California Chrome breezes at Del Mar
Edited Press Release
Horse of the Year California Chrome worked a bullet, best-of-83, five furlongs in :59.20 Saturday morning at Del Mar over a fast racetrack cleared of all but a few other runners he’s likely to face in his comeback race in the $200,000 San Diego Handicap (G2) next Saturday.
The Lucky Pulpit chestnut had regular exercise rider Dihigi Gladney in the tack as they took flight from the five-furlong pole on an overcast morning alongside the Pacific and went through splits of :12, :23.80, :35.60 and :46.80 en route to the final clocking. He galloped out another furlong in 1:13.
Two Del Mar’s clockers timed the California-bred five-year-old in the same fractions and they agreed that the horse had earned a coveted “B” for “breezing,” a term reserved for only the easiest of works. Gladney never pushed on his charge and stood up in the saddle as they went past the finish line.
The clocking crew at Del Mar noted that to that point in the morning (7:45 a.m. [PT]), no other horses had worked quicker that 1:01 for the five-furlong distance.
Trainer Art Sherman, who watched the work from the Del Mar grandstand in close proximity to the finish line, noted he was “very pleased” with his 2014 Kentucky Derby (G1) winner’s drill.
“He’s got his game face on,” said Sherman. “He’s a different horse when he’s getting ready to run. Dihigi had plenty of horse when he came by me. I’m very pleased with what I saw.”
California Chrome is expected to meet about a half-dozen rivals next week in the 1 1/16-mile San Diego in his first start since capturing the Dubai World Cup (UAE-G1) on March 26 and boosting his career earnings past the $12.5 million point.
The San Diego is designed as a stepping stone for California Chrome to start next in the $1 million Pacific Classic (G1) at Del Mar on August 20.
Two other potential San Diego runners also used the 7:45-8 a.m. “clear track” time to exercise Saturday – multiple Grade 1 winner Dortmund, who only galloped, and Grade 1 scorer Hard Aces, who covered six furlongs in 1:13 4/5.
Dortmund, unraced since romping in the November 28 Native Diver S. (G3), worked six furlongs in 1:13.20 from the gate at Santa Anita Park last Sunday. Hard Aces ran third as the defending champion of the Gold Cup at Santa Anita Stakes (G1) on June 25 and recorded his last official move in :48.60 going a half-mile at Santa Anita Park on July 9.
California Chrome will be ridden in the San Diego by Victor Espinoza, who has been aboard the chestnut in his last 15 starts, 10 of them victories.
It will be California Chrome’s first start at the seaside course since November 29, 2014, when he won the Hollywood Derby (G1) in his only turf start.
California Chrome photo courtesy of Cecillia Gustavsson/Horsephotos.com