World Cup preps continue at Meydan

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Ted Black

February 25th, 2016

Thoroughbred racing fans did not have to wait long on Thursday to see several of the best horses in the world continue to prep for the very lucrative Dubai World Cup night card at Meydan Race Course in Dubai.

Thursday's feature was actually the Group II, $250,000 Zabeel Mile on the Meydan turf, but the most anticipated race on the card was the $150,000 Trans Gulf at one-mile and a quarter on the main track.

Eleven months after he finished second in the $10 million Dubai World Cup, California Chrome returned to Meydan for a prep race for the sports richest race. Having already won the Grade II San Pasqual at Santa Anita last month for trainer Art Sherman, California Chromwas made the overwhelming 1-9 favorite against seven overmatched rivals.

When the gates opened in the Trans Gulf, California Chrome actually broke a step slow and long shots Success Story and Hunting Ground showed the best early speed and led the field through the clubhouse turn while California Chrome took back slightly.

Success Story and Hunting Ground vied for command down the backside as California Chrome bided his time while there-wide under confident handling from Victor Esponosa.

Midway on on the far turn, California Chrome swept to command without a hint of urging and he edged clear in the lane to a three-length score in 2:04.32 for the 10 furlongs. Final times in Dubai appear slower than what American racing fans can expect because there is no run-up to the beams to start the teletimer.

A five-year-old Lucky Pulpit stallion out of the Maryland-bred mare Love The Chase, California Chrome has won both of his starts this year and now owns 11 wins and earnings of $6.1 million from 20 lifetime starts. The 2014 horse of the year got an ideal prep under his belt for the Dubai World Cup where he could eclipse Curlin and become the sports richest horse of all-time.

Several races earlier on the card, Marking regained his winning ways by taking the $150,000 Al Naboodah by covering the six furlongs on the main track in 1:10.87. A four-year-old Bernardini colt trained by Kiaran McLaughlin for Godolphin, Marking bided his time through the early stages then overhauled Kifaah for his third win in five lifetime outings.

Marking had been favored in his previous outing in Dubai but jockey James Doyle got unseated at the break. Thursday morning Marking was in against much softer than Rich Tapestry and Reynaldothewizard and champion sprinter Runhappy who he chased in the Malibu, but his sharp score likely earned him a spot in the $2 million Golden Shaheen on the Dubai World Cup undercard.