California Chrome has had his first look at the site of his final race – the richest race in the world.
The leading money winner in North American racing history went for a jog at Gulfstream Park early on Sunday (Monday AEDT), two days after arriving to prepare for the $US12 million Pegasus World Cup on January 28.
California Chrome has never raced in Florida, and his brisk pre-dawn trek onto the Gulfstream dirt – on an unseasonably chilly morning was the first of many scheduled for the next few days.
He’s set to have daily early morning gallops until Saturday, when the plan calls for him to gallop five furlongs (1000m).
“That cold wind hitting him in the butt probably set him off a little bit,” Alan Sherman, the son of trainer Art Sherman, said.
“He looked great. He’s sound and everything. Looked good.”
California Chrome will be retired to stud in Kentucky after the Pegasus, a race that could push his career earnings past $20 million.
“I’ve got nothing to worry about,” Sherman said. “As long as Chrome’s happy, I’m happy.”
The Pegasus is widely expected to be a rematch of sorts between California Chrome and Arrogate, the front-runners for Horse of the Year honours being announced at the Eclipse Awards at Gulfstream on Jan. 21.
They waged a memorable duel in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, with Arrogate winning by a half-length to hand California Chrome his only loss in eight starts in 2016.
Arrogate worked six furlongs later on Sunday at Santa Anita – where rainy weather has kept trainer Bob Baffert from what would have been his preferred schedule leading into this race.
“I want to run against Arrogate,” Sherman said. “I hope he comes.”
Apparently, so does Baffert, who told TVG he wanted to see how Arrogate came out of the work-out before planning any next step – including when he might travel to Florida.
“We got that work in. It was very important,” Baffert said.