CALIFORNIA CHROME (1st) â€“ The chestnut colt California Chrome carved his name in the history books Saturday afternoon at Churchill Downs, earning himself the right to sleep in until 6 oâ€™clock Sunday morning at his Barn 20 new Kentucky home.
â€œHeâ€™s fine,â€ reported the newest oldest trainer (77) to win a Kentucky Derby, Art Sherman, to an early bird gathering of media types Sunday at the barn. â€œHe left just a handful of grain in his tub last night, but thatâ€™s all. His appetite was good. He got a little tired, but not too bad. Victor (jockey Victor Espinoza) told me yesterday that he did get a bit tired on him at the end; that he eased him a bit that last 70 yards. He said he didnâ€™t ask him for too much thinking about saving something for the next one, for the Preakness.â€
Espinoza began to draw clear from his 18 rivals inside the quarter pole, but mostly kept busy aboard his mount through the lane. He popped California Chrome three times on the flank, but mostly just waved his whip alongside his head to give him encouragement. His final winning margin was a length and three-quarters.
Sherman said the Preakness was the next goal for the son of Lucky Pulpit, though he wasnâ€™t fully sure when and how the horse would head up to Baltimore.
â€œIâ€™m thinking we might keep him here four or five days, then van him up there,â€ the conditioner said. â€œWe could fly him, but weâ€™ll have to see.
â€œTo be honest, Iâ€™m not real comfortable with running him back in two weeks, but I know thatâ€™s what weâ€™re bound to do. I donâ€™t normally run any kind of horse back in two weeks, not even lowly claimers. Iâ€™m more the kind of guy who likes to wait seven or eight weeks between races. These horses run hard and they need time to recover.â€
Sherman was asked if he was concerned at any point during California Chromeâ€™s winning Derby run.
â€œNot really,â€ he said. â€œWhen Victor broke clear and got a good position, I knew we were good. He (Espinoza) told me after he had some thoughts about sending him away from there to avoid any trouble, but that he liked his position. He didnâ€™t want to get forced down on the rail and he was looking around from side to side to see what the other riders were doing, but he held his position. I saw that the fractions werenâ€™t that fast â€“ 47 (seconds) for the half isnâ€™t fast for this horse â€“ and I saw Victor had a good spot and hadnâ€™t let him run at all yet, so I was happy.â€
Sherman was asked if he had other concerns about his horse and a possible run toward the Triple Crown.
â€œI try to take these races one at a time,â€ he said. â€œBut Iâ€™m always concerned about my horses. You know how fragile they are, so youâ€™ve got to be concerned. Itâ€™s just how they are.
â€œBut Iâ€™m really happy for this horse and what he did yesterday. I know there was talk here that he wasnâ€™t really a good horse, that he was only a â€˜Californiaâ€™ horse. I knew he was a really good horse, but now everyone else does, too. He beat good horses in good style and thereâ€™s no denying that now. Heâ€™s peaking now. Heâ€™s full of himself. And the nice thing about him is that you can do anything you want with him. Victor said that when he won the Derby with War Emblem (in 2002) he knew he was only a one-dimensional horse â€“ he had to go to the front. This horse gives you options. He has the speed to be in front, but he doesnâ€™t have to be. Heâ€™s just a really cool horse.
â€œHeâ€™s a double-tough little horse and I want to keep him around. I think heâ€™ll be a terrific 4-year-old.â€
The conditioner said he and his entourage had had a late dinner at his hotel (The Brown) by way of celebration and that it was about 12:45 when he toddled off to bed. He said he got about four hours sleep before he headed back to the racetrack to check on his charge.
Sherman, who trains about 20 horses at his Los Alamitos headquarters in Orange County, indicated heâ€™d be headed back to Southern California Monday morning. His son and assistant trainer, Alan Sherman, would stay on with California Chrome.
â€œI heard it erupted at Santa Anita and Los Alamitos when he won yesterday,â€ Sherman said. â€œI was told they went bananas. Iâ€™m glad for everyone in California. Heâ€™s a rock star.â€ COMMANDING CURVE (2nd) â€“ The morning after West Point Thoroughbreds' Commanding Curve made a strong late run to finish second in the Derby, trainer Dallas Stewart said he's 50-50 about running him in the Preakness.
The conditioner already had shipped north to his New York headquarters, leaving his Churchill string in the capable hands of his 17-year assistant Ginny DePasquale.
â€œTheyâ€™re all doing fine, touch wood,â€ DePasquale said. â€œTheyâ€™ll head up to Belmont (Park) next. The other horses in this barn will go to New York, about half to Belmont, the others to Saratoga.â€
DePasquale confirmed that We Miss Artie, a Canadian-bred, would be pointed for that countryâ€™s biggest race, the Queenâ€™s Plate, another mile and one-quarter for 3-year-olds. The Canadian classic, which carries a $1 million purse will be run on Sunday, July 6.
As far as the stableâ€™s other three runners â€“ Danza, Intense Holiday and Vinceremos â€“ DePasquale believed that all options were open for them.
â€œIâ€™m sure Todd will take some time, get them back out on the track to train, then figure out where theyâ€™ll be running next,â€ she said.
WICKED STRONG (4th) â€“ Trainer Jimmy Jerkens said a slow pace and a tough trip compromised Centennial Farmsâ€™ Wicked Strong, who made a final rally to finish fourth.
The colt came out of the race in good shape and will be on a van back to Belmont Park in New York on Monday. Jerkens said it was a â€œlong possibilityâ€ that Wicked Strong would compete in the Preakness.
Even though the field contained many horses that had shown speed in previous races, the pedestrian Derby pace did not suit Wicked Strong and jockey Rajiv Maragh, who started from the outside post and was five-wide on the first turn.
â€œThere was a big ball of horses out there,â€ Jerkens said. â€œThatâ€™s not what we wanted. Thatâ€™s why we got stuck out there. We didnâ€™t have anywhere to tuck in.â€
Wicked Strong never found the running room that he used to good advantage winning the Wood Memorial (GI) on April 5.
â€œMy horse looked like he found a little seam turning for home,â€ Jerkens said, â€œBut he didnâ€™t quite have enough to bully his way through and get in the clear and it closed up on him. Things closed up on him two or three times after that. Every time heâ€™d go somewhere, heâ€™d get shut off.â€
Still, Jerkens was pleased with the performance.
â€œI thought he was game,â€ he said. â€œWith all that he went through, he still had that surge at the end to get fourth. That said a lot.â€
SAMRAAT (5th) â€“ Trainer Rick Violette said he was delighted with the performance put in by My Meadowview Farmâ€™s home-bred colt Samraat, who finished fifth under Jose Ortiz in the Kentucky Derby.
â€œI thought he gave us a typical Samraat performance,â€ Violette said Sunday morning â€œHe laid it all on the line and gave us what he had. He ran his eyeballs out. He chased what is obviously a good horse and at the head of the lane your hair stood up on the back of your neck because we were certainly in it. It looked like if he could go on he had every shot of winning it.
â€œI thought he ran terrific and that Jose rode a wonderful race. We were in a position to win. He rode to win. You donâ€™t go into the Derby hoping to pick up the pieces. He rode him to win, the pace was moderate and we were right where we were supposed to be.â€
Violette said the colt was fine, but that he did not know when Samraat would run next. As for the Preakness, he said that Samraat was â€œpossible, but not probable.â€
â€œHe showed signs last night that he was coming out of the race well,â€ Violette said. â€œWe had him out grazing for a half an hour or so and he was pretty aggressive grazing. He was hungry. He was tired, but not depleted. Otherwise he was in good form. This morning he was pretty keen and bright.â€
Samraat will be flown back to New York on Monday.
DANCE WITH FATE (6th) â€“ Trainer Peter Eurton headed back to California early Sunday morning and Sharon Alesia, Bran Jam Stable and Ciaglia Racingâ€™s Dance With Fate was slated to return to his home base at Santa Anita on Monday.
Dance With Fate sustained a small nick on the back of one of his legs in the race according to groom Francisco Tabuyo, but otherwise was doing well Sunday morning.
Eurton indicated by text that the sixth-place Kentucky Derby finisherâ€™s next start probably would come at the Del Mar meet that begins in July but â€œis not etched in stone. RIDE ON CURLIN (7th) â€“ Trainer Billy Gowan on Sunday was lamenting the trip that Daniel Dougherty's Ride on Curlin experienced in his run to seventh place in the Derby. After the break, Calvin Borel immediately steered Ride On Curlin from his far outside position to the rail, and he was racing in last place entering the backstretch. Inside running room never opened, and Ride On Curlin would up on the outside for a belated rally. "No racing luck,'' Gowan said. "He got over there (to the rail) and had nowhere to go the whole race, pretty much. Then, he gets out in the middle of track before it's over with.'' Gowan pointed to a small amount of feed that Ride On Curlin didn't eat overnight. "That's pretty good after racing a mile and a quarter,'' Gowan said. "He looks good. It was just bad racing luck, bad post position. But he's one tough horse. You've got to be proud of him. When he did get clear, he did come running, so that's all you can ask, really.'' Ride On Curlin is a possibility for the Preakness, Gowan said. "We'll see,'' he said. "If he bounces out of these races like he has been, we might try the Preakness. We'll just see. He's tough, so I expect him to bounce out of it good. We'll definitely consider it.'' MEDAL COUNT (8th) â€“ Spendthrift Farmâ€™s Medal Count was forced to steady when cut off by Danza in mid-stretch of the Derby, which likely cost him a better placing.
â€œI think we couldâ€™ve moved up a couple positions but I donâ€™t think it kept us from winning,â€ trainer Dale Romans said after the race.
Contacted this morning, Romans declined to speculate on any future plans for the Blue Grass Stakes (GI) runner-up.
â€œSeemed like he came out of it fine,â€ Romans said. â€œI really have no thoughts right now.â€
CHITU (9th) â€“ The Tanma Corporationâ€™s colt Chitu was doing well Sunday morning after finishing ninth in the Kentucky Derby. The Henny Hughes colt put in a strong performance but faded in the stretch.
â€œHe came out of the race fine,â€ said Jimmy Barnes, trainer Bob Baffertâ€™s longtime assistant. â€œIt was just a little too far for him, but he was there. Turning for home he took the lead. He gave us all a thrill for the first mile of the race anyway.â€
Baffert said that Chitu will not go on to the Preakness.
GENERAL A ROD (11th)/HARRYâ€™S HOLIDAY (16th)/VICARâ€™S IN TROUBLE (19th) â€“ With trainer Mike Maker at Trackside Training Center on Sunday morning, assistant Evelio Chavez was at the Churchill Downs barn housing Ken and Sarah Ramsey's Vicar's in Trouble, Skychai Racing, Terry Raymond and Jana Wagner's Harry's Holiday, and Starlight Racing and Skychai Racing's General a Rod.
Vicar's in Trouble, who finished 19th, Harry's Holiday, 16th, and General a Rod, 11th, came out of the race in good order, Chavez said.
"Vicar's in Trouble, he had a lot of problems at the break and the gate, and was squeezed, and he got a really terrible trip, you know, but he's OK,'' Chavez said. "He's fine. Harry, he's fine, too. And General a Rod, he's coming back like a normal gallop. Heâ€™s probably going to be better next time.''
CANDY BOY (13th) â€“ The 13th-place finisher in Kentucky Derby 140, Candy Boy, had a quiet morning at Barn 43 following his eventful run in the mile and one-quarter classic. Rider Gary Stevens snatched the dark colt and wheeled to the outside heading into the first turn when he found himself in a squeeze between horses, then never got a chance to be a threatening element in the race.
â€œHe appears to be fine this morning,â€ trainer John Sadler reported, with just a touch of frustration in his voice. The conditioner had expected a much better effort from his charge, but knew well heâ€™d have to live with the outcome.
â€œIâ€™m going to talk to the owners (Lee and Susan Searing) for their feedback on whatâ€™s next,â€ he said. â€œIâ€™m fairly certain heâ€™s coming back to California. Iâ€™d say about 90% sure. Thereâ€™s a slight chance weâ€™d consider Baltimore (and the Preakness Stakes), but only a slight one.â€
Sadler will return to his large stable at Santa Anita today. Should the decision be to return Candy Boy to California, the trainer had a Monday flight option for him.
TAPITURE (15th) â€“ Winchell Thoroughbredsâ€™ Tapiture accelerated into a decent position around the Derbyâ€™s final turn, but flattened out approaching the quarter pole. The effort convinced trainer Steve Asmussen that the longer distances of the Triple Crown are likely not optimal for the Southwest Stakes (GIII) winner by Tapit.
â€œHe came out of the race really good,â€ Asmussen said. â€œWeâ€™ll shorten up his races a bit. I think he looked competitive to a point and then distance was exposed.â€
Asmussen watched the Derby replay several times from horseback this morning as it looped on the Big Board during training hours.
â€œYou watch a lot of troubled trips and then you look back at California Chrome and it looked like he was in complete control the whole way,â€ he said.
Asked his impressions of the winner, Asmussen suggested the California-bred was a credit to his 77-year-old trainer.
â€œI thought he reflected Art Sherman,â€ Asmussen said. â€œHe wasnâ€™t overwhelmed by the situation, did what he did and went about his business as usual and looked like a winner every step of the race.
â€œHeâ€™s definitely my pick. I would expect him to be able to be in the best shape in two weeks but weâ€™ll see.â€
With Tapiture out of the Preakness picture, there was a small possibility that his stablemate, Kentucky Oaks winner Untapable, might represent Winchell in Baltimore. Her trainer, however, confirmed that the Triple Crownâ€™s middle jewel is not under consideration.
â€œI spoke with Ron Winchell and (racing manager) David Fiske last night and we didnâ€™t feel that it was in her best interest to run back in two weeks,â€ Asmussen said. â€œHer temperament is the biggest question there. The Acorn and the Mother Goose were mentioned, but obviously thatâ€™s before sheâ€™s gone back to the track or anything.â€
The Grade I, $750,000 Acorn at one mile is part of the Belmont Stakes undercard on June 7, while the Grade I, $300,000 Mother Goose at 1 1/16 miles is set for June 28, also at Belmont Park.
Asmussen also confirmed that none of his other 3-year-olds is under consideration for the Preakness or Belmont.
WILDCAT RED (18th) â€“ Trainer Jose Garoffalo reported Sunday morning that Wildcat Red came out of his 18th-place finish in Saturdayâ€™s Kentucky Derby with a deep cut on the outside of his right front leg.
â€œItâ€™s not too serious, but itâ€™s deep. Itâ€™s something we have to pay attention to. But heâ€™s walking good. In general, heâ€™s doing good,â€ Garoffalo said. â€œHe got hit pretty hard.â€
Garoffalo said Wildcat Red would van back to Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla., on Monday or Tuesday.
â€œWeâ€™ll give the horse the time he needs to recover, but heâ€™ll be back,â€ Garoffalo said of his Fountain of Youth (GII) winner.