World Class: Pacific parade puts Chrome in pole position

California Chrome and jockey Victor Espinoza

California Chrome lands the Pacific Classic

  PICTURE: Benoi 

 By Sam Walker 7:40AM 23 AUG 2016 

CALIFORNIA CHROME posted one of the best performances of the last decade in the Pacific Classic at Del Mar on Saturday.

With three of the finest horses in the US coming together, the race had been dubbed the Brawl at the Beach, but it was more Cakewalk at the Boardwalk as California Chrome cantered clear of his rivals to score by an eased-down five lengths.

Ten-time Grade 1 winner Beholder (118), who won last year’s Pacific Classic by eight lengths, finished second with dual Grade 1-winning monster Dortmund a further two and a quarter lengths away in third.

World’s best

The winner was joint best on the global standings going into the weekend, but he moved into a clear lead on the world list with an RPR of 133 for his latest runaway success.

The second and third were potentially two of the strongest challengers for the Breeders’ Cup Classic in November and, after leaving them for dust, California Chrome’s odds tightened to as short as 5-4 for America’s championship race.

Saturday’s win takes his record for this season to five from five. It also pushed his career prize-money haul above the $ 13 million mark – over a thousand times the amount it cost his owners to breed him.

Given his humble beginnings, California Chrome is one of horseracing’s epic fairytales and the story isn’t over yet. Connections still have their eyes on making him the winningmost racehorse in the world and the Breeders’ Cup and $ 12m Pegasus World Cup are on his agenda.

The slight caveat is that everything fell into place for a big performance from the bargain-basement chestnut at the weekend as he was allowed an uncontested lead, and his RPR of 133 might be the best he ever achieves.

However, that figure already ranks him as one of the best horses of the last decade, up with the likes of four-time world sprint champion Black Caviar and Japan’s 2006 world champion Deep Impact.

It also marks him as a world champion-in-waiting and leaves him just 5lb off the highest-rated US horse in the history of RPRs, American Pharoah.

Furthermore, having improved out of all recognition this season without being really tested, there is a chance he could improve again.

Last week was far from being about just one horse. The best horses from Europe (Postponed) and Australia (Winx) were also in action, as was the highest-rated two-year-old in the world (Lady Aurelia) and American wonderfilly Songbird.

Top European

Postponed (126) registered the second-highest RPR of the week, reproducing his best 1m4f form when dropped back in trip to win the Juddmonte International at York by a length and a quarter from Highland Reel (123).

That was the third time in a row Postponed has run to 126, cementing his position as the leading middle-distance performer in Europe.

That said, he’s got to find another 4lb to win an average running of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, for which he is a general 4-1 favourite. He might find that much improvement, but he has run 17 times already so it is not guaranteed.

Perfect ten

Aussie champion Winx (118) took her winning sequence to a perfect ten with an easy three-and-a-half-length win over the ex-Mark Johnston-trained Hartnell in the Warwick Stakes over 7f at Randwick on Saturday.

It wasn’t the strongest win of her career as the distance was on the sharp side for most of her rivals and she was well placed tracking the sedate early pace, but she rocketed home on the soft ground to set herself up for another successful spring campaign.

Winx has four targets lined up in the next two months: the Chelmsford Stakes (September 3), George Main Stakes (September 17), Caulfield Stakes (October 8) and Cox Plate (October 22).

The big test is likely to come in the Cox Plate around the tight turns of Moonee Valley, where pace and draw can play a big hand in the result, but she won the race by daylight in 2015 and has since improved her peak RPR to 126.

Songbird stroll

Songbird (121) also extended her winning record to ten straight – this time an unbeaten ten – with an effortless seven-length romp in the Alabama Stakes at Saratoga.

She’s clearly got a ton in hand of the US three-year-old fillies as none of them have ever got within three lengths of her, but she will face a stiffer test when she finally steps out against the boys.

Lady hangs on

Lady Aurelia dazzled when blitzing the field in the Queen Mary over 5f at Royal Ascot in June, but  wasn’t quite so impressive when stepped up to 6f for the Prix Morny on Sunday.

She managed to hang on for the win after travelling well in front, but she had just three-quarters of a length in hand in a bunch finish, posting an RPR of 112.


Name (country trained)RaceRating
1California Chrome (US)Pacific Classic133D
2A Shin Hikari (Jpn)Prix d’Ispahan131T
3Frosted (US)Metropolitan Handicap130D
4Postponed (GB)Sheema Classic/Coronation Cup126T
 Winx (Aus)Doncaster Mile126T
6Aerovelocity (HK)Centenary Sprint Cup125T
 Dortmund (US)San Diego Handicap125D
 Fascinating Rock (Ire)Tattersalls Gold Cup125T
 Limato (GB)Darley July Cup125T
 10Chautauqua (Aus)Black Caviar Lightning124T
 Galileo Gold (GB)St James’s Palace Stakes124T
 Harzand (Ire)Derby124T
 My Dream Boat (GB)Prince Of Wales’s Stakes124T
Nyquist (US)Kentucky Derby124D
 Terravista (Aus)Black Caviar Lightning124T
 The Gurkha (Ire)Sussex Stakes124T
 Time Test (GB)Brigadier Gerard124T


Name (country trained)RaceRating
1A Shin Hikari (Jpn)Prix d’Ispahan131
2Postponed (GB)Sheema Classic/Coronation Cup126
 Winx (Aus)Doncaster Mile126
4Aerovelocity (HK)Centenary Sprint Cup125
 Fascinating Rock (Ire)Tattersalls Gold Cup125
 Limato (GB)Darley July Cup125
7Chautauqua (Aus)Black Caviar Lightning124
 Galileo Gold (GB)St James’s Palace Stakes124
 Harzand (Ire)Derby124
 My Dream Boat (GB)Pricne Of Wales’s Stakes124
 Terravista (Aus)Black Caviar Lightning124
 The Gurkha (Ire)Sussex Stakes124
 Time Test (GB)Brigadier Gerard124


Name (country trained)RaceRating
1California Chrome (US)Pacific Handicap133
2Frosted (US)Metropolitan Handicap130
3Dortmund (US)San Diego Handicap125
4Nyquist (US)Kentucky Derby124
5Exaggerator (US)Haskell Invitational123
6Effinex (US)Oaklawn Handicap122
7Taris (US)Humana Distaff121
Songbird (US)Alabama Stakes121
9Beholder (US)Clement L. Hirsch120
 X Y Jet (US)Sunshine Millions Sprint120
A.P. Indian (US)Alfred G. Vanderbilt Hcap120

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