Easy for California Chrome
California Chrome enjoyed the perfect preparation for the Breeders' Cup Classic when strolling to victory in the Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita.
California Chrome was an easy winner on Saturday night
The Dubai World Cup winner has no peers when it comes to 10-furlong contests on dirt and he cruised around, seemingly in second gear for much of the race.
When Victor Espinoza injected some pace on the home turn, Dortmund, a top class horse in his own right, simply had no answer.
Such was the ease of his victory, Espinoza was able to ease right down on Art Sherman's star so the winning margin was only two and a quarter lengths over Dortmund.
"When he gets in front, he's a hard horse to get by, and I knew he'd wear Dortmund down with the fractions the way they were," Sherman told www.bloodhorse.com.
"He took Dortmund's game plan away from him. He tried and ran a hell of a race, but you're looking at maybe the best horse in the world right now."
Espinoza said: "He's on his game right now.
"(Dortmund) wasn't a threat today. Maybe the first quarter-mile, but after that, I just kept pulling away, which only helped me get some breathing room between us and the rest of the field."
There was a shock in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont in the clash of two former French-trained horses when Ectot beat Flintshire by five lengths on rain-softened ground.
Now with Todd Pletcher, Ectot is still owned by Al Shaqab Racing.
"He's trained exceptionally well for us since he came in," Pletcher said.
"He went off form in his last few starts in Europe but came to us in great condition. His races leading up to this were sneaky good and he seemed to be improving. We made some minor adjustments with equipment and shoes and figured it out as we went along.
"We thought it would help when it rained. We felt we had a lot going for us, but you still have to have tremendous respect for a horse like Flintshire, who is accomplished and for what he's done in his career. We were optimistic that our horse would run well and we couldn't be more pleased with the way he did it.
"Today's race was a big step. We don't anticipate we'll get a lot of rain in California (for the Breeders' Cup) but at the same time, he's run well on firm ground. We're delighted with his efforts today."
Flintshire was initially pushed out to 4/1 by Sky Bet but support saw the Leeds' layers trim him to 3/1 for the Breeders' Cup Turf, a point longer than favourite Postponed, while Ectot was introduced at 10/1.
In a near repeat of their previous meeting, Stellar Wind edged out Beholder to win the Zenyatta Stakes.
Stellar Wind and Victor Espinoza tracked, then applied pressure to the front-running three-time champion on the home turn and ground out victory in the straight
"It's a great day," said Espinoza. "I worked harder in her last race, the Clement Hirsch, than I did today.
"It's always good to be next to Beholder, next to the queen, it's always a plus. To be able to pull away the last eighth, it's not easy! It's hard but Stellar Wind is an incredible mare and she will continue to be good."
Gary Stevens, rider of the beaten favourite Beholder, offered no excuses but was hopeful that his mare could bounce back at the Breeders' Cup.
"Nothing really went wrong, except I was on the lead and a sitting duck once again. No pace except for me, and realistic fractions," he commented.
"I flat got out-run. I have no excuses. Carrying equal weight. Hat's off to the winner, and hat's off to my mare. She shows up every day. Unfortunately three losses in a row, and it's tough for a champion. She's pretty special for me, and hopefully we can bounce back and get some pace in the Breeders' Cup, or the stars will change. Hat's off to the winner."
Forever Unbridled was trimmed to 20/1 for the same race after winning the Beldame Stakes at Belmont Park.
Noted And Quoted built on herfourth place finish on her top level when winning the Chandelier Stakes at Santa Anita, a win and you're in race for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.
She was cut to 6/1 from 7s by Sky Bet following her impressive defeat of With Honors to provide trainer Bob Baffert with his 10th victory in the race.
"When they turned for home, I thought, 'That's a good filly (With Honors) that ran second.' I have a lot of respect for her," said Baffert.
"(Noted and Quoted) is a very slight filly. I don't have to do a lot with her, but the fact that she's already proved she can go two turns, that's what we were trying to find out with her. I'm pretty proud of her effort, because she ran against a really great filly."
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