Art Sherman was typically upbeat Wednesday morning after watching his
Kentucky Derby (G1) winner California Chrome gallop 1 1/2 miles in
preparation for Saturday’s 139th Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Race Course.
spent nine days between the Derby and the Preakness in California
supervising his stable based at Los Alamitos, while his son, Alan,
oversaw the daily training of California Chrome.
Sherman, 77, inspected the horse after flying to Baltimore Tuesday and
watched him gallop under exercise rider Willie Delgado Wednesday shortly
before 7 a.m. on a gray, damp, chilly morning.
thought it was a good gallop,” Sherman said. “He looked around quite a
bit the first time around like he usually does. He’s a very inquisitive
horse. Then he took a hold of the bit and was pulling pretty good the
next time around. That’s his style and the way he gallops every day.”
Chrome won the Derby impressively over a track surface that Sherman and
his son said he tolerated. Sherman reported that the son of Lucky
Pulpit appeared comfortable at Pimlico.
looked like he handled it really well. It’s got a nice cushion on it,
this track,” Sherman said. “It reminds me of the days I rode back here
in the East. I always liked that kind of dirt. It’s different than the
synthetic tracks. He’s run on four different tracks already so I don’t
think you have to take the race track with him when he performs.”
one concern has been the 14-day turnaround between the Derby and the
Preakness. So far, he is satisfied that California Chrome is ready for
another demanding test.
always bothers me coming back in two weeks, like I think it does most
trainers,” Sherman said. “It takes a horse a good 10 days to bounce out
of a race good, but he’s holding his weight, which is a big factor. He’s
eating good; he finished every oat last night. He seems to be thriving
in this type of training, so I’m sure not changing anything. Let’s go
Chrome was measured this week and Sherman estimated that Steven Coburn
and Perry Martin’s homebred colt had gained 35 pounds since running in
Sherman’s smile widened when asked if California Chrome was the horse to beat in the 139th Preakness.
“Well, I wouldn’t want to be in anybody else’s shoes right now, I’ll tell you that,” he said.
in his conversation with the media outside the Preakness Stakes Barn,
Sherman returned to the difficulty of coming back so quickly in the
Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown against seven fresh contenders this
year and in the Belmont Stakes another three weeks down the road.
challenge is there,” Sherman said. “I’m not one to run back in two
weeks. I know it’s a tradition, but it’s hard on the horses. I can see
where they have a lot of fresh shooters; they miss the Derby and then
they come for you at the Preakness. It’s going to be even worse when I
get to the mile-and-a-half race at the Belmont; they’re going to have a
lot of horses in the wings waiting for me there.
“I’ve got to keep my horse happy and fresh and hope he’s in top shape. I
don’t have to do much with him. He’s one of those horses that almost
trains himself. He does what he has to do and you can see in the
afternoon what he does. I don’t have to prove anything. He’s on a
five-race winning streak. There is always pressure, but sometimes I look
back at the races and he even blows my mind the way he moves away from
the field – some good horses. I just keep my fingers crossed that he has
a good trip.”
the Derby field included a number of horses that had shown speed in
their careers, the race was run in a slow time. California Chrome could
encounter a quicker pace scenario in the Preakness.
Preakness field is different to me because of the speed-laden horses
that are in there,” Sherman said. “I’ve watched Bayern run at Santa
Anita and he’s got a lot of gas. I’ve seen there are a couple of new
shooters in here. Wesley Ward’s horse (Pablo Del Monte) has speed.
Social Inclusion has speed. I’m just going off paper.
my horse, people don’t realize, has got a little gas himself. He’s run
some super races. He can go :22, 45, 1:09 and change, a mile in 1:33.
He’s run that. I think I’m in just as good shape as anybody. How the
field breaks away from there and where you’re at; the first 70 yards are
very important to me in a race.”
the Derby, California Chrome beat 18 other 3-year-olds at 1 1/4 miles.
The Preakness is one-sixteenth of a mile shorter with a field of 10.
always easier when you’ve got less horses. It’s less traffic,” Sherman
said. “But with his style, if he comes away from the gate in good shape –
there are three speed horses in here and he likes a target to run at – I
really think that with good racing luck he should be in a position
where he’ll be in the clear.”
for the prospect of running his horse on a wet track – there is rain in
the forecast for Friday –Sherman said he is not concerned.
not going there until I see the racetrack, but knowing this horse, I
don’t really think the racetrack is going to have a lot to do with it,”
Sherman said. “He seems to handle just about everything that we’ve
tried. I’m from the old school. If you’ve got a horse that can run, he
runs on anything: grass, dirt. A runner is a runner. You can’t make
excuses about racetracks.”
Chrome is scheduled to gallop Thursday at 6:45 a.m. Sherman, who has
plans to school his Derby winner in the gate and the paddock, will be
available to the media between 7:30 and 8 a.m.
BAYERN – Kaleem Shah’s Bayern
was one of the first horses on the track at Churchill Downs Wednesday
morning, jogging a mile under exercise rider Jorge Alvarez before
shipping to Baltimore.
has shown signs of brilliance in his four races this year and Hall of
Fame trainer Bob Baffert said he is ready for the Preakness test. After a
15-length allowance victory in his second start on Feb. 13, Baffert
thought he might have a horse similar to Bodemeister, who won the
Arkansas Derby in 2012, then finished second in both the Derby and
Preakness. Bayern finished third as the favorite in the Arkansas Derby
and Baffert opted to send him into the one-mile Derby Trial on April 26
instead of the Kentucky Derby.
entered Bayern and Chitu in the Trial, but scratched Chitu and sent him
to the Derby, in which he was on the pace but finished ninth. In the
Trial, Bayern finished first under jockey Rosie Napravnik, who will be
back aboard in the Preakness, but was disqualified and placed second for
interference in the stretch.
was thinking Derby when I went to Arkansas,” Baffert said. “I was
hoping for a Bodemeister, coming out of the same type of race. He ran
well, but he got a little tired there at the end. He ran an incredible
race. But then I saw that we were not looking good for the points (to
get into the Derby field.)”
Baffert settled on the Derby Trial as the proper next step for the colt.
the Derby Trial I was thinking Preakness. I wasn’t going to get him
back in a week and run him,” Baffert said. “I was a little bit
disappointed the he couldn’t separate himself from those horses. He
still won, but I was looking for a bigger effort out of him. Then he
came back well, so maybe he just needed some seasoning, some racing. I
wasn’t going to just throw him to the wolves a week later.”
has decided to make an equipment change and take the blinkers off for
the Preakness. He ran in them in his winning debut on Jan. 4 but did not
wear them in his next two starts, only to be equipped with them again
for the Derby Trial.
been going back and forth and I just think that if he’s going to lay
off horses, I think he’s going to be better off without blinkers,”
Baffert said. “He actually has a pretty good mind.”
Baffert said he likes how Bayern has come out of the Derby Trial.
came back – he didn’t really shut it down – and he trained well right
after that,” Baffert said. “He wasn’t exhausted when he came back. He
was tired in Arkansas. I think his training at Churchill Downs has
helped him a lot.”
Even with the blinkers off, Baffert said that Bayern will be prominently placed in the Preakness.
“He has a lot of speed and is going to be up close. We’re not taking him back,” Baffert said.
is time to find out. He’s ready for it now and I feel good about him
going in. If he’s good enough, he’s good enough. If he’s not, we’ll find
out more about him after the race. Is he going to have distance
limitations? Is this going to be the right spot? You don’t know until
the gate comes open. That’s going to be up to Rosie. Rosie knows the
horse pretty well now. I think she has him figured out.”
along with Preakness hopefuls Dynamic Impact, Ria Antonia and Pablo Del
Monte, boarded a plane at Louisville International Airport for a 1:20
DYNAMIC IMPACT – John Oxley’s Dynamic Impact
completed his Wednesday morning activity just in time to make it back
to the barn before a heavy downpour hit Churchill Downs a little after
With exercise rider Marco Cano aboard, Dynamic Impact galloped 1 ¼ miles and then visited the starting gate in the mile chute.
is standard for us (going to the gate),” said Norman Casse, assistant
to his father Mark Casse. “It is just to let him know he is running this
Casse will accompany Dynamic Impact on the Wednesday flight to Pimlico
along with stablemate Tepin, who is entered in Friday’s Miss Preakness
Stakes. Miguel Mena will ride both Casse horses.
the Casse team in Baltimore will be exercise rider Wayne Brown. Coming
from Woodbine, which is home to the main Casse string, Brown was at
Oaklawn Park this winter with Dynamic Impact.
GENERAL A ROD – Skychai Racing and Starlight Racing’s General a Rod
galloped 1 ½ miles under exercise rider Joel Barrientos. Trainer Mike
Maker said he will school in the gate Thursday following his morning
out of character,” Maker said of the morning’s exercise. “He takes a
good hold in his training, and here it’s been no exception. He gets over
Award-winning jockey Javier Castellano, currently the nation’s leading
rider, will be back aboard General a Rod for the Preakness. Joel Rosario
rode him in the Kentucky Derby, in which he finished 11th after being
steadied early and late, but he was committed to Ride On Curlin for the
(Castellano) rode him well in the Fountain of Youth,” Maker said of the
close second behind Wildcat Red on Feb. 22 at Gulfstream Park. “Anytime
you can get him, you’ve got to be pleased.”
Castellano rode We Miss Artie to a 10th-place Derby finish, but trainer Todd Pletcher elected to skip the Preakness.
and the connections of General a Rod decided to persevere in the Triple
Crown series despite a troubled-trip seventh in the Kentucky Derby.
it’s a prestigious race,” Maker said of the Preakness. “We’re not here
just because it’s the Preakness. We have a lot of confidence in our
horse, but having said that, we’ve got to really step up and get a fair
shake this time.”
worked as an assistant to five-time Preakness-winning trainer D. Wayne
Lukas from 1993-2003 but wasn’t present at Pimlico for the three winners
– Tabasco Cat (1994), Timber Country (1995) and Charismatic (1999)
during that tenure.
usually stayed back in Louisville, but the last couple years I came
with him and got to see what it was like here,” said Maker, who has
saddled horses in the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes, but not the
Preakness until now. “I figure I’ve been doing this long enough that I
should have an inclination by now. It might not be the right one, but
The 45-year-old Michigan native went out on his own in 2004 and last spring saddled his 1,000th winner. He won 228 races and more than $8 million in purses last year.
– Vina Del Mar Thoroughbreds and Black Swan Stable’s Kid Cruz was sent
to the track early Wednesday morning for a 1 ½-mile gallop under
exercise rider Reul Munoz as he continued his preparation for Saturday’s
fine, doing well and has settled into his new surroundings well,” said
trainer Linda Rice, who arrived in the Baltimore area later Wednesday
morning and headed to the 2-year-olds-in-training sale at nearby
Timonium.”Everything’s been pretty routine.”
for New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz by Black Swan’s managing
partner John Destefano Jr., Kid Cruz is the only member of the 10-horse
Preakness field with a race at Pimlico. He won the ungraded Federico
Tesio Stakes here on April 19 by 3 ½ lengths in a small field of six
definitely a plus,” Rice said. “But these are much better horses, so
he’ll have to step up quite a bit. We’re excited to try it.”
Rice’s other concern centered on the weather and a possibility of a less-than-fast track.
never run in the mud,” said Rice, who is preparing to saddle her first
Preakness runner. “He’s trained well in the mud – I mean galloped well
in the mud – but I’ve never breezed (worked) him.”
son of Lemon Drop Kid has tasted defeat only once in four dirt starts
after a dismal debut on grass for then-trainer Bill Mott. He was beaten
less than a length in an Aqueduct allowance race in his first start
after being claimed for $50,000 by Vina Del Mar and partners Steven
Brandt of Frederick, Md. and Richard Boylan. Destefano, a former
trainer, subsequently bought back into the colt he had named.
Rice is set to become the 15th
woman to saddle a Preakness contender. The late Nancy Alberts saddled
45-1 shot Magic Weisner for a second-place finish behind War Emblem in
the 2002 edition.
PABLO DEL MONTE
- Trainer Wesley Ward sent Pablo Del Monte on his way from Keeneland to
Baltimore Wednesday morning and said the Giant’s Causeway colt is ready
for the Preakness Stakes.
said the colt galloped at Keeneland before being loaded on a van that
carried him to Louisville to catch a flight to Baltimore-Washington
couldn’t be any more happy,” Ward said. “He’s just tearing the barn
down right now, bucking and kicking coming off the track at Keeneland
this morning. The outrider had to lead him off the track because he was
feeling so good and we didn’t want him stepping on himself or doing
something stupid. His groom was right there to pick him up.
“He’s shining like a copper penny as you’ll see at Pimlico.”
Sanchez is scheduled to ride Pablo Del Monte, who was third in the Blue
Grass Stakes (G1) on April 12 in this last start.
RIA ANTONIA – Christopher Dunn and Loooch Racing Stable’s Ria Antonia
galloped 1 ½ miles under exercise rider Maurice Sanchez shortly after
the Churchill Downs track opened at 6 o’clock Wednesday morning.
Sanchez was slated to accompany Ria Antonia on the flight to Pimlico. Trainer Tom Amoss is scheduled to arrive Friday night.
Ria Antonia will be ridden by Calvin Borel, who won the 2009 Preakness on Rachel Alexandra.
Borel was asked where that Preakness victory with Rachel Alexandra ranked among his all-time favorites.
“Top five? No, all-time it’s in the top three,” Borel said with a smile.
Antonia will represent Borel’s fourth Preakness starter. The others
were Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner Rachel Alexandra and Kentucky Derby (G1)
winners Street Sense (2007) and Super Saver (2010).
Borel had ridden those three horses extensively and he realizes this is a different situation.
filly worked super, super good the other morning,” Borel said of a
half-mile in :47 3/5 on Sunday. “If the people want to take a chance and
they give me the opportunity to ride, I’ll take it. There are no
outstanding horses other than California Chrome. If we can find a hole,
we’ve got a shot.”
Borel is scheduled to compete in Friday’s $50,000 Xpressbet Hall of Fame Jockey Challenge at Pimlico.
RIDE ON CURLIN – Trainer Billy Gowan watched Ride On Curlin
breeze “an easy half-mile” in 49 3/5 seconds from the Pimlico press box
porch Wednesday morning with a small entourage that included owner
Daniel Dougherty and invited guest Art Sherman, trainer of Kentucky
Derby winner and Preakness Stakes favorite California Chrome.
clocker Mark Euga called fractions of 12 2/5 (seconds), 25 1/5 and 37
3/5 for three furlongs after exercise rider Bryan Beccia broke off from
the half-mile pole. The seventh-place finisher in Louisville galloped
out in 1:03 3/5 for five furlongs.
thought it was good,” said Gowan, who has only four horses in his
stable, including the Arkansas Derby runner-up. “He probably couldn’t
make him go much slower without just throwing him down. He could have
gone a little faster, of course. We’ve been taking it real slow since
the Derby. I usually like to work him five or six days out (from a
race), but with the Derby, walking him three days and shipping up we had
to wait. It’s not a big deal.”
On Curlin, along with General a Rod, is one of only two Derby runners
to come to Baltimore to re-try Sherman’s budding superstar in the Middle
Jewel of the Triple Crown.
way things are today, people don’t like to run their horses back in two
weeks,” said Gowan, a former assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Jack Van
Berg. “My horse came out the next day after the Derby and I was walking
him and he was on his hind legs. I say if they’re doing good, run ‘em.”
On Curlin has run more than most of the sophomores in the upper echelon
of this generation. He’s had 10 career starts and the Preakness will be
his sixth trip to the starting gate already this season. The Derby was
the only race in which he failed to hit the board, but that was a
troubled trip under Calvin Borel. Gowan is switching riders to Joel
Rosario for this race.
think he’ll be a good fit for the horse,” Gowan said. “Hopefully with
the speed in here there’ll be something for him to run at. I’m just
hoping we get a good trip this time.”
Sherman and Gowan expressed mutual respect three days out from their rematch.
(Ride On Curlin) looked pretty good,” said Sherman, who arrived on
Tuesday from California. “This is a great view of the track from up
“He (California Chrome) looks like a pretty good horse to me,” Gowan said. “I can’t see any flaws in him.”
– St. Elias Stable and West Point Thoroughbreds’ Ring Weekend galloped 1
5/8 miles under Alice Clapham Wednesday morning at Fair Hill Training
Center in Elkton, Md.
being gelded following a 2-year-old campaign that included a
third-place finish on dirt and a third-place finish on a synthetic track
in three starts, the son of Tapit debuted with a sharp second-place
finish in a turf race at Gulfstream. Switched back to dirt, the son of
Tapit broke his maiden at Gulfstream and won the Tampa Bay Derby (G2)
before finishing second in the Calder Derby.
think he can do either (turf or dirt). When we made the decision to try
him back on the dirt after he ran so well at Gulfstream on turf, it was
that time of year,” said trainer Graham Motion of the time of year when
everyone with a talented 3-year-old starts thinking about the Triple
Crown. “Everything about his pedigree indicates he can handle the dirt. I
think he’s one of those horses that can handle whichever.”
can be considered somewhat of an expert on horses with the capability
of racing on a variety of surfaces, having campaigned Animal Kingdom,
the 2011 Kentucky Derby winner and Preakness runner-up who was an elite
runner on dirt, turf and synthetic.
horse like Animal Kingdom had so much raw ability that he could handle
any surface. I think the really, really good ones can,” he said.
Ring Weekend is scheduled to van to Pimlico Thursday morning.
SOCIAL INCLUSION – Rontos Racing Stable Corp.’s Social Inclusion
jogged from the gap at the top of the stretch to the three-quarter pole
before galloping a mile under exercise rider Domingo Navarro Wednesday
morning at Pimlico.
Inclusion is scheduled to make only his fourth lifetime race in
Saturday’s Preakness Stakes after showing enormous potential while
winning his debut by 7 ½ lengths on Feb. 22, defeating Honor Code by 10
lengths in a March 12 allowance while breaking the Gulfstream
track-record for 1 1/16 miles, and finishing third after setting the
pace in the Wood Memorial (G1).
“His first two races he won easy, and for me, he ran a wonderful race at Aqueduct,” trainer Manny Azpurua said.
Social Inclusion finished second in the Wood, he would have won an
automatic spot in the Kentucky Derby field, and his connections admit
they probably would have run him at Churchill Downs on May 3. However,
because of his late start, the Preakness Stakes, not the Kentucky Derby,
had been the main target for Social Inclusion before he made his first
“I got my horse in my barn on the 15th
of December. I didn’t want to push him. I wanted to give him enough
time. He was a big horse. Now he’s bigger and stronger,” Azpurua said.
“When you’re patient with a horse, they give back.”