The Chosen Vron Tops Field of 11 in $100K California Flag

October 14, 2022

Race Is Part of CTBA-Sponsored Golden State Series for Cal-Bred or Sired Runners

ARCADIA, Calif.— A five-time stakes winner on dirt, trainer Eric Kruljac’s classy The Chosen Vron heads a field of 11 three-year-olds and up going about 6 ½ furlongs down Santa Anita’s hillside turf course in Sunday’s $100,000 California Flag Handicap.

Named for the Hi-Card Ranch’s homebred millionaire gelding who took the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint down the hill in 2009, the California Flag is part of the lucrative CTBA-sponsored Golden State Series for eligible California-bred or sired runners.

A two-time graded stakes winner, The Chosen Vron, a 4-year-old gelding by Vronsky out of the Tiz Wonderful mare Tiz Molly, comes off an impressive 1 ¼ length score at one mile in the ungraded E.B. Johnston Stakes at Los Alamitos Sept. 17.

With six wins from nine tries on dirt, The Chosen Vron, who was a close third in his only turf assignment three starts back versus statebreds in the California Dreaming Stakes going a mile and one-sixteenth at Del Mar Aug. 6, will be trying Santa Anita’s hillside course for the first time.

Owned by Sondereker Racing, LLC and Eric Kruljac, The Chosen Vron, who will be ridden for the third time in a row by Hector Berrios, is 10-6-1-2 overall with earnings of $405,678.

Hail Freedom after his Sept. 4 allowance win at Del Mar (Ernie Belmonte)

Unbeaten in his lone hillside try four starts back on April 2, Doug O’Neill’s front-running Hail Freedom will be bidding for his fifth consecutive win as he shortens up out of three consecutive gate-to-wire scores going one mile on the dirt.

Unbeaten in four consecutive pairings with Mike Smith, Hail Freedom, a 4-year-old colt by the Dynaformer stallion Box Score, is owned by his breeder, Ed Delaney. Out of the Good Journey mare Susan B Good, Hail Freedom will be ridden back by Smith in what will be his first stakes assignment.

With a solid overall mark of 15-5-5-3, Hail Freedom has earnings of $353,120.

Idle since May 15, Peter Eurton’s Jetovator, who was well beaten in his only hillside try in the statebred Sensational Star Stakes on March 20, has an otherwise excellent turf resume with four wins, a second and four third place finishes from 15 grass starts.

A 6-year-old gelding by Grazen out of the multiple stakes-placed Gimmeawink mare Jet Blue Girl, Jetovater would appear to have big chance in what will be his third start of the year and his third career stakes assignment.

Aligato scores the win in the Unusual Heat Turf Classic (Ernie Belmonte)

Lightly raced exclusively on turf, Mark Glatt’s comebacking Aligato, idle since winning the Unusual Heat Turf Classic at a mile and one eighth here on Jan. 15, will be ridden for the first time by Umberto Rispoli and would appear to have a huge shot in his first hillside start.

A 5-year-old gelding by Kitten’s Joy out of the Rock Hard Ten mare Pretty Hard, Aligato, who is owned by Double L Racing, is 5-2-1-2 with earnings of $177,440.

A statebred sprint stakes winner on dirt four starts back on April 9, Mike Puype’s Smuggler’s Run, who is one for five on turf, is another horse trying the hillside course for the first time.

An even sixth, beaten 6 ½ lengths in an open allowance race going a mile and one-sixteenth on turf Sept. 5 at Del Mar, Smuggler’s Run a 3-year-old gelding by Straight Fire, will be facing older horses for the first time.

Out of the Kitten’s Joy mare Maddie’s Odyssey, Smuggler’s Run is owned by his breeder, KMN Racing, LLC and will be reunited with Joe Bravo, who rode him to victory in the Echo Eddie Stakes on April 9.


Race 9 of 9 Approximate post time 5 p.m. PT

  1. Hot Box—Ricardo Gonzalez—118
  2. None Above the Law—Ryan Curatolo—122
  3. Sunrise Journey—Ramon Vazquez—116
  4. Finneus—Jose Valdivia, Jr.—116
  5. Jetovator—Edwin Maldonado—120
  6. The Chosen Vron—Hector Berrios—124
  7. Hail Freedom—Mike Smith—120
  8. Smuggler’s Run—Joe Bravo—116
  9. Aligato—Umberto Rispoli—120
  10. Coast of Roan—Tyler Baze–118
  11. Straight Up G—Kyle Frey—116

First post time for a nine-race card on Sunday is at 1 p.m.

By Mike Willmann – Santa Anita Park Press Release

Main photo: The Chosen Vron wins the E.B. Johnston Stakes (Benoit Photo)

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