08/21/2016 11:46AM

Effects of California Chrome's win will be felt months later

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Shigeki Kikkawa
Jockey Victor Espinoza flashes a smile as California Chrome crosses the finish line first in the Pacific Classic.

DEL MAR, Calif. – It took a little more than two minutes for California Chrome to dominate Beholder, Dortmund, and Hoppertunity on Saturday in the Pacific Classic at Del Mar, but the ramifications of his overpowering victory may be felt for the next two months.

While California Chrome is headed to the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 5 at Santa Anita, with a possible prep in the Grade 1, $300,000 Awesome Again at Santa Anita on Oct. 1, Beholder’s year-end goal may now be the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff on Nov. 4, while Dortmund's and Hoppertunity's connections were plotting their next moves after being no match on Saturday for California Chrome.

California Chrome won the Pacific Classic by five lengths over Beholder and received a Beyer Speed Figure of 113, equaling his career best, earned when third in the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic.

“He’s so much stronger. He’s in the best part of his career now,” Art Sherman, who trains California Chrome, said at his Del Mar barn on Sunday morning. “It’s kinda awesome to watch.

“You’ve got the best horses in the country. These races are tougher,” Sherman said, comparing the current campaign to when California Chrome was 3. “I think he’s the best horse in the world, not that I might be biased.”

California Chrome left Del Mar on Sunday morning for his regular base at Los Alamitos. There is a $1 million bonus for a horse who can win the Pacific Classic, Awesome Again, and Breeders’ Cup Classic, but Sherman said that would have no impact on whether he goes in the Awesome Again.

“He’ll be ready,” Sherman said. “I’d be fine going into the Breeders’ Cup Classic fresh.

There are six weeks to the Awesome Again, then five more to the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

“The timing is right. We’ll see how he recovers,” Sherman said. “He came out of the race good. He was super after the race.”

With his Pacific Classic victory, California Chrome earned a fees-paid berth to the Breeders’ Cup Classic through the “Win and You’re In” program. He is 5 for 5 this year, and is the clear front-runner for Horse of the Year, a title he won in 2014.

Trainer Richard Mandella said Beholder, who finished second, came out of the race “real good.”

“No way I’m anything but proud of her,” Mandella said Sunday morning. “She beat some pretty nice horses. She ran well enough to win most Classics, but not that one. The winner ran awesome.”

Mandella said Beholder would point to the Grade 1, $300,000 Zenyatta Stakes at Santa Anita on Oct. 1 as her next start. Beholder has won that race, which is restricted to females, the last three years.

Mandella said he would “decide later whether to go in the Classic or the Distaff” after the Zenyatta, but said, “as of now I’d probably be conservative and aim at the Distaff.”

Beholder won the Distaff in 2013, also at Santa Anita. She was scratched from last year’s Classic at Keeneland – in which she would have faced Triple Crown winner American Pharoah -- when she took ill with a lung infection two days before the race.

Dortmund, who was third in the Pacific Classic, and Hoppertunity, who was fourth, both also were fine Sunday morning, according to trainer Bob Baffert. He said the race was “over the first eighth of a mile,” when jockey Victor Espinoza aggressively sent California Chrome from his rail draw and secured the lead.

“Victor put the shock and awe at the beginning. That was it,” Baffert said.

Baffert said he’d wait a bit before deciding on a race schedule for Dortmund and Hoppertunity this fall.

“My horses fired,” Baffert said. “The other horse was too good. He was the better horse. Sometimes you’ve got to say you got your ass beat.”

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Chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
One effect will be Beholder winning the Distaff and I'll salute Mandella for not running her in the Classic.
Leslie Rockburn More than 1 year ago
Baffert is like a fine wine.... better with age.
Gaye Goodwin More than 1 year ago
good as Ripple!
Jerry Mann More than 1 year ago
well put.....
Alan Spinney More than 1 year ago
he will run his best that day no pressure on horse or rider they have no one to beat the competition has the pressure on them always remember he is still young and healthy and he loves the game good luck to chrome and his crew

ed More than 1 year ago
Frosted does not have a prayer against CC. I would rather see Beholder beat a very tough Songbird, but still is a solid 2nd behind CC. Try the lead next time. There is no passing CC. Frosted and Dortmund fill underneath.  Maybe Gov. Malibu 5th?  Pacific was a fun race to watch and Classic will also be worth watching. No getting rich in that race.
Mary Reynolds More than 1 year ago
I appreciate Mandella and Baffert's graciousness in defeat. Cannot wait to see who will be in the BCC. 
Looking forward to seeing FROSTED run (again) against CHROME. FROSTED has clearly improved since Dubai but still think he won't be able to beat CHROME.
BUT, we all know how unpredictable racing can be so we shall just have to wait until November....



Chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
I'm beginning to believe Baffert DID learn something from American Pharoah.
Cheryl Kleist More than 1 year ago
Music Please:  Drum Roll and French Horns--So Happy To Day--Chrome's the Champ!
Gary Peacock More than 1 year ago
Awesome Again!
Shawn Carter More than 1 year ago
California Chrome will crush Frosted anf whatever the Europeans shoot at him at Santa Anita. I glad Victor Espinoza put him on the lead instead of rating him. Now Im ready to see songbird take on beholder. At this point, Baffert should just send Dortmund to NY. Cause the Chrome definitely has his number now.
gallopingtom More than 1 year ago
I know one thing...B.C. DIRT mile will have a full field.