After a runner up finish in the 2015 Dubai World Cup (G1) for California Chrome nothing seemed to go right for the colt, but a second shot of winning what was then the world’s richest race got him back on track for another campaign that ended in Horse of the Year honors.
With just two starts in all of 2015, expectations were not as high by some that the 2014 Kentucky Derby (G1) winner and Horse of the Year could recapture that form in his five-year-old campaign.
However, back home in the U.S. in the comfy confines of Art Sherman’s barn at Los Alamitos the year started off on the right foot with a win in the San Pasqual (G2) off a 10-month layoff.
It was back to Dubai, this time going over early enough to get a prep race in over the Meydan surface, which he won easily.
He gave indications he was ready to amends for his runner up finish in the 2015 edition of the Dubai World Cup, telling Emma Spencer of 888 Sport, “I look at him and he is more mature as a five-year-old. I have never seen the love people have for this horse.”
Trainer Art Sherman with 888 Sports Emma Spencer Before the 2016 Dubai World Cup
He ran huge indeed, rolling to a 3 ¾ length victory Mubtaahij, pleasing his large fan base known as “Chromies” and indicating he was indeed back in top form.
It was then back to the U.S. where he faced off with the Bob Baffert trained Dortmund in the San Diego Handicap (G2) and it was a hard-fought half-length victory.
That race served as a prep for the Pacific Classic (G1) where he would not only meet up again with Dortmund, he would take on defending champion Beholder, the brilliant mare with three Eclipse Awards.
Under jockey Victor Espinoza, the colt took command early and took the field gate to wire to win by five lengths.
He then prepped for the Breeders’ Cup Classic by trouncing the field in the Awesome Again (G1) by 2 ¼ lengths.
In the Classic, he looked home free in the stretch but was run down by the freakishly good Arrogate, winner of the Travers Stakes (G1). Despite the loss, he was still crowned Horse of the Year, just the third time for a horse to win the honor in non-consecutive years.
He took a curtain call at his home base at Los Alamitos by winning the Winter Challenge Stakes, a race created for him to use as a prep for his final career start upcoming in the $12 million Pegasus World Cup (G1) on Jan. 28 at Gulfstream Park.
It has been a storybook ride for the 78-year old Sherman and the modestly bred horse, and it could end on a dramatic note if he turns the tables on his rival Arrogate in the Pegasus World Cup before heading to the breeding shed.