There are two massive stories in Thoroughbred horse racing this summer. One, the most obvious, is American Pharoah's Triple Crown win. The other, not as obvious, but (from insiders anyway) just as interesting and talked about, is the revolving story of California Chrome.
The two parallels are the best of times, the worst of times, the age of wisdom and of foolishness, where everything was before us, yet nothing was. And most of it hinged on 18 feet.
California Chrome - since tearing his hoof and two length loss in the Triple Crown - has been through a whirlwind. He, to maximize his net worth at stud, had to try turf, was shipped to Dubai, then shipped to the UK, then shipped back to Chicago, again to try turf. Then, after a bone bruise was discovered in an examination by a stud farm, was turned out. There have been public grievances between owners and trainers, and one of the owners has been bought out. To (once again) maximize his net worth in the shed, a new chapter might be written as it looks like he will return as a five year old, if his body and attitude cooperates.
After all that, one hopes he may stand in Kentucky for $12,000 or so, and get a nice full book of mares.
No harm, no foul. No Dubai or Ascot to 'prove himself'.
This dichotomy is much more than about bloodlines, or connections (we all know American Pharoah would stand for a higher fee than Chrome if both lost the Belmont by two). It's about selling the sizzle. One horse needs to rekindle that sizzle with Dubai World Cup wins, beating the best turf horses in the world in million dollar races, and now a five year old racing season. The other will still be sizzling if he scopes sick in the Haskell and loses.
18 feet might as well be 18 miles when it comes to the path of these two horses. Thoroughbred horse racing, and the business of it, is never not fascinating.
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