NEW YORK - The owners of Triple Crown hopeful California Chrome have taken out an insurance policy on their horse in the hope that he can keep racing regardless of whether or not he wins Saturday's Belmont Stakes.
The superstar colt would be worth millions of dollars as a stallion if he becomes the first horse in 36 years to complete the elusive Triple Crown but his connections want him to stay in the sport.
California Chrome's 77-year-old trainer Art Sherman told Reuters he expects the horse will be given a long rest after the Belmont Stakes and brought back in time to run in this year's $5 million Breeders' Cup, America's richest race, at Santa Anita Park on Nov. 1.
Sherman also said it was possible that the wonder horse - who has already won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes - could return to the track next season and chase more big races. "I want to keep him around for the Breeders' Cup later on this year and I'd like to see him race as four-year-old," Sherman told Reuters on Tuesday.
"I think he'd been an outstanding four-year-old. "That's up to the owners but they just insured him for a lot of money and I don't think they'd have spent that money if they didn't plan on running." California Chrome's co-owners Steve Coburn and Perry Martin have already turned down a US$6 million offer to sell the three-year-old, which they bred for just $10,500.
He would be worth much more with a win Saturday in Elmont, New York, but Coburn said retirement was not on the agenda and they wanted to get him back to the track once he had a break. "We'll take him back home and give him some time off," Coburn told Reuters. "We haven't decided yet what we're going to do with him, but he's gonna need some down time.
"Then we'll let him tell us when he's ready to go again. He's got our cell number so all he's got to do is call." Sherman did not say how much the horse had been insured for and Coburn said he had no idea what California Chrome would be worth as a stallion if he completed the Triple Crown.
American studmasters have estimated he was currently worth between US$10 million and US$15 million and his value could double if he won the Triple Crown.
Whatever happens, Coburn and Martin are already assured of a huge return with their flashy chestnut colt having earned US$3.2 million in prizemoney.
He will take his earnings past US$4 million if he wins the Belmont and the owners have already signed the first of what could be many endorsement deals.