CALIFORNIA CHROME LOOKS READY FOR PENNSYLVANIA DERBY
The much-anticipated return of California Chrome to the race track is now upon us. Ready to put his feet near Philadelphia, a run at the million dollar purse in the Pennsylvania Derby is next up for Chrome on September 27.
Following a rigorous beginning to his three-year old campaign that featured 7 races over about a 6 month span the nation’s best known California-bred got a much needed 12 week freshening to prepare for a year end run. Included in those races were 6 consecutive victories in races like the San Felipe, Santa Anita Derby, Kentucky Derby, and Preakness. A tiring 4th place finish in the Belmont Stakes perhaps was the writing on the wall it was time for this superstar son of Lucky Pulpit to take a break.
“You know he went through a lot of races for a young horse in a short period,” says Chrome owner Steve Coburn. “It has been a heck of a ride for us, but he needed some time off and we want to do whatever we have to keep him healthy and happy.”
If his recent trips to the track at Los Alamitos are any indication, the time off has been good for California Chrome. Some sizzling works in his last two outings are a strong signs he is ready to resume what has been a legendary 2014 campaign.
“The works have went really well and (jockey) Victor (Espinosa) says he is ready to go,” says Coburn. “He is a very, very smart horse and he and his jockey just seem to be as one when they get together. It will be his first race back so we will see what happens.”
“Obviously coming back from a layoff is always a concern,” adds trainer Art Sherman. “Victor knows him like the back of his hand and it was great to hear him say he seems as good as he has ever been in these recent works.”
The Pennsylvania Derby was an attractive option for the California Chrome team not only because of the large purse, but also because of the distance (mile and an eighth) and timing (6 weeks to the Breeders’ Cup Classic). The race is also limited to 3-year olds but should feature some other very promising runners like Bayern, Candy Boy and Tapiture. Plus as the winner of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, a $100,000 fee is being paid to team Chrome for running in the race which in turn will cover his fees for the Breeders’ Cup. Does Chrome think he will shine in the winner’s circle again because he expects to win every time he runs now?
“I don’t know if he expects to win because he has never told me,” jokes Coburn. “I can tell you this, he is very competitive and I think he really knows where the wire is. His demeanor tells me he knows the difference between winning and losing and he is smart enough to go when Victor asks him too. He loves what he does and we just want to take things one race at a time and let him have fun.”