A hoof abscess has ruled out the American colt’s would-be start in Wednesday’s Prince of Wales’ Stakes.
While American Pharoah may have grabbed the public’s racing attention for the time being, last year’s darling California Chrome is still fighting the good fight as he continues his international campaign with the Prince of Wales’ Stakes at the Royal Ascot meet, to run Wednesday, June 17, 2015.
The Prince of Wales will be Chrome’s second start on the turf: the big California-bred chestnut won the Hollywood Derby at Del Mar on the turf in November of 2014. The race is also his second start out of the United States after Chrome placed second in the prestigious and high-stakes Dubai World Cup against an international field from three different continents. But neither of these experiences could truly prepare California Chrome for what he’ll be facing on Wednesday: racing in England is like nothing he’s seen before.
For one thing, there’s the track:
- It’s roughly triangular.
- It runs in the opposite direction from American tracks.
- It’s not actually flat — there are hills on the course.
But rest assured, Camp Chrome isn’t going into this blind: California Chrome has been under the training care of Rae Guest, based in Newmarket, where he was able to recover from his strenuous trip to Dubai as well as get acclimated to the rolling hills of a British turf course. Chrome’s gained back the weight he lost and is working well on the sloping course — here’s a video of Chrome working slightly uphill to overtake a training partner:
The run at Newmarket, just as Buick on Chrome overtakes his test challenger. It’s rough, but it’s first-person on the scene, by Wordsmith’s Jim Griffith.
Posted by California Chrome on Friday, June 12, 2015
Originally, Chrome was slated to run a prep race, the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes, early in May — but Guest did not believe the horse was ready. Therefore, the Prince of Wales will be his English debut, and his only race in Europe. Buzz circulated around rumors that co-owner Steve Coburn didn’t want to run in England at all and was hoping to bring the horse home to prepare for the summer and autumn American races — but Coburn now states that what’s done is done, and that he’s enjoying England immensely. (Due to strict dress code at Ascot, however, he will not be wearing his trademark Stetson.)
Chrome will be piloted by William Buick, who piloted Prince Bishop to victory over Chrome in the Dubai World Cup, as well as last year’s Prince of Wales’ Stakes winner The Fugue. While fans bemoan the fact that Victor Espinoza will not be in the irons, it makes much more sense from a logistical point of view to hire a jockey with plenty of experience on the Ascot track.
California Chrome already has eighteen starts under his belt, but his continued four-year-old season is intended to deepen his resume and increase his value as a prospective breeding stallion. If he were able to pull off a win at Royal Ascot, he’d prove himself a versatile warhorse of a Thoroughbred and definitely be a potential stallion of interest for many breeders.
Updated 1:28 PM Monday, June 15, 2015:
California Chrome may be suffering from a bruised right front hoof. The hoof is being soaked and poulticed, but it will remain to be seen if Chrome will be fully sound and comfortable. The horse will be scratched if he is not in prime condition to run on Wednesday. We’ll continue to bring you updates as news becomes public!
Updated 5:15 PM Monday, June 15, 2015:
According to report, Chrome’s sort foot is the result of an abscess and at this point it’s “highly unlikely” that he will run on Wednesday.
Updated 7:40 AM Tuesday, June 16, 2015:
Bad news, Chromies: it’s officially an abscess, and Chrome will not be running in the Ascot meet. The good news is that despite the terrible timing, it’s just an abscess, and Chrome should recover just fine. However, it remains to be seen if California Chrome will return to the States to begin prepping for the summer and autumn races (a possible schedule for the horse included the Arlington Million, Jockey Club Gold Cup and Breeders Cup Turf or Classic) or if he will remain in England to run the Coral Eclipse on July 4 (part of the contingency plan if Ascot did not pan out.)
Best of luck in your recovery, Chrome! We’ve all been there with the untimely abscess.