What a horse race. Onto the Pacific Classic!
by Scott Shapiro
After a trip overseas to Dubai that included an eye-popping victory in the $10 million World Cup, California Chrome continued to put forth a championship level five-year-old campaign and got the best of Dortmund in a thrilling two-horse battle to the wire in Saturday’s Grade 2 San Diego Handicap.
The ninth race on Saturday’s 10 race card at Del Mar was billed as a clash of the titans in Southern California and it did not disappoint. Dortmund, the Bob Baffert trained son of Big Brown took the lead early and battled gamely throughout, but the heart and class of California Chrome was just too much in the end. The son of Lucky Pulpit hit the wire first in a flashy time of 1:40.84 for the mile and a sixteenth event.
The race should set the 2014 Horse of the Year up well for the Pacific Classic on August 20th.
In post-race commentary, Chrome’s trainer Art Sherman declared, “I think both horses needed a race and you’ll see two stronger horses coming back in the Pacific Classic.”
The Classic could be one for the ages with the top two finishers from the San Diego going second off the layoff as well as the likely presence of champion mare Beholder if things go as designed in next weekend’s Clement L. Hirsch Stakes.
The game plan for California Chrome has gone well so far in 2016 after a tumultuous 2015. Assuming things go smoothly next month, he will run in the Awesome Again at Santa Anita in preparation for the six million dollar Breeders’ Cup Classic over the same surface. The inaugural Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park in 2017 is also a target for the fan favorite California bred.
The winner paid $3.60, $2.20 and $2.10. Dortmund paid $2.40 and $2.10 and Win the Space ran a decent third and paid $2.20 to Show. The $1 Trifecta 6-2-7 paid $4.10.
A crowd of 21,336 was on hand at Del Mar to see the classic stretch duel. We now cross our fingers that the top few veteran runners remain healthy and get to the gates for the Pacific Classic.