all in Racing

There is no doubt America has a love affair with California Chrome, with his hardcore worshippers proudly calling themselves “Chromies.” They have formed what can best be described as a subculture in the world of Thoroughbred racing. They love him in his victories and they love him every bit as much in his defeats, as rare as they have become.

The $12 million Pegasus World Cup on Saturday, Jan. 28, will be the richest race in the history of Thoroughbred racing. The 1 1/8-mile race on the main track at Gulfstream Park drew the top three finishers from the Breeders’ Cup Classic — Arrogate, California Chrome and Keen Ice, respectively — chasing the top prize of $7 million to the victor. The race will be televised on NBC with live coverage beginning Jan.

Trainer Art Sherman stepped out of character when he predicted, on the heels of an abbreviated and winless 4-year-old season, California Chrome would be five lengths better at age 5.

“I put myself on the line. That’s usually not the way I do things,” he recalled. “I just had that much confidence in the horse.”

For many horsemen at Fair Grounds, the past month has been fraught with worry over an equine herpesvirus outbreak and quarantine restrictions. Trainer Neil Howard may have been equally concerned, but at least one horse in his barn helped ease the burden—W.S. Farish’s and Lora Jean Kilroy’s Guest Suite, who trained perfectly up to the Jan.

Any time a horse is honored with the title Horse of the Year, he or she joins elite company. But California Chrome’s second Horse of the Year honor for 2016 — which was awarded to his connections Jan. 21 at Gulfstream Park — uniquely situates the chestnut in the history of the game.

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