Chrome flies out of California, begins his Dubai venture

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January 21st, 2016

2014 Horse of the Year California Chrome left his Los Alamitos home at 5 a.m. (PDT) Thursday morning, commencing his trek to Dubai for the $10 million World Cup (G1) March 26.

The popular chestnut took a van ride to Los Angeles International Airport, where he boarded a flight that was bound for Copenhagen, his stopover point on the way to the Emirates.

As seen on the video below, courtesy of Los Alamitos, trainer Art Sherman hailed California Chrome as a “trouper” who will take the lengthy journey in stride.

Sherman added that once arriving in Dubai, his stable star would spend two days in quarantine. Then, under the watchful care of son and assistant, Alan Sherman, “Chrome” will resume galloping in preparation for his prep.

And what prep race is Sherman considering?

'“One of the races in the latter part of February.”

With that clue in hand, the likeliest spot appears to be a $150,000 handicap over the World Cup track and trip on February 25. If so, Chrome would be taking a page from the playbook of Hall of Famer Curlin, who similarly prepped in a handicap ahead of his 2008 World Cup heroics. There are also a couple of Group race options on turf in that general time frame, but unless connections are contemplating a turf-to-dirt angle for the World Cup, the dirt handicap fits the bill best.

Sherman’s comment raises hopes that Chrome will in fact have just the one local prep going into the World Cup. That’s been the trainer’s preference, but co-owner/breeder Perry Martin was calling for two Dubai prep runs after Chrome’s comeback win in the January 9 San Pasqual (G2).

Jockey Victor Espinoza weighed in on the trainer’s side just a couple of days ago. Agreeing with Sherman that Chrome needs only one more race, Espinoza said that two preps at Meydan would be a bridge too far.

"Sometimes the owner only thinks about plans, but as a jockey or a trainer we think about the horse and how he is going to be,” Espinoza told PA Sport. “I think it will be too much for him to run twice before the World Cup. One race before will be enough and he will be in good shape.”

Martin made an appearance on “Good Day Sacramento” Thursday. While not speaking specifically about the one lump versus two question, he did mention to Ken Rudulph that the first half of the season is geared toward the World Cup, and “all the prep races” building up to it.

Recalling that Chrome finished a gallant second in the 2015 World Cup, Martin described his 2016 Dubai mission as “unfinished business.” He also noted that the $6 million winner’s check would make Chrome the all-time richest North American-based Thoroughbred with $12,442,650 in earnings, surpassing Curlin’s bankroll of $10,501,800.

Martin described more of the new partnership with Taylor Made Stallions, which bought out co-breeder Steve Coburn’s share in Chrome last summer. According to Martin, Taylor Made pitched the idea that they and Martin would each sell 10% of their interest in Chrome to “the top breeders in Kentucky” who “promised their very best mares” would go to him at stud. As part of this special deal, these breeders could participate in the racing ownership as well, and recoup their investment on the track while retaining breeding rights. (The whole interview is available at the link above.)

For now, though, Chrome is on his way to another date with destiny in the desert.

“See ya later, Chrome,” Sherman said.

Chrome “stuck his head out the window” his trainer related, as if to say, “OK, boss - see you in Dubai.”