California Chrome: made a successful return to action
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
By David Baxter 8:31AM 24 JUL 2016
Report: USA, Sunday
Del Mar: San Diego Handicap (Grade 2) 1m½f, dirt, 3yo+
CALIFORNIA CHROME (Art Sherman/Victor Espinoza) just managed to repel Dortmund in a titanic duel to the line.
The reigning Dubai World Cup winner, California Chrome was having his first start since landing the world’s richest race in March, and it was to be no walkover as Dortmund pushed the five-year-old all the way.
Gary Stevens set the fractions on Dortmund, but the pair appeared to be sitting ducks for Espinoza and California Chrome who tracked the leader then moved up to take over at the top of the stretch.
However, Dortmund refused to buckle on the inside, rallying and getting back to eyeball the 2014 Horse of the Year before California Chrome found a little bit more in the final yards.
Credit to the winner
Not only was California Chrome having his first start for four months, he had to concede weight all round over a trip short of his optimum.
Espinoza said: “I saved something for the end. I knew I’d have to. I have a lot of respect for Dortmund and he made me run hard. When we came down the stretch, I was concerned. This horse was carrying a lot of weight. That was the challenge, but he was a runner all the way today.”
Stevens was delighted with the performance of Dortmund, and added: “He was a little funky with me in the gate and didn’t get away best, but he got rolling and we were doing good. We had the slow fractions I was hoping for and he was going along fine.
“Then, from the three-eighths to the five-sixteenths, it was on. I thought maybe we were going to run out of gas, but he kept digging. He ran that last quarter-mile on heart.”
The pair are likely to clash again back at the track next month in the Grade 1 Pacific Classic, a race which could be a blockbuster with Beholder expected to defend her crown.
Also on Saturday
Saratoga: Diana Stakes (Grade 1), 1m1f, turf, 3yo+ f/m
Chilean import Dacita (Chad Brown/Irad Ortiz) recorded a first American Grade 1 success when coming with a late run to deny Recepta by a nose.
Miss Temple City, who was fourth at Royal Ascot in the Duke of Cambridge Stakes for Graham Motion, was sent off favourite but could only manage fourth.