Few who were present will forget the Friday morning before the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) of 2012, when Triple Crown hopes were dashed with the injury of I'll Have Another .
So members of the media joined Team Sherman and the connections of California Chrome in breathing a sigh of relief on that same day two years later June 6. The winner of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) completed his final gallop with flying colors leading into the June 7 test. Only one more morning to go.
California Chrome made his usual journey to the Belmont Park oval under exercise rider William Delgado, swinging through the paddock to school before continuing out for a routine gallop under the supervision of assistant trainer Alan Sherman. He was followed by the usual media throng that assembles to track the pre-race progress of a Triple Crown hopeful, but never turned a hair.
"We took him to the paddock; he was good, trained outstanding," Alan Sherman said. "Nothing seems to bother him too much, he's pretty cool."
One day out from a chance to make history as the first Triple Crown winner in 36 years, Sherman—who supervises California Chrome's training for his father, 77-year-old trainer Art Sherman—said he can finally feel the pressure building. Steve Coburn and Perry Martin's 3-year-old son of Lucky Pulpit will look to become the only California-bred to take the storied series.
"Getting there, yeah," Alan Sherman said when asked if he felt nervous. "(But) the horse is doing great; I couldn't ask for anything more from him. I'm looking forward to the race. I think if he runs his race, he's going to be pretty solid."
California Chrome will jog early Saturday morning, as he did before the Derby and Preakness, before taking on 10 others in the "test of the champion." And despite the pressure, his connections are still relishing their once-in-a-lifetime runner.
"It's been awesome; it's been a great ride," Alan Sherman said. "These kind of horses don't come around very often, if at all. We're just very fortunate to have come across this horse."