Jockey Hector I. Berrios congratulates The Chosen Vron after winning the Thor’s Echo Stakes on Sunday, May 28, 2023, at Santa Anita. (Photo by Benoit)
If you’re like me, you started thinking about all the California breds we’ve been lucky enough to see over the past five or six decades after The Chosen Vron put on a spectacular show in the Thor’s Echo Stakes on Sunday at Santa Anita.
The 5-year-old gelding of Vronsky demolished all three of his rivals in Thor’s Echo, including the highly regarded Brickyard Ride, by 5½ lengths while running the 6 furlongs in 1:09.58 and posted a Beyer speed rating of 98.
“He’s a special horse,” said trainer Eric Kruljac, who has done an equally special job handling a horse that has won 12 of 16 for $792,678 in earnings and has demonstrated his versatility by winning stakes races on dirt, turf, races and racing. one mile
Santa Anita morning line creator Jon White, also a racing historian, is impressed by what The Chosen Vron has accomplished.
“The Chosen Vron is truly a special racehorse,” White said in an email to the Southern California News Group. “Coach Eric Kruljac has done a wonderful job with him. At Thor’s Echo, The Chosen Vron didn’t just win for fun, they left California-bred speedster Brickyard Ride behind them.”
There have been so many great Cal breeders over the years, most recently California Chrome, who won the first two stages of the 2014 Triple Crown and garnered an Eclipse Award for Horse of the Year twice (2014 and 2016). The list is long. .
One of my favorites was Ancient Title, who won 19 stakes during his career and was equally adept at short and long distances. Overall, he won 24 of 57 starts for $1.2 million in earnings and is a member of the racing Hall of Fame.
Who can forget Tiznow, who is the only horse to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic twice (2000 and 2001) and is also a Hall of Famer, as are his fellow Cal-breds Snow Chief (Preakness winner in 1986), Best Pal (winner of the inaugural Pacific Classic at Del Mar in 1991), Lava Man and Native Diver. The latter two won the Hollywood Gold Cup an unprecedented three years in a row.
White reminded us of other Eclipse Award-winning California-bred stalwarts such as Amazombie (2011 Breeders’ Cup Sprint Champion), Bertrando, Brown Bess, Points Offthebench, and Thor’s Echo. Other notable Cal-breds included Flying Paster, who ran into a circular saw called the Spectacular Bid during his run, Crystal Water, Decidedly, Fran’s Valentine, Honeymoon, Melair, Morvich, and Soviet Problem.
But White’s favorite, and perhaps the best California-bred of all time, is Swaps.
“In my opinion, the No. 1 Cal-bred of all time is Swaps, one of the greatest all-time horses in American racing history,” he said.
Swaps, sired by Khaled, won the 1955 Kentucky Derby with Bill Shoemaker aboard and was named Horse of the Year the following year. He was affectionately known as the “California Comet,” winning 19 of 25 starts for $848,900 in earnings during a time when pocket money was a pittance compared to today’s $1 million offerings. He is also a Hall of Famer.
“What Swaps accomplished during his career was extraordinary, according to Blood Horse magazine, he broke or tied six, yes six, world records,” White said. “That’s something that could be called Man o’ War-ish or Secretariat-ish.”
One Cal-bred 3-year-old filly to keep an eye on, according to White, is the Doug O’Neill-trained Ceiling Crusher, who has won her last two starts by 15½ and 17 lengths and overall is undefeated in four races by a combined 37¾ lengths. .
“It seems like the sky is the limit for her,” he said.
O’Neill said after his win in the Melair Stakes at Santa Anita on Sunday that it’s time for Ceiling Crusher to get into open company now.
“The waters are now deeper and we have to start swimming with the best ones,” he said.
As for The Chosen Vron, his connections are eyeing the Bing Crosby Stakes on July 29 at Del Mar as a possible next target. If that happens, make your popcorn. Straight No Chaser and Spirit of Makena may be waiting for you.
Follow Art Wilson on Twitter @Sham73