California Chrome before his Monday morning gallop. (Photo by NYRA/Susie Raisher)
After watching Triple Crown hopeful California Chrome gallop two miles at Belmont Park early Monday morning, assistant trainer Alan Sherman said the colt is progressing on schedule for the Belmont Stakes.
"The track was a little deeper today but he got over it fine," said Sherman. "All systems go."
In fact, the colt has thrived in the week since he arrived at Belmont Park. He has put on weight since the Preakness Stakes and Sherman revealed that even though he hasn’t been weighed, measurements taken of the colt confirmed he has grown.
"We measure his girth,” he said. "Before the Derby it was 71 inches; before the Preakness is was 71 inches. Now he's 72 inches."
The assistant trainer isn’t yet nervous about the June 7 Belmont Stakes and says he won’t be nervous until two or three days before the race as long as everything goes as planned. He isn’t looking forward to the Triple Crown being over but is looking forward to being able to take a break and go fishing in Alaska later this month.
"It's a great ride," he said. "Back home [in California] the people have all been really excited and it's been great for Los Alamitos to have this horse stabled there. I'm not looking for this to be over. But me and the horse could probably use a rest."
CALIFORNIA CHROME'S MONDAY MORNING GALLOP
Matuszak, who is aiming at the Belmont Stakes after a second place in the Federico Tesio after a troubled trip, worked five furlongs in 1:01.36 on Belmont’s main track. He galloped in 1:14.47 in company with fellow Bill Mott trainee Abraham.
While trainer Todd Pletcher suffered a blow on Sunday when Intense Holiday had to be withdrawn from Belmont consideration due to injury, on Monday the trainer was back up to two potential Belmont entries. Matterhorn, recently purchased by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners is aiming for the Belmont after breezing four furlongs in 48.27 on Sunday, the second quickest work on the track at the distance.
"I spoke to [Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners president] Aron Wellman yesterday after the breeze, and we're keeping an eye on how he trains this week," said Pletcher. "A lot will depend on how he breezes on Sunday, but he's under consideration [for the Belmont Stakes]."
Pletcher also confirmed that Commissioner, who breezed yesterday, will run in the Belmont Stakes. Also relaxing a day after their breezes were Wicked Strong and Tonalist. Both Tonalist and Commissioner will be entering a Triple Crown race for the first time while Wicked Strong finished fourth in the Kentucky Derby.