Bold Chieftain became the first two-time winner of the California Cup Classic and went over $1 million in career earnings in a bittersweet victory at Oak Tree's Santa Anita meeting Oct. 3 (VIDEO). Grazen, the 4-5 favorite, led the $196,000 race by one length in the final furlong but pulled up in distress and was removed from the course by van.
Trainer Mike Mitchell said afterward that he didn't think the stakes-winning Grazen's injury is life-threatening. The gray/roan Benchmark colt injured his right front tendon.
“We won’t have to put him down," Mitchell told Santa Anita's publicity department. "We’ll put a good support on him, and he should be OK. He’ll never run again. But we won’t have to put the horse down anyway.”
Bold Chieftain won the 2007 Cal Cup Classic for trainer William Morey Jr. and jockey Russell Baze.
Always close to the pace while traveling in third, the 6-year-old son of Chief Seattle gained the lead nearing the sixteenth pole and edged away under left-handed urging to score by 1 1/2 lengths over the fighting filly Lethal Heat. She was 6 1/4 lengths in front of Star Nicholas, with One Chin Again in fourth. Blackbriar, a 50-1 shot, was also pulled up in the stretch and vanned off. Track officials said he broke the sesamoid bone in his right front leg and was euthanized.
Bold Chieftain was coming off a five-length win in the Governor's Handicap at Sacramento's Cal Expo meet Sept. 7, ending a lengthy losing streak. The winning time was 1:50.32 for the 1 1/8-mile event over Santa Anita's Pro-Ride surface.
“Becoming a millionaire is special," Morey said. "This is our second horse we’ve developed into a millionaire. Dixie Dot Com was our first, and both these horses learned their ABC’s in our barn and it’s rewarding.
“I’m so sorry about the wreck in the race here," Morey added. "That always dampens the thing a little bit. I’m trying hard to enjoy the win, but I feel sorry for the other connections.”
Grazen, breaking from the rail, went to the lead early as Bold Chieftain saved ground. Grazen set a pressured pace -- :24.22, :49.46 and 1:13.28 -- and was inching away approaching mid-stretch under urging from jockey Garrett Gomez.
“He was always traveling really good," Gomez said. "We started to sprint, we came off the turn, and he switched leads. Then I heard a little noise. He nodded a little bit and kind of stutter-stepped on me. I picked him up. I gave him one or two more jumps. Then I felt him, and I just tried to get him stopped as fast as I could without hurting him anymore. Hopefully, we kept the damage to a minimum. We’ll see what happens.”
"This is special. I’ve been riding (Bold Chieftain) since he was a 2-year-old," Baze said. "He’s had some quirks, but he’s been a very honest horse. I worked him the other day, and he worked as well as he ever has. This horse has always fired well for me through the lane and today going to the five-sixteenths pole, he was up into the bridle and I knew he was going to run big.
"Grazen was able to cut the corner turning for home and as a result we lost a little ground, but when we straightened out he was really running, and it was going to take a darn good horse to hold him off. I didn’t know that Grazen had broken down until after the race because we had gone by him and there was a horse between us.”
Bold Chieftain logged his 13th lifetime win -- worth $120,000 -- in 31 starts and boosted his earnings to $1,083,411. The winning owners are Bay Area residents Dwaine Hall, Ernest Langbein, Ken Robinson and Morey and his wife, Doris.
Sent off as the third choice, Bold Chieftain paid $10, $5.20, and $3.60. Lethal Heat returned $4.40 and $3.40 while completing her fourth consecutive stakes placing without a win for trainer Barry Abrams. The $2 exacta was worth $44.20. Star Nicholas, who rallied mildly for third after a ground-saving trip for jockey Michael Baze, was $4 to show.
Elsewhere on the Cal Cup card, Lady Railrider ($7.40), ridden by Frank Alvarado, posted a 1 3/4-length win in the $100,000 CTT/TOC Matron for Mr. and Mrs. Larry D. Williams and trainer Steve Specht.
The homebred 4-year-old daughter of Ride the Rails is now 6-5-3 in 17 lifetime starts and has banked $366,700. Smooth Performer ran second with favored Hot n' Dusty third. The winning time for the 1 1/16-mile main track test was 1:44.20
Favored La Nez ($6.40) captured the $100,000 Robert H. Walter Juvenile Fillies by 1 1/2 lengths with Mike Smith aboard for trainer Eric Kruljac, who co-owns the 2-year-old daughter of Storm Creek along with Nezi O. Simmons.
Third in the Darley Debutante (gr. I) at Del Mar last time out, La Nez is 2-2-1 in five starts with earnings of $150,600. Camille C finished second, with Whispering Hush third. The time for seven furlongs on Pro-Ride was 1:23.29.
Bootleg Annie ($9) is undefeated in four starts when ridden by Rafael Bejarano after she edged favored Flashover by three-quarters of a length in the $100,000 John Deere Distaff Handicap. Kathy Walsh trains the 5-year-old daughter of Go for Gin for Al and Sandee Kirkwood.
Bootleg Annie rallied gamely down the center of the course after bidding four wide coming off the turn to improve her career mark to 15-4-5 in 30 starts with earnings of $445,358. Flashover was followed by Quisisana. The winning time for the about 6 1/2-furlong hillside turf course race was 1:13.31.
In the $100,000 Donald Valpredo Sprint Handicap, Dancing in Silks ($10), ridden by Joel Rosario, nosed odds-on favorite M One Rifle for owner Ken J. Kinakin and trainer Carla Gaines.
The 4-year-old Black Minnaloushe gelding pressed the pacesetting M One Rifle all the way before prevailing in a game effort. Bestdressed finished third. Final time for the six-furlong test was 1:08.55, Dancing in Silks won for the sixth time in 12 starts and boosted her earnings to $367,622.
The $125,000 John C. Mabeee Mile Handicap on turf went to The Usual Q.T. ($8.80), who edged Skimmetry by one length under Gomez.
The Usual Q.T., a 3-year-old gelding by Unusual Heat, is trained by James Cassidy for Don Van Racing, Michael Nentwig, George Saadeh and Thomas H. Braden. The Usual Q.T. won his third consecutive race (he is 3-4-0 in eight starts) and ran his purse total to $186,670. He completed the distance in an excellent 1:33.39. Enriched, a half-brother to Lava Man, finished third.
The nightcap, the $100,000 Bob Benoit Juvenile, went to Bench the Judge, guided by Santaigo Reyes for trainer Doug O'Neill and owner Robert Master.
Bench the Judge cleared in the stretch en route to a 1 3/4-length win over Wolf Tail, with Runaway Bandido third. The final time for the seven furlongs was 1:23.66. Bench the Judge, a 2-year-old son of Benchmark, won for the second time in five starts and more than doubled his previous bankroll to $116,322.