Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Looking at Dubai World Cup Winner California Chrome

California Chrome
One of only three Kentucky Derby winners this century to race past his 4-year-old season, California Chrome became the all-time highest earner outside of Japan on Saturday when he won the $6-million winner’s share of the Dubai World Cup purse and boosted his earnings to $12,532,650.

The winner of 12 of 21 races, the California-bred son of Lucky Pulpit was under the radar as a 2-year-old, winning only three of his seven starts but has quickly risen to be one of the most popular active racehorses in the world after dominating the Kentucky Derby trail in 2014 and winning two legs of the Triple Crown.

California Chrome was only a neck short of adding the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic to his resume at the end of that year, finishing third to Bayern (Offlee Wild) before closing the season with a Grade 1 win on turf in the Hollywood Derby. His 2015 seasons was derailed a bit when, after a pair of seconds including the Group 1 Dubai World Cup, he went on an ambitious campaign to England but never started due to an abscess. Shipping back to North America and aiming at the Arlington Million, it was discovered that he had bone bruising before he could make another start.

The colt rested for the rest of the year at Taylor Made Farm, who had bought into him that summer with an eye on a 2016 campaign.

California Chrome returned to the races on January 9 of this year, his first start since last year’s Dubai World Cup, and looked like he was in top form when winning the Grade 2 San Pasqual Stakes by 1 ¼ lengths. He shipped to Dubai in late January for a prep race in the desert and won that easily on Feb. 25. Looking to avenge his loss from the previous year, California Chrome’s winning run looked nearly effortless as he pulled away from the field in the final furlong and a half to win by a comfortable 3 ¼ lengths over Mubtaahij (Dubawi) even with his girth turning into a flank strap near the end of the race.

California Chrome will be sent to Taylor Made for a freshening after he clears quarantine later this week before gearing up for a late 2016 campaign. At the end of the year, California Chrome will retire to Taylor Made and begin his stud career where he’ll be joined by fellow Dubai World Cup runner Mshawish (Medaglia d’Oro).

California Chrome brings an interesting pedigree to Kentucky for breeders in 2017.

He is by the stallion Lucky Pulpit, who showed promise throughout his career but was never able to fully live up to it due to a variety of issues. While the stallion never won a graded stakes, he was a stakes winner at five furlongs on the turf and hit the board in two graded stakes during his career.

Lucky Pulpit is predictably by Pulpit who has turned into a good sire himself. Pulpit is the sire of 71 stakes winners as of March 27, according to Equineline and is the sire of record-breaking leading sire Tapit, so it’s hard for any other son to compare to him but there is hope from many that the Tapit success will carry to other sons as well. It definitely doesn’t hurt that one generation behind Pulpit is A.P. Indy (Seattle Slew) who is one of the most influential sires in North America in recent times.

A.P. Indy on March 17, 2016
Lucky Pulpit’s dam is out of the multiple graded stakes winner Lucky Spell (Lucky Mel), who has 16 stakes winners under her name on his page. One of those names is extremely familiar to Taylor Made as it is their late leading sire Unbridled’s Song (Unbridled). Unbridled’s Song was a cornerstone of the farm’s stallion program before dying in mid-2013. Ironically, California Chrome was stalled across the aisle from Unbridled Song’s son Graydar when he was at Taylor Made last summer.
California Chrome’s dam Love the Chase is by Not For Love (Mr. Prospector), a cornerstone of Maryland's breeding program. A stakes placed stallion, the 26-year-old Not for Love was pensioned last year as Maryland’s leading sire by lifetime progeny earnings and juvenile earnings and was also the highest ranked non-Kentucky stallion on the general sires list for many years.

While Not For Love’s family was always strong as is expected from a Phipps family horse, it has had even more success in the last decade.

Not For Love is out of Grade 1 winner Dance Number (Northern Dancer), who produced multiple successes by Mr. Prospector including champion 2-year-old colt Rhythm (Mr. Prospector). Her biggest success may have been the Mr. Prospector filly Get Lucky, who won a Grade 3 then became the matriarch of a family that includes 2010 Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver (Maria’s Mon) and Grade 1 winners Imagining (Giant’s Causeway), Girolamo (A.P. Indy), Callback (Street Sense), Got Lucky (A.P. Indy) and Bluegrass Cat (Storm Cat). 

Got Lucky winning the 2015 Grade 1 Juddmonte Spinster
Not For Love's branch of the family tree may bring the most class of California Chrome’s bottom side but the female family is that most looked at and the horse has a decent amount of class there too.

California Chrome is the first foal for Love the Chase with her only other horse to race being California Chrome’s 3-year-old half-sister Hope’s Love, who placed on debut. Love the Chase’s dam Chase It Down (Polish Numbers) had three winners herself while California Chrome’s third dam is where one can find the first non-Chrome blacktype.

That third dam is the Sir Ivor filly Chase the Dream, who won multiple stakes races during her career. She went on to produce the multiple stakes winning filly Amourette (El Gran Senor), who herself has produced the stakes winning Lemon Drop Kid filly Alette. Two of Amourette’s other foals are also stakes placed with the Lemon Drop Kid gelding Lemonade Kid finishing second in a Grade 2.

California Chrome’s fourth dam is a half-sister to the champion Cascapedia (Chieftain) and two other stakes winners with seven winners on her produce record. While California Chrome’s branch is by far the most successful of the family, another of her daughters also produced the stakes placed Mister Deux (Mister Jolie).

California Chrome isn’t the only California-bred stallion Taylor Made has had an interest in. The farm is partners with WinStar Farm on two-time Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Tiznow (Cee’s Tizzy). Like California Chrome, Tiznow didn’t come to Kentucky with a familiar or extremely deep pedigree at the time but he has turned into a leading sire in Kentucky.

Taylor Made is doing everything it can to give California Chrome support to become a strong sire including a deal where both it and co-owner Perry Martin sold small percentages of the horse to multiple breeders to help his chance of getting more support. According to Blood-Horse, one mare who is already planning on visiting California Chrome’s court in 2017 is the undefeated mare Pepper’s Pride who most recently checked in foal to American Pharoah.

But before California Chrome can worry about breeding, he still has a racing career to finish. Daily Racing Form reported after the Dubai World Cup that California Chrome’s next target may be the Pacific Classic in August with the ultimate goal for the year being another tilt at the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

If California Chrome can win that race, he’ll be one of six horse to complete the Kentucky Derby-Breeders’ Cup Classic since the race started in 1984. Ten Kentucky Derby winners have run in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at some point in their careers with a handful of others running in Breeders’ Cup races before or after the run for the roses.

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