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TrackNotes: 'Chrome Is King

'Chrome is king. Beholder, beholden to no one in her fine career, might be fading. Flintshire yielded. Secret House had no horseman, headless or otherwise.

Races, including those of the Breeders' Cup, last mere minutes. But the stories for that weekend are being written now, a month out. Horse racing is funny that way. When your next race is 22 minutes hence, you never look too far ahead. When the day is over, you process what you've seen. When it's Breeders' Cup, you look forward to the match-ups, even in a year that seems to have had an unusually nifty number of head-to-head match-ups.

California Chrome.

He doesn't have the square brackets of a Triple Crown, although he won two of those three. Maybe the bad karma vibed by his humans made it to his ears; you don't scream in front of the kid.

Painted the villain, rightly or not, Charles Coburn is gone.

And 'Chrome 2016: San Pasqual, Trans Gulf Electromechanical Trophy, Dubai World Cup, San Diego Handicap, Pacific Classic, Awesome Again. If he wins the Breeders' Cup Classic and the $12 million (new race) Pegasus Stakes in January, he may purse northward of $20 million. They ran Citation into the ground to win $1 million.

Watch Saturday's Awesome Again Stakes and you know 'Chrome had a brisk walk in the Santa Anita park, Victor Espinoza never touching him, needing only a neck push to get him going, and wrapping him up in the final eighth to Sriracha the taste buds for what he might do in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

Baffert's two-time rival Dortmund unveiled his new plan, to stalk, keep up, and make 'Chrome work. On the one hand work, and on the other hand easy, 'Chrome just cruised, always on the lead, easily drawing to a 2.5-length win.

With 'Chrome, he seems to have the best combination of determination and the ability to back it up.

Jockey Espinoza made a very mild, subtle comparison between 'Chrome and his American Pharoah, saying 'Chrome is better.

Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey explained:

"In Europe, jockeys often get a breeding right to their winning horses. Victor was overlooked with a breeding right to American Pharoah and he might have a chip on his shoulder. He might be lobbying (for a breeding share to California Chrome)."

With a sense of disgust, Bailey said, "I only got five in my life." Wrong? But the way it is.

But analyst Randy Moss summed it up: "The only reason California Chrome is still running at five is that he doesn't have the breeding (Lucky Pulpit out of Pulpit, and the Not For Love mare Love the Chase). People will not put up the big bucks to breed to him."

We all love Pulpit, Love the Chase was their baby on the premises.

Just enjoy it, race fans.

For California Chrome has his stories and his runs. This is fun.

Beholder, the wonderful daughter of Henny Hughes out of the Tricky Creek mare Leslie's Lady, and if you think that pedigree adds up to her mere $27,000 purchase price you'd be right, looks like she's reaching the end of her dominance.

Winner of nine of 12, including seven straight, Beholder faced her newest nemesis, Stellar Wind, in the Grade I Zenyatta (8.5 furlongs, dirt) and was beaten a neck.

It was deja vu of the Clement L. Hirsch at the same distance at Del Mar two back, when Stellar Wind fought and fought on the rail for the win.

Beholder took on the boys in the Pacific Classic and finished a respectable second, five back, to a won't-be-beaten-that-day California Chrome. She did beat Stellar Wind three back in the Vanity Mile at Santa Anita in June.

Beholder's story? Let's just hope she can muster it up for the Breeders' Cup Distaff. No matter what, we'll remember her very fondly.

Meet The Flintshire
Okay. Here's the road apple on Flintshire. Euros dominate the turf, but here's a Britisher who prefers the firm turf, which the Queen doesn't particularly allow over there. So he books BOAC over here and dominates American turf races, including the Manhattan, Bowling Green and Sword Dancer.

But here's the bog. It rained and rained at Belmont on Friday and Saturday and it was muddy/sealed, with yielding turf all day. In the feature Joe Hirsch Turf Classic, Flintshire still went off at 1-5. Easy pickin's on Ectot, at 10-1, as Flintshire "Never fired," or "flattened out." No, Cornwallis. He didn't like the surface! It happens.

In a terrible performance by the Santa Anita starters in the Grade I Frontrunner, the gates opened as Santiago Gonzalez was off his horse, Secret House, standing on the platform. The two-year-old son of Tiznow took off, riderless. Thankfully, the horse went into the clubhouse turn and then peeled off, not affecting the running or the finish. Even more thankfully, instead of blaming the victim, Secret House was ruled a non-starter and all wagers on him were refunded.

What two-year-old goes in 1-3? Bob Baffert's Klimt did, but he was beaten by 11-1 Gormley. Thankfully.


Tom Chambers is our man on the rail. He welcomes your comments.

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Posted on Oct 11, 2021