California Chrome wins Dubai World Cup by 5 lengths

Getty Images
0 Comments

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) California Chrome proved in emphatic fashion he was back at his best when he won the Dubai World Cup by five lengths on Saturday.

Second on his debut last year in the world’s richest horse race, the Art Sherman-trained Chrome went one better under jockey Victor Espinoza, despite the saddle slipping way down his back near the end.

By then, the five-year-old U.S. stallion was way out front, having come round wide on the final turn and accelerating with 400 meters to go in the 2,000-meter race on dirt.

“I wasn’t that concerned about (the saddle),” Espinoza, who rode American Pharaoh to the U.S. Triple Crown last year, said, “I just kept looking forward and thinking, `Where’s the wire?’ It was not coming fast enough.

“Today, it proves how he can run when he’s 100 percent. He felt strong during the prep. He won easy.”

Chrome, the heavy favorite for the second straight year, started from an unfavorable Stall 11 but was quickly in stride and, even though he ran wide the whole time, placed himself next to Msawish, who took the early lead under Frankie Dettori.

“He likes to be on the outside,” Sherman said. “I just told Victor to get him in a position to win, if you have to lose ground, so be it.

“It’s the dream of a lifetime for me, it doesn’t get better. The Chromies (fans) will be going crazy (back home).”

The Mike de Kock-trained Mubtaahij of Ireland was second, followed by Hopportunity of the U.S.

California Chrome was the 2014 American horse of the year for winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, but didn’t race for 10 months last year because of a bruised bone.

He began his comeback at Santa Anita in January, when he also arrived in the Emirates to acclimate. This was his third straight win, worth $10 million.

Sherman said Chrome would be heading home, unlike last year when he was taken to England.

“I don’t think he’ll go to England,” he said. “We’ll give him 30 days at the farm to let him unwind, and the ultimate goal is the Breeders’ Cup (in November at Santa Anita).”

Earlier, in the Group 1 Dubai Turf, a $6 million turf race over 1,800 meters, Japan’s Real Steel produced a burst over the last 150 meters to rein and pass British leader Euro Charline, ridden by Frankie Dettori. Pre-race favourite, Godolphin’s Tryster, finished third.

“He’s got lots of quality,” Real Steel jockey Ryan Moore said. “It was a big effort from him, he had a tough trip, and was out wide but has toughed it out. He never runs a bad race.”

American horse Postponed won the Dubai Sheema Classic, the Group 1 turf race over 2,410 meters.

Postponed was in the middle of the pack, trailing leaders Duramente and Last Impact, when jockey Andrea Atzeni unleashed Postponed to finish in style, winning by nearly two lengths over his Japanese rival Duramente.

Champion trainer Doug Watson finally tasted glory in the Dubai World Cup when the American completed a clean sweep of the podium in the Godolphin Mile, a 1,600-meter Group 2 race. Irish horse One Man Band won the race, followed by Cool Boy and Faulkner.

Kentucky Derby modifies qualifying, elevates prep races

kentucky derby
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
1 Comment

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Churchill Downs has modified paths to the Kentucky Derby and Oaks, awarding points to the top five finishers in qualifying races and increasing significance for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and late prep season events.

Most Derby prep races during the qualifying series for 3-year-olds will award points on a 10-4-3-2-1 sliding scale after using a 10-4-2-1 system since 2013. The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, run during the season-ending championships on Nov. 4 at Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky, will increase points from 20-8-4-2 to 30-12-9-6-3 to differentiate the Grade I event from others during prep season.

Select prep races for the 20-horse Derby field have elevated points from a 10-4-2-1 scale to 20-8-6-4-2 to increase their importance and motivate hopefuls to begin their 3-year-old campaigns earlier in the season, track officials stated in a release.

“We believe these modifications adhere to and amplify our goal of assembling the finest group of 3-year-olds in the starting gate for a race at the classic distance of 1\ miles on the first Saturday in May,” Churchill Downs vice president/general manager Mike Ziegler said.

The 149th Kentucky Derby and Oaks for fillies will be held on May 5-6, 2023. Derby qualifying season begins with Saturday’s $300,000, Grade III Iroquois for 2-year-olds at Churchill Downs.

The point changes apply to Oaks qualifiers.

Elevated Derby preps include the Lecomte at Fair Grounds in Louisiana; Southwest at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas; Withers at Aqueduct in New York; Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park in Florida; Robert B. Lewis at Santa Anita in California; Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs; and John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway Park in Kentucky.

Bob Baffert wins record 16th Del Mar Futurity with Cave Rock

Getty Images
1 Comment

DEL MAR, Calif. — Cave Rock won the $302,000 Del Mar Futurity by 5 1/4 lengths, giving Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert his record 16th victory in the Grade 1 race in which he finished 1-2.

Ridden by Juan Hernandez, Cave Rock ran seven furlongs in a stakes-record time of 1:20.99 on closing day at the seaside track north of San Diego. He lowered the old mark of 1:21.29 set by Declan’s Moon in 2004.

Baffert tied Phil D’Amato for the trainers’ title with 19 wins each at the 31-day summer meet. It was Baffert’s eighth title at Del Mar, but his first since 2003.

Hernandez won the jockeys’ title.

Havnameltdown, also trained by Baffert, finished second in the race for 2-year-olds. Skinner was another 4 1/4 lengths back in third.

Longtime Baffert clients Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman own the first and second-place finishers.

Cave Rock paid $2.80 to win as the 2/5 favorite. He earned $180,000 for the win.