Popular California Cup Day Saturday
Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire
By Emily Shields for TVG
The 2021 California Cup races have been drawn for the January 16 card at Santa Anita Park. There are five stakes races for California-breds scheduled on a 10-race card, with the $200,000 Unusual Heat Turf Classic Stakes topping the action as Race 9.
The entire card is exclusively for horses bred or foaled in the Golden State, with the first stakes race being Race 4, the $150,000 Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf Sprint. Nine horses will sprint six furlongs on the grass, including Warren’s Showtime, a multiple stakes winner who is four for six over this course. She won the 2020 California Cup Oaks, and went on to add the Grade 3 Autumn Miss here in October. Craig Lewis trains the daughter of Clubhouse Ride. She will take on the streaking Leggs Galore, who has won three in a row since switching to the grass.
The $200,000 Leigh Ann Howard California Cup Oaks drew 10. It is run over a mile on the grass for sophomore fillies, and the field includes Golden Gate Fields stakes winner I’m So Anna. The daughter of Fast Anna was fourth on the main track at Los Alamitos last out, but prefers the turf and has an overall strong record of five top three efforts in six starts. Sensible Cat is two for three lifetime for trainer Carla Gaines, and is coming off a win in the Soviet Problem Stakes over a mile last out.
Colts and geldings get to shine in the $200,000 California Cup Derby, a race that produced 2014 Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness Stakes (G1) hero California Chrome. Blinkers will go on stakes winner Big Fish, a gelded son of Mr. Big. He was a two-time winner on the grass at Del Mar and has since run well without winning against open company. Mischievous Path is coming off an eight-length score on the synthetic at Golden Gate, and recent stakes winners Good With People and Play Chicken add more depth to the field.
The $200,000 Turf Classic drew 11, including Ward ‘n Jerry, who was second in the race last year. He faces Snow Chief Stakes winner Indian Peak, who has not run since August and is now in the barn of Brian Koriner. Heck Yeah has won two in a row and picks up Drayden Van Dyke, while Acclimate drops out of graded stakes competition.
The day wraps up with the $150,000 California Cup Sprint. Defending champion Fashionably Fast returns off a layoff since August 1, where he faced Grade 1 company at Del Mar. The multiple stakes winner won six in a row from 2019 through 2020, and is three for six over this track. Multiple stakes winner Bettor Trip Nick drew alongside.
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