By Claire Novak
Horse of the Year California Chrome is “preparing himself really well” for a comeback, according to trainer Art Sherman.
The 4-year-old Lucky Pulpit colt, who won the 2014 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and took the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) to earn Horse of the Year honors, has not raced since finishing second in the Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) in March. On Dec. 5 he continued his preparations for the Jan. 9 San Pasqual Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita Park with a solid breeze at Los Alamitos, his fifth workout there and fourth recorded breeze since returning to Sherman’s barn after a layup at Taylor Made Farm to recover from bone bruising.
Breaking off from the half-mile pole under regular rider Dihigi Gladney, the striking chestnut powered through splits of :25 and :47 4/5 before hitting five furlongs in 1:01 flat.
“Today was really great,” Sherman said. “I got him in the last eighth of a mile from the eighth pole to the wire in :11 flat … of course we went out the five-eighths, which was 1:01. He might have beat it, I got like a minute and four fifths, but the official time was 1:01. I see him galloping out strong. He’s preparing himself really well and everything’s going smooth, I couldn’t be more happy with the workout.”
California Chrome’s run in the 1 1/16-mile San Pasqual will be his first for a new partnership; Taylor Made bought out co-owner Steve Coburn’s share in July and the colt is now owned by the Kentucky-based operation and co-breeder Perry Martin. Sherman has also said jockey Victor Espinoza will be in the irons for a work or two closer to the race.
“We’ll start cranking down a little more on him. The times will be a little faster and (the distance) a little farther,” Sherman said. “We’re hoping that with good weather and the way we’re going right now, it shouldn’t be a problem to have him ready for the San Pasqual if I don’t miss any time.”
California Chrome’s connections hope to send their talented runner back to Dubai in March for a second run at the World Cup, should his return to racing go as planned.