By Jeremy Balan
Another week, another performance from Los Alamitos Race Course’s resident superstar in front of some of his most loyal fans.
About 20 “Chromies”—with donuts and coffee in tow—showed up June 25 at the Orange County, Calif. racetrack to watch California Chrome breeze about a month out from his next expected start in the July 23 San Diego Handicap (gr. II) at Del Mar.
“We already got our tickets,” one purple-shirted spectator said to trainer Art Sherman on the patio at Schwanies At The Gap, Los Al’s stretch-run café.
“You girls are really cranked up,” the trainer responded.
In his first recent work that featured urging in the stretch from regular exercise rider Dihiji Gladney, the son of Lucky Pulpit went in 1:12 2/5 for six furlongs on Los Alamitos clocker Russ Hudak’s watch, with quarter-mile splits of :25 flat and :48 3/5, and a gallop out to seven furlongs in 1:26 3/5 during his standard 5:30 a.m. PT private session at Los Al.
Although California Chrome’s workout a week prior went onto the work tab as a six-furlong drill, the official time was actually a gallop out past the wire after he ran five furlongs in :59 1/5. Saturday’s drill was his first true six-furlong move since returning from a victory in the March 26 Dubai World Cup (UAE-I), his last race.
With that foundation, Sherman has made the decision to step up the 2014 Horse of the Year’s training next week.
“Next time I work him, I’m going to put some blinkers on him,” Sherman said of the equipment he also employs for races. “He goes a little bit more focused and faster when they’re on. Now that he’s got three-quarters into him, we’ll go a little bit more serious next work.
“He knows when he gets the blinkers on, it’s game time. But to go like he does without the blinkers is pretty darn good. He’ll probably go about five lengths faster (next week).”
Blinkers or not, you can bet the Chromie contingent will be back in position in a week’s time.
“They’re ready to go,” Sherman said. “It makes it like a family affair. You get to meet all these gals and it’s good for them. They get a chance to come out, eat breakfast together, and I got some donuts there to bring back to the barn.”