While American horse racing has gone another frustrating year without a Triple Crown champion, a scenario involving America’s favorite horse, California Chrome, might unfold that would be a boon for the sport in general and for the Breeders’ Cup Classic in particular. The script would have the emotional draw of a Rocky Balboa movie.
Representing the United States in the Breeders’ Cup Classic would be the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner California Chrome, the colt with a modest pedigree, blue-collar owners, and a veteran trainer. His opponent: Epsom Derby winner Australia, by a champion and out of a champion, and hailing from Coolmore, a dominant racing and breeding enterprise.
California Chrome’s connections came east for the Triple Crown races with a willingness to take on all comers, led by an outspoken co-owner with a swagger who is not shy about speaking out against the status quo. Australia’s discreet Coolmore connections also do not back off from challengers and have shown an inclination to run their best turf horses in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. On a couple of occasions, the sportsmen from County Tipperary, Ireland, came close to beating America’s best dirt horses at their own game.
California Chrome is like the South Philly slugger Rocky Balboa and Australia is the presumptive heavyweight champion. Australia’s trainer, Aidan O’Brien, said about his charge, “I’ve never had a horse like this.” This comes from the man who has trained five Epsom Derby winners and conditioned the likes of Giant’s Causeway and Camelot.
California Chrome vs. Australia at Santa Anita in November for the world championship. The overachieving Kentucky Derby winner vs. the blueblood Epsom Derby winner for all the chips–horse racing’s version of the “Rumble in the Jungle” or the “Thrilla in Manila.” That’s a storyline for which to hope for.
Copyright 2014 Blood-Horse Publications. Used with permission.