Espinoza looking forward to stronger California Chrome in 2016

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December 31st, 2015

Jockey Victor Espinoza observes that we’ll see a new and improved model of California Chrome in 2016. The 2014 Horse of the Year, who hasn’t raced since finishing second in the March 28 Dubai World Cup (G1), is nearing a comeback in the January 9 San Pasqual (G2).

“He kind of grew up a little since last March,” Espinoza told Santa Anita’s Ed Golden. “His neck is thicker and he’s much sounder. The time off has helped him recover from minor issues he had with his body.

"He worked good last Sunday (seven furlongs in 1:25.40 at Los Alamitos). I guess without blinkers he’s not an excellent work horse, but even with small blinkers, you have to be careful because he will go a little fast.

"He didn’t work in blinkers last Sunday, but he’ll have them on Saturday, and he races with them on.”

Espinoza’s comment about the blinkers is revealing, since trainer Art Sherman is reportedly planning to take California Chrome’s blinkers off for the San Pasqual. Will Sherman stick to that idea, or will Espinoza persuade him otherwise?

Saturday’s six-furlong move will take place prior to Santa Anita’s 1ST race, with “Chrome” expected to strut across the track at noon (PST).

Espinoza also commented on his 2015 season, highlighted by Triple Crown champion American Pharoah.

“It’s been more than a dream, especially this year,” he said. “Last year I was very close to winning the Triple Crown. What were the odds that I would be in an even better position this year? It was great in 2014, but 2015 was unforgettable. It was special. I would never even dream that I’d have a year like this.”

Photo courtesy of Los Alamitos via Twitter.