11/28/2016 11:50AM

Los Alamitos creates Winter Challenge for California Chrome

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Barbara D. Livingston
California Chrome will have one prep before the Pegasus Cup thanks to a newly created stakes at Los Alamitos.

Los Alamitos has added a stakes race to its winter meeting to give California Chrome a local prep race before the final start of his career in the $12 million Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 28.

The Winter Challenge will be run Dec. 17 at 1 1/16 miles with a purse structure designed to entice owners and trainers to run against California Chrome, the 2014 Horse of the Year who was second in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita on Nov. 5.

The race is likely to be worth more than $100,000, as it will offer $50,000 to the winner, $30,000 to the runner-up, $20,000 for third, and $15,000 for the fourth and fifth finishers, according to Los Alamitos racing secretary Bob Moreno. If the race draws a larger field, additional finishers will earn $10,000 each.

“If I get six or seven, it’s gravy,” Moreno said. “I think we can get five or six.”

California Chrome is scheduled to start in the Pegasus World Cup before going to stud at Taylor Made Farm in Kentucky in 2017. A 5-year-old California-bred, California Chrome has won 15 of 25 starts and earned $14,452,650. He won the $10 million Dubai World Cup in March in the United Arab Emirates.

California Chrome is highly likely to face a modest field in the Winter Challenge. Moreno was actively compiling a list of candidates over the weekend. The race is not expected to include Arrogate, the winner of the BC Classic, or Melatonin, who won two Grade 1 races on dirt this year.

Arrogate is expected to have his next start in the Pegasus World Cup. Melatonin is likely to race at Santa Anita in January, trainer David Hofmans said last week.

California Chrome has been based at Los Alamitos while in training in Southern California since early 2014 but has never raced at the Orange County track.

Los Alamitos took on a larger role on the Southern California Thoroughbred circuit in 2014 following the closure of Hollywood Park in 2013. Los Alamitos hosts three brief Thoroughbred meetings each year. The track will have an eight-day meeting Dec. 8-18.

Art Sherman, who trains California Chrome, also trains a small number of Thoroughbreds owned by Ed Allred, the owner of Los Alamitos.

The Winter Challenge was developed by Los Alamitos officials after consulting with the Thoroughbred Owners of California, the state’s official representative for owners.

“We had the cooperation of the TOC,” said Brad McKinzie, the general manager of the Los Alamitos Thoroughbred meetings. “They understand the chance for Los Al to have California Chrome run is a good thing for racing. Now, it’s a matter of filling the race.

“We consider him our local horse. He’s got a following. People come out at 6 in the morning to watch him work. I imagine they’d come out at 4 o’clock in the afternoon to watch him race.”