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Chrome ready to take on world

From trainer Art Sherman’s viewpoint, California Chrome is bigger, stronger and probably faster than ever. In other words, his horse feels just right to take on the world.

“Either I’m getting smaller or he’s getting bigger,” Sherman said after reuniting with his superstar in Dubai. “I’ve never seen him in as perfect condition as he is right now. He looks just absolutely wonderful.”

California’s most famous thoroughbred continues his global gallop into the history books as he attempts to win the $10 million Dubai World Cup, the world’s richest race. Run under the lights at night in the United Arab Emirates, the stakes will be telecast live Saturday at 10 a.m. on TVG.

If he wins, America’s 2014 Horse of the Year will add $6 million to his $6.53 million career earnings and surpass 2008 World Cup champion Curlin as the all-time richest racehorse outside of Japan.

“All systems are go,” said Yuba City’s Perry Martin, Chrome’s co-owner and breeder. “We’re keeping our fingers crossed.”

Jockey Victor Espinoza will be back aboard California Chrome, who drew the No. 11 post in the World Cup’s 12-horse international field. Other U.S.-based contenders in the 11/4-mile race include Frosted, Keen Ice, Hoppertunity and Mshawish.

“He’s better than before,” Espinoza said before departing. “He’s stronger physically, which is natural as a horse gets older. He has more strength and his body is thicker. I like the way he’s coming up to the race. He’s had two good preps and he likes the track.”

In Dubai, California Chrome has everything he needs to keep him happy, Sherman said. After morning gallops, the horse rolls in a giant sandpit to his heart’s content. He can munch on green grass in a private pasture, then take a nap in his extra-large air-conditioned stall.

For this trip, he’s surrounded by his favorite people, including Art’s son and assistant Alan Sherman and groom Raul Rodriguez. They make sure he has lots of his favorite treats — Mrs. Pastures horse cookies.

“We had 75 pounds (of cookies),” Sherman said. “He’s a cookie monster.”