After finishing second last year, California Chrome easily won the 2016 edition of the Dubai World Cup. (Photo by Eclipse Sportswire)
By Claire Novak, @BH_CNovak
A year later, a year better for California Chrome in the $10-million Dubai World Cup. After coming up second in last year's edition of the event, a wide trip throughout did not hamper the 2014 Horse of the Year March 26 at Meydan.
Breaking from post 11 in the field of 12 for the 2,000-meter (about 1 1/4 miles) dirt trek, jockey Victor Espinoza hustled the son of Lucky Pulpit out of the gate and into third - four-wide on the first turn and three-wide on the second bend. Mshawish set the pace with Special Fighter tracking second.
Espinoza's athleticism was tested as California Chrome's saddle slipped far back past his barrel. The jockey maintained his balance, his brilliant chestnut mount unleashed a powerful burst exiting the last turn, and the duo left their rivals in the dust in the world's richest race.
"I was just trying to keep my balance and not move my body," Espinoza said. "I just kept looking forward and thinking 'where's the wire?' It was not coming fast enough.
2016 DUBAI WORLD CUP
Video courtesy of MeydanRacing
"I felt like if I could hit the turn three or four wide I'll be in good shape. Today it proves how he can run when he's 100 per cent. In the prep (race), he felt strong. He won easy. I didn't want to override him because I knew he was going to have a tough race today."
Final time was 2:01.83, a new track record on the dirt course installed for the 2015 meeting at Meydan. Mubtaahij made a rail move to pick up second, but was well behind the winner, who covered the distance in a track-record time of 2:01.83. Hoppertunity finished third. Completing the order of finish were Special Fighter, Frosted, Mshawish, Candy Boy, Keen Ice, Hokko Tarumae, Teletext, Vadamos, and Gun Pit.
"He's back to his best," jockey Christophe Soumilion said of Mubtaahij, the 2015 UAE Derby winner. "It was an excellent run. I had a nice position but California Chrome is just a superb horse."
California Chrome will leave Dubai March 31 on a Chicago-bound flight, where he must clear quarantine before continuing on to Taylor Made Farm for some well-deserved R&R. He will spend about 30 days there before returning to Sherman's barn.