After cramming a career’s worth of accomplishments into his three year old season, the connections of defending Kentucky Derby champion California Chrome are thinking ‘out of the box’. More specifically, they’re thinking ‘out of the country’–possibly racing California Chrome in England during his four year old campaign.
European racing is a completely different animal from the US version. There’s a sizable following for steeplechase type jump races and most of the ‘flat’ races are held on turf courses of longer distances than typical in America. But lest we forget, California Chrome showed some serious acumen for racing on grass late in the 2014 season by winning the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby. Even more impressive–it was his first career start on the surface.
The two races on California Chrome’s 2015 dance card that are more or less ‘set in stone’ are the Dubai World Cup in March and the Breeders Cup Classic in November. Between that, anything is possible according to trainer Art Sherman: “He’s got a lot of races to go for this year. I’m looking forward to even maybe sometime making it out to England. I would love to run on their courses. I watch the races and I think it’s spectacular.”
What Sherman didn’t say is that a trip to Europe would not only be intriguing for race fans it could be financially rewarding for Chrome’s connections. Chrome is the rare horse that could actually demand ‘appearance fees’ such as are common for top golf professionals. The mainstream English sports fans are much more attuned to horse racing than here in the United States. California Chrome would enjoy rock star status and his trip to the country would top the national news.
To their credit, Sherman says that Chrome isn’t going to ‘duck anybody’ this year. This week, for example, he’ll face the runner up for top three year old, Shared Belief in the San Antonio Stakes at Santa Anita. Says Sherman: “I am just lucky to have him. I think there is a little bit more pressure on me now, training. I’ve got a good feeling about it. I think he is going to be a super four-year-old.”