Of all the stallions new to the breeding scene in 2017, California Chrome was certainly the most anticipated. With a wildly devout fan base and a race record which included popular wins in the GI Kentucky Derby at three and the G1 Dubai World Cup at five, California Chrome brought talent, durability, and charisma to the table. TDN sat down with Taylor Made Farm's president and CEO, Duncan Taylor, to discuss California Chrome's first yearlings, which will be on offer this summer.
TDN: His weanlings sold well last year. What were weanling buyers seeing that they like?
DT: I think Chrome is throwing nice horses, but he's throwing different types. It's not cookie cutter that we say, “Oh, that's a Chrome, that's a Chrome, that's a Chrome.” I think he is getting good-looking horses and I think that the yearling buyers will really be wanting to buy and I think they'll be happy with what they see. [He] raced in Dubai without any drugs. So, he's ticked about every box that somebody that would want in a horse. Sound, started at two, ran all the way through to five, won $14 million. With what's going on in our industry in California, I think people are looking for soundness and sound horses. I think Chrome is the type of horse that is going to fill the bill for that.
TDN: It's good to mention that he was a fast-developing 2-year-old, who raced seven times at 2. Are you expecting his yearlings to also appeal to the 2-year-old-in-training market, being the fact that he was so precocious?
DT: He's got in his female family, Not For Love, which could go either way. But his mother is line-bred to Numbered Account. And she ran nine times as a 2-year-old, won seven races, and in three at Saratoga, in 21 days, she ran in the Schuylerville, Adirondack, and the Spinaway. Won two of those. That was in a 21-day period. So that's where the soundness and the early comes from, I think, because of the dam being line-bred. I think they could go either way. He should have some early wins, but I don't think that all have to be really precocious.
TDN: Stepping back quickly to his race record, he had several great ones. Was there a race or two that really stuck out in your mind that just kind of showcased him as the horse that he was, a certain day he put it all together?
DT: I think he was pretty much there all the time. I think that the race against Dortmund, I think it's the [GII] San Diego, most people wouldn't pick. A mile and a sixteenth, we'd been off like 90 days, first race back. And Bob [Baffert] has Dortmund primed, and they went head and head down the stretch. I think it showed the true determination and class because he actually got challenged that day. But I think his whole body of racing he was just one of those horses, push button. He didn't have to have his certain trip. He could go short, he could go long. He had two or three moves in the same race. If you could ever reproduce him, whoever owns him is gonna have a lot of fun.
TDN: Can you tell us about the yearlings that are heading into the market?
DT: I think there's three or four that are going to be in the July sale. And I think there's maybe four in Saratoga, and we're saving some of the best ones, too. Try to spread them around for what we have for Keeneland, because that's obviously a big sale. A lot of people just go to that one, so, he'll be well represented.
TDN: It's early days yet, but has it been rewarding to see what's on the ground and the promise that the horse has shown?
DT: Yeah, it sure is, and what we've tried to do with this horse is look at certain broodmare sires that we think bring things to the family. I think that hopefully we've picked the right ones.
TDN: He's had a huge fan base, the Chromies on the track. How has it been with his popularity? His fame both on the track and as a stallion.
DT: We have never really experienced that before. Taylor Made has had, in the last 15 years, two of North America's leading sires in Saint Ballado and Unbridled's Song. Neither one of them even pale in comparison to the popularity of the general public. So I've really enjoyed it. You see people enjoying the horse business, and we get to share with people. Beautiful farm, the setting, and just a race horse that just captured the imagination. I wish we had one of those coming into stud every year because I think it helps the Thoroughbred industry.