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Santa Anita Park Preview | California Cup Sprint 2024
The Chosen Vron (Lindsay Affleck)

Santa Anita Park Preview | California Cup Sprint 2024

                An incredible California-bred story, trainer Eric Kruljac’s The Chosen Vron is without question the A-List attraction on Santa Anita Park’s California Cup Day this Saturday as he towers over four rival older horses going six furlongs in the $150,000 Don Valpredo California Cup Sprint.

                The Don Valpredo Cal Cup Sprint is part of the lucrative CTBA-sponsored Golden State Series for California-bred or sired horses.

                First post time for a nine-race card on Cal Cup Day this Saturday, is at 12:30 p.m. with admission gates opening at 10:30 a.m.

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                A winner of 14 races, 13 of them stakes, including last year’s Cal Cup Sprint from 19 starts, The Chosen Vron comes off a facile 2 ¾ length score versus statebreds in the seven furlong Cary Grant Stakes at Del Mar on Nov. 18.  A three-time graded stakes winner and a winner of the Grade I Bing Crosby Stakes three starts back on July 29, this rugged 6-year-old chestnut gelding by Vronsky had an eight-game winning streak snapped two starts back, as he finished fifth in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Sprint here on Nov. 4.

                Although disappointed, Kruljac took his measure of his stable superstar following the Breeders’ Cup and determined he was good to go for a title defense in the Cary Grant on just two weeks notice–a prescient decision that was validated with an overpowering front-running performance.

                Owned by Sondereker Racing, LLC, Eric Kruljac, Robert Fetkin and Richard Thornburgh, The Chosen Vron is out of the Tiz Wonderful mare Tiz Molly and will be ridden for the 12th consecutive time by Hector Berrios.  With an overall mark of 19-14-1-2, he has earnings of $1,149,678.

                An amazing story in his own right, Alfred Pais’ homebred Brickyard Ride, a 7-year-old full horse by Clubhouse Ride, is a winner of eight stakes, three of them graded with earnings of $895,477.  Although perhaps not as lightning quick early as he was in his younger days, if both he and The Chosen Vron opt to go head and head early, it could prove suicidal for both camps.

                A winner of 10 of his 16 races at Santa Anita and six of his 11 starts at six furlongs, Brickyard Ride cuts back in distance off of a solid third place finish at a mile and one sixteenth in the opening day Grade II San Antonio, a race in which he led to mid-stretch and tired to be beaten 2 ¾ lengths.

                Trained by Craig Lewis and still plenty productive as a newly turned 7-year-old, Brickyard Ride posted one win last year (six starts back in the Grade III Kona Gold on April 22) and four third place finishes from seven starts, banking $150,500. 

                Ridden in his last two starts by Umberto Rispoli, Brickyard Ride will be reunited with Juan Hernandez, who has guided him to six stakes victories dating back to June of 2021.  Out of the Southern Image mare Brickyard Helen, Brickyard Ride is 30-13-1-6 overall.


Race 8 of 9 | Approximate post time 4 p.m. PT

  1. Geezer – Tiago Pereira – 120
  2. The Chosen Vron—Hector Berrios – 124
  3. Principe Carlo – Kyle Frey – 124
  4. Moose Mitchell – Mario Gutierrez – 122
  5. Brickyard Ride – Juan Hernandez – 124