BOZICH | Start The California Chrome Triple Crown Debate - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Start The California Chrome Triple Crown Debate

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Trainer Art Sherman celebrated California Chrome's Kentucky Derby win until 1:30 a.m. Trainer Art Sherman celebrated California Chrome's Kentucky Derby win until 1:30 a.m.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Art Sherman received the package from California last week. A package always arrives early in the week when Sherman’s precocious 3-year-old, California Chrome, is scheduled to race.

The package contains jockey silks, the trademark purple and green silks with the buck-toothed jackass on the back, the ones that represent Dumbass Partners stable.

Every time California Chrome wins a race, Steve Coburn, one of the colt’s owners, asks Sherman, his trainer, and jockey Victor Espinoza, to sign the silks. Coburn puts them in a glass case. History, memories, preserving the moment and all that good stuff.

Well, I’ll let Sherman take the story from there.

“So now (in Louisville) he sent me three new silks,” Sherman said. “One of them was for the Kentucky Derby. The other one is for the Preakness. The other one is for the Belmont.

“So I said ‘Wow, let’s roll.’

“We got the Kentucky Derby one done, let’s see what the Preakness looks like.”

What the Preakness looks like is a race that California Chrome should win. It’s a sixteenth of a mile shorter than the Derby -- and the colt was cruising by closer to five lengths at that point in the race at Churchill Downs.

The colt won the Derby the way a good horse is supposed to win the Derby – by stalking the pace for about a mile and then running away from the field the rest of the way.

This wasn’t a victory you could credit to racing luck or tired horses blocking the path of other contenders.

California Chrome was the best horse. The end.

He’s been the best horse in the race the last five times he’s moved into the starting gate, even though knocking California Chrome was something I heard everywhere at Churchill Downs last week.

Doesn’t have the bloodlines. Hasn’t won outside of California. Doesn’t like having dirt kicked into his face. Acts up in the starting gate and doesn’t leave the way he should. His trainer had never prepared a horse for a Triple Crown race. Bad breath. Silly name.

Am I forgetting anything?

“Maybe they had their doubts this horse wasn’t a runner,” Sherman said. “You always hear, ‘Oh, he didn’t look good on the track. He didn’t do this. He didn’t do that.’

“If you run against him, you find out, he’s the real McCoy, this one.”

You do. But you don’t.

Sherman is about to find out about that, too. Skeptics line both sides of the track when a horse pursues a Triple Crown. It’s mandatory.

Even though California Chrome won the Kentucky Derby with gusto, you’re already hearing reasons why the colt might not carry his dominance to Baltimore May 17. His winning time – 2:03.66 – was uninspiring for a fast track.

Write this down as something critics will be chirping about until the starting gate opens at the Preakness:

California Chrome’s Beyer speed figure for the Derby was 97. That is the slowest winning speed figure for any Derby or Preakness winner since The Daily Racing Form started using handicapper Andrew Beyer’s figures in a horse’s past performance charts in 1992.

That is guaranteed to make the next two-to-five weeks more fun. There will be non-stop squawking about how good this colt really is.

Coburn is already thinking Triple Crown and said so in the post-Derby press conference. Sensible racing fans aren’t ready to have that conversation yet, not with memories of I’ll Have Another, Big Brown, Smarty Jones, Real Quiet, Sunday Silence, Spectacular Bid and the others who learned how unforgiving the Triple Crown can be.

For now Sherman says he will try not to worry about it. The post-Derby party lasted until 1:30 in the morning. He slept 2 ½ hours before returning to check on California Chrome.

Sherman will fly home to California Monday and rejoin his colt in Baltimore at Pimlico on May 12.

Can California Chrome win the Triple Crown?

“I don’t know,” Sherman said. “I just know that when you lead him over there, he’ll be the horse to beat.”

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