The horse racing world has eagerly anticipated the return of Dortmund and news has been fairly sparse, but there’s been recent confirmation that the four-year old colt is set to make his 2016 debut at the San Diego Handicap. Unfortunately, that means that he could be barreling straight in to a stacked field that’s topped by California Chrome. Is he up for the task?
It’s been a long and winding road for the Bob Baffert specimen who remains one of the most visually impressive thoroughbreds on the circuit. Sired by champion Big Brown out of Our Josephina, Dortmund is an impressive 8-0-1 in ten races. Undoubtedly one of the Triple Crown considerations last season, he placed third at the Kentucky Derby and fourth at the Preakness Stakes in 2015 behind American Pharoah. A long layoff through last summer led to back-to-back triumphs at the Big Bear and the Native Diver Handicap, but he’s been struggling with injuries since.
They’re not the type that send off alarm bells. He had some bruised ribs and an assortment of ailments that kept him from debuting back in January at the San Pasqual Stakes, which was won by California Chrome. It’s obvious that his connections aren’t scared of the 2014 Horse of the Year and desire a matchup against perhaps the finest older horse in the business.
The long game for Dortmund is the same as many other big names. It’s more than likely that he follows California Chrome on his road to the Breeders’ Cup Classic, via the Pacific Classic. That race is part of the challenge series with the winner earning a berth straight in to the biggest race a the world championships. With or without a win, Dortmund has the stock and reputation to earn a place in that competition simply by being nominated.
But everything depends on how this horse has recovered from a long layoff. If Dortmund is unable to race in the San Diego Handicap, throwing him against the wolves at the Pacific Classic seems like an uneasy gamble. For now all we can do is keep our finger’s crossed and hope that the powerful and talented four-year old is capable of making the trip and getting back to the track, where he belongs.