California Chrome captured the imagination of the horse racing betting public winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness in 2014. To be honest, he’s never really let go despite a disappointing 2015 campaign that saw him only race twice due to injury. It looks to be a significantly different story in 2016. After getting some much needed rest last Fall it looks like the ‘old’ California Chrome is back. He’s got two wins in two races, most recently his final prep race before the Dubai World Cup last weekend.
Going off as a 1-9 betting favorite and carrying a fifteen pound handicap, California Chrome absolutely dominated the overmatched field in the $150,000 Trans Gulf Electromechanical Trophy Handicap. As jockey Victor Espinoza noted after the race it was ‘how he won’ over the competition. Trainer Art Sherman was of the opinion that California Chrome ‘ran a perfect race’. It’s hard to argue with that. Jockey Espinoza said that he had to do very little work as Chrome sliced, diced and julianned his competition over a mile and a quarter on the Tapata synthetic surface at Meydan Race Course.
Chrome got a perfect start and then went to work. Encountering traffic early, Espinoza expertly guided his horse though the field like he knew in advance where they would be. By the second turn, California Chrome was starting to stalk the pace setter and not long after it was ‘go time’ and that was that. Chrome ran away from the field with Espinoza needing to do very little to urge him onward. The final time was 2:04.32 for 1 1/4 miles. When a horse is able to run a ‘perfect race’ with little input from his jockey it’s a downright scary proposition for opponents. Storm Belt finished second and Success Story took third but the reality is that they were completely outclassed from the start. They might be nice horses, but they were in against a legendary competitor who still has more left in the tank than the racing cognoscenti thought.
Next for California Chrome is the richest horse race in the world. The $10 Million Dubai World Cup goes March 26 at Meydan. California Chrome finished second last year and based on what would transpire in the 2015 it was likely when he wasn’t in his best form. He looks as dangerous as ever now.