11/02/2016 4:46PM

Alan Sherman has been California Chrome's constant companion

Barbara D. Livingston
Alan Sherman, with California Chrome, plans on training a string at Keeneland next spring.

ARCADIA, Calif. – When California Chrome was sent by van from his home at Los Alamitos to Santa Anita last Sunday in advance of Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Classic, it was Alan Sherman who rode with him and got him settled into his temporary quarters. When California Chrome spent two months in Dubai earlier this year, it was Alan Sherman who was there the entire time, overseeing the day-to-day care.

Alan Sherman’s father, Art, is the trainer of California Chrome, but what’s printed on the program is not exactly how it plays out behind the scenes, for Alan has spent more time in the trenches with California Chrome than anyone save his groom, Raul Rodriguez. The skill Alan has demonstrated with California Chrome, and the connections he has made through the horse, have put him on the launching pad to take his career to the next level.

“He’s been the main person with Chrome. He’s gone all over,” Art said of Alan. “He knows him. And he’s been unbelievable around the partners.”

Alan Sherman has forged a budding, fruitful relationship with Taylor Made Farm, which came into the California Chrome fold last year and helped nurse the horse back to health in addition to helping restore calm to an owners’ partnership that had frayed. In September, Alan Sherman bought several yearlings at Keeneland in concert with Taylor Made, and he said he plans on training a string at Keeneland next spring.

“We haven’t decided if they’ll be in dad’s name or mine,” Alan said.

Clearly, though, the baton is being passed. Art, 79, is stepping back a bit. Alan, 47, and his older brother, Steve, 53, who trains his own string in Northern California, are coming to the fore.

“He’s never going to retire. He’ll always have his hand in it,” Alan said. “He’s a pretty dynamic 79. It keeps him young.”

Like his father, Alan Sherman started in the sport as a jockey and rode early in his career for the likes of Charlie Whittingham, but he quickly grew too big and turned to training.

“Charlie liked him a lot,” Art said. “The background is there.”

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Alan’s horsemanship was instrumental two years ago, when California Chrome won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, as well as earlier this year, when he decamped to Dubai.

“It’s just been an amazing run,” Alan said this week at Santa Anita. “Growing up, you dream about a horse like this.

“As a kid, I figured I’d win the Kentucky Derby four or five times as a jockey,” he said, laughing at the naivete. “When we won the Derby, it happened so fast, everything went by so fast, that it took a while to sink in. I woke the next day, and it hit me – we won the Derby.”

California Chrome had gone to Dubai last year and finished second in the World Cup. This year, he went over for a prep before the World Cup and won both.

“I just think that’s the best way to go for that race, like Curlin did,” Alan said, referring to Curlin’s victories in 2008. “Last year, he wasn’t the same horse as this year. He was tired. He needed to be turned out. I wasn’t happy when he went to England. When he was turned out at Taylor Made, he got over his bone bruising.”

California Chrome’s time in Dubai this year best exemplified the trust Art has in Alan. Art flew in for the two races, but Alan was there throughout.

“He never tries to overrule me,” Alan said. “We may have different ideas, but we’ll discuss them. It’s not me working for him as much as it’s a partnership.”

The payoff came on March 26, when California Chrome won a $6 million first prize. The reward, though, was more than financial.

“I was very proud when he won the Dubai World Cup this year,” Alan said. “It’s very emotional when you win a race in another country and they play your national anthem.

“He’s brought me places I never thought I’d go, and I may never go again.”

Alan Sherman has a grown daughter, Brianne, and a 2-year-old grandson, Logan. Along with his father and mother, Faye, they’ll all be in the house on Saturday when California Chrome runs in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

“It’s a lot of fun having the whole family involved,” he said. “My daughter enjoys it. My mom enjoys it. And to share this with my dad at this stage of his career, it’s been amazing.”