Breeders’ Cup California Chrome, Arrogate, Frosted
There’s little that has avoided California Chrome’s grasp in terms of accomplishments on the racetrack.
He’s won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, Dubai World Cup and Pacific Classic, to name a few, and has been named Horse of the Year in four brilliant seasons of racing in which he has blossom into North America’s all-time leading money earner with $13,432,650.
Yet there is some unfinished business that could be rectified on Saturday.
One of the blank spots on the California-bred’s sterling resume involves the Breeders’ Cup Classic. In his lone appearance in the mile-and-a-quarter test, which came in the 2014 edition at Santa Anita, he settled for third, a nose and a neck behind the victorious Bayern.
That could change in Saturday’s 33rd renewal of America’s richest race when the 5-year-old will be heavily favored to complete an undefeated 2016 campaign with a victory in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park (5:35 p.m. PDT, NBC TV).
Trained by 79-year-old Art Sherman for majority owner Perry Martin’s California Chrome LLC, the 2014 Horse of the Year landed post four in a field of at Monday’s draw and was installed as a heavy even-money favorite over nine rivals in the Grade 1 centerpiece of the World Championships.
“He looks great,” said Alan Sherman, assistant to and son of Art Sherman. “He had a strong work at Los Alamitos last Thursday, so we’ll just gallop him up to the race.”
The one most likely to spoil the day for the homebred son of Lucky Pulpit and his legion of fans known as “Chromies” could come from a 3-year-old who turned in one of the most astonishing wins of 2016 — on any continent.
Sent off as an 11-1 longshot in his stakes debut, Juddmonte Farms’ Arrogate demolished 12 rivals in the Grade 1 Travers at Saratoga, winning by 13 1/2 lengths in the track record time of 1:59.36 in giving Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert the win in the Mid-Summer Derby that eluded him in 2015 with American Pharoah.
Arrogate, the 5-2 second choice, drew the outside post in the field of 10. The gray son of Unbridled’s Song has not raced since his romp in the Aug. 27 Travers.
“If the horses are doing well that’s more important than the post and this horse is doing well,” Baffert said. “We’re all up against it (against California Chrome) but we don’t know how good Arrogate is. We haven’t set him down yet.”
Godolphin Racing’s Frosted was pegged as the 5-1 third-choice and drew post two. A lopsided 14 ½-length winner of the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap in June at Belmont Park, he posted a two-length score in the Whitney at Saratoga but has not raced since a third-place finish as a 2-5 favorite in the Grade 1 Woodward at the Spa.
Baffert will also be represented by Hoppertunity, a 5-year-old with career earnings of $3.5 million. Winner of the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont in his last start, Hoppertunity drew post nine and will break next to his stablemate.
Effinex, runner-up to Hoppertunity by a half-length in the JC Gold Cup and second to Grand Slam champion American Pharoah in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic, landed post one and was pegged at 15-1 in the morning line.