DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — California Chrome was back at his best Saturday, soaring to a five-length victory in the $10 million Dubai World Cup.
The winner of the 2014 Kentucky Derby and Preakness finished second last year in the world’s richest horse. This time, the 5-year-old was ridden by Victor Espinoza, who was aboard American Pharoah for last year’s Triple Crown sweep.
“Today, it proves how he can run when he’s 100 percent,” Espinoza said. “He felt strong during the prep. He won easy.”
The race, however, was not without problems. California Chrome’s saddle slipped way down his back near the end. But by then he was way in front.
“I wasn’t that concerned,” Espinoza said. “I just kept looking forward and thinking, ‘Where’s the wire?’ It was not coming fast enough.”
California Chrome, the 2014 Horse of the Year, won $6 million and now tops the earnings list after his third straight victory.
“It’s the dream of a lifetime for me, it doesn’t get better,” trainer Art Sherman said. “The Chromies (fans) will be going crazy (back home).”
The winner covered the approximately 1 1/4 miles in 2:01.83. Mubtaahij of Ireland was second on the dirt track, followed by Hopportunity of the U.S. The 12-horse field also featured Frosted and Keen Ice, the only horse to beat American Pharoah. Frosted was fifth and Keen Ice eighth.
California Chrome, the favorite for the second straight year, started from an unfavorable No. 11 post position. But he was quickly in stride and stayed wide the whole time. He rode next to Msawish, who took the early lead under Frankie Dettori. California Chrome turned it on toward the wire.
“He likes to be on the outside,” Sherman said. “I just told Victor to get him in a position to win. If you have to lose ground, so be it.”
Right now, California Chrome is gaining plenty of ground. After his terrific 2014 season he didn’t race for 10 months last year because of a bruised bone. He began his comeback at Santa Anita in January. That month he arrived in Dubai to get used to conditions.
Sherman said California Chrome this time likely will be heading home after Dubai. Last year, he was taken to England.
“We’ll give him 30 days at the farm to let him unwind, and the ultimate goal is the Breeders’ Cup (in November at Santa Anita),” he said.
Earlier, in the Dubai Turf, a $6 million turf race, Japan’s Real Steel was the winner, putting on a burst to pass Euro Charline, a British horse ridden by Dettori. The favorite, Godolphin’s Tryster, finished third.
“He’s got lots of quality,” Real Steel jockey Ryan Moore said. “It was a big effort from him, he had a tough trip, and was out wide but has toughed it out. He never runs a bad race.”
The U.S. horse Postponed won the Dubai Sheema Classic. Postponed was in the middle of the pack, trailing Duramente and Last Impact, when jockey Andrea Atzeni unleashed his mount. Postponed won by nearly two lengths over Japan’s Duramente.
U.S. trainer Doug Watson completed a sweep in the Godolphin Mile. One Man Band was the winner, followed by Cool Boy and Faulkner.