Arcadia, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - California Chrome, ridden by Victor Espinoza, took the lead entering the stretch and ran away to capture Saturday's $250,000 California Cup Derby at Santa Anita.
Trained by Art Sherman, California Chrome went off as the 5-2 second choice in the 10-horse field behind 9-5 favorite Tamarando.
California Chrome stalked pacesetter Better Bet from the third spot outside of Life Is a Joy. Tamarando was far back as the field went up the backstretch in the 1 1/16-mile stakes.
Coming out of the final turn, California Chrome cruised past the leader and easily outdistanced the competition on his way to a 5 1/2-length win.
"I thought he would run awesome today. He'd been training like a bomb," Sherman said. "I brought him over here about a week before and schooled him and took him in the paddock. The horse, the light bulb went on. He was kind of green starting out. He had a couple of rough trips in his races, he kind of got banged around and had no place to go. Now, he's learned how to rate himself and have speed and in California, that's the type of horse you want, where you can place them close up."
Tamarando and jockey Rafael Bejarano made a late rally to finish second followed by Awesome Return, Better Bet, Public Policy and Lucky Views. Aotearoa was eased down the stretch. Electric Eddie broke down in the stretch and Oh Billy Billy lost his rider after being impeded by the injured horse. Lawly's Goal was an early scratch.
The time for the Cal Cup Derby was 1:43.22 on a fast track.
California Chrome, owned by Steven Coburn and Perry Martin, notched his fourth win in eight starts worth $137,500. The chestnut colt has earnings of $352,350.
"When he was first out, he was green. You didn't want to rush him into everything," Sherman explained. "I let him get his legs under him and grow up a bit and now he's starting to mature. Coming into this race, I knew he'd be awesome. He's been training lights-out."
After finishing second in his debut effort at Hollywood Park last April, California Chrome broke his maiden the following month at Hollywood and was fifth in the Willard Proctor Memorial there.
At Del Mar, the colt won the Graduation Stakes and was sixth behind Tamarando in the Del Mar Futurity. He again was sixth in the Golden State Juvenile at Santa Anita in November.
California Chrome won the King Glorious by 6 1/4 lengths in Hollywood Park's final stakes on Nov. 22.
California Chrome paid $7.00, $3.80 and $3.20. Tamarando returned $3.40 and $2.60, and Life Is A Joy paid $4.60 to show.