Triple Crown hopeful California Chrome had his final gallop around the Belmont Park oval Friday morning, traveling two miles under exercise rider Willie Delgado after schooling in the paddock around 6 a.m. The Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner will jog tomorrow morning at 5:30 a.m., a little more than 13 hours in advance of his bid to break a 36-year Triple Crown drought in the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes.
The handsome chestnut colt stood quietly in the saddling area's stall No. 2 - his post position for the 1 ½-mile "Test of the Champion" - before walking through the tunnel toward the track, pausing several times as if to pose for the photographers who lined the fence. Upon entering the track, he jogged halfway around the oval, then turned and galloped two miles.
"The horse is doing great, I couldn't ask anything more from him," said Alan Sherman, son of and assistant to trainer Art Sherman. "I'm looking forward to the race. I think if he runs his race, he's going to be pretty solid."
As the Belmont draws closer, Sherman reflected on the ride the California-bred colt, winner of six straight races, has taken his connections, including co-owners Steve Coburn and Perry Martin.
"It's been awesome," said Sherman. "These kinds of horses don't come around very often, if at all. I think it's great for the game, and I hope it will get new owners into the game."