By Blood-Horse Staff
A hard-fought victory against a game Dortmund in the San Diego Handicap (gr. II) and a wire-to-wire domination of a field that included defending champion Beholder in the $1 million TVG Pacific Classic (gr. I) made California Chrome the unanimous choice as Del Mar’s Horse of the Meeting for 2016.
The 5-year-old California-bred son of Lucky Pulpit, owned by Perry Martin and Taylor Made Farm and trained by Art Sherman, came into the meet as North America’s all-time earnings leader with more than $12.5 million, and added $720,000 to the total with his two wins.
With jockey Victor Espinoza deciding to take control of the pace immediately after California Chrome drew inside in the Pacific Classic, Beholder was never closer than 1 1/2 lengths as California Chrome drew away in the stretch to a five-length win that delighted his legion of fans.
California Chrome also was the unanimous choice for Older Horse of the meeting. Other divisional winners included Lord Nelson, sprinter; Midnight Storm, grass horse; Stellar Wind, older female; Harmonize, 3-year-old filly; Free Rose, 3-year-old; Union Strike, 2-year-old filly; and Klimt, 2-year-old.
The California Chrome connections share top honors with Rockingham Ranch in the owners’ department for the 39-day meet.
California Chrome’s Perry Martin of Yuba City, Cal., and Taylor Made Farm of Nicholasville, Ky., swept away the prize for most purse money won with $720,000 banked. The Rockingham Ranch flag flies for owner Gary Hartunian of Sherman Oaks, Cal. His horses, trained by Peter Miller, won 11 races at the session, the most of any owner. He also had 10 seconds and two thirds from 45 starts for total earnings of $485,805.