In 2014, the story of California Chrome captured the attention of the nation when the underdog racehorse with an obscure pedigree won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in dominating fashion. Those victories gave California Chrome a chance to sweep Thoroughbred racing’s elusive Triple Crown, and while he fell short of achieving that glory—he finished a close fourth—the son of Lucky Pulpit is now on the verge of achieving a different—but still very significant—honor.
From all appearances, California Chrome is in a great position to win the Dubai World Cup. He finished second in this race last year, when his bid for victory was derailed by a combination of factors, including not having enough time to train in Dubai and having only one prep race to get him ready. This year, preparations have gone more smoothly, and California Chrome is 2-for-2 this year, having won the San Pasqual Stakes on January 9th before shipping to Dubai near the end of January to spend two months preparing for the Dubai World Cup. On February 25th, he ran in a handicap race at Meydan over the same distance of the Dubai World Cup and won in easy fashion, cruising to a dominant victory while never asked for his best run. Since then, he has continued to train very well, and all systems are a go for a second try at the world’s richest horse race.
Still, victory isn’t guaranteed for California Chrome, who will face a very strong group of eleven rivals in the Dubai World Cup. One of the biggest contenders for an upset is Frosted, who won the Wood Memorial and Pennsylvania Derby last year and finished second to Triple Crown winner American Pharoah in the Belmont Stakes. Like California Chrome, Frosted shipped to Dubai early to run in a prep race at Meydan, which he won decisively. Keen Ice, who famously defeated American Pharoah in the 2015 Travers Stakes, is also entered in the Dubai World Cup, although he hasn’t won a race since the historic upset last summer.
One lesser-known horse that could have a big chance is Mshawish, who has won two straight races this year, including the prestigious Donn Handicap. Unlike his main rivals, Mshawish didn’t ship to Dubai early and arrived there only recently, but reports on his training indicate that he is in fantastic shape and ready to run a huge race. Another late arrival in Dubai was Hoppertunity, who finished third to California Chrome in the San Pasqual before winning the San Antonio Stakes in narrow fashion. Trained by Bob Baffert, who is best known as the trainer of American Pharoah, Hoppertunity has run against California Chrome three times without winning, but never in a race as long as the Dubai World Cup. If he handles the track at Meydan, which is known to be somewhat slow, Hoppertunity could have a chance to turn the tables on his famous rival.
The Dubai World Cup is scheduled to be run at 1:00 pm EDT on March 26th, and the race can be viewed live at amwestentertainment.com. Be sure to tune in and watch as California Chrome seeks a record-breaking victory!
J. Keeler Johnson is a writer, blogger, videographer, and racing enthusiast who considers Zenyatta to be his all-time favorite racehorse. He is the founder of the horse racing website TheTurfBoard.com and writes for the Bloodhorse.com blog Unlocking Winners.