April 1, 2023

California Chrome’s Cilla becomes his first North American winner at Delaware Park

Cilla was much the best at Delaware Park (Hoofprints, Inc.)

Two-time Horse of the Year California Chrome registered his first North American winner Thursday, courtesy of his 2-year-old daughter Cilla who romped in the slop at Delaware Park.

A Louisiana-bred bay like her nine-time stakes-winning and Grade 3-placed dam, Sittin at the Bar, Cilla is a homebred for the same connections – owner P. Dale Ladner and trainer Brett Brinkman. She was building upon a promising debut at Delaware June 29, when rallying for third in a 5-furlong dash.

Adding blinkers as well as another furlong on Thursday, Cilla was dispatched as the 8-5 favorite. She broke sharply on the outside, but let jockey Angel Suarez ease her back as a contested pace unfolded through an opening quarter in :23.30.

Cilla circled the leaders on the far turn, reaching the half in :47.80. Cutting the corner was Juror Number Four, the 9-5 second choice, who for a stride or so might have thought about making a race of it. But Cilla was already splashing clear to win handily by 7 1/4 lengths in 1:12.82. The 6-1 debutante Cajole caught Juror Number Four by a half-length for second.

Aside from opening her sire’s account in North America, Cilla was also maintaining the perfect record of Sittin at the Bar as a broodmare. Her first foal, 4-year-old Club Car by Malibu Moon, is a two-time winner of $183,784 who just finished fifth in Sunday’s Groupie Doll Stakes at Ellis Park. Sittin at the Bar’s 3-year-old, multiple stake performer Jack the Umpire, has compiled an 8-4-2-0 record with $171,800 in earnings including a victory in the 2019 Jean Laffitte and a close second in the July 12 My Frenchman at Monmouth.

Cilla might have black-type in her future as well, judging by the rivals from her debut effort. The front-running winner of that June 29 maiden, Moochie, tried the Aug. 2 Colleen at Monmouth, but it ended up being a debacle as she ran loose prior to the race and then trailed. The runner-up in their mutual debut, Hipnotizada, went on to crush a maiden next out and checked in fifth in Sunday’s Debutante at Ellis Park. The fourth from the same maiden, Superhelpful, who was 11 lengths behind Cilla that day, came back to place second at Keeneland July 12 to Lilac Lace – the subsequent fourth in Wednesday’s Adirondack (G2).

Cilla’s pedigree sports an intriguing pattern that builds upon key influences in her sire. California Chrome’s dam, Love the Chase, is inbred 3×3 to champion and noted producer Numbered Account. Sittin at the Bar, by leading sire Into Mischief, is out of a stakes-winning daughter of Mutakddim, who himself descends from Numbered Account via Dance Number.

Indeed, that makes Mutakddim a relation of California Chrome’s own broodmare sire, Not for Love. While Not for Love is by Mr. Prospector out of Dance Number, Mutakddim is by the Mr. Prospector stallion Seeking the Gold and out of Oscillate, Dance Number’s daughter by Seattle Slew. Since “Chrome” is a scion of the Seattle Slew male line, Cilla has a duplication of “Slew” in addition to her doubling up of “Mr. P” and Dance Number.

Cilla, who RNA’d for $120,000 as a Keeneland January yearling, has earned $28,400. Sittin at the Bar bankrolled $705,896 from her 19-11-2-1 line.

Cilla strikes a pose in the winner’s circle (Hoofprints, Inc.)

California Chrome amassed $14,752,650 during his amazing career under the tutelage of Art Sherman. First voted Horse of the Year for his 2014 campaign, the star sophomore captured the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness (G1), only to have his Triple Crown bid thwarted by a stumbling-start, dead-heat fourth in the Belmont (G1). But Chrome ended the year strong, with a close third in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) and a top-level turf victory in the Hollywood Derby (G1).

The charismatic California-bred returned from an abbreviated 2015 season, when runner-up in the Dubai World Cup (G1) and San Antonio (G2), to regain his Horse of the Year title as a 5-year-old. He compiled a six-race winning spree highlighted by a track-record conquest of the 2016 Dubai World Cup and a five-length decision over celebrated mare Beholder in the Pacific Classic (G1). Chrome’s streak ended in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, when Arrogate ran him down late at Santa Anita.

After routing the Winter Challenge in track-record time at his Los Alamitos base, Chrome was set for an eagerly awaited rematch with Arrogate in the 2017 Pegasus World Cup (G1). But his intended last hurrah proved anticlimactic as Chrome faded to ninth and exited a bit worse for wear.

California Chrome retired to stud at Taylor Made, where he stood for three Northern Hemisphere seasons. He also shuttled to Haras Sumaya in Chile in 2017 and 2018.

In late 2019, California Chrome was sold to continue his stud career in Japan. The 9-year-old stands at Arrow Stud in the breeding headquarters of Hokkaido. JS Company Ltd. regularly shares videos of him enjoying life there, including this one upon the occasion of his first overall winner, Sunkar Time, who scored at Krasnodar in Russia July 18.