By Marcus Hersh DRF.com
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — California Chrome will ship from Dubai to England this week in a bold bid to carry his Kentucky Derby-winning and Horse of the Year form to the European turf.
The second-place finisher Saturday night in the $10 million Dubai World Cup, California Chrome had been booked on a flight back to the U.S. on Tuesday but will instead fly to England and be based at Newmarket, trainer Art Sherman said.
Sherman will remain the trainer of record and will travel to saddle the horse when he races, he said, but representatives of the International Racing Bureau will help coordinate and oversee California Chrome’s day-to-day care, Sherman said. Sherman wasn’t certain which races would be targeted, but the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at the Royal Ascot meet in June is one likely target.
The move is a strange one, considering that California Chrome’s only grass win came against modest opposition in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby last December, and appears to expose a rift between majority owner Perry Martin and minority owner Steve Coburn. Coburn animatedly voiced his feeling Saturday night that California Chrome was “America’s horse,” but Martin apparently was won over by a strong push from English racing interests, particularly from Royal Ascot.
The move surprised Sherman, who even after the World Cup still thought California Chrome was headed home.
“I was looking forward to giving him a rest,” Sherman said. “I’m not sure everyone realizes that this is going to be a tired horse. That was a hard race on him.”
Sherman and his crew developed California Chrome from a 2-year-old California-bred of no particular note to the winner of two-thirds of the Triple Crown, which spurred the colt’s Horse of the Year award.
“I feel like I’ve lost a friend,” Sherman said. “I’m going to miss looking down the shed row and seeing the horse in his stall. It’s going to be hard on him, too. He’s been with the same groom, the same people since he was a 2-year-old. I hope it works out for the horse.”