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.