By Emily Shields
A nine horse field has drawn for the $200,000 California Cup Derby this coming Saturday at Santa Anita Park. The 1 1/16-mile race on the main track was the launching place of California Chrome’s epic 2014 campaign, which included wins in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.
Bettor Trip Nick, who has won four of his five starts, has the rail. The gelded son of Boat Trip is trained by Willia Delia and makes his first start outside Northern California for this. He was a maiden winner at the $25,000 level by a nose first out, then after his lone loss reeled off wins in a starter allowance, the Golden Nugget Stakes, and the Gold Rush. The latter was around a mile; this is the furthest he has been asked to run to date.
Club Aspen was the winner of the King Glorious at Los Alamitos in December at 8-1 odds. The son of Clubhouse Ride is trained by Craig Lewis, and has more experience than most with seven starts under his belt. He has won two of those, including his debut sprinting at Del Mar.
Rookie Mistake is one of several coming off maiden wins. His came sprinting on the grass for trainer Doug O’Neill. The well-bred son of Square Eddie is out of Meetmeinthewoods, making him a full brother to $400,000-earner Jimmy Bonucer.
The Rafael Becerra-trained Fast Enough hasn’t run since debuting against state-breds May 31 of last year. He won that day, romping by over three lengths going 4 ½-furlongs, and he has worked well for his comeback with a bullet five panels here January 11 in :59.3.
Big Returns is technically unbeaten after breaking his maiden by 7 ¼ lengths at Del Mar in July, then being placed first in the Graduation Stakes after the disqualification of Square Deal. Ruben Fuentes will be back aboard the O’Neill trainee, a son of Mr. Big who has never gone two turns.
Indian Peak has won two of his five races, both at Golden Gate Fields. They were both over a mile, but one was on the turf and the other on the synthetic main surface there for trainer Quinn Howey. The son of Comic Strip will be making his sixth start.
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