It was billed as race which California Chrome could not lose after his Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes wins last season plus a gallant close third in the Breeder’s Cup Classic, but the American horse was unable to justify favouritism in the World’s richest horse race on Saturday as he was beaten into second place by Prince Bishop in the Dubai World Cup at Meydan.
Trainer Art Sherman admitted that the draw for starting stalls entry had been unkind to his horse as California Chrome was forced to race in a wide position, from his outside draw, for most of the contest. However, it was the fast finishing Prince Bishop who claimed victory despite languishing at the rear of the field for much of the race, and he has become the oldest horse to win the prestigious event. Japanese horse Hokko Tarumae led the race for much of the distance on Saturday evening but was unable to sustain his momentum from the final bend onwards.
Prince Bishop is trained by Goldophin’s Saeed Bin Suroor and had raced regularly on the dirt at Meydan during the previous four seasons but was comprehensively beaten into ninth position in the World Cup last season by stable-mate African Story. Yet when both horses clashed in the Al Makhtoum Challenge over course and distance just three weeks previously, African Story had prevailed by a neck from his fast finishing opponent although it appeared that Prince Bishop was an unlucky loser in that race.
However, the draw and kickback from the dirt track can play an important part in deciding the outcome of such races but the form guide indicates that Prince Bishop is a very effective performer at both the course and over the 1m 2f distance. His stamina credentials appear to have been exposed when well beaten by St Nicholas Abbey at this meeting during 2013 in the 1m 4f Dubai Sheema Classic, but two successive victories in the Kempton Park September Stakes over a similar distance suggest that those doubts may be unfounded.
The Godolphin trained horse may reappear in England during their flat racing season while it is also likely that California Chrome will contest a race at Royal Ascot in June. It is intended that he will be stabled at Newmarket prior to a preparatory race in the Newbury Lockinge Stakes over a one mile distance. A straight mile on turf will be far different experience for the American horse after his exploits on the tight turning courses in his native homeland, although he has claimed victory on turf when winning the Hollywood Derby in November last year.
However, the next few months will prove another true test of the abilities of the 2014 American racehorse of the year and that is assuming he fully recovers from his weekend exertions at the Meydan track.