Dual classic winner California Chrome had his first five-furlong workout since returning to training at Los Alamitos Race Course Aug. 29, covering the distance handily in 1:01 flat with regular rider Victor Espinoza aboard.
The Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and Preakness Stakes (gr. I) winner is pointing toward a return in the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby (gr. II) Sept. 20. It would be the first start for the 3-year-old California-bred son of Lucky Pulpit since finishing fourth in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) in his bid to sweep the coveted Triple Crown.
In his fourth drill since Aug. 8, California Chrome worked on his own under a good hold from Espinoza, picking up his pace through the stretch.
"I thought the work was good," said trainer Art Sherman. "I was hoping for a bit stronger on the gallop-out. He went in a minute and change; I was a little concerned. I thought he'd go in in 13 (1:13); he did gallop out three-quarters in 14 (1:14).
Friday's drill was the 10th swiftest of 22 at the distance on the morning.
"I'm sure he's getting stronger," Sherman said. "I don't know how the track variant was today. It could be a little on the slower side. So that might be why I was thinking of a little bit faster work."
California Chrome is to have two more timed workouts before the Pennsylvania Derby. The chestnut is scheduled to work next at Los Alamitos Sept. 6 between races during the Los Angeles County Fair meet.
"I need to get him tight enough to go a mile-and-an-eighth right off the bat," Sherman said. "He's had a little time off. My horse is a funny horse. You think he might not be tight enough but he does everything so easy that he'll surprise you."
Espinoza was aboard California Chrome for his prior workout Aug. 22, a half-mile drill in a bullet :47 2/5. He said the latest effort was "better than last time."
Asked to describe it, Espinoza said, "Not too bad. He went nice and easy. First time (going) five-eighths, so I don't want to go too fast. Art, he told me just to stretch his legs a little bit and just get comfortable. Not too crazy, he did pretty good. It seems like he's getting there.
"I think each work he's getting better."
Of the Pennsylvania Derby, Espinoza said, "I'm really excited to go there. Especially with this guy, California Chrome. I think it will be fun. It will be an exciting race for him."
The Pennsylvania Derby would be California Chrome's only race before tackling the best horses in the nation in the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) Nov. 1 at Santa Anita Park.
Owned by his breeders, Steve Coburn and Perry Martin, California Chrome has won five of six starts in 2014 while banking $3,317,800. In additon to his victories in the Derby and Preakness, he has also won the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) and San Felipe Stakes (gr. II) this season.