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O'Neill Gives Sherman Derby Advice

I'll Have Another press conference - Doug O'Neill
It’s been nearly 60 years since Art Sherman had a horseman’s interest in the Kentucky Derby. He was 18 in 1955 when he accompanied the great Swaps and his trainer Mesh Tenney to Churchill Downs to prepare the colt for his victory in the Run for the Roses 59 years ago.

If the fates allow, Sherman, now 77, will make it back to Louisville for the 140th classic, this year with California Chrome, like Swaps a California-bred chestnut.

Sherman is advised to enjoy the ride, from no less an authority than Doug O’Neill, who fulfilled every trainer’s dream two years ago by winning the Derby with 15-1 longshot I’ll Have Another. After winning the Preakness, the upstart 3-year-old came within hailing distance of going for the Triple Crown but was sidelined with an 11th-hour injury a day before the Belmont Stakes.

But first things first, and for streaking California Chrome, that would be Saturday’s Grade I, $1 million Santa Anita Derby, a race O’Neill won the last two years, with Goldencents in 2013 and I’ll Have Another in 2012.

O’Neill’s bubble burst when he returned to the Kentucky Derby last year with Goldencents, who faded to 17th after prompting the pace in the mile and a quarter race.

Lesson learned: the Derby is not a race to take for granted. Enjoy the ride.

O’Neill offered these words for Sherman: “Bring a good horse, which he has in California Chrome. The couple times we’ve been blessed to experience the Derby, it was about having a horse you have a lot of confidence in, and I know Art’s got a lot of confidence in California Chrome.”

As for hitting the Derby trail? “He’s going to have the time of his life.”

Sherman on California Chrome’s regimen at Los Alamitos, from whence horses are running with noticeable success at Santa Anita, including Sherman’s first-time starter Big Break, who won Saturday’s first race by nearly eight lengths:

“We jog California Chrome clean past the five-eighths pole, turn him around and gallop once completely around and then again, so he gets about two miles a day, galloping. The farther he goes, the better he likes it.”

The Santa Anita Derby will mark the first time in his training career Sherman will enter a horse in a one million dollar race.

“He walked today following his workout yesterday and I’ll bring him to Santa Anita no later than Wednesday,” Sherman said of California Chrome.

Possible for the West Coast’s major steppingstone to the May 3 Kentucky Derby: California Chrome, Victor Espinoza; Bayern, no rider; Hoppertunity, no rider; Candy Boy, Gary Stevens; Dublin Up, no rider; Big Tire, Edwin Maldonado; Friendswith K Mill, Tyler Baze; Rprettyboyfloyd, Rafael Bejarano; The Admiral, no rider; and Schoolofhardrocks, Joe Talamo.

Post positions for the Santa Anita Derby will be drawn on Wednesday. First post time next Saturday will be 12 noon.

Rebel Stakes winner Hoppertunity worked in company Saturday morning for Bob Baffert, going five furlongs under Martin Garcia in 1:01.20.

Victory in the Santa Anita Derby is worth 100 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the winner. Second is worth 40 points, third, 20, and fourth, 10.

Nearly $2 million in stakes purses will be offered on Santa Anita Derby Day. In addition, Santa Anita will have a $500,000 guaranteed Late Pick 4 and present free Derby Day T-shirts with paid admission, while supplies last, and have more than 30 premium local food trucks throughout the infield.

The annual Santa Anita Derby Day 5K run also will take place, and the track’s spacious infield will be rocking with popular local breweries and epic cover tunes from Super Diamond, in addition to live world-class horse racing.

Special packages are available at santaanita.com/events. Use promo code DERBY for 50 percent discounts.

 

 

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