By Jeremy Balan
CYPRESS, CA (June 4, 2016)-California Chrome was a blur during much of his workout at Los Alamitos Race Course June 4 but not because he ran particularly fast.
On an unusually foggy Saturday morning, the 2014 Horse of the Year was barely visible down the backstretch and in the far turn under regular exercise rider Dihigi Gladney, but he emerged at the top of the stretch with his familiar powerful strides.
After the 5-year-old son of Lucky Pulpit hit the wire, trainer Art Sherman looked down at his stopwatch from his perch at Schwanies At The Gap, just beyond the Los Al eighth pole, somewhat unsure.
“I’ve got—something,” Sherman said.
A quick phone call up to Los Al clocker Russ Hudak confirmed the time for California Chrome’s fourth workout since his victory in the Dubai World Cup (UAE-I). He hit the wire in :48 3/5 and galloped out to five furlongs in 1:01 2/5. Hudak timed his first quarter-mile in :26 flat and three furlongs in :37 2/5.
“He was striding out down the lane,” Sherman said of California Chrome’s early-morning move, during his normal private session at about 5:30 a.m. PT. “He looked like a big train to me. That makes my morning, when I can see him run. What a difference.
“Down the lane, he looked perfect and the gallop out was really strong.”
The drill in preparation for the San Diego Handicap (gr. II) July 23 at Del Mar follows two half-mile breezes, :49 4/5 May 21 and :48 4/5 May 28, which were preceded by a three-furlong move in :36 2/6 May 14, his first since returning to California from a short break at Taylor Made Farm in Kentucky following his Dubai trip.
“Each week, he’s going faster,” Sherman said. “You can just see the steady clip on him. He’s like a big train. He does everything so easy, but that’s what good horses do. They make it look effortless.”
A few hours later, Sherman will head north to saddle Mucho Chrome in a maiden special weight event at Santa Anita Park, and he’ll get a chance to scope out the competition for this summer’s Pacific Classic (gr. I).
“I’ve got to get him tuned up for that filly,” Sherman said of Beholder, the defending Pacific Classic champ who headlines the Vanity Mile (gr. I) Saturday, along with fellow champion Stellar Wind. “She’s running today, and we’re going to get a good look at the competition.”