PACIFIC CLASSIC NEXT STEP FOR CALIFORNIA CHROME
Is there anything shinier than a piece of Chrome? In the world of Thoroughbred horse racing the answer right now is…absolutely not!
California Chrome can currently lay claim to the title as best race horse in the United States if not the entire world. Pound for pound, inch for inch, he has been unequaled this year. Four wins in four starts at three different tracks in 2016 has placed this five-year old son of Lucky Pulpit at the top of the proverbial heap. Ranked number 1 in the National Thoroughbred Racing Association poll all year, this Art Sherman trained runner has been “the man”. But , his perfect record this year is not the only reason Chrome is considered shinier than the rest.
One of the true measures of his greatness has been his ability to overcome obstacles throughout a very decorated career. Under the watchful eye of his veteran conditioner, in 2014, California Chrome defied the odds and became the first California-bred Kentucky Derby winner since 1962 (Decidedly). After suffering three consecutive losses (Belmont Stakes, Pennsylvania Derby, Breeders’ Cup Classic), the striking chestnut ended his three-year old season with a win in the Hollywood Derby on the Del Mar turf. After a pair of second place finishes to begin his four-year old season, injury sidelined him for the remainder of the year. While most with his resume would choose to make a run for the breeding shed following a lengthy layoff, California Chrome has instead rebounded emphatically. Opening the year with a nice win at Santa Anita (San Pasqual), Chrome then traveled to Dubai and defeated some of the world’s best in the Dubai World Cup. His fourth victory was a very determined effort at Del Mar that saw him turn back a determined Dortmund in the San Diego Handicap on July 23.
“Chrome is just Chrome and that is a horse that loves to compete and has a tremendous heart,” says Sherman. “He is a big, durable runner that has proven he can win anywhere. I think I’ve got the best horse in the world right now and until he loses I have got no reason to think anything else.”
One of the things that helps back up the Brooklyn-born trainer’s thoughts is the Chrome bankroll. As the all-time leading money winner ($12,652,650) among North American Thoroughbreds, his big race performances have been $tellar. Continuing to improve as he has gotten older, his earnings have proven his underdog run into the hearts of the American public as a three-year old was no fluke.
Next up for California Chrome will be another opportunity to prove his worth against top competition in the million dollar Pacific Classic at Del Mar on August 20. Coming in with no fear, Sherman is eager to see his horse show once again just how incredible he can be.
“We know there will be some really good horses in the race and somebody asked me who I was afraid of,” quipped Sherman. “I replied I think everybody should be afraid of us. The last time I checked, Chrome is the all-time leader in earnings.”
Winning the Pacific Classic would no doubt be another notch of greatness for this brilliant race horse. But for a man that began his career in horse racing as a jockey in 1953 in the Golden state, it might mean a little more.
“The Pacific Classic is a race that I have always wanted to win,” says Sherman. “Everybody out here knows about the race and living in the area for so long, it’s like winning the super bowl in your own back yard. There should be a terrific crowd and we are very excited about another big opportunity.”
The opportunity is certainly big for California Chrome. The highly regarded and Bob Baffert trained Dortmund is likely to enter the starting gates as well as defending Pacific Classic champ and super mare Beholder. Any time titans clash something special can happen. Sherman fully understands he has something special in California Chrome and the Pacific Classic will be another chance to show everyone else that too.