Getty Images

California Chrome wins San Diego Handicap

Leave a comment

DEL MAR, Calif. (AP) California Chrome beat Dortmund by a half-length Saturday at Del Mar in the Grade 2 $200,000 San Diego Handicap, the 1 1/16-mile prep for the Grade I $1 million Pacific Classic on Aug. 20.

Ridden by Victor Espinoza for trainer Art Sherman, the 2014 Horse of the Year was making his first start since winning the world’s most lucrative race, the $10 million World Cup in Dubai on March 26.

“I saved something for the end. I knew I’d have to,” Espinoza said. “I have a lot of respect for Dortmund and he made me run hard. I could see he (Dortmund) was running so hard. When we came down the stretch, I was concerned. This horse was carrying a lot of weight; that was the challenge. But he was a runner all the way today. What a terrific comeback race for him. He’s back. He’s such a special horse.”

California Chrome finished in 1:40.84 and paid $3.60, $2.20 and $2.10. The 5-year-old has 13 victories in 22 starts with earnings of $12,652,650.

Dortmund returned $2.40 and $2.10, and Win the Space paid $2.10 to show.

Mokat won the $201,725 San Clemente Handicap for 3-year-old fillies. Ridden by Kent Desormeaux, Mokat won by almost four lengths in 1:35.23 for the mile on the turf course.

Mokat paid $16.40, $7.20 and $4.80 for her second victory in nine starts. Lady Valeur returned $9.60 and $5.60, and Stays In Vegas paid $3.80.

Tiger Roll wins Grand National in photo finish

AP Photo
Leave a comment

AINTREE, England — Tiger Roll won the Grand National Steeplechase in a photo finish over Pleasant Company as Irish horses dominated the world’s most famous steeplechase at Aintree on Saturday.

A 4 1/2-mile (6,400-meter) race was won by a matter of inches in the closest finish to the Grand National since 2012, when Neptune Collonges won by a nose.

Tiger Roll, a 10-1 shot, was leading by as much as 10 lengths in the long run to the line, but only just held off the fast-finishing Pleasant Company (25-1) to win a first prize of 500,000 pounds ($710,000).

“I did have a big fear,” said jockey Davy Russell, who won the race for the first time at his 14th attempt. “It would have been heartbreaking.”

The first four horses home in the National were from Ireland, including Bless The Wings (40-1) and Anibale Fly (10-1).

It was the second National victory for both trainer Gordon Elliott, who also won with Silver Birch in 2007, and owner Michael O’Leary, who had 2016 winner Rule The World. O’Leary is chief executive of budget airline Ryanair.

“We bought the horse as a pint-sized hurdler,” O’Leary said, “but he’s got a heart of a lion.”

Russell grew up dreaming of winning the National. As a child, he erected Aintree-style fences in his garden and pretended to ride a horse over them.

“I’ve won this race thousands of times (in my head),” Russell said. “But not like this.”

David Mullins, the jockey of Pleasant Company, said he thought he was well-beaten after jumping the next-to-last fence.

“Davy was going so much better than me,” Mullins said.

That seemed to be the case as the horses made it past the elbow in the run to the line, but Pleasant Company closed in as Tiger Roll faded. It was too close to call as they crossed the line and the 171st edition of the race required a photo finish to separate them.

Total Recall went off as the 7-1 favorite but fell.

 

Baffert: McKinzie won’t run in Santa Anita Derby

Getty Images
Leave a comment

ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) McKinzie will miss the Santa Anita Derby on April 7 because of an unspecified problem.

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert confirmed the colt won’t run in the West Coast’s major prep for the Kentucky Derby due to an issue in one of his hind legs. X-rays and scans haven’t confirmed what it is.

Baffert said Saturday in Dubai that McKinzie is “definitely out,” according to multiple media reports. He says he’s being “very cautious.”

The colt edged Bolt d’Oro in the San Felipe Stakes on March 10, but was disqualified and placed second for interference in the stretch.

McKinzie was 10th on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard with 40 points for owners Karl Watson, Mike Pegram and Paul Weitman. The colt won the Los Alamitos CashCall Futurity on Dec. 9 and the Sham Stakes on Jan. 6.

Baffert was in the Middle East to saddle West Coast and Mubtaahij to second- and third-place finishes in the $10 million Dubai World Cup.