The $180,000 Winter Challenge at Los Alamitos was seen as nothing more than a hometown prep race for California Chrome and that’s exactly how it went down. The Lucky Pulpit son crushed the field, winning the 1 1/16-mile race by 12 lengths in a record track time of 1:40.03. The previous track record was 1:40.82, held by Uncle Lino.
California Chrome wasn’t the early pace-setter; that distinction went to 257-1 long shot Presidentsky, who led the pack through the first quarter. California Chrome would eventually take over after six furlongs and go on to win in convincing fashion.
“He felt strong—super strong today,” said jockey Victor Espinoza. “I know the competition wasn’t that great, but for me, the most important thing was how he felt physically. It’s pretty amazing how this horse—he can never go down for a second. It doesn’t matter how many times he runs, he comes back stronger and loves to run.”
The 1-9 favorite, California Chrome paid $2.10 for the win. Place and show wagering was unavailable. Because of a negative pool, Los Alamitos and others lost $58,170, as $740,956 was wagered on California Chrome to win. In 18 career California starts, California Chrome ends his California career with a record of 12-3-1.
“It’s great for racing,” said trainer Art Sherman. “We gave back—this is what it’s all about. It brings new fans to the races and we need a lot of new fans to keep the game going.”
Next up for California Chrome is the $12 million Pegasus World Cup (gr. I).