By Mark Lamport-Stokes
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – California Chrome, North America’s all-time leading money earner, has been installed as the even-money favorite and will break from the fourth post for the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita on Saturday.
The Art Sherman-trained colt, winner of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in 2014, is unbeaten this year after romping to victory in all six races in dominant fashion, including the Dubai World Cup on March 26.
‘Chrome’ has accumulated career earnings of $13.4 million and, with Victor Espinoza once again on board, the five-year-old will be looking to improve on his third-place finish in the 2014 Breeders’ Classic at Santa Anita Park.
“Victor and I were talking about the draw and he told me that it really didn’t matter to him which post we got,” Sherman told reporters after the post-position draw was announced on Monday for the 1 1/4 mile (2,011 meters) race.
“We’ve all got that long run into the first turn. This horse is ready. He’s better now than he’s ever been.”
Late-developing three-year-old Arrogate, who stormed to victory by a staggering 13 1/2 lengths in the Travers Stakes at Saratoga in August, setting a track record, will start the Classic on the outside from the 10 hole as a 5-2 choice.
Frosted, with Joel Rosario in the saddle, is the third choice at 5-1 with David Hofmans-trained Melatonin, ridden by Joseph Talamo, at 12-1.
A notable absentee from Saturday’s Classic will be Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist, who was withdrawn from the race two days ago due to a “puffy ankle”.
In other Breeders’ Cup positions determined on Monday, unbeaten Songbird will try to win the $2 million Distaff, breaking from the one hole with veteran jockey Mike Smith on board as a 6-5 shot in a field of eight runners.
The three-year-old daughter of Medaglia d’Oro is expected to face a strong challenge from the John Sadler-trained Stellar Wind and Beholder, who are joint second choices at 5-2.
In the Mile, five-year-old mare Tepin, who won last year by two-and-a-half lengths at Keeneland, is the 3-1 favorite to defend her title at Santa Anita where Irish raider Limato is the second choice at 7-2.
Julien Leparoux will be on board Tepin for the $2 million race and will open from the eight hole in a 14-horse field.
The Breeders’ Cup, a 13-race meeting worth a total of more than $28 million, will be run on Friday and Saturday and hosted by Santa Anita for a record ninth time. There are four races on Friday and nine on Saturday.
(Editing by Andrew Both)