ond [start] ship­ping west to east; it might be the time to take her on. We don’t have any il­lu­sions that we’re go­ing to go in there and beat up on her, that’s for sure.”

Dark Nile drew the rail and will be rid­den by Joe Bravo.

Flora Dora, third to Song­bird in the CCA Oaks, will add blinkers for the Alabama and drew post 7. Weep No More, who pulled off a 30-1 up­set in the Grade 1 Ash­land, comes off a last-place fin­ish in the CCA Oaks. She drew post 2. Go­ing for Broke, trained by Chad Brown, has won three straight, in­clud­ing a sec­ond-level al­lowance over this track go­ing 1 1/8 miles. She will leave from post 3.

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