Chad Brown (pictured) saddled three colts in the $300,000 Hollywood Derby but Annals of Time, the least popular of his trio with bettors at 6/1, appeared from nowhere under Javier Castellano to beat one of his stablemates at Del Mar on Saturday (December 3). It was quite an achievement for a colt who had only run three times and had just one maiden win on his résumé.
Brown’s 7/2 co-favorite Beach Patrol, the Secretariat winner, had looked set for victory when he took the lead in the stretch in what initially appeared to be a perfectly timed challenge by his jockey, Florent Geroux. Unfortunately for Geroux, Annals of Time produced a devastating late surge of speed that blasted him across the wire one and a half lengths in front of Beach Patrol.
The 19/1 long shot Frank Conversation, winner of the Twilight Derby trained by Doug O’Neill and ridden by Mario Gutierrez, finished half a length further back in third completing the trifecta. He was followed by Graham Motion’s Hayabusa One who finished strongly and the Richard Baltas-trained Free Rose. Brown’s other trainee, Camelot Kitten, who also started at 7/2, never looked likely to place and finished a disappointing seventh.
Cherie DeVaux, Brown’s assistant trainer, mentioned that both Beach Patrol and Camelot Kitten had had very busy schedules, implying that Camelot Kitten was probably just feeling the effects of such a long season. She believed that Annals of Time, the least experienced horse in the Hollywood Derby by quite a margin, had a big advantage over his stablemates coming into the race fresh.
‘Fresh’ was an understatement, Annals of Time was probably still learning exactly what he should do on the racetrack. Unlike his blinkered stablemates he was allowed to see what was happening all around him and possibly needed to.
Owned by William Lawrence and Klaravich Stables, this stunning, strong-bodied bay son of Temple City bred in Kentucky out of Lemon Haze, a Distant View mare, had been purchased for $80,000 as a yearling. He had only managed one run as a juvenile, winning a maiden at Aqueduct in November 2015. Minor, undisclosed physical issues (probably sore shins) had prevented him from entering the stalls at a racecourse until September when he was second at Saratoga in a low-key optional claiming race.
It was no surprise that Annals of Time started at a bigger price in the Hollywood Derby betting with the American sportsbooks than his two stablemates. He had finished third behind them when carrying 4lb less than Camelot Kitten and 7lb less than Beach Patrol when last-out in the Hill Prince at Belmont in October.
In that race Camelot Kitten beat Beach Patrol a head and Annals of Time finished a length behind them in third over the same distance of a mile and a furlong on turf described as firm. Camelot Kitten had the dream draw of gate one which must have helped his chances whilst Beach Patrol had to start wide from stall ten.
Bettors that rely on form figures to make their picks must have thought that Annals of Time absolutely had to finish behind Chad Brown’s other trainees from New York at Del Mar when racing off equal weights. Castellano was probably not expecting to beat them either, especially as Annals of Time was drawn wide from stall 11 of 12.
Castellano had never ridden Annals of Time before and said after the race that he was very impressed and slightly surprised by his decisive late kick, describing his ability to quicken as ‘remarkable’. Annals of Time had to prove that he had courage too, galloping through a narrow gap between Frank Conversation and Free Rose to make his winning run.
When the gates opened Mike Smith pushed Blackjackcat into the lead, closely tracked by the 50/1 long shot Defiantly on his outside with Beach Patrol and Free Rose not far behind them. Castellano quietly guided Annals of Time across the track to get close to the rail and had only two horses behind him on the first turn. Irad Ortiz settled Camelot Kitten on the inside in eighth whilst Victor Espinoza held up Hayabusa One out the back.
Smith set sensible fractions at the head of the pack and the running order was largely unchanged until the approach to the final turn. Craig Dollase pushed Defiantly up to challenge Blackjackcat and Florent Geroux looked to have the perfect position on Beach Patrol behind the leading pair, ready to produce a race-winning run. Free Rose was trapped on the rail and Frank Conversation made headway to challenge the leader.
While everyone was focused on the action at the front of the pack, Castellano had quietly made his way through horses, improving his position to fifth around the final turn. He had saved ground throughout the race and did not have to run too wide when it really mattered. When a gap appeared between Free Rose and Frank Conversation half way down the stretch he was able to make use of it and Annals of Time ran straight and true for him, outpacing Beach Patrol.
It was a good day at the office for Castellano. Annals of Time provided him with his first Del Mar stakes victory and demonstrated his skill on inexperienced horses. Castellano also helped Bob Baffert’s American Anthem make a winning racecourse debut at the track and finished second on the Richard Mandella-trained Wild At Heart in the Grade 2 Bayakoa Handicap. Castellano was runner-up for ex-English based trainer Simon Callaghan on Champagne Charlie too.
Castellano was understandably excited about Annals of Time’s prospects, thinking that he could be even better over a longer distance. There should be more improvement from this colt as a four-year-old as he is still growing into his substantial frame. Could the Breeders’ Cup Turf could be on his agenda next year?