|Triple Crown 2004|
|Daily Racing Form|
|Friday, July 16
|Four against Chandtrue|
By Steve Andersen
Daily Racing Form
INGLEWOOD, Calif. -- Chandtrue has trained so well in recent weeks that trainer Bob Hess Jr. said it was nearly impossible to pass Saturday's $100,000 Hollywood Juvenile Championship at Hollywood Park.
After winning two stakes at this meeting with Chandtrue, Hess and owner Harold Greene were thinking of skipping the Juvenile in favor of a stakes at Del Mar.
"I keep saying I'll pass the next stakes, and I keep going," Hess said. "The horse has been saying to me he's ready. The only concern was to do right by my horse."
The decision to enter gives Chandtrue an opportunity to become the first horse since Squirtle Squirt in 2000 to sweep the Willard Proctor Memorial Stakes, Haggin Stakes, and Juvenile Championship.
Chandtrue has little opposition in Saturday's Grade 3 Juvenile Championship. His four rivals in the six-furlong race are Actxecutive, fourth in the Haggin; Commandant, making his career debut; Gentleman Count, a maiden who was second in the Haggin; and Great Power, a winner against $40,000 maiden claimers June 30.
Gentleman Count and Great Power will be coupled as an entry owned by Bryan Carney. Nick Hines trains both.
Chandtrue will be ridden by Victor Espinoza, a replacement for Corey Nakatani, who is taking the week off to play in a golf tournament in Lake Tahoe.
"You never like to change if you don't have to, but I think Victor will fit the horse well," Hess said.
Espinoza will find himself on a colt who has won by challenging for the lead and coming from off the pace. In the five-furlong Proctor on May 23, Chandtrue disputed the lead and pulled away to win by four lengths. In the Haggin at 5 1/2 furlongs on June 30, Chandtrue was fourth early and rallied in early stretch to win by seven.
"I was surprised at how well he rated, and the way he kept on," Hess said. "I think he's a pretty versatile horse."
Hines scratched Gentleman Count from a maiden race last weekend in favor of the Juvenile.
"Maybe Chandtrue is the best horse, but our horse is rapidly improving," Hines said. "I don't think we've gotten to the bottom of the well."
Trainer Bill Currin was impressed with Commandant's three-furlong workout on Wednesday. Officially, Commandant was given a time of 35 seconds, but Currin said he timed the workout in 34.40.
"If he's slow, he sure doesn't know it," Currin said.
Actxecutive was favored in the Haggin, and the loss did not discourage trainer Bob Baffert. The race marked the colt's first start since being acquired privately by Jim McIngvale in early June after winning a maiden race at Calder by 10 lengths on May 31.
"Just draw a line through it," Baffert said of the Haggin. "He went through a lot with the ship from Florida. I wanted to put an out into him to get a race behind him.
"He's a good horse. I expect him to run much better."
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