DUBAI, March 26, (AFP): Joint-favourite California Chrome won the Dubai World Cup on Saturday to add the world’s most lucrative race to his previous Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes victories.
The five-year-old was surprisingly beaten into second in Dubai in 2015 by Prince Bishop, but his trainer Art Sherman predicted that he was five lengths better this year.
He was proved right as Victor Espinoza led his mount to victory by four lengths from 16/1 shot Mubtaahij to go one better than 12 months ago.
Sherman confirmed that the next target is not a visit to the UK, but a return to the US for the Breeders’ Cup.
“I love this place, it’s my third time back,” the trainer told The National newspaper. “He’s a great horse, what can you say? It’s the dream of a lifetime for me, it doesn’t get better.
“I don’t think he’ll go to England, we’ll give him 30 days at the farm to let him unwind and the ultimate goal is the Breeders’ Cup.”
Unlike last year California Chrome was given a test run round Meydan when he won earlier this month, and that decision paid off as he put in a commanding performance in the $10 million race.
Espinoza has had some good rides in recent years.
The Mexican was on board American Pharoah as the colt became the first horse to win the “Grand Slam” of US racing in 2015, and California Chrome started at 15/8 alongside Twisted, who was priced at 2/1 as late as when the horses were at the post.
But California Chrome was so strong he was able to romp to victory, despite the saddle slipping mid-run.
“I was wide but it was comfortable, he did everything right, perfect,” said Espinoza.
“I could feel the saddle slipping so I kicked for home earlier than I wanted, it went quite far back.”
Jockey William Buick was looking for back-to-back World Cups after his triumph on Prince Bishop, but riding Twisted for Godolphin, he came up well short after the one mile and two furlongs on the dirt.
California Chrome, who just missed out on the race record time set by African Story in 2014, became the 10th American victor since the inaugural staging in 1996.
Hoppertunity (25/1) just pipped Irish hope Special Fighter to take the last place in third.
Favourite Postponed (4/5) won the penultimate race of World Cup day, the Dubai Sheema Classic, beating second-favourite Duramente by two lengths after taking the lead at the final corner.
From there the King George winner never looked like being caught on the turf, and so it proved, as the five-year-old made it four victories in a row.