AP Photo

California Chrome romps to 12-length win at Los Alamitos

Leave a comment

LOS ALAMITOS, Calif. — California Chrome won the $180,000 Winter Challenge by 12 lengths in track-record time Saturday at Los Alamitos in his final start in California.

Ridden by Victor Espinoza, California Chrome ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:40.03, breaking the old mark of 1:40.82 set by Uncle Lino on April 30 in the California Chrome Stakes.

California Chrome paid $2.10 as the 1-20 favorite in a race that featured only win wagering.

The victory, worth $50,000, increased California Chrome’s career earnings to $14,502,652, with 16 wins in 26 starts.

Point Piper was second at 21-1 odds, while 98-1 shot Papacoolpapacool was another 3 1/4 lengths back in third.

With 5,023 cheering him on, California Chrome made his first and last start at Los Alamitos where he has trained since January 2014 under Art Sherman.

The race served as a prep for California Chrome’s rematch with Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Arrogate in the $12 million Pegasus World Cup on Jan. 28 at Florida’s Gulfstream Park.

Outrun early after breaking from the outside in the field of 10, California Chrome was kept in the clear and extremely wide by Espinoza to avoid any possible traffic problems.

Fifth after the opening half-mile, the 2014 Horse of the Year and world’s richest active thoroughbred moved up to join the leaders without urging and swept to the lead with about 2 1/2 furlongs to run.

“I was pretty nervous before the race,” Sherman said. “You know your horse is better than the others running in the race, but it is a horse race and anything can happen. You could see he was much the best. It was just perfect.

“Now I can relax and get ready for the Pegasus. I want Arrogate bad. I have something in my heart that says Chrome can beat him,” the trainer said.

California Chrome is set to begin his stud career in Kentucky after he competes in the Pegasus World Cup.

In the $100,000 Soviet Problem Stakes for 2-year-old fillies, 1-2 favorite Sircat Sally won by 12 lengths for Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.

Ridden by Drayden Van Dyke, Sircat Sally ran a mile in 1:35.42 and paid $3, $2.60 and $2.20.

Cash Prize returned $9.40 and $6.20 at 17-1 odds, while Bella Luma was another 1 1/4 lengths back in third and paid $3.60 to show.

Man o’ War exhibit honors racing legend born a century ago

AP Photo
Leave a comment

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — A new exhibit on Man o’ War is opening across the street from the New York racetrack where the thoroughbred racing legend suffered his only defeat.

“Man o’ War at 100” is being unveiled Wednesday at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, across Union Avenue from Saratoga Race Course.

The exhibit’s opening coincides with the 100th anniversary of the horse’s birth on March 29, 1917, at Nursery Stud near Lexington, Kentucky. The horse was sold the next year at the Saratoga yearling sales.

Considered one of racing’s greatest thoroughbreds, Man o’ War won 20 of 21 lifetime starts. The horse’s only defeat was to a horse named Upset in the 1919 Sanford Memorial Stakes at Saratoga.

Man o’ War died in Kentucky in 1947 at age 30.

Baffert hoping Arrogate gives him third Dubai World Cup win

Getty Images
Leave a comment

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Having taken over the mantle as the world’s best racehorse from California Chrome, Arrogate will attempt on Saturday to wear another crown that last fitted his illustrious American compatriot, the Dubai World Cup.

All eyes are on the 4-year-old Arrogate, who lost on debut 11 months ago but hasn’t lost since.

He’s won the Breeders’ Cup Classic and the inaugural $12 million Pegasus World Cup this year to stretch his unbeaten streak to six. In both races, Arrogate defeated Chrome, who won the Dubai World Cup last year at Meydan Racecourse by five lengths despite jockey Victor Espinoza hanging on to a loose saddle for most of it.

Under jockey Mike Smith, Arrogate has forged a winning combination in his last three Group 1 races: Travers Stakes, Breeders’ Cup Classic and Pegasus World Cup.

In Dubai, they have drawn stall nine among 14 contenders, a position which fails to douse the confidence of his trainer Bob Baffert.

“Nine is fine,” said Baffert, who also trained 2015 U.S. Triple Crown winner American Pharoah.

“He’s settled in pretty well. As long as he shows up, that’s the key. If he runs his race, we know what he can do.”

Smith was all praise for his mount, ranked the No. 1 racehorse in the world.

“I have been blessed with some really, really good horses, but I am not sure I have ever sit on one like this,” Smith said.

“Everything about him, his disposition, his mechanics, the way he gets over the ground … at times you feel as if you are running downhill instead of a level ground. What amazes me most is when the race is over, it looks as if he did not put much effort into it. His recovery time is so quick.”

Arrogate’s Breeders’ Cup Classic and Pegasus World Cup wins came over 2,000 meters on dirt, the same distance and conditions as the $10 million Dubai World Cup.

Baffert hopes Arrogate can give him a third Dubai World Cup victory after Silver Charm (1998) and Captain Steve (2001).

He suffered a heart attack during his last visit to Dubai in 2012, and watched the World Cup five nights later with stents in two of his blocked arteries. He also watched from even farther afield last year as his other horse, Hoppertunity, finished third behind Chrome and Mike de Kock’s Mubtaahij.

He’s giving Hoppertunity another chance.

“Both my horses are happy and healthy,” Baffert said. “He (Hoppertunity) should be collecting a check again. That is what he does, picks up the pieces in these big races. He reminds me of Pac-Man, he just keeps going. A Dubai World Cup 1-2, that would be something.”

Mubtaahij is also back, although he will start under Christophe Soumillon from the widest of stalls.

“Like everyone, we wanted low,” the Belgian jockey said. “I will have to … hope for some luck.”

The Dubai World Cup features a nine-race card offering $30 million across six Group 1 and three Group 2 races on turf and dirt.