By Eric Mitchell
America’s dual classic winner California Chrome is among several international stars that have been pre-entered in the July 4 Coral Eclipse Stakes (Eng-I) at Sandown Park.
DAP Racing’s homebred son of Lucky Pulpit is in Newmarket training toward his next start June 17 in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes (Eng-I) at Royal Ascot. After Ascot, California Chrome could face multiple French highweight Cirrus des Aigles in the Coral Eclipse along with multiple Australian grade I winner Criterion, and Japanese group I winner Spielberg, who could become the Eclipse Stakes’ first Japanese-bred challenger.
The 69 horses pre-entered also include Irish group stakes winner and group I-placed Free Eagle, who may be making his first 2015 start at Sandown, along with English group-placed runner Moheet and stakes winner Zawraq.
“The thinking behind the Coral Eclipse is straightforward,” California Chrome’s co-owner and breeder Perry Martin said of the just more than 10-furlong race for 3-year-olds and up. “Chrome’s first race back from England will be the Arlington Million (gr. IT). The U.S. quarantine for returning horses is in Chicago, so it makes sense to keep Chrome in England after the Ascot race and then fly in direct to Chicago with the other ‘Million’ horses.
“The Coral Eclipse is there if Chrome tells us he’s ready to go. Depends on everything being right, the horse, the weather, etc. Having ‘America’s Horse’ running on the Fourth of July in England is also an attractive proposition,” Martin said.
Andrew Cooper, head of racing and clerk of the course at Sandown, told the Express.co.uk website he was thrilled with the quality and quantity of international entries for the 40th year that Coral has sponsored Sandown’s premier event.