California Chrome cruises to victory in Santa Anita Derby

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ARCADIA, Calif. — California Chrome romped to a 5 ¼-length victory in the $1 million Santa Anita Derby, stamping him as a strong favorite heading into May’s Kentucky Derby.

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Wicked Strong, with Rajiv Maragh aboard, wins the Wood Memorial in an upset. It was only the horse’s second win in six lifetime starts.

Ridden by Victor Espinoza, California Chrome ran 1⅛ miles in 1:47.52 at Santa Anita on Saturday. He paid $3.40, $2.40 and $2.10 as the 3-5 favorite in the field of eight colts.

Hoppertunity returned $4 and $2.60, while Candy Boy was another 3 ½ lengths back in third and paid $2.40.

California Chrome earned 100 points for the win, giving him 150 to move atop the leaderboard in the system used by Churchill Downs to determine the 20-horse field for the May 3 Kentucky Derby.

Hoppertunity, trained by three-time Kentucky Derby winner Bob Baffert, earned 40 points and now has 95, ensuring him a spot in the Derby starting gate.

WOOD MEMORIAL: In New York, Wicked Strong pulled a 9-1 upset in the $1 million race for 3-year-olds at Aqueduct.

The surprising victory earned the colt $590,000 in purse money, and 100 qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby. He now has more than enough points to enter the Run for the Roses.

Wicked Strong wasn’t prominent in the Derby discussion before the Wood. The win was only his second in six starts, and his first in a stakes.

Rajiv Maragh was aboard as Wicked Strong barreled down the center of the track, beating the previously undefeated Samraat by 3½ lengths.

Trained by Jimmy Jerkens, the son of Hall of Famer Allen Jerkens, Wicked Strong paid $20.40, $7.80 and $4.20.

Samraat, 5 for 5 coming in, returned $4.80 and $3 as he edged Social Inclusion by a nose for place.

Social Inclusion, the 8-5 favorite, paid $2.70 to show.

CENTRAL BANK ASHLAND: In Lexington, Ky., Room Service and Rosalind dueled to an exciting dead-heat finish in the $500,000 race at Keeneland and earned big points toward the Kentucky Oaks.

Room Service and Rosalind, with Shaun Bridgmohan and Joel Rosario aboard respectively, ran the 1 1-16 miles in 1:43.38. Room Service paid $6.60, $6.40 and $4.20. Rosalind returned $5, $4.40 and $3.40.

The rare ending gave each horse 70 points toward the Oaks on May 2 at Churchill Downs.

GRAND NATIONAL: In Aintree, England, Pineau De Re won a chaotic steeplechase by five lengths, giving the most prized victory in jumps racing to Dr. Richard Newland, who trains horses as a hobby and a jockey back in the saddle after a premature retirement.

Only 18 horses completed the 4½-mile (7.2-kilometer) trip but, for the second year running, there were no horse fatalities to mar a race that is always heavily criticized by animal-rights protesters because of the fearsome nature of the fences.

The 11-year-old Pineau De Re is the third consecutive outsider to win the National. Neptune Collonges (33-1) won in 2012 and Auroras Encore (66-1) romped last year.


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