With many fans making their first-ever visit to Los Alamitos just to see him, California Chrome put in his final work April 26 before he heads to Louisville for the May 3 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
Jockey Victor Espinoza took California Chrome a half-mile in :48 1/5, and the California-bred colt galloped out five-eighths in 1:01.
"It was perfect," said trainer Art Sherman, who watched from the West end of the grandstand. "He does everything so easy. It always looks effortless."
Before the work, fans approached Sherman for autographs and photos.
"People love him—he's like a rock star and I'm his manager," said the trainer, who sported a purple California Chrome hat. He later added a California Chrome button courtesy of the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association, which made buttons available to people who "liked" the CTBA's Facebook page.
Espinoza brought California Chrome out around 8 a.m. PDT, accompanied by a pony. They took an easy gallop past the grandstand, around the turn, and down the backstretch before Espinoza broke him off.
Ed Burgart, who announces the nightly Quarter Horse races at Los Alamitos, took the mike for the workout as well.
"He's doing it under a very easy hand ride," Burgart told the crowd.
After the work, Sherman walked back to the barn to confer with Espinoza and his assistant trainer, son Alan. Photographers snapped photos while California Chrome took a bath, a scene that will soon be played out daily at Churchill Downs. Alan Sherman pulled out his cell phone to take a photo of Espinoza standing next to the soap-covered colt.
Art Sherman said that California Chrome is scheduled to leave for Louisville April 28.
"Tuesday we'll probably jog a mile," said the trainer. "Then Wednesday he'll start galloping two miles and get a good look at the track."
Sherman said the large Derby crowd is unlikely to bother California Chrome. "He's a people horse—he'll be pretty cool."
Many industry friends continually wished Sherman luck throughout the morning, including Hall of Fame jockey Eddie Delahoussaye. The trainer said that another Hall of Famer, Laffit Pincay Jr., texted to say that California Chrome reminds him of Sham and to wish Sherman luck.
Sherman and Espinoza next headed for the grandstand, where Los Alamitos officials had organized a breakfast and small press conference.
"This horse is so nice and kind," said Espinoza at the press conference. "He has amazing talent."
Asked about the difficulty of a 20-horse field in the Derby, Espinoza said that he feels California Chrome is quick enough for the jockey to put him in good position by the first turn.
The colt's owners, Steve Coburn and Perry Martin, were not at the work, but will be at Churchill Downs through Derby week. Coburn and Martin bred the son of Lucky Pulpit —Love the Chase, by Not For Love.
California Chrome has a four-race winning streak that began with last year's King Glorious Stakes and includes the California Cup Derby, San Felipe Stakes (gr. II), and Santa Anita Derby (gr. I). He will attempt to become only the fourth California-bred to win the Derby and the first since Decidedly in 1962.
"He's one of those horses that has a deep, deep desire to run," said Sherman. "He just excites me."