By Jay Privman
CYPRESS, Calif. (September 26, 2014)-Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner California Chrome, back home at Los Alamitos, galloped on Friday for the first time since his disappointing performance in the Pennsylvania Derby, and his trainer, Art Sherman, said all systems were go for the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 1 at Santa Anita.
But Sherman, in a lengthy, contemplative interview on Friday morning, said he was “kind of bummed out” after the Pennsylvania Derby because of the trip California Chrome had in the race, and said that while jockey Victor Espinoza would retain the mount for the BC Classic, Espinoza had to perform better than he had in Pennsylvania Derby and Belmont Stakes.
California Chrome was boxed in early in the Pennsylvania Derby and lacked running room for much of the race.
“He had no chance to get out,” Sherman said. “Things could have been better. I’d just like to see him have a fair chance. You’ve got to be heads-up. Victor told me he screwed up.”
California Chrome has a history of not being comfortable inside horses. When he drew post 1 for the Pennsylvania Derby, Sherman said he went over strategy with Espinoza. He thought Bayern would go for the lead, and that California Chrome could be used early to establish position, then get outside Bayern. Bayern did go to the lead, but a tentative opening quarter left California Chrome in a pocket.
“You can’t strangle him,” Sherman said. “You can’t get him shut off two or three times. He likes daylight in front of him. Then he’s gonna perform.”
California Chrome has lost two straight races after winning six in a row, including the first two legs of the Triple Crown. The Pennsylvania Derby will be his lone prep for the Breeders’ Cup Classic, in which he will meet older horses for the first time.
“I was hoping to get more out of that race, but at least he did get a race under his belt,” Sherman said. “He’ll be a different horse for the Breeders’ Cup. We got very lucky. He came back super. He jogged on Thursday, galloped today. He recovered quickly from the race. He wasn’t tired at all. Took two sips of water and cooled out.”
Sherman said California Chrome would continue to do his serious training at Los Alamitos and would only be sent to Santa Anita a few days before the Breeders’ Cup. His next work likely will be toward the middle of next week, Sherman said.