California Chrome
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California Chrome
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Anne M. Eberhardt

California Chrome Taking it Easy at Los Al

Dual classic winner due to ship out to Harris Ranch in 10 days for layup period.

No news is good news for California Chrome , who is healing up at trainer Art Sherman's Los Alamitos Race Course barn following a courageous Triple Crown bid that ended with a defeat June 7 in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I).

Since arriving back at his Southern California racing base on the night of June 8, California Chrome has been taking it easy while receiving treatment for a grabbed quarter to his right front foot, which Sherman said is improving. He sustained the injury shortly after the start of the 1 1/2-mile Belmont when he bumped with Matterhorn, the horse to his outside in the starting gate.

"We'll doctor the foot for the next 10 days or so, then we'll send him out for six weeks," Sherman said June 11. California Chrome will be sent to John Harris' horse farm in Central California, where the colt was foaled, the trainer said. The stout chestnut is to be turned out at Harris' River Ranch facility, where he spent time as a yearling, to recuperate.

Sherman said the injury has not resulted in a quarter crack to the hoof, which would have been more serious. California Chrome is receiving bandage changes and cleaning of the injury at regular intervals to help prevent the chance of infection setting in as they wait for the wound to dry out.

"It's really more preventative doctoring; the area is a little raw. He was bleeding pretty good after the race," Sherman said.

California Chrome also received a nick to the hide of his left foot near a tendon when he apparently clipped himself in the altercation. Sherman said the injury was superficial.

"That was the one that really scared me," he said. "That would have been a major blow had he cut a tendon. But it'll heal up all right."

California Chrome is expected to be ready to return to racing this fall, with the major goal being the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) at Santa Anita Park Nov. 1. He'll likely have one prep race against older horses before then. Though his owners and breeders, Steve Coburn and Perry Martin, have not made an official announcement, California Chrome also is expected to race as a 4-year-old.

His six-stakes win streak, including victories in the San Felipe (gr. II) and Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) before taking the first two jewels of the Triple Crown, came to an end with a fourth-place finish behind Tonalist  in the Belmont Stakes. Since returning to Los Alamitos, he has been doing a little walking but spending most of his time in the stall.

"Physically, he looks great," Sherman said. "He never lost a pound through the whole thing (Triple Crown). He's been eating everything we give him. He's a remarkable horse; he bounces back quick."

Sherman was philosophical about the defeat, noting that California Chrome had enjoyed nothing but great trips during the win streak and was due to have a little bad luck on the treacherous Triple Crown campaign. "It's not the end of the world," he said of missing out on the final leg.

"He probably wasn't quite up to the trip, the mile-and-a-half," Sherman said. "(The injury) had to have stung him some. I'm not an excuse maker but that last 70 yards, he kind of threw his head up there and that tells me he wasn't completely comfortable."

Sherman said he doesn't endorse the controversial post-race comments made by Coburn contending that only horses that qualify for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) should be allowed to enter the Preakness (gr. I) and Belmont. But he does feel the current time span between races of the Triple Crown magnitude could use some tweaking.

"To me, running a horse three times in five weeks is too much," Sherman said. "They could spread it out a little better. I think a nine-week program would be pretty good. But listen, I understand all about tradition."