HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. — California Chrome has gotten his first look at the site of his final race.
The leading money winner in North American racing history went for a jog at Gulfstream Park early Sunday, two days after arriving to prepare for the $12 million Pegasus World Cup on Jan. 28.
California Chrome has never raced in Florida, and his brisk pre-dawn trek onto the Gulfstream dirt – on an unseasonably chilly morning, the 48-degree air feeling colder in the wind – was the first of many scheduled for the next few days. He’s set to have daily early morning gallops until Saturday, when the plan calls for him to breeze five furlongs.
The first trek around Gulfstream was a success, the energetic colt seeming even more revved up by the cool conditions.
“That cold wind hitting him in the butt probably set him off a little bit,” Alan Sherman, the son of trainer Art Sherman, said as he stood in darkness outside the barn that California Chrome is calling home for the next few weeks. “He looked great. He’s sound and everything. Looked good.”
Gulfstream is the 10th, and final, track where California Chrome will run. He’ll be retired to stud in Kentucky after the Pegasus, a race that could push his career earnings past $20 million.
Coming in with plenty of time to acclimate might be a help.
California Chrome has only four wins in nine debut outings at a track. He’s got 12 wins in 17 starts when he has at least one race over a given surface.
“I’ve got nothing to worry about,” Sherman said. “As long as Chrome’s happy, I’m happy.”
The Pegasus is widely expected to be a rematch of sorts between California Chrome and Arrogate, the front-runners for Horse of the Year honors to be announced at the Eclipse Awards at Gulfstream on Jan. 21. They waged a memorable duel in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, with Arrogate winning by a half-length to hand California Chrome his only loss in eight starts in 2016.
Arrogate was scheduled to work later Sunday at Santa Anita – where rainy weather has kept trainer Bob Baffert from what would have been his preferred schedule leading into this race. Arrogate has won his last five starts, including a record-setting time in winning the Travers at Saratoga in August.
“I want to run against Arrogate,” Sherman said. “I hope he comes.”
Meanwhile, the 12-horse field for the Pegasus – the richest race in the world, surpassing the $10 million Dubai World Cup – is taking shape, and many of the likely starters are already in South Florida.
Keen Ice and Neolithic, both trained by Todd Pletcher, worked Saturday at Palm Beach Downs. Shaman Ghost worked Friday at Palm Meadows, and Eragon cleared quarantine last week after arriving from Argentina.