American superstar California Chrome has cruised to victory in a handicap at Meydan in preparation for a second shot at the Dubai World Cup.
Widely expected to beat his inferior rivals on Thursday (Friday AEDT) despite giving away a lot of weight, California Chrome came out of stalls slowly and was forced to race three-wide down the back straight.
But Victor Espinoza barely had to move a muscle as the horse loomed large round the bend.
Allowed to stride on in the straight, California Chrome swiftly put a gap on the field 1-1/2 furlongs (300m) and won without being asked a question as he threw down the World Cup gauntlet to fellow US runner Frosted.
Second in the World Cup last year to shock winner Prince Bishop, and having just his second start since then, California Chrome was cut to 5-2 favourite for the March 26 showpiece by Betfred.
“It was easy. The way he looks is the way he won,” Espinoza said.
“I didn’t want to do too much with him, as I know it is a short period of time to the next race. I didn’t want to empty the tank today.
“I got a good position on the first turn and from then on it was pretty much him all by himself.”
Trainer Art Sherman confirmed all roads now lead to the World Cup.
“It was the perfect race. We were very satisfied and it’s really good with the $10 million race coming up,” he said.
“With that under his belt, he’s going to be devil tough, I think.
“If we can ever get lucky he could wind up being the richest thoroughbred ever, passing Curlin, who is a great thoroughbred. It would be an honour for that to happen.”