Spanish Chestnut, winning the San Rafael.

Spanish Chestnut, winning the San Rafael.


Spanish Chestnut Has Gate Work; Santa Catalina Next

San Rafael Stakes (gr. II) winner Spanish Chestnut remains on schedule for his next start in the March 5 Santa Catalina Stakes (gr. II) and the Florida-bred tuned up for the 1 1/16-mile event with a six-furlong work in 1:14 from the gate on Wednesday morning over a fast track Santa Anita.

Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens was aboard the colt for the move, which the second-fastest of eight who went three-quarters of a mile. The bullet work for the distance was one tick faster, without breaking from the gate.

"(He worked from the gate) because the other day he didn't jump from the gate as well as expected," trainer Patrick Biancone said. "These are still young horses so we just want to make sure everything is all right."

Biancone said that with a strong effort in the Santa Catalina, Spanish Chestnut's final Kentucky Derby (gr. I) prep will be in the April 9 Santa Anita Derby (gr. I).

"We just go step by step, you know" Biancone said. "But he's learning really, really well."

Though smallish in stature, Biancone is quick to point that much of the description of a Spanish Chestnut resembles the talented son of Horse Chestnut.

Spanish Chestnuts are large trees, often as tall as 100 feet with 10-inch diameter trunks and eight-inch leaves. The fruit is a prickly burr enclosing 1-5 nuts in diameter and there are numerous cultivars selected for nut quality and the finest yield a burr with a single large, sweet nut, called a "marron" in French.

"A Horse Chestnut is a tree that produces a chestnut," Biancone explained. "A Spanish Chestnut is a tree from the same family, but the chestnuts are smaller and better. What I know is that Spanish Chestnuts are considered a delicacy."

Spanish Chestnut, who has banked $174,420 from a record of 5-3-2-0, was purchased by owners Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor for $500,000 out of last year's Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's selected sale of 2-year-olds in training.