Art Sherman, the horse's 77-year-old trainer, said California
Chrome had pulled up well and would remain in Louisville before
heading to Maryland for the Preakness on May 17.
“He’s fine,” Sherman told reporters outside the winner's barn on
Sunday morning. “He left just a handful of grain in his tub last
night, but that’s all. His appetite was good."
Sherman said he wanted to keep California Chrome in work at
Churchill Downs and was still undecided about when to move him east
as he contemplates the formidable task of trying to win three races
in five weeks.
“I’m thinking we might keep him here four or five days, then van him
up there,” the trainer said. “We could fly him, but we’ll have to
“To be honest, I’m not real comfortable with running him back in two
weeks, but I know that’s what we’re bound to do.
"I’m more the kind of guy who likes to wait seven or eight weeks
between races. These horses run hard and they need time to recover.”
Wary about the stiff challenge ahead, Sherman said California
Chrome's jockey Victor Espinoza told him that he eased up in the
closing stages of Saturday's Kentucky Derby when he was sure the
favourite would win.
"He said he didn’t ask him for too much thinking about saving
something for the next one, for the Preakness,” Sherman said.
“I try to take these races one at a time but I’m always concerned
about my horses. You know how fragile they are, so you’ve got to be
concerned. It’s just how they are."
The third leg of the Triple Crown is New York's Belmont Stakes on
It has been 36 years since a horse last completed the Triple Crown.
That was Affirmed in 1978 and the wait for another horse to win the
three races has been agonizing for American race fans.
A dozen horses have won the first two legs since Affirmed, only to
slip up on the final leg.
What makes the Triple Crown so difficult to win is the makeup and
timing of the three races.
The races are held in different states, over different distances,
during a span of five weeks. And the winner invariably faces
different opposition each time.
It is not uncommon for the horses which finish close behind the
winner in the Kentucky Derby (1 1/4 miles) to save themselves for
the 1 1/2 mile Belmont, the longest and most grueling of the three
races. The Preakness is 1 3/16 miles, the shortest of the three.
The field for the Preakness will not be decided until just a few
days before the race but hardly any of the 19 horses who contested
the Derby are expected to back up.
Trainer Dallas Stewart, who prepared the Derby runner-up Commanding
Curve, said his horse was a 50-50 chance to run in the Preakness.
"We'll see how it goes, that's all," Stewart said.
"He's a really nice horse, and I want to keep him healthy. I want to
win a couple big ones with him. I think he's very capable."
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The connections of Danza, which finished third for trainer Todd
Pletcher, were also undecided about what to do next.
Pletcher had four runners in the Derby and his assistant Ginny
DePasquale said they would all head back to New York, where they are
stabled, before any decisions are made.
“They’re all doing fine, touch wood,” DePasquale said.
"I’m sure Todd will take some time, get them back out on the track
to train, then figure out where they’ll be running
Wicked Strong, which started second favourite and finished strongly
to place fourth after being drawn in the widest barrier, is likely
to be saved for the Belmont, trainer Jimmy Jerkens saying the
Preakness was a “long possibility”.
Trainer Rick Violette was also doubtful about taking Samraat to the
Preakness after his horse finished fifth, saying it was “possible,
but not probable.”
“He showed signs last night that he was coming out of the race
well,” Violette said. “We had him out grazing for a half an hour or
so and he was pretty aggressive grazing. He was hungry. He was
tired, but not depleted. Otherwise he was in good form."
Of the 18 horses that finished behind California Chrome, the most
likely to tackle him again in the Preakness was Ride On Curlin,
which came seventh.
"If he bounces out of these races like he has been, we might try the
Preakness," trainer Billy Gowan said. "He's tough, so I expect him
to bounce out of it good. We'll definitely consider it."
Although history says the odds are stacked against California Chrome
completing the Triple Crown, with only 11 horses having won all
three races, his owner Steve Coburn was supremely confident.
"I said this horse would win the Kentucky Derby and I said that when
this horse wins the Kentucky Derby, he will win the Triple Crown,"
Coburn told reporters.
"I told people this colt will go down in history. When he wins the
Triple Crown, he will be the first California bred to ever win a
Triple Crown. That's where we're going."
(Reporting by Julian Linden in New York; editing by Gene Cherry)
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