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World Class: Classic is the greatest clash of the titans since 2003

266   //    04 Nov 2016, 10:32 IST
2016 Breeders' Cup World Championships  - Previews : News Photo
California Chrome has been a godsend for Perry Martin and Steve Coburn

They called themselves the Dumb Ass Partners, but Perry Martin and Steve Coburn might just be the luckiest pair of dumbasses racing has ever known.

The ‘dumbass' label came from a remark made when they bought their first horse, Love The Chase. Unperturbed by the insult, they sent their bargain mare to budget sire Lucky Pulpit and a year later they welcomed their first foal, California Chrome.

Five years on the cheap-as-chips chestnut has landed seven Grade 1 races and ranks as the best horse on the planet with an RPR of 133. He's already bagged $10 million in prize-money, and his owners have now their sights set on making him the highest-earning horse of all time.

From their investment of $10,000, Martin and Coburn started the rags-to-riches fairytale to end them all. It's hard to breed a horse good enough to race for that money, never mind become the most successful horse of all time.

Not in their wildest dreams could Martin and Coburn have expected to find themselves in this position having started out in racing less than ten years ago.

On Saturday their boy will represent the little guy against powerhouse owners like Godolphin (Frosted) and Juddmonte (Arrogate) in what looks one of the greatest ever runnings of the Breeders' Cup Classic.

Ratings landmark

With California Chrome (133), Arrogate (131) and Frosted (130) set to go to post, the Classic marks the first occasion since the 2003 Irish Champion Stakes that three horses rated 130 or better on RPRs have lined up for the same race.

Only a handful of horses achieve 130+ ratings in any given year. Getting two of them to run against each other is a rarity, but in this year's Classic, we are lucky enough to have three-star horses with three sets of connections willing to roll the dice against the very best in the world.

There are others, of course, but the Classic field is so chock full of high-end talent that horses like last year's Classic runner-up Effinex (122) is considered a relative no-hoper.


The Classic is always the pinnacle of the US racing calendar, and the winner is often crowned American Horse of the Year, but this time around it is very likely to crown a world champion as well.

Chrome a worthy favourite

It's easy to see why the Chromester is favourite. His last four wins each rank in the top ten performances in the world this year and his last two wins have been the best we have seen anywhere - both worth RPRs of 133.

He has been winning with utter ease and, if he runs on Saturday like he has on every start this year, it will take a freakish performance to stop him taking his tally to seven from seven for the season.

Bookmakers will be hoping Arrogate can prove the freak in the ointment. Bob Baffert's three-year-old has run just five times, but his wide-margin victory in the Travers Stakes on his final start was a gigantic effort and left the impression he could be just about anything.

His RPR of 131 for that win was a significant step up on his previous form, but he arrived with a big reputation, on the back of a string of wins, and the form and time of that success support the view that it was a phenomenal effort.

It is still valid to question whether he will repeat that performance at Santa Anita, though. He is likely to come under pressure from California Chrome at the top of the straight and at that point, he will have to dig deep like never before.

Baffert's colt may yet prove a champion. The question is whether this is his time to shine or whether he is still on his way to the top while California Chrome is already there.

Maurice wins as Hikari flops

The best performance last week came in the Tenno Sho (Autumn) in Japan, in which Hong Kong Mile winner Maurice (122) ran out a cosy length-and-a-half winner from Dubai Turf winner Real Steel (119).

Maurice is set to return to Hong Kong for the International meeting next month, although connections are yet to decide whether he will tackle the Mile or step up to 1m2f for the Hong Kong Cup.

The big disappointment in the Tenno Sho on Sunday was A Shin Hikari, who made the running before fading in the straight to finish 12th with an RPR of 105.

He has had two runs since his wide-margin win in the Prix d'Ispahan, and both suggest that Chantilly run was an anomaly. His RPR for that has since been reviewed down to 127.Top

Top List 

 Name (country trained)RaceRating
1California Chrome (US)Awesome Again/Pacific Classic133D
2Arrogate (US)Travers Stakes131D
3Frosted (US)Metropolitan Handicap130D
 Winx (AUS)Cox Plate130T
5Almanzor (FR)Champion Stakes129T
6A Shin Hikari (JPN)Prix d’Ispahan127T
7A.P Indian (US)Forego Stakes126D
 Limato (GB)Prix de la Foret126T
 Postponed (GB)Sheema Classic/Coronation Cup126T
10Aerovelocity (HK)Centenary Sprint Cup125T
 Fascinating Rock (IRE)Tettersalls Gold Cup125T
 Mecca’s Angel (GB)Nunthorpe Stakes125T


 Name (country trained)RaceRating
1Winx (AUS)Cox Plate130
2Almanzor (FR)Champions Stakes129
3A Shin Hikari (JPN)Prix d’Ispahan127
4Limato (GB)Prix de la Foret126
 Postponed (GB)Sheema Classic/Coronation Cup126
6Aerovelocity (HK)Centenary Sprint Cup125
 Fascinating Rock (IRE)Tattersalls Gold Cup125
 Limato (GB)Darley July Cup125
 Mecca’s Angel (GB)Nunthorpe Stakes125
10Chautauqua (AUS)Black Caviar Lightning124
 Found (IRE)Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe124
 Galileo Gold (GB)St. James’ Palace Stakes124
 Harzand (IRE)Derby124
 Highland Reel (IRE)Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe124
 Terravista (AUS)Black Caviar Lightning124
 The Gurkha (IRE)Sussex Stakes124
 Time Test (GB)Brigadier Gerard124


 Name (country trained)RaceRating
1California Chrome (US)Pacific Classic/Awesome Again133
2Arrogate (US)Travers Stakes131
3Frosted (US)Metropolitan Handicap130
4A.P Indian (US)Forego Stakes126
5Nyquist (US)Kentucky Derby124
 Songbird (US)Cotillion124
7Dortmund (US)San Diego Handicap123
 ExaggeratorHaskell Invitational123
9Effinex (US)Oaklawn Handicap122
10Lord Nelson (US)Santa Anita Sprint122

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