Chrome already repaid Taylor Made’s spend

California Chrome: son of Lucky Pulpit may race on in 2017

PICTURE: Benoit Chrome already paid off Taylor Made investment By Michele MacDonald 10:38AM 28 AUG 2016

IN WHAT has proven to be one of the most remarkable stud deals in history, American star California Chrome has already repaid the investment made in him by Kentucky's Taylor Made Farm and could bank millions more before he ever covers a mare.

A week after California Chrome's brilliant victory in the $1 million Pacific Classic Stakes at Del Mar, Taylor Made vice president Frank Taylor revealed that the five-year-old's earnings of $6,930,000 from five races this year, all wins, easily supersedes what the farm paid in 2015 for a 30 per cent share in the son of Lucky Pulpit.

"Yes, he's paid for himself," said Taylor, who has indicated he cannot reveal the exact amount of the investment under terms of the deal made last summer. "I've never seen anything like it – it's been an absolute dream. He's just a great horse."

After California Chrome won the 2014 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, valuations of $20 to $30m were suggested to stud farms, "huge amounts that we couldn't afford," Taylor said.

But when the horse finished fourth in the Belmont Stakes and co-owners and breeders Perry and Denise Martin and Steve and Carolyn Coburn began to have disagreements, Taylor Made found its opportunity.

"We could have never bought him if he had won the Triple Crown, but things just worked out," Taylor said, recalling that the farm bought the Coburns' share of the horse who was bred from a mare initially purchased for $8,000 and on a stud fee that was $2,500.

"He was like the hero horse and everybody liked him at first, and then the ownership got into some negativity and that sort of surrounded him – I think a lot of our competition backed out."

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Taylor Made and the Martins have tentatively set a schedule for the horse that will include the Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita on October 1; the Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita on November 5, and the new $12m Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park on January 28. Trainer Art Sherman will make the final decisions on where the horse will race.

The winner's share of purses for those races and a $1m bonus offered by Santa Anita to any horse that sweeps the Pacific Classic, Awesome Again and Breeders' Cup Classic adds up to about $10.9m, with the Pegasus World Cup worth $7m. California Chrome is the clear favourite to receive America's gold Horse of the Year trophy for the second time, following his 2014 coronation.

Since California Chrome is running so impressively, Taylor Made and the Martins may decide to continue racing him through 2017, Taylor said, which could open the door for a third run at the $10m Dubai World Cup. California Chrome earned $6m for his Dubai triumph in March and $2m for his runner-up finish to Prince Bishop in 2015, before a fruitless trip to Britain during which he did not race.

A decision on whether to continue racing or retire California Chrome – already North America's all-time leading earner with $13,342,650 – to stud immediately after the Pegasus World Cup is expected in early November.

"We're going to consider it," Taylor said of racing California Chrome through 2017. "I think we'll probably sit down after the Breeders' Cup Classic and see how sound he is and how he is feeling, and probably at that point make a decision whether we are going to run him another year or retire him and start booking mares."

In the meantime, California Chrome has been so dazzling this year that more breeders have invested in the horse in recent months, including Virginia Kraft Payson, who bred European champion St Jovite as well as American champions Vindication and Farda Amiga through her Payson Stud.

"We're building a super syndicate of top, top breeders who are committed to breed to him for four years," Taylor said. "Some great people have already committed some great mares to him. So I think, whenever he retires, he's going to be getting a hell of a good bunch [of mares]."

The Martins and Taylor Made own the majority of California Chrome, with a group Taylor described as consisting of about 14 other investors owning the remaining interest in what he said is a 50-share syndicate.

The international group of owners includes Kiki and Louise Courtelis of Town & Country Farms, which owns 2015 Breeders' Cup Distaff winner Stopchargingmaria; Dr. Masatake Iida of Chiyoda Farm in Japan, a major commercial breeder and a longtime friend of the Taylor family, and Marie Jones, who with her late husband Aaron bred champions Speightstown and Ashado.

The California Chrome ownership group also includes some investors who are new to breeding.

"We've got some people who are new in the business, but when we sold those shares to them, we made them agree to let us pick and buy really good mares to breed to California Chrome," Taylor said.

Taylor Made also intends to help the Martins to acquire mares for California Chrome after its sales agency branch handles consigning Love The Chase, the ten-year-old dam of California Chrome, to the Keeneland November sale.

"Perry Martin is going to sell Chrome's mother in November and she's going to bring a boatload – she's in foal to Tapit. And then he's going to take that money and buy mares to breed to Chrome," Taylor said.

Love The Chase produced a brother to California Chrome for Martin and Coburn in 2015 who has been named Faversham. She did not produce a foal this year.

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