By Jeremy Balan
If not for the lights overhead, normally used to brighten up the track for nighttime Quarter Horse racing, California Chrome’s first Los Alamitos Race Course workout since March would have been a breezy blur.
Out around 5:30 a.m. PT the morning of Nov. 7, with an unusually cold nip in the Southern California air, the classic-winning chestnut ambled around through the stretch and backstretch before breezing a quarter-mile with ease under the tight hold of exercise rider Dihigi Gladney.
Trainer Art Sherman, with a small entourage of family and friends, clocked the 4-year-old Lucky Pulpit colt in :25 flat, with a gallop out to three furlongs in :37 and change, while Los Alamitos clockers timed him in :26 3/5 in preparation for the San Pasqual Stakes (gr. II) in January at Santa Anita Park.
“It was perfect,” Sherman said. “God darn it, he had a handful of horse.”
As intentionally easy as the work was, California Chrome appeared eager to continue running. His ears were pricked for the entire drill and he galloped out powerfully after hitting the wire.
“The minute you start breezing him, now he’s going to be a strong horse now,” Sherman said. “He’s getting aggressive now—really getting a good hold of the bit. I have a feeling he’s going to get ready a little sooner than I thought, because he’s so competitive. He’s going to be a monster.”
Back in the Sherman barn at Los Alamitos since October, after journeys to Dubai, England, and Chicago, California Chrome has also dropped a bit of the weight he put on while turned out at Taylor Made Farm in Kentucky.
“He’s tucking up now. He’s getting strong.” Sherman said. “That’s what happens. He came in with a big belly, but I was looking at him in the stall today and he looks a lot different.”
Sherman said he plans to breeze the 2014 Horse of the Year, also last year’s champion 3-year-old, every Saturday leading up to his Santa Anita start, unless the track is off.