For racing fans on Saturday it was same story, different book, as California Chrome returned to the winner’s circle after yet another win, taking the $300,000 Awesome Again Stakes (GI) at Santa Anita. North America’s richest racehorse padded his already impressive bankroll with the $180,000 winner’s check, bringing his total to $13,432,605 and his career line now stands at 24-15-3-1.
California Chrome, who won the 2014 Kentucky Derby (GI) and Preakness Stakes (GI), hasn’t lost a race in more than 18 months. He traveled to Dubai and back twice in his career, made a brief stop in England for an aborted plan to run at Royal Ascot, came back as a 5-year-old, has won seven Grade I races and isn’t done yet, as he’s set for three more races before retiring to co-owner Taylor Made Farm near Nicholasville, Kentucky. The only races left are the Nov. 5 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), a race in late fall and the inaugural $12 million Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park.
At 2-5, California Chrome went wire to wire as expected, logging all the pace in a spirited :22.76. :46.08, 1:09.28 and 1:34.45 with Dortmund stuck right to his outside for as long as he could, waving the white flag at the three eighths pole when Espinoza asked California Chrome to shake free. Geared down when he crossed the wire, the flashy chestnut stopped the clock in 1:48.07 over a fast main track.
“He’s on his game right now,” Espinoza said. “(Dortmund) wasn’t a threat today. Maybe the first quarter mile, but after that I just kept pulling away, which only helped me get some breathing room between us and the rest of the field. It’s tough when I get the one-hole and want to try and do something crazy. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I ran the first part fast, yes, but then eased up on him. I didn’t want to overuse him today. We’ve got big races coming up. It seemed like he was doing everything today very easily. Hopefully he’ll run big in the Breeders’ Cup.
“If someone wants to try and run with us again, maybe I’ll take back the next time. That’s the best part — he doesn’t have to be up there on the lead.”
California Chrome paid $2.80, $2.10 and $2.10. Runner-up Dortmund was good for $2.20 and $2.10 at odds of 8/5, while Win the Space paid $2.80. The exacta returned $1.70 and the $.50 trifecta $3.55.
Hard Aces and Soi Phet rounded out the order of finish after El Huerfano and Hoppertunity were withdrawn.
“This horse is such a pleasure to train,” an emotional Art Sherman said. “I can’t say enough about this horse. I mean, he’s the world champion. What more can I say, you all saw him run today. I’m looking forward [to the Breeders’ Cup] and hope everything goes according to plan. Each race seems a little bit better, it’s a little scary.”