It’s not that often that you can say someone is stepping down to a Breeders’ Cup race but you can make that case for Dortmund.
The 4-year-old spent last year chasing eventual Triple Crown champion American Pharoah and this year he has been seeing the rear end of California Chrome.
So, rather than put him in the marquee Classic on Saturday, he has been entered in Friday’s Dirt Mile.
“I’m backing him up to the mile,” trainer Bob Baffert said. “I think that’s probably his peak distance. He can go 7/8ths. He’s a really good horse. You could even run him in the sprint. He’s got enough speed.”
He’s been installed as the 6-5 favorite, followed by Runhappy, winner of seven of nine, at 3-1 and Gun Runner, third in the Kentucky Derby, at 9-2.
“What I noticed about Dortmund is going a mile and a quarter on such a big-framed, heavy horse — he weighs 1,300 pounds — is it’s hard for him,” Baffert said. “His races need to be better spaced. He runs better fresh. … Running against a horse like Chrome took a little bit out of him.”
The Classic isn’t until Saturday but it’s clear California Chrome retains his rock star status. A large group, who call themselves Chromies, greeted the 5-year-old with cheers when he returned from his 1 5/8-mile gallop.
More fans were there to greet him when he returned to his far-off barn.
“It’s Chrome time,” trainer Art Sherman said of North America’s all-time leading money winner. Saturday’s race is scheduled to be his penultimate one before retiring after the $12-million Pegasus at Gulfstream in January. From there, he’s off t to start his stud career.
Lord Nelson scratches
Lord Nelson, the second favorite in Saturday’s Sprint, was scratched Thursday morning after a cut on the 4-year-old colt’s leg became infected.
The horse, with seven wins in 13 starts, was 5-2 on the morning line, just behind Masochistic at 2-1.
“He got a little nick a couple of days ago and it became infected,” said Baffert, who is down to seven horses in the two-day event. “We had to treat him with antibiotics so he won’t be able to run. But he’s going to be all right.”
It didn’t take long to ship Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist to his new home in Kentucky after he scratched out of the Classic on Saturday.
“Nyquist is officially retired and he is in Lexington with Darley,” trainer Doug O’Neill told Ed Golden of Santa Anita. “He’s been turned out there, looks great and is settling in.
“It’s hard to put into words what his absence means emotionally, because he’s a member of the family. But he’s only a plane ride away to visit and we’ll keep in steady touch with the people at Darley.”
His initial stud fee has been set at $40,000.
What you need to know
The gates at Santa Anita open at 9 a.m. on Friday with first post on the 10-race card at 11:25 a.m. There will be four Breeders’ Cup races starting with the Juvenile Turf (2:25 p.m.), followed by Dirt Mile (3:05 p.m.), Juvenile Fillies Turf (3:50 p.m.) and Distaff (4:35 p.m.). The races will be on NBCSN starting at 2 p.m.