Homeracing

Is California Chrome One of the Greats? Yes!

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D.S. Williamson

August 26th, 2016

The brilliant California Chrome pummeled a talented field of runners in the Grade 1 Pacific Classic on Saturday, August 20 at Del Mar. He was as brilliant as many expected him to be. You don't go off at even money over horses like Beholder and Dortmund unless there's a lot of faith in you. The betting public and professional horseplayers both have a lot of faith in California Chrome.

Here are 4 races that make California Chrome great!


2016 Dubai World Cup - The field wasn't anything special.  Or, was it? Frosted ran in the Dubai World Cup. So did Mshawish, winner of the Grade 1 Donn Handicap. Mubtaahij, Keen Ice, Special Fighter and Hoppertunity all ran. What really impressed me about this race is that Chrome finished second in the 2015 Dubai World Cup. He was brilliant in the 2016 version, meaning that he had improved from his 5-year-old to his 4-year-old year. The Dubai World Cup was the second win in what's turning out to be a California Chrome 2016.

2014 Kentucky Derby - This was a terrific race by favorite California Chrome. He won the Kentucky Derby somewhat easily. It showed that he was indeed as classy as his previous races had shown. Chrome almost pulled off the Triple Crown Sweep a year before American Pharoah did it. One of the reasons he didn't is because the Belmont was his sixth race in 2014. Exaggerator had the same problem winning the Belmont Stakes as the big favorite this year.

2014 Breeders Cup Classic - In my opinion, one of California Chrome's best races was in a loss. While Bayern rode a golden rail in the 2014 Breeders Cup Classic, California Chrome went wide throughout the race. He almost pulled off the upset over Bayern and Toast of New York in the stretch. It was a fantastic try by the son of Lucky Pulpit. The loss is the first time I started to think that maybe Chrome was a great horse on the level of horses like Curlin and Rachel Alexandra. Maybe, he was much more than just a really good three-year-old.

2016 Pacific Classic - This solidified California Chrome's greatness in my mind. The race occurred about a week ago. Yes, if Beholder or Dortmund had gone with Chrome, things may have turned out differently. This is especially true for Beholder who showed her usual burst of speed around the turn but was so far behind Chrome in the early stages that there was no way for her to catch up.

Then again, there's a different way to look at it. Gary Stevens aboard Beholder and Rafael Bejarano aboard Dortmund changed riding tactics because of California Chrome. The reason that Victor Espinoza got such an easy lead aboard Chrome is because Stevens and Bejarano didn't want to get into a speed duel with the best race horse on planet Earth. Chrome's greatness forced 2 of the best jockeys in the world to change tactics, which led to an easy lead and another easy California Chrome win.

Only greatness can lead jockeys to do that in a Grade 1 race like the Pacific Classic. Is California Chrome one of the Greats?  Yes, he is!