Updated on 03/31/2015 10:08AM

Prince Bishop wins World Cup; California Chrome second

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Dubai Racing Club/Andrew Watkins
Prince Bishop, ridden by William Buick, wins the Dubai World Cup by 2 3/4 lengths Saturday.

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Prince Bishop ran in the 2011 World Cup, the edition won by Victoire Pisa, and finished 10th. He ran in the 2012 World Cup, with Monterosso leading a local sweep in the synthetic-surface race, and finished seventh. The next year on World Cup Night, he ran up the track in the Sheema Classic, and last year, in his third crack at the World Cup, Prince Bishop finished ninth, beaten more than 11 lengths.

The switch from the old Tapeta all-weather track to dirt this year at Meydan figured to do Prince Bishop no favors, and surely, at age 8, time was nipping at his hooves.

Yet there was Prince Bishop on Saturday night at Meydan, running past the 2014 U.S. Horse of the Year, California Chrome, to keep the World Cup trophy at home for the fourth time in the six years of racing at Meydan.

His trainer, Saeed bin Suroor, won his second straight World Cup (African Story triumphed in 2014) and his seventh overall. The English jockey William Buick won the $10 million race for the first time.

“I can’t believe it,” Buick said a few minutes after pulling Prince Bishop up on the backside.

Buick could have been speaking for most folks. Prince Bishop went off at 17-1 odds in North American betting on the race, and the price could easily have been higher. He never had won on dirt and was facing two of the best American dirt horses in training, California Chrome and Lea. But neither was any match for Prince Bishop, who drew off to win by 2 3/4 lengths. It could have been more had Buick not taken his foot of the gas late in the game.

Hokko Tarumae took the lead shortly after the start, with African Story pressing in second. That was the spot that trainer Art Sherman hoped race favorite California Chrome would find, but instead, California Chrome and Victor Espinoza, breaking from the outside in a nine-horse field, could not get in, pushed out to the No. 4 path round the entire bend. The situation was only slightly better on the second turn, California Chrome stuck out three wide, still losing ground.

“It looked like he ran 70 yards further than anyone else in the race,” Sherman said.

Trakus, the racing data service, actually shows California Chrome running just three feet farther than the winner. Prince Bishop wound up wide on the far turn; he might just have been the better horse on the night.

The pace started out moderate, a half-mile in 49.95 seconds, but quickened from there to the mile, according to Trakus, and a testing second half-mile probably sapped California Chrome of enough energy to leave him wobbly when Prince Bishop attacked. Whatever the reason, the 2014 Kentucky Derby winner was beaten at his own game, dirt, by a horse in his sixth year of racing who had won just one Group 1 race, and that a moderate running last year of the al Maktoum Challenge, Round 3.

Lea, the second American in the race, tucked in behind the leaders in what looked like a garden spot but had to steady a bit leaving the far turn, which cost him momentum. Still, he went more evenly than forwardly the last quarter-mile while well beaten by the runner-up and more than five lengths clear of fourth-place Candy Boy, who was followed home by Hokko Tarumae, African Story, Long River, Side Glance, and Epipheneia. The winner was timed in 2:03.24, which, since this is dirt’s first year here, was unsurprisingly a track record.

Owned by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed al Maktoum, Prince Bishop, the second dirt-winning son of Dubawi on the card, ran his record to 28-11-3-3 while adding $6 million to his $1.06 million bankroll.

California Chrome’s payoff was a cool $2 million. He also battled bravely in defeat, as had been the case when finishing second to Shared Belief last month in the Santa Antonio Stakes at Santa Anita.

“Everyone wants to win, but I thought he ran his eyeballs out,” said Sherman, who trains California Chrome for owners Perry Martin and Steve Coburn.

There’s been talk of California Chrome going to England from Dubai to point for a race at the Royal Ascot meet in June. Sherman said nothing has been decided but suggested that California Chrome might go home instead. Indeed, Coburn walked around the parade ring as California Chrome, wet with dirt-flecked sweat, was unsaddled and led away. “You’re America’s horse!” he bellowed, patting California Chrome’s forehead.

“People don’t know how hard this is,” said Sherman. “This is going to be hard on the horse. I’d just like to see him come out of this in good shape. There are plenty of good races for him right at home.”

What could Prince Bishop do for a second act? Surely this was the denouement of his career. He has raced only in Dubai the last three seasons, taking summers off. African Story, fading as Prince Bishop rallied, became the 19th World Cup winner who failed to repeat the next season. Two World Cups would be asking too much from a horse almost no one expected to win one.