Monday, January 30, 2017

New Sire Series: California Chrome

Note: This New Sires blog is an updated blog first run after California Chrome’s Dubai World Cup victory in 2016.

California Chrome at Taylor Made in 2015.
One of only three Kentucky Derby winners this century to race past his 4-year-old season, California Chrome (Lucky Pulpit) continues to make history years after most high profile horses have been retired. In March of 2016, the horse became the all-time highest earner outside of Japan when he won the $6-million winner’s share of the Dubai World Cup purse and boosted his earnings to $12,532,650. Later that year, he became the first horse to win two Horse of the Year titles in non-consecutive years since John Henry pulled off the feat in 1981 and 1984.

The winner of 16 of 27 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 racehorses in the world in recent years 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 trip to England but never started due to injury. Shipping back to North America and aiming at the Grade 1 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. That decision to return him to the track paid off in spades.

California Chrome returned to the races on Jan. 9, 2016, his first start since the 2015 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 in the Dubai World Cup 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.

After a freshening at Taylor Made, California Chrome headed back to the track for the second half of 2016.

In one of the more exciting races of the year, California Chrome had to battle with Dortmund (Big Brown) in the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap to stay undefeated on the year but the race was just what he needed to get in to gear. He came back a month later in better shape and romped in the $1-million, Grade 1 Pacific Classic by five lengths over a field that included multiple champion mare Beholder (Henny Hughes).

2016 PACIFIC CLASSIC


Confirming that he was the best older horse in the country, California Chrome won his fifth graded stakes of 2016 in the Grade 1 Awesome Again in September before heading to the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic. Under what some said was an over confident ride, a Classic win again eluded California Chrome when he finished second by half a length to Arrogate (Unbridled’s Song) with the rest of the field nearly 11 lengths behind them.

As a prep for the Pegasus World Cup and as a salute to all of his fans at his Los Alamitos Race Course base, California Chrome ran in the Winter Challenge. In what amounted to a paid workout, California Chrome never had to put in his full effort when winning by 12 lengths and breaking the track record in his final California start.

California Chrome’s final career start was also his first in Florida when he ran in the inaugural Pegasus World Cup. Unfortunately that start didn’t go as planned with the horse finishing an eased up ninth.

After the Pegasus, California Chrome retired to Taylor Made as a two-time Horse of the Year winner, where he is one of four new sires for the farm. While none of those freshmen stallions have Taylor Made’s foundation sire Unbridled’s Song (Unbridled) in their pedigrees, California Chrome is related to the stallion, as Lucky Pulpit's granddam is also the granddam of Unbridled’s Song.


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

He is by 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 Lucky Pulpit 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 73 stakes winners as of Jan. 25, according to Equineline and is the sire of record-breaking leading sire Tapit. With Tapit leading the charge, it’s hard for any other son to compare to him but there is hope that the Tapit success will carry to other sons and grandsons 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.

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. As mentioned before, Unbridled’s Song was a cornerstone of Taylor Made’s stallion program before dying in 2013. Perhaps fittingly, California Chrome is stalled across the aisle from Unbridled Song’s son Graydar at Taylor Made after having a rivalry near the end of his career with another Unbridled’s Song son in Arrogate.

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, Not for Love died in 2016 with the distinction of being Maryland’s leading sire by lifetime progeny earnings and juvenile earnings. Not For Love was also the highest ranked non-Kentucky stallion on the general sires list for many years.


Love the Chase
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).

Not For Love's branch of the family tree may bring the most class of California Chrome’s bottom side but the 6-year-old’s female family also has a decent amount of class.

California Chrome is the first foal out Love the Chase with her only other horses of racing age being full siblings to California Chrome. Both of the siblings who are aged three or older have raced with 4-year-old Hope’s Love placed in her debut before injury forced her to the sidelines. She returned to the races but never showed the level of talent she showed in that first race. California Chrome’s 3-year-old sister has raced five times with two placings in maiden special weight races.

Love the Chase’s dam Chase It Down (Polish Numbers) had three winners herself while California Chrome’s third dam is where the first non-Chrome blacktype appears.
California Chrome and Gilberto Terrazas
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).

Interestingly, California Chrome is inbred 4 x 4 to blue hen broodmare Numbered Account (Buckpasser), the dam of successful sires Private Account (Damascus) and Polish Numbers (Danzig) in addition to the Grade 1 winning mare Dance Number (Northern Dancer). California Chrome’s two crosses to Numbered Account come from Dance Number and Polish Numbers with Dance Number the dam of Not For Love and Polish Numbers being his second dam’s sire. Digging deeper into his pedigree also finds great broodmare La Troienne (Teddy) on his pedigree seven times so California Chrome has some serious mare power behind him.

Tiznow
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. Included in that group is China Horse Club, whose strong broodmare band will be a major asset to California Chrome's book the first few years.

California Chrome stands for a fee of $40,000 in 2017, $10,000 lower than the most expensive new stallion in North America this year (Frosted) and the same price as 2016 Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist (Uncle Mo).

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