It was supposed to be the race of the year thus far, but ultimately it turned out to be a procession. In front of a crowd of 24,155 at Del Mar, the world’s number one thoroughbred California Chrome burst out of the starting gate in the Pacific Classic and the race was over before it began. With the victory, Chrome booked a place in November’s $6 million Breeders’ Cup® Classic at Santa Anita.“He’s just an amazing horse,” jockey Victor Espinoza said. “He won so easy today. I’m going to say this now — this is the best horse I’ve ever ridden.” While talk of greatness is often batted around too often, California Chrome, now up to $13,252,650 in career earnings, is also unbeaten in 2016. Greatness and Chrome go hand in hand.
Shooting straight out from the off, he built a three-length lead over his rivals Dortmund and Beholder and never looked back. The winning time of 2:00.13 for the even-money favorite not only booked a fees-paid berth to the Classic through the “Win & You’re In” program, but ramifications over his victory could alter the entire shape of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships®.
Beholder’s year-end goal may now be the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff on Nov. 4, while Dortmund's and Hoppertunity, who finished third and fourth respectively, have connections plotting their next moves after being no match on Saturday for California Chrome.
All Eyes Now on Santa Anita
While the prospect of a final prep race in the Awesome Again Stakes remains a distinct possibility for Chrome - there is a $1 million bonus for a horse who can win the Pacific Classic, Awesome Again, and Breeders’ Cup Classic – trainer Art Sherman said that would have no impact on whether he goes in the Awesome Again.
Make no mistake about it, California Chrome will be ready to go on November 5. While he will undoubtedly go off as race favorite, the Breeders’ Cup Classic is shaping up to be the most hotly-contested renewal in years.
While victories for Bradester in the Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs on June 18, Moanin’s win of the February Stakes back in February in Tokyo, Melatonin in the Gold Cup at Santa, Chrome’s most likely challengers will come in the shape of Frosted, an impressive winner of the $1.25 million Whitney Stakes at Saratoga, and Exaggerator, this year’s winner of the Preakness and Haskell Invitational. The line-up is far from complete, but expect to see Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist and Irish-bred Mubtaahij line up.
The Best Is Yet to Come!
California Chrome’s victory only whetted the appetite for what is sure to be an incredible Breeders’ Cup over two days from November 4 at Santa Anita Park. What sets the Breeders’ Cup apart from any other racing festival in the world is its sheer unprecedented level of racing. The experience of a lifetime is to be expected when attending the Breeders’ Cup World Championships. The sheer class and level of horses that go to post is simply unbeatable. The highest level of international thoroughbred racing, they will be tested to the full. Better yet, as history has taught us, the sheer unpredictability of these races makes it an event you do NOT want to miss!
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