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California Chrome repeats as Vox Populi winner

California Chrome's farewell to California fans

California Chrome, America's all-time richest racehorse, wins the $180,000 Winter Challenge at Los Alamitos Race Course in Cypress, Calif., on Dec. 17, 2016, his final race in California.
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California Chrome, America's all-time richest racehorse, wins the $180,000 Winter Challenge at Los Alamitos Race Course in Cypress, Calif., on Dec. 17, 2016, his final race in California.

Add another victory to California Chrome’s record – this one voted by fans worldwide.

America’s all-time richest racehorse won the 2016 Secretariat Vox Populi Award, presented by the connections of 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat. Chrome, who also won the 2014 Vox Populi Award, is the first repeat winner.

“This horse has given us one stratospheric ride,” said co-owner and breeder Perry Martin of Yuba City. “I continue to be amazed by his courage, athleticism and his will to win. Mostly though, I’m proud to witness the love and devotion of Chrome’s fans. They’ve always seen what I’ve seen in him. Winning the Vox Populi Award two years ago was an incredible honor, and it is just as terrific the second time around.”

Created in 2010 to reflect the “voice of the people,” the Vox Populi “recognizes the horse whose popularity and racing excellence best resounded with the American public and gained recognition for thoroughbred racing,” according to Monday’s award announcement.

A panel of experts including Steve Cauthen, who won the 1978 Triple Crown aboard Affirmed, made the final selection after an online poll. With international support, Chrome received votes from fans in more than 40 countries.

Penny Chenery, Secretariat’s owner, lauded Chrome, who won seven of eight starts in 2016 including the $10 million Dubai World Cup and the $1 million Pacific Classic. In her eyes, Chrome will be remembered as an all-time great.

“The far-reaching participation we received from this year’s Vox Populi voters has been quite thrilling, ” Chenery said in the announcement. “This global enthusiasm and California Chrome’s repeat selection are testament to both his athletic excellence and his abiding appeal among racing fans.

“In both the sports and entertainment realms, we have seen some names repeatedly receive honors, and it is those stars who typically become the all-time greats in their field,” she added. “I think we are seeing California Chrome’s emergence as an enduring racing celebrity propelling him to a new level of stardom.”

The Chenery family will present Team Chrome the Vox Populi trophy during a ceremony Jan. 14 at Santa Anita Park. That same day, the track will offer free posters commemorating Chrome’s latest honor and host an autograph session with his connections including trainer Art Sherman and jockey Victor Espinoza.

After finishing second to Arrogate in the Nov. 5 Breeders’ Cup Classic, Chrome bounced back to easily win the $180,000 Winter Challenge in track record time Saturday at Los Alamitos Race Course, where he’s trained since January 2014. Bred in California, the 5-year-old chestnut now has 16 wins from 26 starts and more than $14.5 million in earnings.

Chrome leaves Los Alamitos for Florida on Jan. 6 to prepare for the $12 million Pegasus World Cup, his final start before retirement to Taylor Made Farm in Kentucky.

Debbie Arrington: 916-321-1075, @debarrington

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