California Chrome finishes 3rd in BC Classic

ARCADIA, Calif. (AP)—Art Sherman was delighted when Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner California Chrome drew post 13 for the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic.

It turned out to be an ideal spot as California Chrome finished third in his first race against older rivals on Saturday at Santa Anita.

“I thought he had a good trip,” Sherman said. “No excuses. My horse ran his eyeballs out. He was right there, right down to the money. I thought it was a great effort. He came back strong.”

Most trainers fear an outside slot in a bulky 14-horse field.

Not the 77-year-old Sherman, who felt his 3-year-old was compromised by inside posts in the Belmont Stakes and the Pennsylvania Derby, both losses.

The outside post was lucky for Chrome in the Classic, keeping him well clear of a chaotic start that compromised several horses to his inside.

Chrome responded with his best effort since winning the Preakness. Jockey Victor Espinoza kept him parked wide in third throughout the 1 1/4-mile race, free of traffic trouble and always in range of the pacesetting Bayern.

Chrome launched a determined rally in the stretch, forcing his way into a three-way photo finish. Bayern held on by a nose over Toast of New York, with California Chrome a neck back in third.

“The outside post definitely helped me get the position I wanted, I had a good trip,” Espinoza said.

It was a solid ending to a demanding eight-race campaign that included a victory here in the Santa Anita Derby.

And it might have kept him on the racetrack for another season. Co-owner Perry Martin had said California Chrome would be retired if he did not perform well in the Classic.

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UPS AND DOWNS: Attendance was up, but the total wagering fell on Breeders’ Cup weekend at Santa Anita.

The Saturday crowd was 61,114, bringing the two-day total to 98,319, a 4 percent increase over last year when the event was also held here.

The news wasn’t as rosy on the wagering front. The two-day total was $151,158,815, a 6 percent drop from 2013.

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CALCULATOR SCRATCH: The Del Mar Futurity and FrontRunner Stakes at Santa Anita, California’s two major 2-year-old stakes leading to the Breeders’ Cup, were tough on the top two finishers, with neither one making it to the $1 million Juvenile.

American Pharoah, winner of both races for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, was scratched on Tuesday with a bruised foot.

Calculator, the runner-up to American Pharoah in both races, was withdrawn Saturday due to a lingering foot issue.

“The foot has been bothering him the last couple of days,” said Ruben Albarado, assistant to trainer Peter Miller. “We need a couple of weeks to fix him.”

The scratches reduced the Juvenile field to 11.

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ROSIE SHUT OUT: A day after winning the $2 million Distaff with Untapable, Rosie Napravnik was shut out in four Breeders’ Cup mounts on her last day before retiring.

The 26-year-old rider shocked the crowd at Santa Anita on Friday by announcing her retirement because she is seven weeks’ pregnant. She and trainer-husband, Joe Sharp, are expecting their first child in June.

Her best finish on Saturday was second by a half-length aboard Top Decile in the Juvenile Fillies. She was ninth with Emollient in the Filly & Mare Turf; 12th on Mico Margarita in the Sprint; and 13th aboard Tourist in the Mile.

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BACK FOR MORE: Trainer Steve Asmussen said both Untapable and Tapiture will return next season.

The pair of talented 3-year-olds both ran well on Friday.

Untapable captured the $2 million Distaff while Tapiture rallied for second behind defending champion Goldencents in the $1 million Dirt Mile.

“Untapable performed excellently and ran a huge race,” Asmussen said Saturday. “Both came back perfectly and everything is good with them. There will be a little down time for them, and then we have big plans for them. Hopefully both of them will end up back in the Breeders’ Cup next year.”

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CELEB CONNECTIONS: The highest finish by a celebrity-connected horse was Undrafted’s third place in the $1 million Turf Sprint.

Owned by Denver Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker, Undrafted earned $100,000. The 4-year-old gelding lost a photo for second by a nose.

Sports talk host Jim Rome had the 5-2 favorite in the $5 million Classic with Shared Belief, but the 3-year-old gelding finished fourth.

Also in the Classic, Cigar Street finished seventh for co-owner Rashard Lewis, who is not playing in the NBA this season after having knee surgery.

Eugene Melnyk, owner of the NHL’s Ottawa Senators, owns Leigh Court, who was fifth in the Filly & Mare Sprint, a finish worth $30,000.

In the Turf, Brown Panther was 11th in the 12-horse field for co-owner Michael Owen, the British soccer player best known for his tying goal against Argentina in the 1998 World Cup.

In the Juvenile, Souper Colossal finished seventh for owner Charlotte Weber, granddaughter of Campbell Soup Co. founder John Dorrance.

Among the celebs in attendance were actresses Elizabeth Banks, Jennifer Tilly and Bo Derek, Sylvester Stallone, former NBA coach Avery Jackson and Atlanta Falcons running back Steven Jackson.

Richie Sambora performed the national anthem and Kristin Chenoweth sang “The Best is Yet to Come” before the $5 million Classic.

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AP Racing Writer Beth Harris contributed to this report.

Updated Nov 1, 10:41 pm EDT