A hard-fought victory against a game Dortmund in the San Diego Handicap and a wire-to-wire domination of a field that included defending champion Beholder in the $ 1 million TVG Pacific Classic made California Chrome the unanimous choice as Del Mar’s Horse of the Meeting for 2016.
The 5-year-old, California-bred son of Lucky Pulpit, owned by Perry Martin and Taylor Made Farm and trained by Art Sherman, came into the meeting as North America’s all-time earnings leader with more than $ 12.5 million and added $ 720,000 to the total with his two wins.
With jockey Victor Espinoza providing expert guidance, California Chrome stalked pace-setting Dortmund in the San Diego, took a narrow advantage at the quarter pole and refused to yield to determined Dortmund and ultimately prevailed by a half-length. Drawing the No. 1 post in the Pacific Classic, Espinoza decided to take control of the pace immediately and pursuing Beholder was never closer than 1 ½ lengths as California Chrome drew away in the stretch to a five-length win that delighted his legion of fans, known as “Chromies.”
California Chrome was also the unanimous choice for Older Horse of the meeting.
With the exception of Bing Crosby Stakes winner Lord Nelson edging Pat O’Brien champion Masochistic for top sprinter honors, the divisional winners were all just short of unanimity.
Midnight Storm took grass horse honors through victories in the Grade I Eddie Read and Grade II Del Mar Mile. Stellar Wind was the top older filly and mare via her victory over Beholder in the Clement L. Hirsch.
La Jolla Handicap and Del Mar Derby winner Free Rose secured top 3-year-old honors as did Del Mar Oaks winner Harmonize in the 3-year-old filly category.
Del Mar Debutante winner Union Strike was voted top 2-year-old filly honors, and Del Mar Futurity winner Klimt was the choice as top 2-year-old.
Horse of the Meet California Chrome
Top older horse California Chrome
Top older filly or mare Stellar Wind
Top sprinter Lord Nelson
Top grass horse Midnight Storm
Top 3-year-old filly Harmonize
Top 3-year-old Free Rose
Top 2-year-old filly Union Strike
Top 2-year-old Klimt
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