“California Chrome’s winning margin in the $300,000 Gr1 Awesome Again was 2 1/4 lengths over Dortmund, but anyone who watched knows better,” wrote the Bloodhorse’s Jeremy Balan and how right he is.
California Chrome broke smartly from his no 1 gate, with Bob Baffert-trained Dortmund applying pressure on his outside. The two front runners drew into an immediate lead which they extended to a 12 length gap by the six furlong marker.
Giving California Chrome a ground-saving run on the rail, Victor Espinoza posted blistering fractions and started to inch away from Rafael Bejarano and Dortmund in the back stretch. Heading into the turn, California Chrome opened a clear lead, gearing down across the wire in a time of 1:48.07 for the 1 1/8 mile trip.
After the race, California Chrome’s trainer Art Sherman commented, “When he gets in front, he’s a hard horse to get by, and I knew he’d wear Dortmund down with the fractions the way they were. He took Dortmund’s game plan away from him. He tried and ran a hell of a race, but you’re looking at maybe the best horse in the world right now. What more can I say? You saw him run today. He kind of scares me.”
“It’s a dream come true,” the trainer continued. “I never had the ability to buy the most expensive horses. This is just like a gift from . . . I don’t know where. Maybe it was just my time to shine. I’m enjoying it, and I’ll enjoy seeing his babies years from now.”
“He’s on his game right now,” Espinoza said. “(Dortmund) wasn’t a threat today. Maybe the first quarter-mile, but after that, I just kept pulling away, which only helped me get some breathing room between us and the rest of the field.”
“Second-best, no excuses,” said Dortmund’s jockey, Rafael Bejarano. “The winner had a lot of pressure on him and that was the only chance I had. My horse ran good, just second-best.”
Win The Space was 4 1/2 lengths behind Dortmund in third with Hard Aces fourth and Soi Phet completing the field. Hoppertunity and El Huerfano were scratched.
California Chrome remains unbeaten for the 2016 season and the Gr1 Awesome Again Stakes is his 6th win on the trot. It also puts California Chrome in line for a $1 million bonus if he can win the $6 million Breeders Cup Classic on 5 November 2016. The bonus, offered by The Stronach Group and Del Mar, was offered to any horse that could win a three race series comprising the TVG Pacific, the Awesome Again Stakes and the Breeders Cup Classic.
California Chrome now has more than $13.4 million in earnings and a 15-3-1 record from 24 starts, including seven at Gr1 level.
“It feels just unbelievable,” said Duncan Taylor, of Taylor Made Farm. “We’re just blessed to have this opportunity to race this horse. We’re usually serving the people that own these kinds of horses, we’re not in the position ourselves, so we bought this horse to breed but everything unfolded so we decided to keep running him. We’re very fortunate. You couldn’t ever imagine having something like this happen. There’s plenty of competition and they’re not going to give it to us, we’re going to have to earn it.”
The connections have set the forthcoming Pegasus World Cup as his final race after which the 5yo son of Lucky Pulpit will retire from racing to commence stud duties at Taylor Made Farms.