Contentious Field of 12
A dozen Cal-breds or sired horses are entered in Monday’s California Cup Derby.
The field is arguably headed by trainer Bob Hess, Sr.’s Intimidate, a Northern California invader who is well accomplished around two turns.
Bob Baffert’s Heck Yeah, unbeaten in two starts, is probable to vie for favoritism, as will California Chrome’s full brother, Faversham, who showed ample promise while running second in his six furlong debut.
Owner/trainer Jeff Bonde’s George From Tahoe, a runaway maiden winner going a mile on grass, will hope to transform his turf form to the main track. Veteran trainer Hector Palma’s Violent Ridge, a maiden winner going six furlongs, galloped out like a horse who will appreciate two turns and merits respect going in.
Here are profiles of some of the top contenders on paper.
Owner: James Eaton, Maria E. Hess & Don Muldoon
Trainer: Bob Hess, Sr.
Based at Golden Gate Fields, this chestnut colt by Vronsky pressed the pace en route to an impressive 1 1/4 length win in the one mile King Glorious Stakes at Los Alamitos two starts back versus state-breds and followed that up with a third place finish against open company in the 1 1/16-mile California Derby on Jan. 20. Bred by his co-owner Don Muldoon, Intimidate has won three out of five starts and has banked $111,640.
Owner: Bob Baedeker, Michael Pageler & Michael Sigband
Trainer: Bob Baffert
A 5 1/4-length first-out maiden winner at Los Alamitos going 5 1/2 furlongs on Dec. 7, he came back to blitz 12 rivals going 6 1/2 furlongs down Santa Anita’s hillside turf course in the Cal Cup Turf Sprint on Jan. 27, winning by 2 1/2 lengths as the 2-1 favorite. By Eclipse Champion Turf Horse Acclamation, Heck Yeah was bred in California by his co-owner Michael Pageler. Brilliant on both dirt and turf sprinting, he’ll try two turns for the first time, and it would be no surprise to see him go as the post time favorite with Mike Smith taking the reins.
Owner: Perry & Denise Martin
Trainer: Art Sherman
A promising second to fellow Derby rival Violent Ridge in his six furlong debut at the track on Jan. 15, this full brother to California Chrome tackles a route of ground in his second career start. By Lucky Pulpit and out of Love the Chase, Faversham was bred by the Chrome team of Perry Martin and Steve Coburn. Trained by Art Sherman and his son Alan, who orchestrated California’s Chrome's $14.7 million career, Faversham is a chestnut ridgling who catches the eye. With veteran Stewart Elliott set to ride him back, Faversham figures to generate tremendous interest as he faces the task of living up to high expectations.
GEORGE FROM TAHOE
Owner: Jeff Bonde
Trainer: Jeff Bonde
A close second in his 6 1/2-furlong hillside turf debut on Jan. 1, this chestnut colt by Sierra Sunset pressed the pace en route to an impressive 3 3/4-length maiden win going a mile on turf Jan. 27. Naturally quick, he figures to be attentive to the pace as he tries dirt for the first time. Although question marks remain, one very encouraging factor is that Bonde holds all the cards as trainer and owner.
Owner: BG Stables
Trainer: Hector Palma
The even money favorite in his third career start on Jan. 15, he held Faversham at bay late in winning by 1 1/4 length at six furlongs. Also impressive was the fact Violent Ridge dug in after the wire and would not let Faversham get by him on the gallop out, despite the fact the latter one had momentum in his corner. Owned and bred in California by BG Stables, this gelding by Violence rates a good chance stretching out.
Race 8 of 9. Approximate post time 7:00 ET
1. Violent Ridge—Geovanni Franco—120
2. Hardboot—Tyler Baze—120
3. Lucky Romano—Rafael Bejarano—120
4. Heck Yeah—Mike Smith—124
5. Faversham—Stewart Elliott--120
6. Intimidate—Corey Nakatani—124
7. Continental Divide—Victor Espinoza—124
8. Fire When Ready—Rajiv Maragh—120
9. Black Site—Evin Roman—120
10. Campaigner—Tiago Pereira—120
11. George From Tahoe—Ruben Fuentes—120
12. Kaleidoscope Kid—Santiago Gonzalez--120