California Chrome galloped at Pimlico on May 14.

California Chrome galloped at Pimlico on May 14.

Jim McCue, Maryland Jockey Club

California Chrome Has First Gallop at Pimlico

Kentucky Derby winner has strong gallop; he has put on 35 pounds since Derby.

With the temperatures dropping from the 80s the preceding day to the high 50s the morning of May 14 with a light steady mist falling, horses were feeling good as they went to the track at Pimlico Race Course, and California Chrome  was no exception.

The winner of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) went out at his usual time of 6:45 a.m. for his first gallop around the Maryland oval with exercise rider Willie Delgado aboard. Stopping every few yards to survey his surroundings, he finally made his way onto the track, letting out a loud whinny as if to announce his presence before bouncing along up the stretch.

With trainer Art Sherman and his son, Alan, who is his main assistant, standing along the rail, Steve Coburn and Perry Martin's son of Lucky Pulpit galloped by looking around at all the sights the first time past. But he was more focused as he went by a second time, galloping at a stronger clip.

The Derby certainly has not taken anything out of California Chrome physically, and not only has he put back all his weight, he actually has gained 35 pounds since the race.

People are now flocking to this colt, who poses for pictures as if he knows what is expected of him. The previous afternoon, the few visitors who came to the barn were invited in by Alan Sherman to see the Derby winner close up and have their pictures taken with him. The Shermans have been as amiable as any horsemen who have come to Pimlico with the Derby winner.

The first thing Art Sherman did after he arrived on a flight from California the afternoon of May 13 was to look in on his horse, then take a long look at the illustrious names of all the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes (gr. I) winners who have resided in the traditional Derby winner's stall.

Following this morning's activities, Sherman said, "He had a good gallop and was looking around like he usually does, but he took hold of the bit the second time around and was more focused. He seemed to handle the track really well."

Sherman said he would love to draw post 5 again at the post position draw coming up on the evening of May 14, the same post he drew in the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) and Kentucky Derby.

"I'd be delighted to draw post 5 again," he said. "That's my lucky number right now. If he gets away in good shape, he likes to have a target to run at, so with good racing luck he should be in the clear."

Sherman, like most trainers, is not thrilled having to come back in two weeks, but likes the signs he's being seeing.

"It usually takes a horse 10 days to bounce back from a race, but he's holding his weight really well and he ate up every oat last night. We'll school him in the gate and the paddock (Thursday). I like the fact he's gained 35 pounds since the Derby; that's a good sign. The horse is feeling good as is doing everything right. He's traveled to four different racetracks recently and is getting to be a real trooper."

Sherman sees the race shaping up with several speed horses vying for the lead and California Chrome tracking them.

"Bayern has been training in California and we know he's got a lot of gas, and Social Inclusion  and Wesley's Ward's horse (Pablo Del Monte) have good speed. My horse has got a little gas himself. The first 70 yards is very important."

Sherman said he doesn't want to look too far ahead and will take it one race at a time, but did say, "If it's fate for me to win all three races, believe me, I'm all for it."