DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — California Chrome has prepared well, the jockey feels good about their chances, and the trainer is confident.
Both men believe the outside draw won't hinder the U.S. horse from winning the Dubai World Cup on Saturday, and thus finishing one place better than last year in the world's richest horse race.
Last year, California Chrome started from Stall 9 and never threatened surprise winner Prince Bishop in finishing second.
The Art Sherman-trained stallion will start from an even wider Stall 11 this weekend, but his connections have no doubt his quality will prevail.
"In a way it is kind of good," jockey Victor Espinoza said. "I can see how all the other horses are going to do out of the gates, and I can control the race a little bit.
"I am very pleased with how he is shaping up. So far, so good. I have watched him the last couple of days and he is looking good."
To enhance the chances of the heavy favorite for the second straight year, California Chrome has been in Dubai since January to acclimate, and won a 2,000-meter handicap race by two lengths a month ago at the same Meydan Racecourse.
After a bruised bone in his leg sidelined Chrome for 10 months last year, the 2014 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner has taken both of his comeback races this year.
"I have been in the game for 55 years and seen a lot of things, but California Chrome is bigger and better than any of them," Sherman said.
"If you have the right horse, an outside draw is good, and we think we have the right horse. He normally races prominently and is pretty versatile."
Art's son, Alan, the assistant trainer, added: "He missed a lot of last year but he returned to training a far bigger, stronger horse. We could not be more happy with him. We just felt he would have longer to acclimatize and it would be to his benefit."
Chrome is one of five American horses in the field of 12 for the feature race, over 2,000 meters on dirt.
Frosted, the four-year-old son of Tapit and home stable Godolphin's big hope, valiantly chased American Pharaoh in the U.S. Triple Crown races last year. He and Keen Ice, the only horse to beat Pharaoh last year, are expected to be the main challengers for Chrome.
Apart from the $10 million Dubai World Cup, there are eight other races on the card, with two of them offering $6 million each - the 1,800-meter Dubai Turf, and the 2,410-meter Dubai Sheema Classic.
Another top-rated American horse, Postponed, starts as favorite in the Dubai Sheema Classic, and Godolphin's Tryster is the preferred choice in the Dubai Turf.