By Jeremy Balan
As impressive as California Chrome looked during his timed workout Nov. 26 at Los Alamitos Race Course, it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary.
Just an accelerating black dot in the early morning darkness of the Los Alamitos turn, his recognizable blaze emerged at the top of the stretch under the Cypress, Calif. track’s lights. The slow-early, quick-late drills have been standard for the 5-year-old son of Lucky Pulpit, so when he powered through the stretch to stop the clock in :47.46 for a half-mile Saturday, with a final furlong to the wire in :11.10, it was par for the chestnut’s course.
What’s been most impressive to the people who work with California Chrome on a daily basis is how he trains during the week.
“Since (the Breeders’ Cup Classic, gr. I), he hasn’t missed a beat,” said exercise rider Dihigi Gladney, who guided California Chrome during the work, with fractions of :24.98 and :36.36, and a gallop out to five furlongs in 1:00 3/5. “He’s fresh right now. When he’s galloping during the week, he’s on it. Working is one thing, but his gallops during the week, that’s when I can really feel what’s going on with him. I feel every bit of him.”
Assistant trainer Alan Sherman also took notice of California Chrome’s gallops during the week and expected a quick work from the 2014 Horse of the Year.
“He’s been training so good, I knew he’d work good today,” said Sherman, who oversaw the work for his father, trainer Art Sherman, who was working horses at Del Mar Saturday. “He’s been on fire the last couple of days. He’s been ready to go.”
California Chrome has also put on weight since his second-place run behind Arrogate in the Classic. Alan Sherman said Saturday that the seven-time grade/group I winner has gained six pounds since the days before the Breeders’ Cup.
“He weighed 1,102 (pounds) a couple days before the Breeders’ Cup and now he weighs 1,108,” Alan Sherman said. “They lose about 10-15 pounds running and on Lasix, but he’s gained all his weight and then some back. It’s unbelievable. It really is.”
California Chrome will get two more timed works in before an expected run in a yet-to-be-named overnight stakes at Los Alamitos Dec. 17, which he will use as a prep for the Jan. 28 Pegasus World Cup (gr. I). The Los Alamitos stakes will feature a $100,000 purse and will be at 1 1/16 miles.
His next timed drill will be five furlongs Dec. 3 at Los Alamitos.