California Chrome All Alone in a Classic for the Ages

Just when you think that the bar can be raised no further, something like this happens.

Facing arguably the best group of horses ever assembled for the GI TVG Pacific Classic, California Chrome (Lucky Pulpit) made horses like defending champion Beholder(Henny Hughes) and ‘TDN Rising Star’ Dortmund (Big Brown) look comparatively ordinary, setting a good pace before steaming home to score by five convincing lengths.

“Before the race, no matter what strategy I have, everything changes when the gate opens,” explained winning jockey Victor Espinoza. “So, right when I was behind the gate I thought, ‘You know what, I’m going to send out of here. I’m going to send hard out of the gate and then move out just a little toward the middle of the track.’ I tapped California Chrome a couple of times and I was surprised I opened up two or three lengths right away. By that time I was very confident and happy. That’s where I won. The fractions weren’t that slow, the pace was pretty good. But he was doing it comfortable and I didn’t want to take him out of the race after I sent him out of the gate.”