California Chrome takes to Belmont surface for first time
MAY 23, 2014 9:46a ET
Triple Crown hopeful California Chrome galloped at Belmont Park for the first time on Thursday morning with regular exercise rider Willie Delgado aboard for the trip around the main track.
California Chrome won the Kentucky Derby on May 3 and the Preakness Stakes on May 17 for owners Steve Coburn and Perry Martin. Trained by Art Sherman, the Lucky Pulpit colt will attempt on June 7 in the 1½-mile Belmont Stakes to become the first horse in 36 years to sweep all three jewels of the Triple Crown.
California Chrome galloped an easy 1¾ miles on the wet main track Thursday, two days after arriving in New York from Baltimore.
“I just wanted to get out before the track got chewed up and he skipped over that track,” said Alan Sherman, who is the assistant to his father. “I was amazed as to how good he looked at there. The track did not seem heavy, just wet and sloppy. No one really wants to train over a chewed up track so that is why went out earlier today than planned. We’ll probably do the same tomorrow.”
The trip to New York for the 146th running of the Belmont Stakes, the oldest and longest leg of racing's Triple Crown, marks the first time Alan Sherman has experienced Belmont Park, the largest dirt track in North America.
“Your horse looks like an ant down there. ”
“The place is massive,” Alan Sherman said. “Your horse looks like an ant down there. The place is huge, but I'm real happy with the surface and as long as Chrome likes it, I like it.
“It's kind of intimidating, as big as it is when you first look at it, but we can handle it,” he added.
California Chrome’s regular exercise rider Delgado was very happy with the way the dual classic winner handled the track.
“He just said, ‘Wow!’ ” Alan Sherman said. “He said [the horse] just skipped over the track.”
California Chrome is scheduled for one workout prior to his historic bid in the Belmont. Plans call for an easy half-mile breeze on May 31 with jockey Victor Espinoza aboard.
“[California Chrome] seems to have lots left in the tank right now and I'm not going to over train him by any means right now,” Alan Sherman said. “I'm just going to keep him fresh and happy. If he works in :48 or :49, that will be perfect. We don't need a fast work; if he is not fit by now, he’ll never be fit.”
Since Affirmed became the 11th horse to win U.S. Thoroughbred racing’s most elusive prize in 1978, 12 others have come into the Belmont with a chance to win the Triple Crown. None has have succeeded.
In 2012, I'll Have Another won the first two legs but did not compete in the Belmont.
“I don’t see anything [they have in common as to] why they didn’t win; they look like they just got outrun,” Alan Sherman said. “I still think I can win the Triple Crown; I wouldn't be here if I didn’t.”