News and STORIES

Club Aspen Set For California Cup Derby

Author: Don Mckee
Published: Saturday January 18, 2020
The California-bred stakes showcase at Santa Anita Park takes place on Saturday. While there are not a lot of major runners set to take part, the money involved is high. The purses for the stakes are from $150,000 to $200,000, and the five black-type contests on the nine-race card will total $900,000. 

When it comes to money, the California Cup Derby is alongside the Unusual Heat Turf Classic Stakes and the California Cup Oaks. It is a $200,000 contest for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles, and it is carded as the seventh race. 

The race was largely responsible for helping California Chrome reach fame in 2014. 

After that race, California Chrome went on to take the San Felipe Stakes (G2), Santa Anita Derby (G1), and Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1). The race on Saturday is up for grabs, with horses stretching out in distance and shifting surfaces. 

Club Aspen

Club Aspen, who is proven as a dirt router, is entered into the race. He is the winner of the one-mile King Glorious Stakes at Los Alamitos Race Course Dec. 15. The son of Clubhouse Ride is owned by Lawrence Lewis, and he has taken two of seven starts and a total of $118,211.

He did better in his final two starts to close out 2019 for trainer Craig Lewis. He ran second in a Nov. 30 allowance optional claimer at Del Mar before the King Glorious. Club Aspen will be ridden by regular jockey Jorge Velez.

In his two previous starts at Santa Anita, Club Aspen finished in the rear-half. He was sixth in the Oct. 6 Zuma Beach Stakes, which was in open company on turf. In the Nov. 1 Golden State Juvenile Stakes, one of the undercard races on Breeders’ Cup Friday, he finished seventh on dirt. 

Within the field, there are other stakes winners, including Big Returns, who finished first in last summer’s Graduation Stakes at Del Mar after the disqualification of Square Deal, as well as Northern California invader Bettor Trip Nick, who took a pair of black-type races at Golden Gate Fields on Tapeta.

On Saturday, the other $200,000 races at Santa Anita will both be on grass. They are the Unusual Heat Turf Classic at 1 1/8 miles for older horses and the California Cup Oaks for 3-year-old fillies at a mile. 

Ashleyluvssugar and Been Studying Her

Ashleyluvssugar has a bankroll of over $1.47 million, and he has earned more than his seven Unusual Turf Classic opponents combined. He has not won any of his last 14 races, but before that, he took the Charles Whittingham Stakes (G2T) as a 6-year-old in May 2017. 

He took the Whittingham in 2015 as well, and it was the second of his five graded stakes wins. 

He took this race back in 2017 when it was named the California Cup Turf Classic Stakes Presented by City National Bank. Last year, he finished second.

Ashleyluvssugar is a 9-year-old gelded son of Game Plan owned by Sharon Alesia, Bran Jam Stable, and Ciaglia Racing. It will be his second start after a four-month break, before which he finished fifth in the Nov. 30 Berkeley Handicap (G3) on Tapeta at Golden Gate. 

KMN Racing’s Been Studying Her is a two-time stakes winner, and she is one of the top entries in the California Cup Oaks. However, she has never performed on grass. 

Mike Smith will be the jockey for trainer Dan Ward. 

Earlier stakes races at the track were taken by Just Grazed Me in the $150,000 Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf Stakes and 5-for-6 Baja Sur in the $150,000 California Cup Sprint Stakes. 

The California Cup Derby will be Race 7 on Saturday at Santa Anita Park.