The goal for Straight Up G and his fellow California Cup Derby contestants is there for the viewing. They have to go back to 2014 to see what a Cal Cup Derby alum can accomplish.
That alum was California Chrome. He used the Cal Cup Derby as his coming-out party, dismissing the field by 5 ½ lengths. That was the second of six consecutive victories that brought California Chrome the Santa Anita Derby, the Kentucky Derby, and the Preakness Stakes. But it was the Cal Cup Derby that helped establish California Chrome as one of the most popular horses of the 21st century.
No pressure, right?
The Cal Cup Derby is one of five California Cup races on Santa Anita Park’s 10-race Saturday card. It’s the featured race among the five stakes races limited to California-bred horses, colts, fillies, and mares.
Straight Up G seeking California Chrome’s path
First among equals in the Cal Cup Derby, which is limited to 3-year-olds, is 4/5 morning-line favorite Straight Up G. The Straight Fire progeny is following California Chrome’s path to the Cal Cup Derby starting gate. He won the Dec. 12 Black-Type King Glorious Stakes at Los Alamitos by 3 ½ lengths. California Chrome won that same race at the end of his 2-year-old campaign in 2013.
That and his maiden-breaking win in a Nov. 21 maiden special weight at Del Mar came against Cal-breds. Straight up G took apart his fellow state-breds by 5 ¼ lengths that day, clocking a career-best 80 Beyer Speed Figure and 92 Equibase Speed Figure.
In fact, Straight Up G hasn’t seen anyone but his fellow state-breds. He debuted in a Santa Anita 5 ½-furlong maiden special weight in October, finishing fourth as the even-money favorite by 6 ¼ lengths. The winner of that race, Slow Down Andy, went on to win the Grade 2 Los Alamitos Futurity.
“He’s doing everything really easily,” trainer Richard Baltas told Santa Anita’s Ed Golden. “Last time, he handled the two turns with no problem. He’s still growing, he big, he’s good looking and he’s got a good mind. Hopefully he can get this done tomorrow and then maybe we can tackle open company.”
One-time critic Rome says ‘Rack it’ to horse racing
Straight Up G and his 2-0-0 in three-race record is owned by sports-talk radio host Jim Rome and his wife Janet. The one-time critic of horse racing, famous for his line that “horse racing isn’t a sport, it’s a bet,” now is an avid breeder and owner.
Rome co-owned two-time Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint champion Mizdirection and the late Shared Belief, who won 10 races in 12 starts – including five Grade 1s. Shared Belief won nearly $3 million before his untimely death by colic.