With Victor Espinoza aboard, California Chrome put in his final workout before Kentucky Derby 140 on Saturday at Los Alamitos.
He went four furlongs in :48.20 (512) to the satisfaction of trainer Art Sherman.
“It was a great work,” said Sherman. “He galloped out in 1:01. Everything’s looking good. I’m happy. He’ll leave here to go to Ontario (Airport) Monday morning at 1:45 a.m. The flight leaves at 3:30, but I’ll leave later, at 8 a.m.”
Sherman said that his son/assistant trainer Alan and regular exercise rider Willie Delgado will arrive at Churchill Downs on Sunday.
“They’ll get everything ready and he’ll stay at Tom Proctor’s barn there. Everything looks good right now. It’s all worked out nice,” Sherman said.
Sherman, 77, has waited a long time for this moment.
“He’s the kind of horse you dream about,” said Sherman, who, at age 18, accompanied the California-bred Swaps to Louisville before he won the 1955 Kentucky Derby. "Swaps had the same demeanor this horse has. Nothing bothered Swaps, and he was a runner. You just have to hope for the best.”
California Chrome has won six races from 10 starts and been second once while amassing earnings of $1,134,850.
Sherman has a game plan for Louisville in place, but the serious work is over now.
“I think all I’ll do is school him, take him through the paddock and take him to the gate quite a bit,” he said. “That’s been my thing with him, he gets anxious in the gate. He schools great in the mornings and then in the afternoons…he knows he’s got to come away from there running so we have to school him.”
Espinoza, who won the 2002 Kentucky Derby on War Emblem, is undefeated aboard California Chrome after riding him four times.
“It was an excellent work,” said the jockey. “He went slower today because the track is just a little bit slow (after overnight showers). He always breaks off fast, and I slowed him down today, Art didn’t want me to go too fast. He wanted it nice and easy and gallop out nice.”
Espinoza sounded a refrain often heard about the better horses at this time of year.
“Every time I come here, he looks different. He’s bigger, stronger. It’s amazing how much they can change from one week to the next, it’s unbelievable.”
Edited Santa Anita release with additional content by Dick Downey