California Chrome puts in stellar final prep for Breeders’ Cup Classic

California Chrome will need to be at his best in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

Anthony Gruppuso/Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sport

Dual classic winner California Chrome’s sixth-place finish in his return to racing in the $1-million Pennsylvania Derby was not the performance his fans or connections had hoped for in September.

But if the way he is training up to his second start since the Triple Crown serves as any indication, we could be looking at a return to top form in the $5-million Breeders’ Cup Classic for the beloved Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner.

California Chrome blitzed five-eighths of a mile in :59.60 on Saturday at his Los Alamitos base under regular rider Victor Espinoza. Alan Sherman, assistant to and son of trainer Art Sherman, dubbed the drill "unbelievable."

"He’s ready to roll," Alan Sherman said. "We’re really happy with him."

California Chrome will ship at 5 a.m. PT Sunday from Los Alamitos to Santa Anita Park, which will host the Breeders’ Cup World Championships on Oct. 31-Nov. 1.

"The Classic should be a great race," added Sherman.

The Breeders’ Cup Classic is scheduled to be the first matchup between California Chrome and unbeaten 3-year-old Shared Belief, the 2013 champion 2-year-old male who is partially owned by prominent sports personality Jim Rome.

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Tonalist, who won the Belmont Stakes to spoil California Chrome’s Triple Crown bid, enters the Classic off a sparkling win over older males in the $1-million Jockey Club Gold Cup, so this is far from a two-horse race. But Shared Belief and California Chrome are definitely the headliners from a media buzz standpoint.

Los Alamitos head clocker Russ Hudak echoed Alan Sherman’s sentiments on Chrome’s workout.

"I would agree with him," Hudak said. "California Chrome has really moved forward. This was a step up, the best he’s done since coming back from Philadelphia [after the Pennsylvania Derby on Sept. 20]."

Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer is pleased with Shared Belief as the Classic approaches with potential Horse of the Year and champion 3-year-old male Eclipse Awards on the line for the Candy Ride gelding.

"It’s been a long journey, but we’re right on our schedule, so we’ll just see if we can follow through," Hollendorfer said.

Tonalist also completed his final major workout in preparation for the Classic. He worked five-eighths of a mile in 1:01.75 for trainer Christophe Clement.

 

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