California Chrome, all-time leading money-winner in North America, embellished his growing stature as one of the finest Thoroughbreds to grace the racing scene in recent times with a brilliant triumph in the Grade I $1 million TVG Pacific Classic Saturday.
Sent to the lead by jockey Victor Espinoza from his inside post position in the opening strides, the California-bred son of Lucky Pulpit cruised along in front setting comfortable fractions of :23.20, 47.29, 1:11.22 and 1:35.69 in the mile and one-quarter race.
Turning into the stretch, California Chrome opened up on his rivals, including defending champion Beholder and highly-regarded Dortmund, and never was in danger, romping to the wire five lengths in front in 2:00.13. Beholder, piloted by Gary Stevens, turned in a typically valiant effort to be second, two and one-quarter lengths in front of Dortmund, with Hoppertunity fourth in the field of nine horses.
California Chrome, owned by the California Chrome LLC of Perry Martin and Taylormade Farm and trained by Art Sherman, was the 11-10 favorite and paid $4.20, $2.60 and $2.20 while earning $600,000 with his 14th victory in 23 starts. The 2014 Horse of the Year now has bankrolled $13,252,650 in his career. Beholder, off at 3-1, paid $3.20 and $2.60, while Dortmund, the 2-1 second choice, returned $2.40 to show.
The winner ended an 0-15 Pacific Classic drought for Espinoza, the historic 2015 Triple Crown winner astride American Pharoah, who said after the race that California Chrome “is the best horse I’ve ever ridden.”
The TVG Pacific Classic is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” qualifying race. Thus, California Chrome ensured a spot in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 5 at Santa Anita.
With his triumph in the Pacific Classic, California Chrome, already the top-ranked older horse in America, strengthened his position to be acclaimed Horse of the Year for a second time.