The $10-million Dubai World Cup has attracted a field of nine entrants, including the reigning American Horse of the Year California Chrome, in what should be an exciting renewal of the world’s richest horse race. Despite a valiant second-place finish behind the top-ranked Shared Belief in the San Antonio at Santa Anita, Chrome still has to prove that he can win again on the dirt against top horses. To find his last victory on the dirt, you would have to look to the 2014 Preakness Stakes.
I personally think California Chrome is much better and sharper when his races are closer to each other instead of going months without racing. He was active from his 2-year-old debut all the way through the Triple Crown campaign and he looked to thrive with each and every race.
Do I think he’s coming into this race with his "A" game? I don’t think so.
Do I think he can still win? Absolutely. His "B" game should be enough to handle this field.
The last three horses that denied California Chrome from entering the winner’s circle are Bayern, Toast of New York and Shared Belief, and none of those three will be in the starting gate come at Meydan.
If California Chrome wins the Dubai World Cup, his earnings would reach over $10.3 million and that would put him about $200,000 shy of the Highest North American earner, Curlin.
My top threats to upset California Chrome:
Lea (5-2): All reports indicate that he has been training great since arriving to Dubai. Although he’s only making his third start in more than a year, he’s shown flashes of talent and this might be his time to shine.
Hooko Tarumae (10-1): Loves to win races and always seems to fire a good effort that puts him in the mix of things. He’s won 15 of his 29 lifetime starts and has accumulated over $8.5 million dollars in earnings.
African Story (7-1): Comes off a good win that should have him ready for another good effort. Having good local experience over a relatively new dirt track has to be a good thing for his connections.
Prince Bishop (14-1): Has suffered two narrow losses including a second behind African Story in their most recent outing. I’m not sure what kind of trip he will get from the inside post but I do think he can jump up with a good effort.
Strategy: Key California Chrome in first and second in the trifecta.