Saturday, February 6, 2010

Green but talented Tiz Chrome gets tested

By Jay Privman
Daily Racing Form,

With Lookin At Lucky, trainer Bob Baffert has the most accomplished prospect for this year's Kentucky Derby. But his 3-year-old bench is deep and will be on display on Saturday at Santa Anita when Baffert sends out the exciting Tiz Chrome as well as Macias in the Grade 2, $150,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes.

Although he has raced just twice - tying him for the least-experienced runner in the seven-horse field - has yet to race around two turns, and is making his graded-stakes debut, Tiz Chrome might very well go favored in the Lewis based on his eye-catching local debut in the restricted Stuka Stakes going six furlongs at Hollywood Park on Dec. 19. Tiz Chrome wowed Baffert that day with a four-length victory only hours before Lookin At Lucky took the CashCall Futurity.

"I didn't think he would run like that at Hollywood Park," Baffert said. "He blew them away that day. He's a laid-back kind of horse. He shows you a lot more in the afternoon than in the morning."

He will be easy to spot before the 1 1/16-mile race. Tiz Chrome gets his name from the generous patches of white covering his legs and face.

"He looks like a Budweiser horse," Baffert said.

Tiz Chrome won first time out at Churchill Downs, after which he was privately purchased by a partnership headed by gaming executives Terry Lanni and Ernie Moody. With Tiz Chrome having so little experience, Baffert said he believes the Lewis offers a stern test.

"This is the first prep where you can really get a line on horses," he said. "It's a pretty strong bunch."

The biggest challenger to Tiz Chrome should be American Lion, like Tiz Chrome a son of Tiznow. American Lion won the Hollywood Prevue going seven furlongs on Nov. 21, then was purposely kept out of the CashCall Futurity by trainer Eoin Harty because of the presence of Lookin At Lucky and a growth spurt American Lion was going through.

"He's grown a lot," Harty said. "He's quite an imposing horse now. He was unfurnished. He's filled out nicely."

Both Tiz Chrome and American Lion have been on similar work patterns in recent weeks. Both were taken across town to drill at Hollywood Park last month in order to stay on schedule when wet weather impacted training at Santa Anita. Like Tiz Chrome, American Lion will be racing around two turns for the first time.

"It's a tough race," Harty said. "I think he'll run better than he trains. He's not a good work horse in the morning, so I'm basing my opinion on that."

Macias, Baffert's other runner, was fourth in the Prevue, but has won three of his other four starts and is 2 for 2 at Santa Anita.

Caracortado is unbeaten in four starts, and though he is facing his toughest test yet, he did win at this distance Dec. 26 in the California Breeders' Champion Stakes.

Dave in Dixie was a powerful debut winner at Del Mar, then headed straight into the Norfolk Stakes and ran a deceptively good race. This is his first start since then. He has plenty of upside.

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