All in the Sherman Racing Stables barn at Los Alamitos Race Course were dreading Jan. 6, when their big horse leaves town for the last time.
California Chrome will depart for Gulfstream Park Friday to run his last race in the Jan. 28 Pegasus World Cup (G1), but his double-wide stall at the front of Art Sherman's barn won't be vacant for long.
When owner Kaleem Shah and trainer Bob Baffert ended their partnership Dec. 31, seven horses were sent to trainer Doug O'Neill and six were delivered to Sherman. The headliner of the group that arrived to the Sherman barn Jan. 1 is not the "big horse" in terms of accomplishments compared to California Chrome, but he is, literally, a massive animal.
Well over 17 hands tall, Shah's Dortmund entered the Sherman barn Sunday, settled into his stall, and immediately made an impression.
"I tell you what. That thing is a giraffe," said Sherman assistant and exercise rider Anna Wells. "I brought him in the stall and his head is way up there. He's huge. I can tell you one thing. He's the biggest horse in the barn now."
A two-time grade I winner, Dortmund tussled with fellow chestnut California Chrome three times in 2016—second-place runs in the San Diego Handicap (G2) and Awesome Again Stakes (G1), and a third in the TVG Pacific Classic (G1)—and figures to take over for his new stablemate as Sherman's top handicap horse in 2017.
"It looks like I got a little lucky for the New Year," Sherman said with a laugh. "Believe it or not, I'll put him into Chrome's stall. He's big enough to fit in the big stall. He's just huge—a beautiful horse. We're going to have to move him into the big stall because he's too big for the other one."
Also in the group is Del Mar Futurity (G1) winner Klimt, who finished eighth last time out in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1).
Sherman said Sunday that the preliminary plan for the Quality Road colt is to hit the Triple Crown trail by way of Dubai. Klimt is still under evaluation but could start in the Feb. 11 UAE 2000 Guineas (G2) and then the March 25 UAE Derby (G1).
The seven horses sent to O'Neill are multiple graded stakes winner Fantastic Style, grade 1-placed American Gal, last-out maiden special weight winners Iliad and Americanize, maidens Beautiful Princess and Aristocratic, and recent allowance winner Hoffenheim.
"I trained for Kaleem before, way back when. Just a cup of coffee—not long," O'Neill said. "When he called me yesterday, it was a great, happy surprise. Anything that has Kaleem Shah's name on it—I'm happy to be a part of it.
"It's exciting. It's all about the horses and you can only do as well as the horses you have. Getting horses like this allows you to have some fun."