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California Chrome gets last Breeders’ Cup tune-up

In a photo provided by Benoit Photo, California Chrome and jockey Victor Espinoza win the Pacific Classic horse race Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016, at Del Mar Thoroughbred Club in Del Mar.
In a photo provided by Benoit Photo, California Chrome and jockey Victor Espinoza win the Pacific Classic horse race Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016, at Del Mar Thoroughbred Club in Del Mar. AP

To Art Sherman, California Chrome looks better than ever.

It helps that the 79-year-old trainer had cataract surgery on his left eye in late August, a couple of days after California Chrome’s romp in the Pacific Classic.

“My left eye has really turned out good,” Sherman said this week. “I notice my vision is a lot better.”

Sherman has an appointment to get his right eye fixed in mid November, shortly after the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 5.

On Saturday at Santa Anita, California Chrome gets his final tuneup during what’s billed as Breeders’ Cup Challenge Day. Five Grade I stakes at the Arcadia track guarantee berths in the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, which also will be run at Santa Anita. NBC Sports Network will broadcast all five stakes, starting at 2:30 p.m..

California Chrome, America’s all-time richest racehorse and the nation’s top-ranked thoroughbred, faces six challengers in the $300,000 Awesome Again Stakes, to be run at 1 1/8 miles. With more than $13.2 million in earnings, the 5-year-old horse could earn a $1 million bonus for sweeping the Awesome Again and the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Also entered in the Awesome Again are Dortmund, Hoppertunity, Win the Space, Soi Phet, El Huerfano and Hard Aces.

Co-owned and bred by Yuba City’s Perry and Denise Martin, California Chrome is 5 for 5 in 2016. His best may be yet to come, Sherman said.

“He just seems to thrive with racing right now,” Sherman said. “He looks better, he’s stronger. At five, he’s just a completely different horse right now. It’s kind of awesome just to watch him, to be honest with you.”

Debbie Arrington: 916-321-1075, @debarrington

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