By Jeremy Balan
The Winter Challenge was supposed to be a procession—a proper sendoff for the King of California.
And that’s exactly what it was.
California Chrome, the California-bred with an unpretentious pedigree who captured so many hearts during his four seasons of racing, romped in the race that was designed for him to romp in. The son of Lucky Pulpit cruised home far ahead of the rest of the field in the $180,000 event and stopped the clock in 1:40.03 for 1 1/16 miles, a track record at Los Alamitos Race Course.
Three-wide in the first turn and five-wide in the second, tracking a group of runners intent on being ahead, California Chrome hit the front in the second bend and cruised clear.
Point Piper, far away second best, was the closest to the 2014 Horse of the Year, but was never a threat as California Chrome galloped home.
Off as the overwhelming 1-9 favorite, California Chrome paid $2.10 to win. There was no place or show wagering.
The chestnut’s California career came to a close with a 12-3-1 record from 18 starts.