Slipping saddle? No problem, we’ll just win the richest race in the world, become the highest-earning North American racehorse in history and set a new track record first, and then we’ll deal with it.
Any doubts any critics may have had about California Chrome being better than ever should be silenced after Saturday’s performance. The big chestnut not only won the Dubai World Cup, which eluded him last year, but set a new track record, became the highest-earning North American racehorse of all time and set a track record on the all-new surface … while his saddle slid further and further down his barrel, looking more like a bucking strap at the wire than an actual saddle.
Chrome was forced to go three- or four-wide for the entire trip, meaning that he ran much further than the inside horses. Jockey Victor Espinoza hustled the horse from post 11 up to the pack of leaders, with Mshawish setting the pace followed closely by Special Fighter. Mubtaahij moved up on the rail coming into the final turn but as Chrome and Espinoza pulled away it was clear that no one was catching “The Champ” on this day. Hopportunity made a late but characteristic move to finish third.
Watch the replay, and pay heed to Victor Espinoza’s saddle as they head to the wire!
Said Espinoza: “I was just trying to keep my balance and not move my body. I just kept looking forward and thinking ‘where’s the wire?’ It was not coming fast enough.”
We don’t need to remind you that this is the same man that piloted American Pharoah to a Triple Crown victory and a Grand Slam in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. He now adds Dubai World Cup to his impressive list of achievements, and in such brilliant, athletic style. You don’t need to be a racetracker to appreciate that this saddle-slipping situation could have been a disaster — but both champions handled the potential “oh crap” moment with aplomb. The final time over 2000 meters was 2:01:83.
So what’s next for Chrome?
He’ll fly back to Chicago, where he will be quarantined as per international rules, and then catch some R&R at Kentucky’s Taylor Made Farm, who owns a 30% share and will eventually stand him at stud. Before then, however, Team Chrome has their eye on the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic, with perhaps a few additional races on the schedule.
Congratulations to Victor Espinoza and California Chrome, and all connections!