California Chrome #1 on Steve Haskin’s Derby Dozen

Yes, I’m getting way ahead of myself, but I cannot remember the last time I’ve seen a horse as close to perfection as this guy. For a horse to keep piling up these freakish performances for so long is a rarity in racing today and he actually keeps getting better.

My apologies for a little horn tooting, but I have a reason for doing so. Back on Feb. 3 after his Cal Cup Derby victory, I wrote, Cal-bred or no Cal-bred, this was the most impressive 3-year-old in the country, saying, “This horse has such a long fluid stride and levels off so beautifully he’s a joy to watch…you can’t ask a horse to run any straighter down the stretch. He accelerates on his own at the right time, and for a long-striding horse his lead changes are so smooth you can barely see him do it…this horse has absolutely no flaws.”

Two months later and nothing has changed. He has run one monster Thoro-Graph number after another without regressing; he has run the best 3-year-olds in California into the ground at the exact same spot each time and with the same push-button burst of speed; he wins under no urging at all; his works are spectacular while under wraps; he’s now won at 4 1/2 furlongs, 5 1/2 furlongs, 7 furlongs, 1 1/16 miles, and 1 1/8 miles and has been racing steadily for an entire year; he’s brilliantly fast, but has a tremendous mind and knows how to harness his speed and when to use it; and his pedigree is inundated with classic winners at 1 1/2 miles from Europe and the U.S.

Can a horse possibly keep up this remarkable pace heading into the Derby? In the words of Al Jolson, we ain’t seen nuthin’ yet. Come to think of it, I take back my apology.

Another note on CALIFORNIA CHROME, who literally had the fans on their feet as he came down the stretch, according to Santa Anita racing director Rick Hammerle: The colt will not have a work over the Churchill Downs track, as he isn’t scheduled to arrive until April 28, the Tuesday of Derby week. You think there might be a crowd there to greet him?