California Chrome Primed and Ready for $12M Pegasus Cup

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“He’s cruise control; that’s what I like,” he added. “We hardly ever press him to do anything. He was under hand, and I’m very satisfied with the work.” 

In what was the final breeze of his storied  career on the racetrack, California Chrome worked Saturday morning at Gulfstream Park in preparation for his swan song, the $12 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) Jan. 28.

California Chrome, with regular exercise rider Dihigi Gladney in the saddle, stepped onto the track at precisely 7:32, on a balmy morning in South Florida. After being backed-up the wrong way for a quarter-mile, Gladney turned the 6-year-old around and began to gallop past the clubhouse, where fans and horsemen looked on in eager anticipation of the final breeze from North America’s richest racehorse.

California Chrome working out spring of 2014

2014 copyright Gary Tasich

As is California Chrome’s custom, he worked faster than what it appeared. A nearly motionless Gladney guided him through the five-furlong move, which was timed in 58.81, following fractions of 23.66 and 35.12. The 6-year-old galloped out six furlongs in 1:12.41.

On hand for the work was Art Sherman, California Chrome’s 79-year-old trainer, who arrived in Florida late Thursday evening from California.

“I’m feeling great, I said if he went in a 1:00, I would be happy, and galloped out in 1:13,” Sherman said to the media outside Barn 2 following the work. “He went in 58 4/5 and galloped out in 1:12 1/5. He’s ready. That was an awesome work. I thought it was sensational.

“He’s cruise control; that’s what I like,” he added. “We hardly ever press him to do anything. He was under hand, and I’m very satisfied with the work.”

The Pegasus, the world’s richest race, will afford California Chrome the opportunity to have a rematch with Arrogate, who beat him by a half-length in their only meeting, the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) Nov. 5 at Santa Anita.

“I’ve been wanting a rematch for a long time now,” Sherman now.

Sherman, a former jockey, rode at Gulfstream Park, and saddled one runner here as a trainer in  2004. He was surrounded by a lot of well-wishers as he stood in the grandstand to watch Saturday’s work.

“A lot of memories,” he said. “I rode here when I was a kid. “Of course, it was a lot different. Now I look back and I say ‘Wow, here we are.’ It’s been a great journey. It’s been fun, a lot of fun. I met a lot of nice people throughout the game and I’m enjoying myself.”

One of the perks of training California Chrome for Sherman is seeing the amount of joy the horse has given to his large and loyal fan base, especially those who flock to his home base at Los Alamitos to catch a glimpse of the superstar.

“He has such a following,” Sherman said with a big grin. “I have 20 women coming out from Orange County [for the Pegasus]. They are all ‘Chromies,’ I call them. They have never missed a workout and I work him like at 5:45 in the morning.

“It’s probably been the biggest fan base I have ever seen,” he continued. “I saw a lot of good horses, with this one and that, John Henry and Cigar, but I have never seen so many people love this horse like they do. He’s the people’s horse, I always thought.”

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About Editor

Rich Nilsen is a 12-time qualifier to the National Handicapping Championship (NHC), an event he has cashed in four times. He was the first player to finish in the top 10 twice. He recently won a $24,000 package into the 2016 Kentucky Derby Betting Championship. A former executive with Brisnet.com, Rich is also a graduate of the University of Louisville Equine Business Program. He is founder of AGameofSkill.com, a site devoted to horse racing education and promotion.

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