— Champions Series (@ChampionsSeries) June 4, 2015
California Chrome continued his prep for an anticipated start in the June 17 Prince of Wales’s Stakes, getting acquainted with the right-handed Ascot turf on Thursday. Frankie Dettori on how the colt handled the training session:
“We did seven furlongs,” Dettori said. “The whole idea, because he has been turning left all his life, was to get him at full-on speed round the turn to make sure he gets on his right lead.
“He was a bit surprised going into the turn. He didn’t know what was going on. Then he got onto his right lead, he learned very quickly and in the straight I asked him to quicken to make sure he knew that after the turn he was going to carry on.”
Here’s a photo of Chrome and workmate Aktabantay at the turn, and here he is in slo-mo, galloping past the finish line.
Despite saying that he expects the Horse of the Year to “be very competitive,” the rider will likely be on Western Hymn in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes.
Alan Sherman, in town to supervise for his father, trainer Art Sherman, wasn’t as positive (or diplomatic) about the American Horse of the Year’s chances:
“He’s running against the best turf horses in the world, so. Like I said, he’s a hard trier. If he’s not good enough, he’s not good enough.”
The elder Sherman is looking forward to Ascot for more than his horse — he’s hoping for an introduction to the Queen: “She loves California Chrome and the story behind him, so I’ve got a feeling we’ll get a chance to meet her.”
Chrome will return to the US after Ascot for planned starts in the Arlington Million, Jockey Club Gold Cup, and Breeders’ Cup (race to be determined).
6/7/15 Update: William Buick has picked up the ride on California Chrome. “They wanted one of the good English or European jockeys and William beat them in Dubai so they know him and he’s available,” said trainer Rae Guest, overseeing Chrome while he’s in Newmarket.
The Prince of Wales’s Stakes ended in a new course record time of 2:01.90 and a reversal of the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Turf finish when The Fugue kicked clear to win by two lengths over Magician. “She’s proved what she can do to everybody,” said rider William Buick of the 5-year-old mare. “When she gets an uncomplicated run, she’s lethal.” She certainly was: Watch the replay.
Heavily favored Arc winner Trêve finished third. Jockey Frankie Dettori said the filly didn’t feel right from the start: “I was never in a comfort zone.” Trainer Criquette Head-Maarek, observing that today is the anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, called the beat “a French defeat,” and said, “Maybe we’ll find something wrong. We have lost the battle, not the war.”
Regardless of how Animal Kingdom does in the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot on Tuesday, his appearance is a win for American racing, writes Pat Cummings:
The fact that an intact Kentucky Derby winner is still racing, and successfully, is a massive boost to American racing, whether he’s been in America or not. The son of brilliant turf miler Leroidesanimaux is a winner on dirt, turf, and all-weather, and a G1 winner on two of those surfaces, while G1 placed on grass. While having started only eleven times in his career, it’s the last four starts on his ledger, from 2012 and 2013, that stand out – mostly because Kentucky Derby winners are so rarely seen around, let alone in the winner’s circle, in the years after their Derby tally.
He went out for his last gallop this morning.
6/18/13 Update: Oh, too bad — an 11th place finish wasn’t the wished for exit, but the horse has delivered in enough big races — across continents and racing surfaces and years — for there to be no regrets. Thanks for the memories, Animal Kingdom. (Watch the Queen Anne Stakes replay.)
6/19/13 Addendum: Sure, blame the filly: “I could see him transform from a focused competitor to a sex machine” (PDF). One whiff of Elusive Kate in the paddock, and Animal Kingdom’s racing career was over, his stud career begun.
Welcome to the bizarre, through-the-looking-glass world in which talented horses and their conflicted owners and trainers try to do business these days. As domestic prizes continue to contract, massive international purses still dangle on the distant horizons. Even the most timid practitioners of the Thoroughbred sport are tempted to fling inhibitions to the wind and fly to the far corners of the racing globe.
In five years, this trend won’t seem bizarre, but inevitable. We’re witnessing the emergence of an elite international racing circuit that runs from Royal Ascot to the Dubai World Cup, with stops in America, Australia, France, Hong Kong, and Japan on the schedule between.
Copyright © 2000-2017 by Jessica Chapel. All rights reserved.