California Chrome–the superstar 3 year old that won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness before falling short in the Belmont–has another ‘trick up his sleeve’. He’s going to make his first start on turf later this month.
Typically, horses either stick to one or the other. At the very least, they usually show a preference for one or the other. For that reason, it’s something of a surprise that the plucky California Chrome is going to race in the Hollywood Derby this Saturday. The Derby is a Grade 3, $300,000 race now held at Del Mar–on turf. California Chrome breezed on the turf today and afterwards trainer Art Sherman was pleased: “I was satisfied with the work. Of course, he was pricking his ears out there. Victor (Jockey Espinoza) said he didn’t know if (California Chrome) was going to work or gallop. He felt smooth underneath him. That was my main concern.”
Railbirds who watched California Chrome’s workout said that he looked a little unsure early in the run but quickly became acclimated to the unfamiliar surface. Sherman is going to give Chrome another shot before the Hollywood Derby saying that his horse will get “an open gallop down the lane Thursday just to be sure he likes the grass, which I think he will. That will be his second time on the course and that will make a big difference.”
Sherman continued: “My main concern is just his stride on the grass. Cutting back from a mile and a quarter, if he’s not fit now, he’ll never be. I’m going to enter him on Wednesday. Of course, there are two races we can go in. I’d love to go in the Hollywood Derby.” The ‘two races’ Sherman spoke of includes the Native Diver Handicap on Del Mar’s Polytrack–California Chrome has been nominated to both giving the trainer a couple of days to figure out what he’s going to do.
If California Chrome wins or is at least competitive on grass it’ll allow him greater flexibility as a four year old with plenty of lucrative turf options for older horses. If not, he’ll be back on dirt.