Widely expected to beat inferior rivals despite giving away lumps of weight, the Art Sherman-trained colt was not that quickly away but was soon travelling in a handy third place as Success Story did the work in front.
Forced to race three wide down the back straight, jockey Victor Espinoza barely had to move a muscle as he loomed large round the bend.
Allowed to stride on in the straight, a gap swiftly opened up on the field one and a half furlongs out as the former Kentucky Derby hero won without being asked a question as he threw down the World Cup gauntlet to fellow US runner Frosted.
Second in the World Cup last year to shock winner Prince Bishop, and having just his second start since then, California Chrome was cut to 5-2 favourite for the March 26 showpiece by Betfred.
Espinoza said: “It was easy, the way he looks is the way he won. I didn’t want to do too much with him, as I know it is a short period of time to the next race. I didn’t want to empty the tank today.
“I got a good position on the first turn and from then on it was pretty much him all by himself.”
Sherman confirmed all roads now lead to the World Cup. He said: “It was the perfect race, we were very satisfied and it’s really good with the $10million race coming up, he’s got a mile and a quarter under his belt.
“We’re looking for the best, it’s going to be a great race here on March 26, they’ve got a lot of good horses running.
“With that under his belt, he’s going to be devil tough, I think.
“If we can ever get lucky he could wind up being the richest thoroughbred ever, passing Curlin, who is a great thoroughbred. It would be an honour for that to happen.”
Earlier, Charlie Appleby’s Safety Check won the Zabeel Mile for the second successive year when pouncing late under William Buick.
Unbeaten in three runs at last year’s Carnival he was notching his second victory this season but needed every yard of the mile. The victory was a fourth at Grade Two level as he just pipped Paul Hanagan on Ghaamer.