CALIFORNIA CHROME BETTER PREPARED FOR WORLD CUP
Thoroughbred hero California Chrome has eyes on a familiar prize. Spanning the globe, he’s ready to enjoy the thrill of victory after tasting the agony of da feet just a year ago.
One of the most beautiful things about the handicap division of Thoroughbred horse racing is if you don’t win this time, work hard, stay healthy and try again next year. That is exactly the case for Chrome when it comes to the world’s richest race, the Dubai World Cup. About 11 months ago, the 2014 Kentucky Derby champion made the trek half way around the world to the marvels of Meydan Race Course. A courageous run came a bit short in the stretch as he never took the lead and couldn’t quite catch Prince Bishop. The second place finish in the $10 million mile and a quarter proved Chrome had plenty of courage that day, just not his customary closing kick.
So now the calendar has turned to 2016 and the 21st running of the World Cup beckons. Injury prevented this son of Lucky Pulpit from starting again in 2015 after his trip to Dubai, but perhaps that will help Chrome as he looks to shine this time. The 2015 Cup came all too quickly after a superior three-year old campaign in 2014 that saw the Art Sherman trained colt go to post 9 times while winning the first two legs of the Triple Crown. Now fully recuperated and fresh off a win in the San Pasqual on January 9, the now five-year old fan favorite appears more than ready for redemption.
“I think he is better prepared this year for the World Cup because he is much fresher for sure,” says Sherman. “ He is a year older and a much more mature horse. He is bigger and stronger and I think he is just plain better.”
The World Cup offers Sherman and his runner a great opportunity for several reasons. First and foremost it is a chance to prove just how special this California-bred can be. Shipping and running against some of the best horses in the world is without question a huge challenge. Chrome can join Silver Charm (1998) and Animal Kingdom (2013) as the only Kentucky Derby winners to take the World Cup too. And oh yeah, there is the prize money for this race run every year since 1996.
“There is no doubt this would be quite an accomplishment,” says Sherman. “It would make Chrome the all-time money leader among Thoroughbreds and that says a lot right there. It’s a beautiful trophy, but it signifies a lot more than just a single win.”
California Chrome has already shipped to Dubai and will likely run a prep race over the Meydan course in February as he prepares for the March 26 Cup. Sherman thinks that too can help his brilliant chestnut be successful this time around. His horse is fresher, bigger, and stronger. The training game plan is slightly different too. In the end however, the veteran trainer thinks California Chromes chances boil down to a few simple things.
“We need racing luck more than anything,” says Sherman. “He just needs to get a clean trip. I think (jockey) Victor (Espinoza) knows the horse as good as anybody and understands what it takes to get him to the winner’s circle. We are all really excited for another chance.”