07/21/2016 1:56PM

California Chrome figures to attract a crowd

Barbara D. Livingston
The presence of California Chrome in Saturday's San Diego Handicap will draw a big crowd to Del Mar.

DEL MAR, Calif. – The presence of the popular California Chrome in the $200,000 San Diego Handicap on Saturday is expected to boost attendance at Del Mar, but track officials are reluctant to predict the size of the crowd.

Craig Dado, Del Mar’s chief marketing officer, said California Chrome’s appearance and promotions that include food-truck and craft-beer festivals could produce an audience in excess of 25,000.

“Chrome is a unique horse,” Dado said. “He almost has a cult following.”

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Dado said a much larger audience is possible Aug. 20 if California Chrome runs in the $1 million Pacific Classic that day against the three-time champion female Beholder. The two have never raced against each other.

“The real payoff could be Aug. 20,” he said.

The San Diego Handicap will be the first start for California Chrome since he won the $10 million Dubai World Cup in March.

Track president Joe Harper said focusing on a racehorse rather than ancillary promotions such as a concert should please racing purists.

“I guess my reaction is to expect a good day from something that has four legs and runs around a racetrack and not someone with a short skirt or someone with a guitar on stage,” he said. “It’s about the racing, and it’s where our hearts are. Hopefully, we can have a successful day.”