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Derby Day winner a challenger for Chrome?

May 4, 2015

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Article via The Courier-Journal, Jonathan Lintner

In the best stretch of his career -- and with a Grade I victory in hand -- the winner of Churchill Downs' biggest turf race will likely be among the challengers should 2014 Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome return to the United States on grass.

Trainer Art Sherman acknowledged the rumor last week that after a run at Royal Ascot overseas, California Chrome may be bound for the Arlington Million this August.

Finnegans Wake, a winner of the Grade I Woodford Reserve Turf Classic on Saturday's Derby undercard, figures as a contender for it, too.

"It's absolutely on our radar," said trainer Peter Miller. "It's a long ways off still and we have some work to do in between, but as long as he's healthy and doing well I'd love to take him to Chicago."

Finnegans Wake finished fourth in the 2013 Arlington Million, a 1 1/4-mile test, and fifth in 2014. But as a 5-year-old, the horse co-owned by Donegal Racing and Rockingham Ranch has won three of his four races -- all in graded stakes -- with a runner-up finish as well.

"(Saturday) was really big for us. To get a Grade I, it's huge for him as a stallion prospect and really just big in a lot of ways," Miller said. "To give Rockingham Ranch their first Grade I, especially with (Rockingham principal Gary Hartunian) only being involved in racing a couple years, is huge. Also, Jerry (Crawford, principal of Donegal) was there with the whole Donegal group on Derby Day.

"It was just a really cool win. I couldn't be happier."

Should both California Chrome and Finnegans Wake wind up in the Million, a "Win and You're In" race for the Breeders' Cup Turf, the latter could be looking for a rider. Victor Espinoza was in the irons Saturday at Churchill Downs a race before winning the Derby aboard American Pharoah, becoming the first jockey to sweep the Derby Day features.

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