By Jeremy Balan
Trainer Art Sherman has said for weeks leading up to California Chrome’s next start in the July 23 San Diego Handicap (gr. II)—when the blinkers go on, that’s when things get serious.
Wearing his silver California Chrome-stamped hood as he stepped onto the track at Los Alamitos Race Course during his private 5:30 a.m. PT session July 2, the 2014 Horse of the Year was supposed to crank it up a notch. But right after his seventh timed work under exercise rider Dihigi Gladney in preparation for his first start since victory in the March 26 Dubai World Cup (UAE-I), Sherman said he was looking for a little more.
California Chrome worked six furlongs to the wire in 1:13 1/5, but will officially go onto the work tab for seven furlongs in 1:26 2/5. His last two works recorded for six furlongs went onto the tab at 1:12 2/5 each.
“I’ll be honest with you, I wanted a little stronger work,” Sherman said. “When I talk to Dihigi, I’ll ask him how he felt underneath him. Maybe the track—(Los Alamitos clocker) Russ (Hudak) said the track was slow yesterday. He said a lot of horses were tiring down the lane.”
Hudak confirmed that “there were some horses running the last quarter in :25 (July 1). It did seem the times were slow yesterday.”
Gladney asked the 5-year-old son of Lucky Pulpit for more run in the lane after opening the drill with fractions of :26 flat, :49 2/5, and 1:01 2/5. At least visually, Sherman said he liked the way California Chrome was moving.
“I thought he looked good coming down the lane—finishing good,” Sherman said. “Even (1:13), the first half was :49 and change, so he was smokin’ the last part of it.”
After the break, Gladney reassured Sherman about the drill.
“(The track) was slow, but that horse worked good, ” the exercise rider told the trainer.
Gladney also said the chestnut would likely run faster if other horses were out on the track with him.
“The track might have been a little deep this morning, but the type of horse he is—for him, he’s always looking for that target. … If there were horses out there, it wouldn’t bother him him,” Gladney said. “It probably would (make him more focused). He could see other horses out there and probably get a hold. Me, personally, I’d like to see him out there in the action, because he likes it. It gives him a better mindset of what he likes to do.
“And he likes to show off for the other horses. They can’t see him from the barn. He’s like any athlete. Nobody looks good dribbling the ball by themselves.”
California Chrome will have one more work at Los Alamitos July 9, before shipping south to Del Mar to run his final breeze July 16 in preparation for the San Diego.