North America’s richest racehorse breezes for Pegasus World Cup (G1)
California Chrome, with regular exercise rider Dihigi Gladney in the saddle, stepped onto the track at precisely 7:32, on a balmy morning in South Florida. After being backed-up the wrong way for a quarter-mile, Gladney turned the 6-year-old around and began to gallop past the clubhouse, where fans and horsemen looked on in eager anticipation of the final breeze from North America’s richest racehorse.
As is California Chrome’s custom, he worked faster than what it appeared. A nearly motionless Gladney guided him through the five-furlong move, which was timed in 58.81, following fractions of 23.66 and 35.12. The 6-year-old galloped out six furlongs in 1:12.41.
On hand for the work was Art Sherman, California Chrome’s 79-year-old trainer, who arrived in Florida late Thursday evening from California.
“I’m feeling great, I said if he went in a 1:00, I would be happy, and galloped out in 1:13,” Sherman said to the media outside Barn 2 following the work. “He went in 58 4/5 and galloped out in 1:12 1/5. He’s ready. That was an awesome work. I thought it was sensational.
“He’s cruise control; that’s what I like,” he added. “We hardly ever press him to do anything. He was under hand, and I’m very satisfied with the work.”
The Pegasus, the world’s richest race, will afford California Chrome the opportunity to have a rematch with Arrogate, who beat him by a half-length in their only meeting, the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) Nov. 5 at Santa Anita.
“I’ve been wanting a rematch for a long time now,” Sherman now.
Sherman, who will attend tonight’s Eclipse Awards at Gulfstream Park where California Chrome is a finalist for Horse of the Year, along with Arrogate, and Older Male, said he hadn’t fully processed the emotions of the moment — that he had just watched California Chrome work for the final time. The horse will leave after the Pegasus for Kentucky to commence stud duties at Taylor Made Farm.
Sherman, a former jockey, rode at Gulfstream Park, and saddled one runner here as a trainer in 2004. He was surrounded by a lot of well-wishers as he stood in the grandstand to watch Saturday’s work.
“A lot of memories,” he said. “I rode here when I was a kid. “Of course, it was a lot different. Now I look back and I say ‘Wow, here we are.’ It’s been a great journey. It’s been fun, a lot of fun. I met a lot of nice people throughout the game and I’m enjoying myself.”
One of the perks of training California Chrome for Sherman is seeing the amount of joy the horse has given to his large and loyal fan base, especially those who flock to his home base at Los Alamitos to catch a glimpse of the superstar.
“He has such a following,” Sherman said with a big grin. “I have 20 women coming out from Orange County [for the Pegasus]. They are all ‘Chromies,’ I call them. They have never missed a workout and I work him like at 5:45 in the morning.
“It’s probably been the biggest fan base I have ever seen,” he continued. “I saw a lot of good horses, with this one and that, John Henry and Cigar, but I have never seen so many people love this horse like they do. He’s the people’s horse, I always thought.”