Dubai World Cup Preview: Chrome has a golden chance
California Chrome is a class act with proven form on the dirt and looks a worthy favourite to land the Dubai World Cup at Meydan today (5.00).
The colt was bought for just $10,000 and has proved a real rags to riches story who has captured the imagination of the American public.
After landing the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes last year, California Chrome finished fourth in the Belmont Stakes – failing in his bid to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.
However, the four-year-old was beaten just two lengths and went on to finish a fine third in the Breeder’s Cup Classic at Santa Anita before being crowned the 2014 American Horse of the Year.
Calfornia Chrome also won the Hollywood Derby on his final start last season and looked as good as ever on his comeback run last month when beaten just 1 1/2 lengths by Shared Belief at Santa Anita.
That run should have put Chrome spot on for this, and he has proven top class form on the dirt, bags of early tactical pace and a high cruising speed which all look ideal for this test.
The main danger may well prove to be fellow USA challenger Lea.
The six-year-old missed most of last season due to a virus, but won a Grade 3 after 11 months off before finishing a fine second in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream.
Trainer Bill Mott won the latter with the mighty Cigar before he won the the first ever running of this race at Nad Al Sheba in 1996, and has been very bullish about Lea’s chances in the build up to this.
Epiphaneia is a top class Japanese raider who slammed a very strong field by four lengths in last year’s Japan Cup.
That was rated the second best performance in the world during last year, but the five-year-old’s pedigree is all turf and there has to be a big question mark how he will cope with his first try on dirt.
Another worry is that Epiphaneia disappointed on his only try outside Japan when just fourth in the QEII Cup at Sha Tin, and there are enough question marks to make him impossible in this line-up.
Last year’s winner African Story bids to become the first to win back-to-back runnings of the world’s richest race, but faces much stronger opposition than he did 12 months ago.
The Goldolphin-owned eight-year-old also has what could be a bad draw in stall three, as all the pace is out wide and he could find himself short of room and shuffled back in the early stages as those rivals cut across.