Grass Proves Medicinal for California Chrome

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Derek Simon

November 30th, 2014

It looks like grass is just what the doctor ordered for California Chrome, the three-year-old colt who won the first two legs of this year’s Triple Crown and finished a close third in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic versus older foes.

To say California Chrome adapted to the turf in the Hollywood Derby is akin to saying mash potatoes have adapted to gravy on Thanksgiving.

Granted, the field in Saturday’s Del Mar feature left much to be desired, something one is sure to hear about once... or twice… or a thousand times… on social media. Outside of Chrome, there was — count ‘em — one graded winner in the entire field. That was the filly Lexie Lou, who captured the Grade III Autumn Miss for three-year-old fillies at Santa Anita in her last start.

Still, California Chrome’s effort was impressive.

Not only did his Brisnet speed figure (101) crack the century mark for the eighth time in nine starts this year, but the son of Lucky Pulpit also earned a career-best -2 late speed ration (LSR) where the surf meets the turf. Better still, California Chrome seemed in complete control of the race. He even led in the early stages before Victor Espinoza throttled him back to sit behind Sawyer’s Hill after a moderate opening half-mile timed in 46.95 seconds (-4 early speed ration).

As I noted on my Nov. 19 podcast, Chrome appears well-suited to turf and I’m anxious to see where he winds up next. Regardless of what one thinks of the horse, I love the fact that he’s started nine times this year — the most trips to post by a Kentucky Derby winner since War Emblem in 2002—and that the owners appear willing to roll the dice every once in a while.

2015 is shaping up to be one heckuva year.

Thanksgiving Thoughts

Every Thanksgiving past, I like to reflect on the year that’s been and give thanks — and this year I have much to be thankful for:

* It’s no secret that I’ve been attempting to prove that playing the races can be a consistent source of income for some time now (“consistent” being the key word here) and this November has been the best month ever — betting real money — for my systems and angles.

I’ve made a few tweaks for December and look forward to what the future holds. More on this to come…

* I want to thank everybody that reads my columns, comments on my Facebook and Twitter pages, and/or listens to my podcast without swearing and muttering about “that idiot.”

* Thanks to and Churchill Downs, Inc. for allowing me to write my columns and produce my podcast… without swearing and muttering about “that idiot.”

* A hearty “thank you” to 99.76 percent of those in the horse racing industry. I know it is popular to criticize racing officials and others intimately involved with the Sport of Kings, but overall they are people who care passionately about the sport and its future… even if it doesn’t always appear so.

* A tip of my cap to all of the backside workers — hot walkers, exercise riders and other stable helpers — who toil in anonymity. You make me feel incredibly lazy and inadequate.

* Last, but certainly not least, I want to thank my mom and step-dad, who introduced me to the Sport of Kings — and a lifelong love affair — when I was just a kid. Although your spots at the Thanksgiving Day table were empty this year, your spirits remain. In fact, I suspect one or both of you got into the pie… because I know I didn’t eat that much… did I?