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California Chrome retirement coming soon

It’s official: California Chrome will retire in time for the 2017 breeding season, according to Taylor Made Farm president Duncan Taylor.

Second in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita on Saturday, America’s all-time richest racehorse is expected to begin his stallion career in February at the major Kentucky farm, Taylor told reporters at Keeneland’s November breeding stock sale Tuesday night in Lexington, Ky. Yuba City’s Perry Martin, Chrome’s co-owner and breeder, attended the auction.

Chrome’s stud fee per breeding for his first season will be $40,000, conservative for a former Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner. By comparison, Lucky Pulpit – California Chrome’s sire – had a $2,500 stud fee.

“We wanted to make it affordable so he would have a full book (of prospective mares), but we need the right mares,” Martin said before the announcement. “We’re taking that very seriously.”

Martin and other partners in California Chrome LLC, Chrome’s new ownership group, have been busy buying mares for their star stallion-to-be, thanks partly to the sale of Chrome’s mother Monday. In foal to Tapit, Love the Chase sold at the Fasig-Tipton auction for $1.95 million. At Tuesday’s Keeneland sale, they spent $325,000 on Right There, a 3-year-old daughter of Eskendereya, and $420,000 on broodmare Uchitel, dam of stakes winner Suddenbreakingnews.

With his runner-up check in the $6 million Classic, Chrome has earnings of $14,452,650. Despite his loss in the Classic to Arrogate, Chrome likely wrapped up a second Horse of the Year title. Also the 2014 North American champion, the popular 5-year-old chestnut won six of seven starts in 2016, including the $10 million Dubai World Cup.

Before retirement, Chrome is targeting one more major race – the inaugural $12 million Pegasus World Cup at Florida’s Gulfstream Park on Jan. 28. That is expected to be the final start for the charismatic thoroughbred, who may have a prep race leading up to that finale.

Meanwhile, Chrome is back in his barn at Los Alamitos Race Course and came out of the Classic in good shape, said trainer Art Sherman, who hopes to have a rematch with Arrogate before Chrome’s retirement. “We’re going to come back and fight,” he said.

Debbie Arrington: 916-321-1075, @debarrington