People crowded around the Del Mar racetrack paddock late Saturday afternoon to get a glimpse of California Chrome, the 2014 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes champion and racing’s all-time leading money winner in North America. “Chrome” did not disappoint, as he fought Dortmund down the homestretch to win the Grade II, $200,000 San Diego Handicap by a half-length. It was an additional 7 1/4 lengths back to third-place finisher Win the Space. The 5-year-old California Chrome, piloted by Victor Espinoza, traveled the 1 1/16 miles on the dirt in 1:40.84. “They both ran terrific,” said Chrome’s trainer, Rancho Bernardo resident Art Sherman, of his horse and Dortmund. “I tell you, Dortmund made him work for it. … I think both horses needed a race, and you’ll see two stronger horses coming back in the Pacific Classic (on Aug. 20). (Chrome) is that kind of horse, he loves to grind it out, and he shows a lot of determination.”
In the supporting feature on Saturday, Mokat notched her first stakes victory, in the Grade II, $200,000 San Clemente Handicap on the turf.
Other stakes winners during the week included Hard Aces (Grade III, $100,000 Cougar II Handicap), Patriots Rule ($150,690 California Dreamin’ Stakes), Enola Gray ($150,000 Fleet Treat Stakes) and Pretty N Cool ($77,600 C.E.R.F. Stakes, co-owned by part-time Del Mar resident Mike Pegram).
Next Saturday is expected to be an anticipated rematch between champions Beholder and Stellar Wind in the Grade I, $300,000 Clement L. Hirsch Stakes. When they last met in the Grade I, $400,000 Vanity Mile at Santa Anita racetrack in June, Beholder was the victor.