The Dubai Racing Festival was originally a great dream. An ambitious one that may not have worked. However, it did, and the Dubai World Cup (the premier race) has now become the most coveted prize in the world, and not just for the bragging rights or the enormous trophy.
With a glittering purse of $10 million dollars (six of which going to the winner) a victory in this race essentially assures a life changing career for not only the horse, but his connections as well. This is what Team Chrome is hoping to achieve tomorrow. In just a few hours, the horses will load into the gate for the Dubai World Cup (Group I) and the world will hold its collective breath for the next three minutes.
California Chrome has certainly as much chance as anyone else to claim the race and its hefty prize; joining Animal Kingdom and Silver Charm as the only three winners to pull off the Kentucky Derby/World Cup double. But with an international field unlike anything he’s ever faced assembling, it will not be the stroll home that the Derby was in my opinion. Granted, with Constitution and a few other key American competitors out, it has lost a bit of the luster that it could have had if everyone that was planning on attending had shown up.
Make no mistake though, beating the Japanese dirt specialists and last year’s winner African Story will add an extra bright shine on an already dazzling career for Chrome. However, beating them will require a lot more effort than it would most American horses. Most of the Dubai World Cup contenders have been on the grounds for weeks and some are based at the track; Chrome arrived barely a few days ago. All reports indicate that he has been taking to the climate just fine, and Art Sherman is confident that he can produce a world class effort. This doesn’t change the fact that many horses have had weeks to acclimate and train for this race. While Art Sherman reports that he’s holding weight well and training over the track great, it’s still an active concern for many.
Still, the question remains: just how good is California Chrome? Steve Coburn, in an interview with Simon Bray of TVG, has said that he’s well-aware that many people don’t even consider him a real racehorse. While the reasons vary from extremely petty to downright stupid, they still exist: he’s a California bred, his Triple Crown wins were a fluke, his owners are rude and crazy, etc. It’s clear that after the Belmont debacle, where Coburn allowed his emotions to rodeo ride his words out of his mouth, that he’s been coached (whether by his co-owner, his wife, the trainer, or all three) into picking his words a little more carefully. I wasn’t too offended and am also a person that believes that there should be some kind of realistic limit on who is allowed to run in the last leg of the Triple Crown, but his unsportsmanlike conduct left a bad taste in my mouth for a bit until he apologized sincerely for his words. I moved on and gave him a second chance, and he hasn’t let me down yet. So Chrome is looking to brighten his record in some eyes, prove his record in others, and his owner is looking for his horse to come back safe.
So, tell me who you think will win the World Cup tomorrow? Chrome? Lea? African Story? Someone from the field? Vote below!