Racing’s biggest ‘rock star’ and winner of the 2014 Kentucky Derby, California Chrome, returned to competition recently with a resounding win in the Grade 2 San Pasqual Stakes at Santa Anita Park. The five year old son of Lucky Pulpit had experienced a long layoff during his 4 year old campaign and now he’s set to add another accolade to his resume–a win in the 2016 $10 million Grade 1 Dubai World Cup on March 26.
The connections of California Chrome had big plans for his 2015 season including a run in the Royal Ascot but it didn’t quite work out as plan. In fact, prior to his win in the San Pasqual his last start was his second place effort in the 2015 Dubai World Cup. Chrome ran courageously but was unable to reel in the eventual winner, Prince Bishop. Now he’s back for another shot as the 2014 Kentucky Derby winner will try and become the eighth US horse to win the Dubai World Cup.
Earlier this week, Chrome’s assistant trainer Alan Sherman announced that his final prep race before the Dubai World Cup will be a 2,000 meter (approximately 1 1/4 mile) handicap on February 25. Chrome and his training team are already in Dubai and although he took a gallop around the track earlier this week he’ll have his first official workout at Meydan in a week to ten days. The logic of taking the handicap race and not one of the big ‘Super Saturday’ races is scheduling according to the younger Sherman: “I want to run him in the handicap and not on Super Saturday because it gives us another week before the World Cup. The World Cup will be his third race after a long layoff and I just think it suits our schedule better.”
There is some impressive historical precedent for the prep course designed by California Chrome’s connections–it’s identical to the prep course of 2008 Dubai World Cup winner Curlin. California Chrome is one of 24 American horses to be nominated to racing’s richest single event. Other possible entrants from the United States include 2015 Travers Stakes winner Keen Ice, 2015 Santa Anita Derby winner Dortmund and defending Wood Memorial winner Frosted.