California Chrome Wins World Cup Prep

Chromies of the world, rejoice — our boy still has it. Watch the replay of today’s race at Meydan!

After California Chrome blasted through the San Pasqual Stakes at Santa Anita in January, it was clear to the world that despite a series of setbacks in his four-year-old season, Chrome still had a few moves left in him. Team Chrome shipped off around the world to Dubai, seeking the biggest purse in the Dubai World Cup which had evaded the horse’s grasp in early 2015.

And this time, California Chrome seems to be leaving no doubt in anyone’s mind that he’s a bigger, badder version of his former self: while an abscess and bone bruising may have taken him out of contention for big titles in 2015, the big colt has clearly matured in his months of recuperation. He’s all filled-out muscle, and as he strutted around the paddock before the start of today’s Trans Gulf Electromechanical Trophy Handicap, it was clear that he was the horse to watch. (The race took place at 12:55 Eastern time, 9:55 in the evening in Dubai.)

Beautiful trip: nothing like watching this big chestnut just lope home under a hand ride. I don’t think Victor Espinoza even moved during the entire race, gate to wire!

Now, in the defense of the rest of the field, this wasn’t exactly a race stacked with tough competition — but Team Chrome treated this race as a final big prep, a good place to sharpen him up for the biggest challenge of them all: the Dubai World Cup.

As you might recall, Chrome gave the World Cup his all in early 2015, falling just a little bit short after a trans-Atlantic flight from the other side of the world. But after watching the above race, I have to believe that this time he’s as ready as he’ll ever be, poised to become the richest racehorse in the world.

The 2016 World Cup on March 26 will certainly be a more challenging field: traditionally attracting the world’s best racehorses for an incredible $10 million purse, we already know that 2015’s three-year-old stars Frosted and Keen Ice are planning to run. Both colts have been training at Meydan, with Frosted already winning a Grade II in early February. Trainer Todd Pletcher has also mentioned that Donn Handicap winner Mshawish will be making a bid, and there’s always a strong representation from racing nations all over the world.

We’ll be sure to bring you coverage of the Dubai World Cup as the fateful day draws closer, so keep it locked here on Horse Nation! Go Chrome, and go riding!

California Chrome Gets Jock-blocked in Penn. Derby

In his first race since Belmont, the 2014 Double Crown winner (we’re coining all sorts of new racing terms today!) couldn’t get out from behind the heels of Bayern.

Chrome was the odds-on favorite in the field of eight and the grandstands were packed with fans eager to witness his comeback. As Kristen Kovatch noted last week in her preview of the race, hopes were high for the bright chestnut who grabbed the nation’s attention earlier this year: “Chrome has put back on the weight he had dropped in the grueling Triple Crown chase and recovered from his grabbed quarter out of the gate at the Belmont. When the colt returned to his old stall at Los Alamitos for training, crowds gathered just to watch his workouts, showing that the ‘Chromies’ still have faith in their horse.”

Unfortunately, victory wasn’t in the cards. After drawing the unfavorable No. 1 post position and finding himself boxed in for much of the race, he ran out of steam in the stretch to finish in sixth. Jockey Victor Espinoza said after the race, “They were like blocking in front of me, and it was hard to catch the other horse. Sometimes the other ones don’t ride to win, they ride to beat horses.”

Bayern, ridden by Martin Garcia, pulled away in the stretch to win by 5 3/4 lengths and set a new track record

Watch the race:

JOIN THE DISCUSSION: Kristen raised the interesting question, “What do you think — is Chrome going to make a comeback this year or do you think he’s had his day?” in the Racing Forum over at Equestrians Anonymous. Check it out and weigh in with your opinion!

Go Riding.

Remember California Chrome? He’s Ba-ack!

chrome michael candelori

Photo: Michael Candelori/Flickr/Creative Commons License

CalChrome is making his first racing appearance since his failed attempt at the Triple Crown this Saturday for the Grade II Pennsylvania Derby.

America’s favorite racehorse is returning to the track this weekend for the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby, adding some star power to what’s already going to be a ¬†huge weekend at Parx Racing outside of Philadelphia. On the card is both the Grade II Pennsylvania Derby as well as the Grade I $1 million Cotillion for fillies. Parx looks to be drawing one of the biggest crowds ever as it hosts a Kentucky Derby winner for the first time, aided in part by a $100,000 bonus for each owner just for California Chrome to start.

While California Chrome has fallen off the radar a little bit this summer after his heartbreaking fourth place dead-heat in the Belmont Stakes in June, the colt has been using his R&R wisely. Chrome has put back on the weight he had dropped in the grueling Triple Crown chase and recovered from his grabbed quarter out of the gate at the Belmont. When the colt returned to his old stall at Los Alamitos for training, crowds gathered just to watch his workouts, showing that the “Chromies” still have faith in their horse.

California Chrome is flying cross-country to Philadelphia on Tuesday with plans to work the Parx track later in the week in preparation for Saturday’s race. He’s drawn the rail and was listed on Monday as the even-money favorite. However, it’s not going to be a casual breeze to the winner’s circle: Bayern, who hasn’t seen Chrome since the Preakness, is coming off of wins in the Grade II Woody Stephens and Grade I Haskell (as well as a last-place finish in the Grade I Travers, but he seems to be in better form now.) Tapiture should also not be discounted with two wins in Grade III and Grade II races since his 15th place finish in the Derby.

Art Sherman is hopeful that a win in the Pennsylvania Derby will prepare the colt to take on the Breeders Cup Classic. While Sherman remains optimistic, he’s also nervously curious to see how California Chrome competes after coming off of the first real rest of his career. I think most of the nation is hopeful that Chrome is rested, ready and ravenous again for the winner’s circle. Time will tell.

Here’s a video of California Chrome’s last workout at Los Alamitos before traveling to Pennsylvania, including interviews with Art Sherman and some helmet-cam footage from his workout rider:

Go Chrome!