Since arriving at Parx on Sept. 18, Sherman couldn't be happier with the winner of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and Preakness Stakes (gr. I) when he saw him at Parx for the first time the morning of Sept. 19.
"He looked great today," Sherman said. "He was on the bit. I couldn't be more pleased. Right now he's as good as I've ever seen him."
Sherman admitted that the son of Lucky Pulpit is at a disadvantage, drawing the rail, coming off a 3 1/2-month layoff, and having to face top-class horses who are in excellent form.
"They have an edge on him," he said. "We hope he comes back sound and know what's ahead of us. He'll have to be at his best to beat these horses. Wherever you come back you need some starting point, and for Chrome this is it."
California Chrome galloped a mile and a half Friday morning and was schooled at the gate.
"He was a little reluctant at first," Sherman said. "But once he was in, he was fine. He's so professional. He does what he wants to do. You know he's a little spoiled. We don't worry, though. He doesn't kick, doesn't do anything crazy. He's just Chrome."
As for drawing post 1, Sherman said, "I'll watch to see how the rail is playing. But if he gets beat, I hate to make excuses. If you have the best horse, you have the best horse. The other jocks know he's down there and they'll give him no quarter. We just hope he gets a clean trip."
Sherman also acknowledged the dangerous speed of Bayern , who demolished his opposition on the front end in the Haskell Invitational Handicap (gr. I).
"Chrome can be a speed horse himself," he said. "But I'll leave it up to Victor (jockey Espinoza). We'll let him judge the pace and move earlier if we need to."
In other Pennsylvania news, Candy Boy, beaten a nose in the West Virginia Derby (gr. II), had a strong gallop this morning that pleased trainer John Sadler.
"We gave him a good gallop this morning," Sadler said. "I think he knows when we're going. He never seemed to have to take a specific type track, so hopefully it will be something he likes. He seems to be very adaptable.
"I think he is as good as, or better than, he's ever been. We gave him some time off after the Derby. We had a nightmare trip and no chance in the Kentucky Derby. He had a wide post and got wiped out, so we gave him a little time off. We ran him once in California before we thought about running out of state. Unfortunately, that was with Shared Belief. He ran a good race that day and beat the third horse a long way. In West Virginia, he ran great over there. We got home and thought the spacing was good to this race, so here we are.
As for strategy, Sadler said, "He's a stalker. He wants to be just off of the speed. I don't want him way back. He should get a stalking type trip. It would fit him very well. (Bob) Baffert is clearly talking about wanting the lead with that horse (Bayern), and California Chrome will be up there early. We'll be just behind them.
"(Joel Rosario) and I have won tons of races together while he was here in California. He rode his first winner in Southern California for me and we've had a lot of success, whether it was Sidney's Candy or Twirling Candy or Zazu. He's been leading rider, I've been leading trainer. He's also a friend of mine. When he came over for this race, we decided to put him on. Nothing against Corey (Nakatani). He rode my horse very well last time, but if Joel is available, we're going to use him."
Everyone is of the same opinion that Bayern is going to be dangerous, especially if he gets loose on the lead, despite his poor effort in the Travers Stakes (gr. I), in which he stopped badly to finish last.
"After the race, in the stall, he looked angry," said assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes. "That's the only way I can describe it. He knew he got beat, from what I could see, from his body language. He can be kind of aggressive, kind of feisty, and he didn't look the same. He never missed a day. We gave him like five days off after the Travers, just because we traveled so much. We're thinking, well, it was a mistake going to the Travers. We figured we'll see how he looks and if he's doing well we'll take a shot at Pennsylvania. He showed Bob he was ready to come to this race, with the works.
"I think if there's any time you can beat (California Chrome), maybe coming off a layoff, this would be the time. He's a great horse, taking nothing away from him. He's a classic horse. He may well show up Saturday and prove that he is a champion."
"Both of these horses' works and preparation up to this race have been exactly where we want them to be and we're happy where they are right now," said Scott Blasi, assistant to Steve Asmussen. "Tapiture galloped a mile. His energy level is good. He got over the track really well."