California Chrome will make his final career start in the $12 million Pegasus World Cup Saturday January 28th at Gulfstream Park. He will face a field that includes nemesis Arroagate in the world’s richest horse race ever. Virginia residents can bet the big race at either Richmond Off Track Betting Center — Ponies & Pints (downtown) or Breakers Sports Grille (west end). Gulfstream has an afternoon packed with stakes plus, Santa Anita has a batch of Sunshine Millions Stakes. The following piece is from Bloodhorse.com
Mr. S! Can I bother you for a picture?”
Such is the life for trainer Art Sherman so long as a certain copper-coated colt is still part of his world. Only a handful of hours after California Chrome was feted as the 2016 Horse of the Year, adding that trophy to his 2014 year-end honor, the venerable Sherman stood in the Gulfstream Park barn area Jan. 22 keeping watch on his horse of a lifetime while accepting waves of congratulatory wishes.
In one instance, a pony rider hoped off his patient mount to snag photographic proof that he shared air space with the man who trains North America’s all-time leading money earner. As always, Sherman was more than willing to oblige such a kind request. He wants to stay in this moment as long as possible, even if he knows he won’t fully process the journey California Chrome has taken him on until sometime after the son of Lucky Pulpit makes his final start in the $12 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) Jan. 28.
“It will be after we run in the Pegasus that I’ll sit back and say ‘Wow, we won Horse of the Year twice,'” Sherman said after California Chrome became the first horse since the legendary John Henry (1981 and 1984) to win Eclipse Awards for Horse of the Year in non-consecutive years. “What an achievement. I just can’t say how thankful I am for it. We’ve got other horses coming up. I’ve been in the game for so many years, you have to have something to look forward to and think there might be another Chrome out there.”
Sherman, however, is the first to tell all there will never really be another California Chrome.
In the four-plus seasons he has been on the track, the now 6-year-old horse has worn every title from hyped-up California-bred, to dual-classic winner, to fallen hero, to resurgent monster. If one had told Sherman in the summer of 2015, when California Chrome returned from an aborted Royal Ascot venture dull of coat and sore from bone bruising, that he would come back in 2016 as his best version yet, the affable horsemen admitted, “It would have been hard to believe.”
From his Dubai World Cup Sponsored by Emirates Airline (G1) triumph in March to his win in the TVG Pacific Classic (G1), California Chrome embodied what a fully mature racehorse looks like. His body of work was such that Eclipse Award voters didn’t hold his loss to Arrogate in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) against him.
Sherman for certain doesn’t view that defeat as a chink in his stable star’s armor. What it has provided the barn with is added motivation to show the racing community one last time next week that the California Chrome at his best is the best around, period.
“I’m looking forward to the race. I think it’s going to be a great race,” Sherman said of the expected rematch with Arrogate in the Pegasus. “Arrogate is a really a strong horse and I’ve been wanting a rematch for a long time now. I told (jockey) Victor (Espinoza), this is The Last (of the) Mohicans, so let’s go for it.”