Few are suggesting Art Sherman’s California Chrome will romp home in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, but the 1/1 favourite certainly feels like a hotpot heading into Santa Anita’s big one.
California Chrome came third here in 2014, just a neck behind winner Bayern, having landed the first two legs of the US Triple Crown during an historic campaign.
Finishing joint-fourth in the third leg – the Belmont Stakes – the previous May, when hampered by a tendon injury at the off, clearly took a massive toll on the son of Lucky Pulpit, with just one win picked up in his next five starts and Royal Ascot 2015 missed despite travelling to Berkshire.
Nine months off the track clearly did Sherman’s wonderhorse the power of good though, with six wins on the spin racked up since reappearing last January, including March’s Dubai World Cup – the most lucrative race on the planet.
In the movie that inevitably follows the horse’s career, California Chrome coming back to land the richest prize his country has to offer would make a perfect Hollywood ending to a story that started with a couple of hobbyist breeders and an ‘old school’ trainer.
The market suggests they won’t have it all their own way though, with Bob Baffert’s 5/2 second favourite Arrogate a live danger after winning all four races since finishing third on debut, two of them at this venue, with a shock Grade One Travers Stakes triumph landed last time out.
Kiaran McLoughlin’s 8/1 shot Frosted comes next, after winning three of his five races so far in 2016, but the Godolphin-owned four-year-old has a lot to find with California Chrome going by Dubai World Cup form, where he finished 5½l behind in fifth.
Only one British or Irish raider (John Gosden’s Raven’s Pass in 2008) has lifted the Breeders’ Cup Classic, but Aidan O’Brien’s Arc winner Found – who looks set to forgo defending her Turf title in favour of this – is worth an each-away nibble at 16/1.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.