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California Chrome Dominant in G1 Awesome Again

ARCADIA, Calif. (Oct. 1, 2016)—Superstar California Chrome was sensational yet again at Santa Anita on Saturday, taking the Grade I, $300,000 Awesome Again Stakes in gate to wire fashion by 2 ¼ lengths over rival Dortmund, who pressured him early.  Ridden by Victor Espinoza and trained by Art Sherman, California Chrome covered 1 1/8 miles while geared down in 1:48.07, and thus served notice to the world that at age five, he is the horse to beat in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at The Great Race Place on Nov. 5.

Breaking from the rail, the California-bred son of Lucky Pulpit was hustled out of the gate as Dortmund, adding blinkers and to his immediate outside, was sent as well by Rafael Bejarano.  The pair were separated by a neck into and around the Club House turn and Espinoza with a look to his outside, stepped on the gas at the 4 ½ furlong pole and the Awesome Again, was for all intents and purposes, over.

“Dortmund wasn’t a threat today,” said Espinoza.  “Maybe after the first quarter mile, but after that, I just kept pulling away, which only helped me get some breathing room between us and the rest of the field.  It’s tough when I get the one-hole and want to try and do something crazy…I ran the first part fast, yes, but then eased up on him.  I didn’t want to overuse him today, we’ve got a big race coming up.  It seemed like he was doing everything today very easily.  Hopefully he’ll run big in the Breeders’ Cup.”

The overwhelming 2-5 favorite in a field of five 3-year-olds and up, California Chrome, North America’s all-time leading money earner, paid $2.80, $2.10 and $2.10.  (There was $779,170 bet to show on him, the lion’s share of the total show pool of $862,455).

Fresh off a five length win (from the rail) in the Grade I Pacific Classic at Del Mar on Aug. 20, “Chrome” notched his sixth consecutive win and improved his overall mark to 24-15-3-1.  Owned by Perry Martin and Taylor Made Stallions’ California Chrome, LLC, he picked up $180,000 for the win, increasing his record bankroll to $13,432,650.

“I can’t say enough about the ride—it was just perfect,” said Sherman, 79, himself a former jockey.  “We have a great staff with the groom and the hot walkers, Dihiji (Gladney), who rides him in the mornings and my son (Alan) who lives with him.  I’m just really blessed.

“When he gets in front, he’s a hard horse to get by, and I knew he’d wear Dortmund down with the fractions the way they were.  He took his game plan away from him.  (Dortmund ) tried and ran a hell of a race, but you’re looking at maybe the best horse in the world right now.  I can’t say enough about (California Chrome).

“I’m looking forward to the Breeders’ Cup Classic and I hope everything goes according to plan.  Each race seems a little bit better.  It’s a little scary.  It’s a dream come true.  I never had the ability to buy the most expensive horses…Maybe it was just my time to shine.  I’m enjoying it and I’ll enjoy seeing his babies years from now.”

Dortmund, winner of the 2015 Santa Anita Derby and trained by Bob Baffert, kept to his task throughout and finished 4 ½ lengths in front of longshot Win the Space.  Off at 8-5, Dortmund paid $2.20 and $2.10.

“Second best, no excuses,” said Bejarano.  “The winner had a lot of pressure on him and that was the only chance I had.  My horse ran good, just second best.”

Ridden by Gary Stevens, Win the Space was third throughout and finished 4 ¼ lengths clear of Hard Aces.  Off at 26-1, he paid $2.80 to show.

With the win, California Chrome earned a fees-paid berth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Fractions on the race were 22.76, 46.08, 1:09.28 and 1:34.45.

AWESOME AGAIN QUOTES

JOCKEY QUOTES

VICTOR ESPINOZA, CALIFORNIA CHROME, WINNER: “He’s on his game right now. (Dortmund) wasn’t a threat today. Maybe the first quarter mile, but after that, I just kept pulling away, which only helped me get some breathing room between us and the rest of the field.

“It’s tough when I get the one hole and want to try and do something crazy. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. I ran the first part fast yes, but then eased up on him. I didn’t want to overuse him today, we’ve got a big race coming up. It seemed like he was doing everything today very easily. Hopefully he’ll run big in the Breeders’ Cup.

“Today was much easier for him than the Pacific Classic. He’s a challenging horse to run against because he’s versatile on top of his talent; he can run on the front end and can come from behind. That’s difficult to run against, he’s so tactical.

“If someone wants to try and run with us again, maybe I’ll take back the next time. That’s the best part, he doesn’t have to be up there on the lead.”              

RAFAEL BEJARANO, DORTMUND, SECOND: “Second-best, no excuses. The winner had a lot of pressure on him and that was the only chance I had. My horse ran good, just second-best.”

TRAINER QUOTES

ART SHERMAN, CALIFORNIA CHROME, WINNER: “I can’t say enough about the ride – it was just perfect. The horse is great, and the people involved with the horse are great. We have a great staff with the groom and the hot walkers, Dihiji (Gladney), who rides him in the mornings, my son (Alan) who lives with him. I’m just really blessed.

“When he gets in front, he’s a hard horse to get by, and I knew he’d wear Dortmund down with the fractions the way they were. He took Dortmund’s game plan away from him. He tried and ran a hell of a race, but you’re looking at maybe the best horse in the world right now. I can’t say enough about him. I’m just blessed to be able to train him.

“I’m looking forward to (the Breeders’ Cup Classic), and hope everything goes according to plan. Each race seems a little bit better – it’s a little scary.

“It’s a dream come true. I never had the ability to buy the most expensive horses. This is just like a gift from . . . I don’t know where. Maybe it was just my time to shine. I’m enjoying it, and I’ll enjoy seeing his babies years from now.”

DUNCAN TAYLOR OF TAYLOR MADE STALLIONS, CALIFORNIA CHROME, WINNER: “It feels just unbelievable. We’re just blessed to have this opportunity to race this horse. We’re usually serving the people that own these kinds of horses, we’re not in the position ourselves, so we bought this horse to breed but everything unfolded so we decided to keep running him. We’re very fortunate. You couldn’t ever imagine having something like this happen. There’s plenty of competition and they’re not going to give it to us, we’re going to have to earn it.”

(PART OWNER AND BREEDER) PERRY MARTIN, CALIFORNIA CHROME, WINNER: “[Winning] it’s a feeling I’m getting used to. It feels great, it’s always great. An amazing feeling.”

NOTES: The winning owners are Taylor Made Stallions and Perry Martin, who race as California Chrome, LLC.

Santa Anita Park

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