California Chrome, American Pharoah and the 2016 Kentucky Derby

The 2016 Kentucky Derby is only six weeks away, and the racing world is still in a daze over American Pharoah, last year’s Triple Crown winner, the first since 1978, who also won the Breeder’s Cup to become the first ever winner of the “Grand Slam” of American horse racing. As preliminary races on the road to the 2016 Derby come and go and as this year’s


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contenders, such as Mohaymen, Destin and Gun Runner, the three point leaders as of now, begin to sort out the eventual field, I cannot help but look back at 2014’s Triple Crown races and California Chrome, winner of the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, and the 2014 American Horse of the Year.

California Chrome had racing in the same frenzy as did American Pharoah for several weeks a year
earlier in 2014, only to fail in the Belmont, joining a long list of recent winners of the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, including I’ll Have Another, Big Brown and Smarty Jones, who won the first two, but could not follow in Affirmed’s hoofsteps and win in New York. But, unlike the majority of triple crown race winners, injuries have not stopped California Chrome, and his owners did not take the money and run, putting him out to stud, such as was done with American Pharoah, when he should be in his racing prime. No, California Crome is still racing at five years of age, and today, with his impressive win in the world’s richest race, the Dubai Gold Cup, winning the first place purse of $6 Million raised his lifetime earnings to $12.5 Million, and he became the highest earning thoroughbred in North American racing history

One of the reasons why owners/breeders Perry Martin and Steve Coburn decided to keep California Chrome racing was because of the Dubai Gold Cup, and the fact that he finished second in the race last year. Well, he showed them this year, setting a Meydan Racecourse track record, overcoming a number 11 post position to run the mile-and-a-quarter race in 2:01:83, and winning by four lengths over Mubtaahij, with fellow Californian


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Hopportunity finishing third.

And, California Chrome is not done yet. Indications are from trainer Art Sherman (who I’ve written about before in various places and who was a jockey at Southern California tracks when I was a kid and whose much younger brother Jack was a classmate and good friend of mine back then) that he would be racing at Del Mar this summer, likely entering the Pacific Classic in August, and then
perhaps ending his racing career with the Breeder’s Cup this fall at Santa Anita.

California Chrome would go out, hopefully with a couple of more giant victories, as the most popular California horse in generations, with not just cheering fans at the state’s racetracks, but with close to 20,000 twitter followers on his own account.

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