California Chrome cruises to win in prep race for Dubai World Cup

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Dubai—Two years after emerging as the 2014 Kentucky Derby favorite, California Chrome’s still running foes off their feet.
Thursday’s $150,000 Trans Gulf Electromechanical Trophy, a prep for next month’s Dubai World Cup at the Meydan Racecourse, made for another of his classic performances. California Chrome negotiated traffic early, stalked the pace through the second turn and bounded for home to win by open lengths.
The final time was 2:04.32 for 1 1/4 miles. Jockey Victor Espinoza didn’t have to ask his mount for what Art Sherman called “a perfect race.”
“It was easy,” Espinoza said. “The way he looked was the way he won. I didn’t want to overdo it with him today too much, because there’s a short period of time until the next race.”
Ahead for the 5-year-old horse is the March 26 World Cup, at $10 million the world’s richest horse race. He’s expected to face, among others, fellow American stars Frosted, Keen Ice and Mshawish.
Competition wasn’t as stout Thursday. California Chrome went off at 1-9 in the United States’ wagering pool, and carrying 15 pounds more than his closest rival wowed in his second race back from a lengthy layoff.
Espinoza made the winning move before the first turn as he guided California Chrome into the three path and clear of a speed duel between Success Story and Hunting Ground.
“He went nice and comfortable today,” Espinoza said. “I felt like I got a good position in the first turn, and from there on he was pretty much all by himself.”
Before Thursday, California Chrome had raced just once since finishing a runner-up in the 2015 World Cup, winning the Grade II San Pasqual last month at Santa Anita Park Previous plans to run him on the turf at England’s Royal Ascot and in the Arlington Million back in America were thwarted by ailments, including cannon bone bruising that required extended time off.
In the meantime, Kentucky’s Taylor Made Farm bought into the classic winner and will stand him at stud after this racing season, which connections plan to cap with the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park.
“A mile and a quarter under his belt now, he’s going to be double tough, I think,” Sherman said of his horse in the World Cup.
“If we could ever get lucky, he’d wind up being the richest (American) Thoroughbred ever, passing Curlin, who was a great Thoroughbred, and it would be an honor for that to happen.”
Curlin, by the way, won the 2008 World Cup. He prepped for the race in Dubai, rolling under a heavy handicap weight, too.—AFP

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