By Jack Shinar
Horse of the Year California Chrome put in the final major drill for his 4-year-old debut when breezing five furlongs in 1:01 3/5 Feb. 1 at Los Alamitos Racecourse.
California Chrome is set to run in the $500,000 San Antonio Stakes (gr. II) Feb. 7 at Santa Anita Park, a race that is expected to also draw champion Shared Belief and Clark Handicap (gr. I) winner Hoppertunity.
Working on his own over a track cleared of other horses, California Chrome was steadily put through his paces by regular rider Victor Espinoza. The California-bred son of Lucky Pulpit galloped out six furlongs in 1:14.
Trainer Art Sherman said afterward that he was looking for California Chrome to go about a second faster, but noted that Espinoza didn’t want to encourage the powerful chestnut colt because he might go too fast.
“I think it was a good work, but I just wanted to have a little sharper workout for him going into this race,” Sherman said. “But he’s doing so good. The gallop-out was stronger…he galloped out in :11 and four for six furlongs in 1:14. He was so strong pulling up. He’ll be fresh and ready, I can tell you that.”
The trainer said California Chrome would ship cross-town to Santa Anita Tuesday, and would school in the paddock and the gate. Leading up to the race, he’ll also have a couple of two-mile gallops.
Asked about the drill, Espinoza said, “He went great. He’s dong fantastic right now. I think Art, he wanted to go just a little bit quicker than that. But I think he’s ready to go and hopefully 2015 will be a little easier, too.”
Sherman said he is looking forward to seeing the dual classic winner run for the first time since being named Horse of the Year in the 1 1/8-mile San Antonio, a prep for the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) March 7.
“I think you’ll probably see one of the biggest crowds at Santa Anita in a long time,” he said.
Owned and bred by Perry Martin and Steve Coburn, California Chrome comes off a season in which he won six of nine starts, including four grade I triumphs, and earned more than $4 million. In addition to Horse of the Year, he also won an Eclipse Award for champion 3-year-old male.