California Chrome works at Los Alamitos on April 26 in preparation for the Kentucky Derby. (Photo by Eclipse Sportswire)
The chestnut California-bred completed an “easy” half-mile drill in :48.20 under regular rider Victor Espinoza at Los Aamitos Race Course in Southern California.
“Victor told me he couldn’t believe how easy the horse went,” Sherman said. “He just said he felt so good. Victor wrapped up on him and didn’t let him do too much.
“He knows this horse so well. He’s been riding him [four stakes wins in his past four starts], and he’s been on him for all his works. It couldn’t be any better.”
Sherman said California Chrome is scheduled to ship to Louisville on Monday for the Kentucky Derby.
He has won his last four races by 5 1/4 lengths or more, including victories in the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes and Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby. Saturday’s impressive final workout has Sherman convinced California Chrome is coming into the on May 3 race on top of his game.
“Exactly what I needed for the horse,” Sherman said. “He doesn’t need much now; he’s ready. I just wanted to put some air into him. He’s happy and fresh. That’s the way I want to keep him for this race.”
Also turning in their final drills for the Kentucky Derby on Saturday were Dance With Fate, Medal Count, Candy Boy, Vicar's in Trouble, Harry's Holiday, Commanding Curve and Big Bazinga. Commanding Curve and Big Bazinga are not currently among the top 20 by points in the system that determines the 20-horse field for the Derby and would need one or more defections to qualify for the race.
Spendthrift Farm’s Medal Count, the Blue Grass runner-up, worked six furlongs in 1:13 on Saturday morning at Churchill Downs. He galloped out seven furlongs in 1:26.60 and a mile in 1:42.20 for trainer Dale Romans, who said he “wouldn’t have changed anything” about the colt’s final drill before the Derby.
DANCE WITH FATE OVERHAULS MEDAL COUNT IN BLUE GRASS
“This was the last piece of the heavy lifting,” Romans said. “As far as I know, he came out well. We’ll check him out again tomorrow.”
Robert B. Lewis Stakes winner Candy Boy worked under Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens on Saturday at Churchill for trainer John Sadler. They spotted a 5-year-old workmate three lengths and caught him in the stretch, finishing a length in front at the finish line in a time of 1:00.80.
“I thought it went nice and smooth,” Sadler said. “We wanted to get this one out of the way and allow him a feel for this track. Both got done. This track is probably a bit looser than we’re used to in California so I wanted him to go over it.”
Candy Boy won the Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis Stakes on Feb. 8 before finishing a well-beaten third to California Chrome in the Santa Anita Derby on April 5. Sadler said he might have needed that race to reach top shape.
“He might have been a little short last time,” Sadler said. “He’d been off for two months. We’re looking forward to running him that mile and a quarter, and you'll see a different style this time.
“Last time, we had him up closer at the beginning, but this time we’re going to be a little farther back in the early part. We think he can run steadily all the way for the longer trip.”
“He worked very much the right way and did it very easily and galloped out very well,” Napravnik said.
VICAR'S IN TROUBLE
Photo by Eclipse Sportswire
Harry's Holiday, working alone, completed five furlongs in 1:02.60 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:16.20 under Corey Lanerie, who picked up the mount and will ride in his first Kentucky Derby.
“It'd be a dream come true,” Lanerie said of riding in the Derby. “It’s what everybody wants to do. Never thought I’d even ride at Churchill Downs, you know, and to ride would be like – not complete, complete would be winning the Derby – but it would be like I'm getting to the top of the mountain, you know, to be able to ride the Derby. ... Just a proud moment.”
Mike Maker trains both Vicar’s in Trouble and Harry’s Holiday.
West Point Thoroughbreds’ Commanding Curve, third in the Louisiana Derby, worked five furlongs Saturday in 1:02.60 for trainer Dallas Stewart. Derby Dreamers Racing Stable’s Big Bazinga worked a half-mile in :48 under jockey Brian Hernandez Jr.
Derby hopefuls scheduled to work on Sunday include Todd Pletcher’s contingent of Danza, We Miss Artie, Vinceremos and Intense Holiday; Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert's Sunland Derby winner Chitu; Florida Derby runner-up Wildcat Red; and Arkansas Derby runner-up Ride On Curlin. Baffert said Santa Anita Derby runner-up Hoppertunity will work on Monday.