In what feels like 2014 all over again, California Chrome returned to action with a facile score in Saturday's Grade 2 San Pasqual at Santa Anita. The chestnut 5-year-old sat close to the lead, overwhelmed everyone on the turn and rolled home to win by 1 1/4 lengths while geared down late. Sound familiar? He did that routinely two years ago - all the way to the Horse of the Year crown.
Things are a little different this time. For one, the California-bred is all grown up - a rare 3-year-old champion to race at age 5. Two, he's owned by a group called California Chrome LLC which consists of Kentucky's Taylor Made Stallions and original partner Perry Martin. The ownership group includes new silks - as close to chrome as you can get on fabric - but the same connections in trainer Art Sherman, his chief assistant and son Alan and jockey Victor Espinoza.
California Chrome spent several months last year at Taylor Made, after just two starts in 2015 - a second to Shared Belief in the San Antonio in February and another runner-up effort in the world-class Dubai World Cup in March - and the break appears to have agreed with the son of Lucky Pulpit. Off Saturday's win, Dubai beckons next.
Though decidedly East Coast to his West, TIHR was there for much of the California-bred's success in 2014.
Joe Clancy won an Eclipse Award and the David F. Woods Award for his 2014 Preakness/Derby coverage in Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred. READ IT HERE.
TIHR also found the Idaho - yes, Idaho - roots of the Horse of the Year and his sire Lucky Pulpit. READ IT HERE.
Another article centered on the relationship between Espinoza and his brother/fellow jockey Jose. READ IT HERE.
And another found a rare Derby Double turned by Kentucky's Elm Tree Farm. READ IT HERE.
We'll no doubt find some new angles this year, too. Keep an eye out and enjoy the ride.