The headline of this article is a slightly ridiculous concept but it’s 100% true. 2014 California Chrome is in Dubai this weekend to compete in the $10 million Dubai World Cup. It’s the single biggest payday in racing but while the money is nice it’s not the real reason. Horses don’t understand concepts like ‘revenge’ and ‘vindication’–or at least they’re not supposed to. California Chrome has always been a unique horse, however, and his demeanor this year almost suggests that he is aware of what’s going on. He’s in Dubai on business to reclaim his legacy.
That’s the dramatic reading of why five year old California Chrome is in Dubai trying to put more money into the pockets of his connections. The less dramatic reading–Taylor Made Farms, who own Chrome’s stud rights, want to make him ‘more marketable’. His dubious pedigree made for a nice backstory during his run at the Triple Crown but doesn’t do anything for his prospects as a breeding stallion. His resume is formidable–Santa Anita Derby winner, Kentucky Derby winner, Preakness winner, plus a grade one win on turf in the Hollywood Derby. But in terms of equine bloodlines, California Chrome is still from the ‘wrong side of the tracks’ and Taylor Made Farms want to do everything they can to negate that. A win in Dubai would help.
Were it not for the disastrous four year old campaign, California Chrome might be retired on a farm in Kentucky right now. That’s where 2015 winner Prince Bishop is–though his farm is in England, not Kentucky. Prince Bishop was the eight year old gelding with only one career Group One victory that ran down California Chrome in the stretch a year ago. California Chrome is in against a tough field ‘on paper’ but there’s little to suggest that this is one of the better Dubai World Cup fields. Chrome will be joined by Americans Frosted, Mshawish, Keen Ice, and Hoppertunity. Keen Ice is the only horse to beat American Pharoah last year but he looked awful in his prep race and will have blinkers on for the first time in his career. The Todd Pletcher trained Mshawish looks to be in stellar form and could provide the toughest challenge.