Sunday Silence, Unbridled and American Pharoah all accomplished this as 3-year-olds. Ferdinand and Alysheba both did it as 4-year-olds. California Chrome has a chance to join this elite group of horses, but remarkably, he’d be the only Kentucky Derby winner to also win the Breeders’ Cup Classic as a 5-year-old. In a day and age when Triple Crown race winners are sent to the breeding shed as soon as possible, the connections of California Chrome have given fans a rare treat by keeping their star competing at the highest level.
From modest beginnings with a blue collar pedigree, California Chrome has traveled across the world, never shying away from any competition. However, when he first began his career, his connections certainly weren’t expecting a superstar. As a 2-year-old, he found success against fellow California-breds, but failed to hit the board in two starts against open company. That all changed when trainer Art Sherman entered him in the San Felipe at Santa Anita in March 2014 and the son of Lucky Pulpit dominated the field by 7 ¼ lengths. He was then equally impressive in the Santa Anita Derby before easily rolling through the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.
California Chrome lost his Triple Crown dreams when his six-race win streak snapped in the Belmont Stakes, but he never gave up, and completed his 3-year-old season with a third in the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic and a win on the turf in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby. He was voted the 2014 3-year-old champion and Horse of the Year.
In 2015, California Chrome made two starts as a 4-year-old, finishing second to Shared Belief in the Santa Anita Handicap and second to Prince Bishop in the Dubai World Cup.
While many of his peers have long been enjoying retirement, California Chrome appears to just be getting better and remains undefeated this year as he heads towards his second appearance in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. He became the richest horse in North America with $12.5 million in earnings when he won the Dubai World Cup on March 27 and looked none the worse for wear when he overtook a determined Dortmund in the San Diego Handicap on July 23. In the August 20 Pacific Classic, he defeated three-time champion mare Beholder.