by Steve Andersen
California Chrome won Saturday’s $300,000 Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita with such ease that he galloped under the finish line.
The win confirmed California Chrome’s status as the leading contender for the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita on Nov. 5.
Ridden by Victor Espinoza, California Chrome led throughout, putting away a challenge from Dortmund on the backstretch. He was well clear in the final furlong and was not urged in any manner late, winning by 2 1-4 lengths.
Dortmund tried, but was second best, with Win the Space third and ahead of Hard Aces and Soi Phet in a field of five.
California Chrome broke from the rail and quickly took the lead. He set a quick pace of 22.76 seconds for the opening quarter-mile, closely followed by Dortmund on the outside. There was about a length between the two through a half-mile in 46.08 seconds when Espinoza urged California Chrome clear. The margin quickly widened. California Chrome led by about three lengths with a furlong remaining, the race essentially over at that point.
“I knew the big race is coming up and I wanted to save” him, Espinoza said.
This was the third time Dortmund has chased home California Chrome in as many starts. Dortmund was second to California Chrome in the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap at Del Mar on July 23 and third behind California Chrome and Beholder in the $1 million Pacific Classic on Aug. 20.
California Chrome has won 15 of 24 starts and earned $13,432,650, the highest all-time earnings for a North American-based Thoroughbred. Owned by Perry Martin and Taylor Made Farms, who race as California Chrome LLC, California Chrome is trained by Art Sherman.
This year, California Chrome is unbeaten in six starts, including the $10 million Dubai World Cup in the United Arab Emirates on March 26.