Western Pride has traveled far and wide during a standout career in which he has won 10 of 25 starts and earned $1,263,819.As a 3-year-old, he toured the country en route to victories in the West Virginia Derby, Ohio Derby and Calder Derby. Since joining trainer James Chapman's barn at Hollywood Park in November 2001, the 5-year-old horse became an international globetrotter. Last year he competed in the Dubai World Cup and Singapore Airlines International Cup, both Group I races.Western Pride returned from an 11-month break to win the San Bernardino Handicap (gr. III) at Santa Anita in April and a month later was flown to Maryland, where he finished second to Mineshaft in the Pimlico Special.Now, after calling Hollywood Park home for 18 months, Western Pride is ready to do something he has never done: race over the main track on which he trains in the $400,000 Californian Stakes at 1 1/8 mile Saturday. He did race once on the turf at Hollywood shortly after his arrival, fading to fourth in the 2001 Hollywood Derby on a yielding surface."He loves it," said Chapman of Western Pride's fondness for the main track here Wednesday. "He handles it really well. He doesn't have to be on the lead, but probably will be. It would have to be a pretty fast horse to go with him."A field of at least eight is set for the Grade II Californian: a Nelson Bunker Hunt entry of Gondolieri (Frank Alvarado) and Piensa Sonando (Gary Stevens), Western Pride (Patrick Valenzuela), Kudos (Alex Solis), Calkins Road (Victor Espinoza), Fleetstreet Dancer (Tyler Baze), Reba's Gold (David Flores) and Wooden Phone (Corey Nakatani).Also considered possible are Lethal Instrument and Royal Moro.
The Californian serves as a prep for the $750,000 Hollywood Gold Cup at 1 1/4 mile on July 13.