California Chrome Draws the Rail Slot for Dubai Handicap

By Marcus Hersh
California Chrome will break from the rail Thursday night when he spots seven rivals 15 pounds in a 2,000-meter (about 1 1/4-mile) dirt handicap at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai.

California Chrome merely is prepping for the $10 million Dubai World Cup on March 26, a race in which he finished second last year, and is taking “the Curlin route,” using a minor handicap race as a stepping-stone to his major goal the way Curlin did scoring a smashing win in the 2008 World Cup at Nad al Sheba. California has an official rating of 121, the next-highest horse just 105, which is why he carries a hefty 132 pounds, including jockey Victor Espinoza, who has flown to Dubai for this mount. Trainer Art Sherman, whose son, Alan, has been overseeing California Chrome’s day-to-day training since he shipped from California last month, arrived in Dubai on Monday.

California Chrome has started once following an extended vacation, winning a slow-paced edition of the San Pasqual Stakes at Santa Anita Park. Even giving so much weight, he should win his race Thursday against a group of overmatched foes, and California Chrome, from all reports, has thrived since arriving in Dubai.

His race is the sixth of seven on the card, with post time scheduled for 12:55 p.m. Eastern. Live video and wagering are available at DRF Bets.

Race 3, a dirt handicap over about six furlongs, includes the Kiaran McLaughlin-trained Marking, who stumbled just after the start of his Dubai debut in the Group 3 Al Shindagha Sprint on Feb. 11 and unseated jockey James Doyle.

Safety Check heads race 4, the program’s nominal feature, the Group 2 Zabeel Mile on turf. Safety Check was a comfortable winner of the Group 2 Al Fahidi Fort last month and of the Zabeel Mile last year, but whatever he does Thursday, his race is likely to be overshadowed by the Dubai return of the 2014 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner.