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California Chrome Had a Career

Remember back in '08 (seems like yesterday doesn't it?) when Big Brown threw the clunker in the Belmont Stakes? The immediate chatter was all about what the barn would do to maximize his value. He'd have to race again to do something; to show he was okay, to show he had some constitution.

This happens often with the so called superhorses early at three, who suddenly and without fanfare drop off the face of the earth. Stallion ads are fudged up with comments about how good the horse could've been, or what speed figure they ran, once. Everyone remembers the last clunker.

With California Chrome it's a completely different story. Ten years from now - hell, ten minutes after the Pegasus World Cup - no one remembers the clunker. It's completely meaningless.

With sports figures, human or animal, we always move the goalposts. They always have to hurdle the next task, and if they don't, in some quarters they are less than advertised. Only the very best in a given sport are not presented with a new goalpost, because they've split them so often. California Chrome is one of those athletes. Chrome had nothing to prove on Saturday because he long ago had proven to the racing public what and who he was. That's what having a remarkable career does.

I hope Chrome has a wonderful retirement and becomes a good sire. He deserves it. We may never see another horse go through a Triple Crown season like he did, and back it up with 20 more starts at that ridiculously high level. Well done old boy.

Notes:

$40.2 million was bet on the Pegasus Cup card, and if Frank pulls this off again (it's probably a big "if") I could see that number growing. I found it felt like a Belmont or Breeders Cup card, not like a Florida Derby card. In January it fit like a glove.

How much money did Frank put into this event? Paying NBC, on-site entertainment, etc, it was clearly a lot of money. This man loves horse racing, and wants to create events people remember. With so many corporate and slots interests in the sport (who seem to do the bare minimum), it's more than refreshing, it feels reverential.

After hundreds and hundreds of posts you know I am not a race caller basher and I think Pete is all-world. But, I think a little was lost in the call this weekend. Half the bettors (Chrome was even money) and probably 90% of the fans were focused on Chrome in his last career start. When he began to canter it was a huge part of the story; maybe even the story. Durkin's Belmont call when Big Brown gave up captured the moment perfectly, in my view, and I think we should've seen a little of that on Saturday. 

Horse racing what if's are incredibly fun. What if the real Chrome showed up? In my view, I have no idea the final result, but I think it would've been a barnburner. Chrome is better at 9f than 10f, Arrogate is better at 10f than 9f; both have run 140 type TFUS figures. If Chrome gets the jump with Arrogate along the wood having to navigate some traffic, I suspect the roof would've blown off the place. Ah, what if's.

Have a nice Monday everyone.



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