ARCADIA, Calif. (April 26, 2014)–With Victor Espinoza aboard, California Chrome, winner of the Grade I, $1 million Santa Anita Derby April 5, worked a half mile Saturday morning at Los Alamitos Racecourse in 48.20, his final work in preparation for next Saturday’s Kentucky Derby.
The consensus early favorite for next Saturday’s Derby, California Chrome worked to the satisfaction of trainer Art Sherman today, who oversaw the move from the Los Alamitos grandstand. “Chrome” will ship to Louisville on Monday.
“It was a great work,” said Sherman. “He galloped out (five furlongs) in 1:01. Everything’s looking good. I’m happy. “He’ll leave here to go to Ontario (International Airport) Monday morning at 1:45 a.m. The flight leaves at 3:30, but I’ll leave later, at 8 a.m.”
Sherman said that his son, Alan, a former jockey who assists him at Los Alamitos and regular exercise rider Willie Delgado will arrive at Churchill Downs on Sunday.
“They’ll get everything ready and he’ll stay at Tom Proctor’s barn there. Everything looks good right now. It’s all worked out nice,” he said.
California Chrome overcame a sluggish start to dominate the 1 1/8 miles Santa Anita Derby, taking the lead going to the far turn and drawing off under Espinoza to win by 5 ¼ lengths in 1:47.52. A 7 ¼ length winner of the Grade II, 1 1/16 miles San Felipe Stakes two starts back on March 8, the horse that many are comparing to the legendary Swaps has won his last four races, all stakes, by a combined 24 ¼ lengths.
“He’s the kind of horse you dream about,” said Sherman, who, at age 18, accompanied the California-bred Swaps to Louisville as his regular exercise rider leading into his win in the 1955 Kentucky Derby. “Swaps had the same demeanor this horse has. Nothing bothered Swaps and he was a runner. You just have to hope for the best.”
Owned by his breeders, Steve Coburn and Perry Martin, California Chrome is a chestnut colt by Lucky Pulpit out of the mare Love the Chase. Coincidentally, today’s half mile work coincided with a second place finish in his racing debut at Hollywood Park one year ago. He has since won six races from 10 starts and has been second once, while amassing earnings of $1,134,850.
When asked what sort of training regimen he had planned for California Chrome when he arrives in Louisville, Sherman indicated that all of serious preparations have been made.
“I think all I’ll do is school him, take him through the paddock and take him to the gate quite a bit,” he said. “That’s been my thing with him, he gets anxious in the gate. He schools great in the mornings and then in the afternoons…he knows he’s got to come away from there running so we have to school him.”
Espinoza, who won the 2002 Kentucky Derby with front running War Emblem, is undefeated aboard California Chrome, orchestrating his last four stakes wins with the invaluable perspective of a jockey who’s “been there and done that.”
“It was an excellent work,” said Espinoza. “He went slower today because the track is just a little bit slow (due to overnight showers). He always breaks off fast and I slowed him down today, Art didn’t want me to go too fast. He wanted it nice and easy and gallop out nice.
“Every time I come here (Los Alamitos), he looks different. He’s bigger, stronger. It’s amazing how much they can change from one week to the next, it’s unbelievable.”
For the first time ever, Santa Anita will operate as a live racing venue on Kentucky Derby Day, May 3. Post time for the 140th Derby is at 3:24 PDT. First live race post time at Santa Anita on Saturday is at 11:30 a.m. Santa Anita admission gates will open for simulcast wagering at 7:15 a.m.