California Chrome ready to justify favorite tag in Dubai

Thu Mar 24, 2016 11:26am EDT
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By Matt Smith

DUBAI (Reuters) - California Chrome is again favorite for the $10 million Dubai World Cup, the world’s richest horse race, although the stallion will have to outpace a field packed with fellow American thoroughbreds to better last year’s second place.

The 2014 Kentucky Derby and Preakness champion’s most likely challengers will be Godolphin-owned Frosted, Travers Cup winner Keen Ice and Special Fighter, a victor in three races at Dubai’s Meydan track in the past four months.

“I have a lot of respect for Frosted, but I’m not worried about one horse - I have to be worried about all of them,” said California Chrome's co-owner Perry Martin.

In 2015, the now five-year-old ran from out wide in the 10-furlong (2-km) race, a longer route that allowed the unfancied Prince Bishop to prevail by three lengths. This year’s draw was also unkind on the 13-8 favorite, who will run from the 11th stall of 12. Victor Espinoza will again be in the saddle.

“I’m confident Victor will be able to move him in and get him a nice spot and we’ll take our shot down the lane,” said Martin.

California Chrome, who will be sent to stud next year, has been in Dubai for more than two months, whereas last year he arrived 10 days before the race.

“He wasn’t 100 percent when he ran,” added Martin. “This year he’s acclimatized. He’s had a race over the track. He’s at home here now and if he’s comfortable he’ll run better.”

Such has been the hype around California Chrome, who has won his only two races this year, the rest of the field might feel overlooked.   Continued...

A groom leads California Chrome to the early morning workout at the Meydan racecourse in Dubai ahead of Saturday's $10 million Dubai World Cup March 24, 2015. REUTERS/Martin Dokoupil