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California Cup Derby Preview: The Chosen Vron Stretches Out
The Chosen Vron (Credit: Ernie Belmonte)

California Cup Derby Preview: The Chosen Vron Stretches Out

ARCADIA, CA – After an impressive maiden-breaking debut, trainer Eric Kruljac’s The Chosen Vron stretches out to try two turns for the first time in Saturday’s $200,000 California Cup Derby at Santa Anita Park.

The California Cup Derby is a 1 1/16-mile dirt route restricted to California-bred 3-year-olds. This year’s edition is the seventh event on a 10-race card and has a local post time of 3:00 PM.

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Here’s a look at the full field for the California Cup Derby:

1. The Chosen Vron 8/5 – He aired by 6 3/4 lengths while going 6 1/2 furlongs here in his debut, leading at every point of call before drawing off strongly in the stretch to earn a field-best 86 Beyer Speed Figure. Kruljac hits at 28% with an impressive $5.22 ROI with runners stretching out to route and 24% with a $4.81 ROI with last-out winners.

2. Mischievous Path 12/1 – He broke his maiden by 8 lengths last time out while covering 5 1/2 furlongs on the Golden Gate Fields synthetic main track, showing tremendous improvement after finishing fourth on debut. He ships down to the stronger southern California circuit and joins new trainer Carla Gaines, whose runners win 24% of the time when going sprint to route.

3. Big Fish 5/1 – Trainer David Hofmans puts the blinkers back on after he finished off the board without them in the Cecil B. DeMille Stakes (G3) and the Eddie Logan Stakes. He won his first 2 turf tries last summer, both mile-long routes at Del Mar including the Juvenile Turf Stakes, and hit the board in both dirt starts to kick off his career.

4. Good With People 7/2 – The field’s winningest entry with 3 scores, he tries routing for the second time after suffering his worst career finish (fifth) in the 1-mile King Glorious Stakes last time out. Aside from that, he’s either finished first or second (by a 1/2-length) against fellow California-breds and has elite early speed, but he still needs to prove that he can route.

5. Play Chicken 4/1 – He upset the King Glorious with a game score by a neck in his first time routing on dirt, though he also won his career debut – a route over the local turf. He needs to turn the tables on a pair of rivals who return here after finishing a well-beaten fifth in the 7-furlong Golden State Juvenile Stakes, but the extra distance here should be to his benefit.

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6. None Above The Law 15/1 – Like Good With People, he’s a Kirk and Judy Robison homebred hailing from the Peter Miller barn, but that’s about as far as the similarities between the two go. He won his debut while facing state-bred $50k claimers at Los Alamitos but failed to hit the board in 2 subsequent stakes tries, the Graduation and the Del Mar Juvenile Turf.

7. Positivity 10/1 – He won 2 straight to start his career, including the Graduation by a 1/2-length over Good With People, before being privately sold and transferred to current trainer Patrick Gallagher. He finished second by 3/4 of a length in the Golden State Juvenile in his next start and scratched out of the King Glorious to try the Los Al Futurity (G2); this looks like a much easier field comparatively.

8. Warrens Candy Man 10/1 – He steps up to the stakes ranks despite still carrying a maiden status through 5 starts, but winning his first dirt route try wouldn’t be a total shocker. His full older sister Warren’s Showtime is a 5-time stakes champion, including the 2020 Melair that was held at this same course and distance, and top local rider Flavien Prat stays aboard.

9. Cozy Bear 50/1 – He takes the sport’s biggest leap as he enters his first stakes try following victory against $28k maiden claimers at Los Alamitos. The waters get much deeper here, but the good news is that said victory came while routing on dirt and against open company rivals. Jockey Tyler Baze, aboard for the first time in that race, retains the mount.

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