Steady as a metronome, California Chrome had his usual two-mile gallop Wednesday morning, mirroring the schedule he has had since days after his arrival from Pimlico as he readies for the June 7 Belmont Stakes.
“He went really strong today. He was feeling good,” said Sherman, assistant to and son of trainer Art Sherman.
California Chrome is expected to maintain the same schedule through Saturday, when he will have his lone workout between the Preakness and the Belmont, a half-mile drill with jockey Victor Espinoza aboard.
Both Alan Sherman and Willie Delgado, California Chrome’s exercise rider, have been effusive in their praise of what California Chrome has done at Belmont since the Preakness.
“Yesterday he pulled, and today he pulled farther,” Delgado said Wednesday.
“Fitness-wise, he’s fit. Come the day of the race, like I always said, it’s all up to him and God. I can’t say enough. He’s really, really improving.”
Delgado said he believes California Chrome is thriving.
“He’s put on weight. He’s gotten stronger,” he said.
California Chrome has won six straight races, including the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness. He is attempting to become the 12th Triple Crown winner and the first since Affirmed in 1978.
As of Wednesday, there still were 11 horses under consideration as rivals for California Chrome in the 1 1/2-mile Belmont – Commanding Curve, Commissioner, Kid Cruz, Matterhorn, Matuszak, Medal Count, Ride On Curlin, Samraat, Social Inclusion, Tonalist, and Wicked Strong.
Social Inclusion, third last time out in the Preakness, is being considered for both the Belmont and a race five furlongs shorter, the seven-furlong Woody Stephens, also for 3-year-olds on Belmont Day, according to owner Ron Sanchez.
Sanchez said he would wait until after a workout Saturday at Belmont to decide, though he did rule out the Met Mile against older horses, also June 7.
“He got a little tired at the end of the Preakness, and I want to see how he finishes his work on Saturday before making a final decision on which race to run in,” Sanchez said.
Regardless of what race he runs in, Social Inclusion will have a new rider with Irad Ortiz Jr. taking over. He had been ridden by Luis Contreras.
“I wanted a rider who knew the Belmont racetrack, along with the fact that Irad and I are good friends, and he’s ridden for me in the past,” Sanchez said.
– additional reporting by Mike Welsch