(Photo by Eclipse Sportswire)
(Lucky Pulpit x Love the Chase, by Not For Love)
- Trainer: Alan Sherman
- Jockey: Victor Espinoza
- Owned by: DAP Racing
- Career Record: 14:8-1-0
- Earnings: $3,542,650
- 2014 Record: 7:5-0-0
- 2014 accomplishments: Three G1 wins including two three-year-old classics
- Santa Anita record: 4:3-0-0
- TrueNicks rating: A Variant 2.26
- Dosage Index: 3.40
- Highest Equibase Speed Figure of 2014: 113
- Lost last prep - 6th, Pennsylvania Derby (II) at 9 furlongs by 7 1/4 lengths
Summary: Arguably the best three-year-old coming into the big race with three G1 victory passes including wins in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, California Chrome is battle-tested at Santa Anita with possibly one of the most authoritative victories on the soil earlier in the spring when winning the Santa Anita Derby (I) in an easy romp. Since stumbling and becoming injured in the Belmont (I), Chrome appeared to have lost some of his luster returning to action in the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby (II), finishing 6th of 8. Hopes are high that Chrome can run a big one at his stomping grounds and clinch Horse of the Year honors with just one more win.
Prep Schedule: After a modest but very respectable two-year-old career year, California Chrome wasted little time brandishing his talent on the Triple Crown trail, first cruising over state-breds in the 1 1/16-mile California Cup, winning by more than 6 lengths over G1 winner Tamarando. He countered a bit more class in March in the San Felipe (II), which would be his first try at graded stakes company, effectively outlasting Midnight Hawk and going wire-to-wire to win by more than 7 lengths. Sealing the “real deal” in the Santa Anita Derby (I) a month later at 9 furlongs, California Chrome sat off the pace and floated home to win the Kentucky Derby (I) by 2 1/2 lengths before returning to Pimlico to clinch the Preakness (I). Seemingly unfazed by the rigorous schedule, Chrome took a dive at the start of the Belmont (I) and was too crowded, too weary to do better than 4th, losing the Triple Crown by a scant 2 1/4 lengths. Following a layup, he was shipped to Parx for the Pennsylvania Derby (II), and encountered a speedy field he was seemingly unprepared for, finishing 6th and beaten some 7 lengths.
Physique: I don’t think I’ve talked more about any other horse’s physique than California Chrome this year, and it’s as full of pluses as it is minuses. This horse has a very easygoing attitude and just pours himself over the track with little concerted effort going into his lead changes with the best stride of the bunch. However, I’m not a total fan of him in general; he’s alright, but appears altogether lacking a “wow” factor I EXPECT UNDERLINE UNDERLINE from a Breeders’ Cup Classic win contender.
Pedigree: Definitively an “X factor” horse, California Chrome is sired by the California stallion Lucky Pulpit, who has thrown some decent but not very many marvelous progeny in his short time at stud. Lucky Pulpit of course, hails from the prolific A.P. Indy family by way of Pulpit, whose influence needs little explanation. Lucky Pulpit was graded stakes-placed at 2 and 3, but did not relish additional ground like his son clearly does. Chrome’s dam side is definitely the most interesting and promising part, as Love the Chase is by Maryland sire Not For Love, a son of G1 winners Mr Prospector and Dance Number. Love the Chase is out of Chase It Down, a daughter of the speedy Polish Numbers, giving her two crosses to champion filly Numbered Account.
Running Style: Directly off the pace, may or may not need to be perfectly positioned there
Pros: Chrome had a dominating effect when sent out on Santa Anita’s main, and save for the disgrace on the Parx surface, how much can one reasonably knock his ability? The Breeders’ Cup has been kind to its homegrown sons and daughters, and with heaping TLC and a watchful eye from Alan Sherman, Chrome gets another shot at the winners’ circle this year.
Cons: His schedule post-TC has been wonky. He was injured, then worked reasonably well only to ship out to be fed to the wolves in what should have been a confidence and fitness booster for this race. If he were any other horse with a similar schedule, he would likely not be even considered. In a nutshell: form.
Final Word: Chrome looked excellent preparing for the Penn Derby, but there was something amiss with him I remember commenting about as he flew around Los Alamitos. He did not seem to be doing it easy, like he did in the spring. He looked absolutely flustered at the start of the Penn Derby, and while I think he could have done better with a better start, it’s not reasonable to demand he have things his way in order to find the front at the top of the stretch. I’ll hope for him to do well, but I would be surprised if he hits the board. With the class boost and the lack of a good race prep after a long layoff, the odds are stacked against Chrome.