California Chrome looks happy and eager in first work back
California Chrome, the 2014 Horse of the Year who missed the bulk of 2015 due to setbacks encountered in his English venture, returned to the worktab for trainer Art Sherman on Saturday morning.
Taking to the track at Los Alamitos before the sun could shine on his bright chestnut coat, the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness (G1)-winning champion appeared happy and eager to get going. Exercise rider Dihigi Gladney let “Chrome” stretch his legs down the lane, and he strode out nicely, with ears up, and plenty of energy apparently in reserve.
Chrome was officially credited with a quarter-mile move in :26.60. According to The Blood-Horse’s Jeremy Balan, Sherman actually caught him going in :25 and galloping out three-eighths in :37.
“I thought it was a great workout,” Sherman said in the Los Alamitos video posted below. “I just wanted him to go easily his first work back. It was just a high gallop for him.
“He had a lot of hold on him, and he looked awesome, just striding out down the lane. He had a handful of horse.”
Sherman added that his stable star would work every Saturday, unless an off track would prompt a scheduling change, as he builds up to a comeback in the early January San Pasqual (G2) at Santa Anita.
“He’ll get ready quick, just seeing the way he’s acting,” the trainer noted.
“You couldn’t ask for anything better right now. He looks physically great, holding his weight – he looks good.”
Weight was very much a concern for California Chrome over the summer. Following his hard-trying second in the March 28 Dubai World Cup (G1), he was shipped to the yard of trainer Rae Guest in England in hopes of a crack at the Prince of Wales’s (G1) at Royal Ascot. At that point, majority owner Perry Martin was making the decisions, overriding the wishes of then-partner Steve Coburn, and Team Sherman as well.
During Chrome’s English sojourn, he developed a foot bruise that ruled him out of Royal Ascot. He returned to the United States – but not to Sherman’s barn. Instead, he was dispatched straight to Chicago in advance of a tilt at the Arlington Million (G1).
Chrome had clearly lost weight in England, and to this observer, he looked in need of a freshening, not another target. Perhaps a blessing in disguise, he was diagnosed with bone bruising, necessitating a spell on the sidelines.
The saga of his ownership squabbles ended when Taylor Made Farm bought out Coburn’s share in a deal announced July 17, with a view toward getting him healthy, back on track in 2016, and ultimately retiring to stud at the Nicholasville, Kentucky, nursery.
That was great news, for Taylor Made’s Duncan Taylor has reportedly been the principal decisionmaker regarding Chrome’s plans. The first item on the agenda was to give him rest and relaxation at Taylor Made. Chrome responded by gaining weight in the lush pastures of the Bluegrass, and looking more robust than he had since he left California for Dubai.
Chrome finally made it back to Sherman’s barn at Los Alamitos last month. Alan Sherman, the trainer’s son and assistant, has been delighted with his training there.
In this video from Los Alamitos, the younger Sherman discusses 2016 plans centering upon another swing at the Dubai World Cup and the year-end goal of the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), back at Santa Anita.
If all comes to pass as hoped, Chrome could retire as “the greatest money winner of all time” – at least that’s the “lofty goal” Alan Sherman mentions:
The all-time richest North American-based Thoroughbred is Curlin, who amassed $10,501,800 during his Hall of Fame career. Chrome’s total currently stands at $6,322,650.