California Chrome is back, and he has once again shown us why he is the most popular horse in the world. At the San Diego Handicap, Chrome defeated Dortmund by half of a length, a major contender in the 2015 Triple Crown race. It was a welcome return to racing for the horse, and many people paid attention to this race solely because he was entered. It also brought many sports and horse bettors out to the track to get in on the action. The San Diego Handicap is a 1 1/16th mile race, which is just shorter than many of the Triple Crown races. It’s a very competitive distance, but a bit shorter than the lengths that Chrome has excelled at in the past. Winning a race of this short distance says a lot about his capabilities.
California Chrome won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes in 2014, only to sit out for the Belmont Stakes that year. He hasn’t raced much since then, entering the $10 million Dubai Stakes, and winning it, as one of his only races since 2014. Chrome has had many people wondering about whether or not he could have won the Triple Crown two years ago, but that become a moot point after American Pharoah won the three races in 2015. He was the first to do so since the late 1970s, and it took a lot of the attention away from Chrome’s aborted run at the Crown. However, it never abated the popularity of the now five-year-old horse. There’s a good reason why California Chrome is the most popular horse in the world. He also happens to be the most winning horse in North American history.
Horse racing is under a lot of pressure lately because of the high number of euthanized horses there have been lately. Del Mar racetrack just opened up recently, and there have already been at least four horses have died there. There have also been other issues in the past, such as breathing trouble, the usage of performance enhancing drugs in horses, and other misuse and abuse. The sport is likely not going to go anywhere, but the public isn’t exactly receptive to animal cruelty either. These are typically very isolated incidents but are magnified publicly. That doesn’t mean that they are any less concerning, though. These are not new concerns either, but are indicative of issues within the sport that have been around for years. Horses are very delicate animals, and if they are not treated just right, they can get injured easily. An injury will often lead to euthanizing because the prospects for recovery are never good.
The racing season tends to wrap up with the Breeders’ Cup Classic in November. While the field for this race is nowhere near set, it is a possibility that California Chrome’s connection might consider him for this race. The horse looks healthy, has good speed over long distance, and has been on a strong winning streak. A California Chrome/American Pharoah showdown would do wonders for the sport and would bring in a ton of money to racetrack pari-mutuel books and sports books that take futures bets on the race. This is a farfetched matchup at this stage in the game, but it is still a possibility. This could go down as the biggest race in history, and it would put the focus of the sport back where it should be: the intensity of competition. Even those that are not big thoroughbred racing fans but just love sports in general would be drawn to a hyped up race like this. Fans of the sport can only hope.