The big news on California Chrome from Friday is that he encountered a possum on the track while training. He was apparently undaunted, and continued on his merry way. Must have been a particularly slow news day. I see those damn critters in my backyard in Queens; even hanging out on the back porch one evening. So I don’t see what the big deal is; I can run away from them just fine too, and I don’t make the
Daily Racing Form website USA Today.
His assistant trainer, Alan Sherman, is really talking his horse up, telling us how California Chrome seems to be thriving despite the Triple Crown grind.
“He’s a good-feeling, big, strong horse. He’s just improved all the time….Most horses get a little tired during this three-race trip, but he just seems to be getting bigger, and stronger and better every day.”
Oh. Wait. Sorry, that wasn’t Sherman. That was Barclay Tagg talking about Funny Cide before he went for the Triple Crown sweep in 2003. He finished third. Well, OK, maybe there’s no Empire Maker in this year’s field. Or, maybe there is. Point is that trainers say what they say before these races, and these comments probably should be taken with a grain of salt. Even as good as the horse seems to be looking, and as supremely confident Sherman is.
“As good as he came out of the Preakness, I was shocked…..And he’s showing me signs that he can be going forward. I don’t see any signs of him starting to tail off.”
Oh. Sorry again. That’s not Sherman either. That was John Servis talking about Smarty Jones prior to his attempt at sweeping in 2004. He looked pretty good around mid-stretch. But Birdstone came along and caught him; he finished second. Yeah, maybe his jockey Stewart Elliot moved him too soon that day. California Chrome will have the more experienced Victor Espinoza on board. You know, the guy who spoke about how he nearly had a panic attack and moved his horse too soon when he saw Social Inclusion moving on the turn of the Preakness. I’m sure that won’t happen in the Belmont, right? After all, we’ve seen that experienced riders don’t make that mistake on Big Sandy. Just like Kent Desormeaux on Real Quiet in 1998.
But now it’s 2014. It’s been 36 years. We’re due. What could go wrong this time? And besides…..man, California Chrome is doing fantastic!
“I can’t believe that I’m training a horse that looks this good and has done what he’s done….There is no way in the world that there is any horse that is doing better…..He just looks unbelievable.”
“It’s a done deal.”
Oh. Damn. Sorry again. That was Rick Dutrow talking about Big Brown prior to the Belmont in 2008. He didn’t finish the race. Of course, Art Sherman isn’t Rick Dutrow. We presume he’ll have Cali Chrome’s shoes glued on real tight. So I guess it’s in the bag. Right, babe?