California Chrome owners reveal future plans

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World Cup winner: California Chrome.

California Chrome’s owners have their eyes on an even-bigger prize after they roared to success in the Dubai World Cup.

The thoroughbred rebounded in style from last year’s horror run, bounding clear at a packed Meydan Racecourse on Saturday to claim the winner’s stake in the $10million event. That figure stands as the current world record, but plans are afoot for a more lucrative event in the United States.

Overtures have already been made by the Stronach Group about a proposed $12m race, to be called the Pegasus Championship, and majority owner Perry Martin was receptive to the idea.

He said: “The big target is the Breeders Cup (in November).

“We have also already been contacted about a race in January at Gulfstream (Pegasus Championship, to rotate annually between Santa Anita and Gulfstream parks), the $12m race they are trying to put together.

“If they put that together, we’ll go for that.

“In the immediate future, he flies back to the United States where he’ll be quarantined for two days in Chicago. Then he will van to Kentucky, where he will get a complete veterinary check up at Rood & Riddle.

“We’ll then find out how much time he needs off, if any. He’ll then get back in training and be ready for the second half of the year.”

A tumultuous spell had followed the disappointing runners-up spot in Dubai in 2015, a bruised cannon bone threatening his career prior to a winning return during January’s San Pasqual Stakes.

“Most of the year has been pretty boring, waiting for the horse to recuperate,” said Martin. “When you own horses, you have to learn to be patient and give them what they need.

“If it’s time, we give them that. That is what we did. He came back bigger, stronger and – it appears – two seconds fas- ter over the course.”

The five-year-old’s triumph with jockey Victor Espinoza aboard at the weekend made him the highest-earning throughbred in North American history, with approximately $12.5m banked.

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The best social media reaction from the Dubai World Cup

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The Dubai World Cup finished with a flourish at Meydan Racecouse on Saturday as California Chrome cruised to victory.

After recovering from the excitement of all the action, Sport360 picks out the best tweets and instagrams from the world’s richest horse race.

If you have any pictures or tweets to share from the Dubai World Cup, Tweet us using #360fans.

With my friend at #dubaiworldcup

A photo posted by Maj (@maj) on

#dubaiworldcup #dubaiworldcup2016

A photo posted by @zabegin on

:-) #dubaiworldcup #galpals #meydan #mydubai #hatstyle

A photo posted by Aoife (@efabefa) on

#all#selfie#dubaiworldcup#2016#dubai#dxb#mydubai#maradona#diegoarmandomaradona Selfie with The legend Maradona ⚽??

A photo posted by Anwar Yousuf (@anwaryousuf) on

@janetjackson #dubaiworldcup !! Omg!!! Slayed the stage, as always!!! ???? #janetjackson #jtrib #unbreakable2016

A photo posted by Caitlin Moran ??? (@janetfanforeva) on

#dubaiworldcup #horseracing #mydubai #dubai

A video posted by Hesham Abou Assaf (@hesham.abouassaf) on

#dubaiworldcup2016 #meydan #dubai #dubaiworldcup ?

A video posted by @chelle.bunce on

#dubaiworldcup 26.3.2016 ???

A photo posted by 'M.H.A☆~ (@7m0od_23) on

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Espinoza says saddle slip led to California Chrome’s record-breaking surge

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Jockey Victor Espinoza (c) and trainer Art Sherman (second, left).

The 2015 runner-up dominated as soon as the challengers hit the finishing straight in front of the rapturous Meydan Racecourse’s main stand.

But triple Crown-winning jockey Espinoza, 43, had to use all his experience to guide the colt home last night before disaster could have struck. This charge left second-placed Mubtaahij and third-placed Hoppertunity trailing in the 2014 US Horse of the Year’s wake.

“I was very nice and comfortable out there,” said Espinoza. “He did everything right and he went exactly where we wanted – it was perfect. It is sometimes better to be on the outside rather than stuck inside.

“I sat near the leaders and I couldn’t wait longer when we were coming for home as the saddle was slipping further and further back.

“I couldn’t take any chances, so I had to go. I know it (the saddle) was really far back, but I wasn’t paying attention. Only after I crossed the line did I have a look.”

The evening was full of redemption for California Chrome, whose run on the outside in 2015 saw the hot favourite fade and lose out to Prince Bishop. He stayed in the pack this time before sprinting clear in impressive fashion with 300 metres left. His difficulties were exemplified by his long-delayed post-race interview, as Espinoza and race stewards fiddled with his disintegrating seat.

“I was thinking about this for the whole year,” co-owner Perry Martin said. “I am just so happy.”

Veteran trainer Art Sherman is credited with more than 2,100 wins during his lengthy career.

He was hired to control yesterday’s headline maker in 2013, previous highlights of his reign including the 2014 Kentucky Derby victory.

Sherman paid tribute to Espinoza’s nerveless ride and outstanding technique, saying it was one of the most impressive he’d ever seen.

He said: “He did a fabulous job. I rode for 23 years and when your saddle slips, it makes you kind of move backwards on the horse. You have to really have good balance and control of your horse. I didn’t realise how bad it was until he pulled up. I am so happy to come back and see the look on everyone’s face.”

Espinoza was the man in the saddle 12 months ago when disappointment was the overriding emotion. Despite again starting out wide in stall 11 and the horse coming back from a worrying bruised cannon bone, he cruised through for his first piece of World Cup glory.

He said: “I wanted to say thank you to everyone who has followed me and the team for keeping on the horse’s tail. I know it is not easy but they chose the right jockey to win the race. I’ve been very close twice before, 2nd (with Chrome in 2015) and 3rd (on Choctaw Nation in 2005), so third time is the charm.”

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