California Chrome warmed up for the Breeders’ Cup Classic with another imperious display to take the Grade 1 Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita.
The superstar 5 year old took the field along at a good pace, pressed at every step by his old rival Dortmund.
However, the unrelenting pace proved too hot and Dortmund was in trouble long before the top of the stretch, with California Chrome seemingly effortless as he extended his advantage to five lengths.
At the wire, California Chrome was 2 ½ lengths clear as he was not given a hard time at all.
Winning trainer Art Sherman commented: “He took Dortmund’s game plan away from him. He tried and ran a hell of a race, but you’re looking at maybe the best horse in the world right now. I can’t say enough about him. I’m just blessed to be able to train him.”
Meanwhile in the Zenyatta Stakes, Beholder suffered defeat at the hands of Stellar Wind, who was ridden, like California Chrome, by Victor Espinoza.
Last year’s champion three-year-old filly stalked front-running Beholder before joining issue on the far turn and the pair became embroiled in a fine duel in the home stretch, with Stellar Wind prevailing by a neck.
“I worked harder in the last race than I did today,” said Espinoza. “Stellar Wind is an incredible mare and she will continue to be good.”
Ex-European horses dominated the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at a rainy Belmont Park, with former Prix Niel winner Ectot slamming Flintshire by five lengths in unsuitable soft ground for the latter.
The Al Shaqab-owned Ectot, now trained by Todd Pletcher, made all the running here and stretched his lead to an unassailable five lengths at the line.
“He’s trained exceptionally well for us since he came in,” commented winning trainer Todd Pletcher. “He went off form in his last few starts in Europe but came to us in great condition. His races leading up to this were sneaky good and he seemed to be improving. We made some minor adjustments with equipment and shoes and figured it out as we went along.”
“We knew the risk going into the race running on soft ground – he has a poor record on it,” stated Flintshire’s trainer Chad Brown.