CALIFORNIA Chrome, trained by Art Sherman and ridden by Victor Espinoza, may have a bulging CV with wins in some of the sport’s most prestigious races such as the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Dubai World Cup, but he arguably put up the best performance of his career in the $1-million TVG Pacific Classic (Grade 1) over 2000m on dirt, when easily brushing aside high-class rivals Beholder and Dortmund.
Dortmund had made California Chrome pull out all the stops in the San Diego Handicap last month – admittedly in receipt of 2.5kg – while star mare Beholder, who won this race last year, had racked up an impressive sequence of Grade 1 wins.
However, what some expected to be a closely-fought contest quickly developed into a rout as California Chrome, sent straight into the lead by Victor Espinoza, raced enthusiastically before bounding clear entering the straight to win by five lengths. Beholder finished a distant second while Dortmund was over two lengths further back in third.
“He’s just an amazing horse,” said Espinoza. “He won so easy today. I’m going to say this now – this is the best horse I’ve ever ridden.
“He was going well the whole trip. He was in a perfect rhythm. The way he’s running now he could beat anyone, anytime. He’s run on dirt. He’s won on grass. He has won all over the world. He’s just so, so special.”
Trainer Art Sherman said: “I can’t say enough about the horse… a dream come true.
“I know that if he is on the lead then he must be comfortable. He’s push-button. He can come from off the pace or on the pace, that’s what good horses can do.
“I just can’t believe that I’m lucky enough to have him.”
Gary Stevens, rider of runner-up Beholder, was in no doubt that the winner had produced a special performance. He said: “Victor was playing with us. I don’t think he really let him run. That’s scary to think about.”
California Chrome was cut to as short as 5-4 for the Breeders’ Cup Classic, where he could meet 14-length Met Mile winner Frosted in what would be a mouth-watering clash. – Racing Post