The chestnut son of Lucky Pulpit, better known as classic winner California Chrome, made a lot of people happy when he glided under the wire at Meydan on March 26, winner of the 2016 Dubai World Cup.
The handsome horse with all the chrome had finished second in the race last year, then had gone off the rails in an attempt at taking over the world of international racing. The grand attempt did not go unnoticed, and the Taylor brothers at Taylor Made Farm near Lexington were available to supply investors when the horse’s partnership broke up in the aftermath of his international foray.
To that end, Taylor Made Stallions purchased the equity of California Chrome’s co-breeder, Steve Coburn, and then Taylor Made offered shares in the stallion to some owners who had expressed interest in breeding to the horse. Taylor Made and its investment shareholders have a 30 percent stake in the chestnut champion.
Initially, there was a lot of speculation that California Chrome would never return to the racetrack, and the colt did have an issue or two that sidelined him the remainder of the 2015 season, which became a glorious parade for American Pharoah, star of the 2015 Triple Crown and winner of the Breeders’ Cup Classic in his final start.
Meanwhile, the 2014 Kentucky Derby winner had returned to the Bluegrass state to spend some time turned out and enjoying his inner pony. While in Kentucky, California Chrome stayed at Taylor Made, where he will enter stud.
Since he returned to training, California Chrome has made steady progress in 2016, and if the hopes of millions of fans come true, the World Cup victory will be only the first of many highlights added to the horse’s resume during the 2016 racing season.
At the very least, California Chrome’s victory in the desert has proven a stellar bit of horse trading. Sid Fernando, in his blog Sid Fernando + Observations, wrote a piece entitled “Taylor Made gamble pays off big.” In his commentary, Fernando clearly assesses the situation regarding California Chrome as a stallion prospect last year: “if he’d gone to stud in 2016 at Taylor Made off a disappointing and failed 2015 season, he’d probably have stood for $15,000 and would have compared unfavorably to a strong group of young horses that went to stud in 2016 with better pedigrees and current race records.”
In pedigree, California Chrome does not have a glittering female family line till the fifth generation, despite having broodmare sires in that line who are quite good. Furthermore, had he been retired last year, California Chrome would have entered stud with a long empty space between the present and a victory in a race that breeders could look to as an indicator of sire potential.
It was May 2014 in the Grade 1 Preakness Stakes. Prior to January 2016, the only race he won after the Preakness was the G1 Hollywood Derby, and looking back on it, Taylor Made was showing some serious nerve in purchasing an interest in the horse.
Then the ownership doubled down and put California Chrome back into training when the chief veterinarians gave them the all clear. There were all sorts of ways this strategy could have gone off the rails.
But it didn’t.
Now, California Chrome has three victories in a row: the G2 San Pasqual in January, then the pair of outings at Meydan that concluded on Saturday, March 26, with a victory in the World Cup.
The plan for California Chrome is to fly from Dubai on March 31, with his destination being Chicago. There, the horse will go through quarantine, then ship to Taylor Made to stay for about 30 days before travelling to California and rejoining trainer Art Sherman.