California Chrome easily won his final prep race Thursday for the upcoming $10 million Dubai World Cup, romping under the lights in a $143,000 handicap at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai.
With jockey Victor Espinoza aboard, the 2014 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner covered the 1- 1/4 miles in 2 minutes 4.32 seconds in what looked more like a dress rehearsal for the world’s richest race, set for March 26 at the same racetrack.
North America’s 2014 Horse of the Year, California Chrome carried 132 pounds, 15 more than each of his seven challengers. Breaking from the rail, the flashy chestnut rated in third behind South Korean pacesetter Success Story. On the far turn, Espinoza moved California Chrome three wide past the leaders and quickly pulled away with a quarter-mile to run. Geared down, he won by almost three lengths over Storm Belt with Success Story in third.
Trained by Art Sherman, California Chrome finished second in the 2015 World Cup before he was sidelined by minor setbacks. Since returning to racing Jan. 9 at Santa Anita, the 5-year-old horse is 2 for 2 in 2016. The all-time richest California-bred with more than $6.5 million in earnings, he’s won 11 of 20 starts.
“He definitely is better (than in 2015),” said Yuba City’s Perry Martin, California Chrome’s co-owner and breeder, who was in Dubai for the race. “He’s bigger, stronger. We wrestle every morning and he beats me every time.”