California Chrome in fine fettle 1 week from Triple Crown bid
Last winner of every jewel was Affirmed in 1978
California Chrome revved up his bid to become the 12th Triple Crown champion with a fast run at Belmont Park on Saturday.
He ran the 5 furlongs in 59.93 seconds over a fast main track ahead of the Belmont Stakes.
"I couldn't ask for anything more. It was a perfect work," said Alan Sherman, the son of 77-year-old trainer Art Sherman and his top assistant. "He's ready."
The California-bred horse captured the attention of racing and non-racing fans alike in winning the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness. California Chrome will attempt to end the longest drought in Triple Crown history next Saturday in the arduous 1 1-2 mile Belmont Stakes.
The last Triple Crown winner was Affirmed in 1978.
The horse appeared to relish the crisp morning, covering the ground easily for Victor Espinoza. He zipped through the opening 4 furlongs in 47.60 seconds. He galloped out 6 furlongs in 1:12.8 seconds.
The chestnut colt made his usual striking appearance with the four white socks on his feet and the white blaze on his face, markings known as "chrome." He boasts a six-race winning streak — all coming in stakes races — since Espinoza became his regular rider.
Chrome didn't appear to be breathing heavily when his last major workout for the Belmont was over. He didn't wear blinkers — which he'll wear for the race — because Sherman didn't want him to go too fast.
"I'm confident in this horse and always have been," Sherman said. "We've still got to run the race."
Sherman said Chrome will have Sunday off before resuming his regimen of daily morning gallops at a pace he chooses and exercise rider Willie Delgado obliges. The 3-year-old, known for stopping on his way to the track to observe his surroundings, tends to go at a leisurely pace for the opening mile before taking hold of the bit for another five-eighths of a mile or so. He is expected to stick to his routine by jogging the morning of the race.
Sherman said the team has done everything possible to have Chrome ready for the challenge of three races in five weeks.
"It's up to the horse. I think the horse is good enough," he said. "We will find out Saturday."
Sherman didn't appear concerned that the long-term forecast calls for rain.
"They all have to run on the same track," he said. "If it rains, it rains."
Chrome already has taken his owners to new heights. Owners Perry Martin and Steve Coburn purchased his dam, Love The Chase, for $8,000. She was bred to Lucky Pulpit for a $2,000 fee.
"We're just enjoying the ride," Sherman said.