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California Chrome To Ship To New York Tuesday In Preparations For A Triple Crown
Updated: Sunday, May 18 2014, 04:42 PM EDT
Trainer Art Sherman widened his smile and nodded at the question of the morning Sunday after California Chrome added Saturday’s Preakness Stakes (G1) to his win in the Kentucky Derby : Have you been thinking about the Triple Crown?
“I sure have,” Sherman said. “I’m thinking what the journey is, one more shot. I’m going to have a lot of fresh shooters waiting for me in New York. He’s done everything we’ve asked of him. He really doesn’t have a lot to prove. He’s been a super horse for us. He’s one of those horses that you’re going to have to outrun to beat him. Maybe they won’t be able to beat him. I’m looking forward to that race.”
California Chrome will try to become the 12th Triple Crown winner – the first since Affirmed swept the series in 1978 – in the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, June 7. The colt will walk the shedrow Pimlico at 7 a.m. Monday and ship from the Preakness Stakes Barn at Pimlico to Belmont Park at 6 a.m. Tuesday morning.
Sherman said he thinks his colt can complete the sweep in the 1 1/2-mile Belmont Stakes, which has stopped 11 horses that won the Derby and Preakness since Affirmed. A 12th Derby-Preakness winner, I’ll Have Another in 2012, was found to be injured the day before the Belmont Stakes and was scratched.
“I do,” he said. “I have a good feeling about it. I’m really confident going into this race. After watching him run yesterday with two weeks (between races) and showing the courage that he had, they better have their running shoes on. I don’t care how many fresh shooters they’ve got there; he’s the real McCoy.”
Sherman said California Chrome, a winner of six straight races, should be able to handle the Belmont distance.
“I really think a mile and a half is no problem at all for this horse,” he said. “I know when I was at Los Alamitos he galloped two miles every day and the second time around there he was in another gear. He looked better to me the second time around than the first.”
However, he said jockey Victor Espinoza will have to be careful in the Belmont.
“To last that long you’re going to have to take a hold of your horse the first part of it,” Sherman said. “He’s an easy horse to rate. If you want him to go in :48, he goes in :48. If you want him to go in :46, he’ll go in :46. I don’t think he needs to carry his race with him. Whatever the pace is, perfect, he can ride him that way.”
Much like he did after the Derby, Sherman, 77, said he will return to his California home Monday to tend to his stable based at Los Alamitos, while his son and assistant trainer, Alan, manages California Chrome for the next two weeks. Art Sherman said he expects to travel to New York about a week before the Belmont Stakes.
During a meeting with the media outside the stakes barn, Sherman said the horse came out of the race well, that he is in favor of lengthening the time between the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes from five to nine weeks, and that he expects the colt’s owners, Steven Coburn and Perry Martin, to question New York’s rule against the use of nasal strips used to improve breathing by opening the nasal passages.
Sherman was surprised to learn that New York State does not allow nasal strips and said it might present a problem.
“Now that’s going to be interesting,” Sherman said. “This guy, Perry Martin, he might not run if they say you can’t run with a nasal strip. He’s very funny about things like that. The horse has been on a six-race winning streak with nasal strips. I don’t know why they would ban you from wearing one, but we’ll have to cross that bridge when we get there, I guess.”
By late morning, the New York State Gaming Commission issued a statement saying that it is up to the stewards to approve the use to nasal strips.
The statement from New York’s racing regulators:
“Neither the New York State Gaming Commission nor the Stewards at the New York Racing Association have received a request to use nasal strips in the June 7 Belmont Stakes.
“If a request to use nasal strips is made, the decision on whether to permit them or not will be fully evaluated and determined by the Stewards.
“This is in accordance with the Commission's Thoroughbred Rule 4033.8, which states: "Only equipment specifically approved by the stewards shall be worn or carried by a jockey or a horse in a race."
California Chrome’s chestnut coat shone in the morning sun a dozen or so hours after he posted a 1 1/2-length victory over Ride On Curlin in the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown. Sherman said the horse seemed fine and was pulling Alan as they walked the shedrow.
Under Espinoza, California Chrome stalked the pace for six furlongs, moved to the front in the second turn and scooted away from the others at the top of the stretch.
“They took pretty good shots at him and he was in a longer drive than I’ve ever seen him,” Sherman said. “Victor said he had to ask him at the half-mile pole to stay in there when that horse (Social Inclusion) wheeled up alongside of him. He could see that he was trying to push him down there a little bit so he let him run a little earlier than he usually does. He kept up a half-mile run. Usually he just runs the last quarter of a mile. That impressed me a lot, coming back in two weeks. I said, ‘Man, this horse has got to have a big heart. He really does.”
The gap between the Preakness and the Belmont is three weeks and Sherman said it’s time that the Triple Crown schedule is adjusted.
“I think they should change that rule and make it to where it’s about a nine-week program,” he said. “I think you’d have a lot more shooters in that race (the Preakness). You’d have a lot more Derby horses that would try it. Now you only get two or three Derby horses that go.
And Sherman said he is favor of prohibiting fresh horses from entering the series after the Derby. It’s now quite common for horses that were beaten in the Derby to skip the Preakness and run in the Belmont.
“To me, if you’re going to the Triple Crown, go for the Triple Crown. Don’t pick your spots,” he said. “Let everybody be in the same situation and do it. The Triple Crown is the Triple Crown. If you’re good enough horse to do it, let’s go. Make it fair where you don’t have to pick and choose your spots. I think that shows what kind of horse you’ve got.”