Under pressure on the outside by Dortmund through most of the 1 1/8-mile test at Santa Anita Park, California Chrome clicked off very fast fractions, inched away from his rival in the backstretch with a little asking from jockey Victor Espinoza, opened up a clear lead in the turn, and galloped geared down to the wire in the final strides.
With a professional break from the rail, the 5-year-old son of Lucky Pulpit trained by Art Sherman set fractions of :22.76, :46.08, and 1:09.28 through six furlongs. He covered a mile in 1:34.45 and finished off the race in 1:48.07 to clinch his sixth victory of the year.
"When he gets in front, he's a hard horse to get by, and I knew he'd wear Dortmund down with the fractions the way they were," Sherman said. "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."
Essentially a match race from the start, the top pair opened up 10 1/2 lengths on the field after four furlongs of running and 12 lengths through six. The only horse who made up any significant ground was Win the Space, who came in 4 1/2 lengths behind Dortmund.
"He's on his game right now," Espinoza said. "(Dortmund) wasn't a threat today. Maybe the first quarter-mile, but after that, I just kept pulling away, which only helped me get some breathing room between us and the rest of the field."
"Second-best—no excuses," said Dortmund's jockey, Rafael Bejarano. "The winner had a lot of pressure on him and that was the only chance I had."
Off as the 2-5 favorite, California Chrome paid $2.80, $2.10, and $2.10 across the board. Dortmund paid $2.20 and $2.10, and Win the Space delivered $2.80 to show. Hard Aces came in fourth and Soi Phet followed to complete the order of finish. Hoppertunity and El Huerfano were scratched.
Still undefeated in 2016, California Chrome is now eligible for a $1 million bonus if he wins the $6 million Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) Nov. 5 at Santa Anita. The bonus was offered to any horse who could sweep the Pacific Classic (gr. I), Awesome Again, and Breeders' Cup Classic.
California Chrome now has more than $13.4 million in earnings and a 15-3-1 record from 24 starts, including seven grade/group I wins.