By Jeremy Balan
After California Chrome’s final serious workout in preparation for the Nov. 5 Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I), trainer Art Sherman expressed confidence his standout chestnut not only is doing well, but that he has an advantage on the competition.
“If he’s not fit for a mile and a quarter now, he’ll never be,” Sherman said of the 2014 Horse of the Year, who covered six furlongs in 1:12 1/5 at his Los Alamitos Race Course home base Oct. 27. “Coming back in five weeks, some of these horses haven’t raced in two, three months. Going a mile and a quarter, let me tell you something, it takes a lot out of a horse. A mile and a quarter first time out of the box is tough.”
California Chrome heads toward the $6 million Classic off a score in Santa Anita’s nine-furlong Awesome Again Stakes (gr. I) Oct. 1.
Los Alamitos clocker Russ Hudak timed the son of Lucky Pulpit in fractions of :24 2/5, :47 3/5, and :59 3/5 through five furlongs. California Chrome broke off at the five-eighths pole and worked a furlong past the wire under regular exercise rider Dihigi Gladney to complete his drill. Sherman was looking for a work around 1:13, but wasn’t concerned it came up a few ticks faster.
“The way he was going, it didn’t look like it was too fast,” Sherman said. “He was pretty well in-hand. Perfect work.”
Sherman moved up California Chrome’s work two days because of potential rain in the forecast. Originally scheduled for Oct. 29, the conditioner didn’t want to roll the dice with having to possibly work on a hard, sealed track at Los Alamitos. The moved-up work also puts a potential short breeze on the table next week at Santa Anita Park, although he could also gallop into the race. The Classic favorite will van north to Arcadia either Oct. 27 or 28, depending on the weather.
“This game is like that. Sometimes you’ve got to change things up,” Sherman said. “In this game, you have to play your cards right. I won’t have to do much with him now. This is a key work.”