09/04/2014 11:09AM

California Chrome to work between races Saturday

Scott Martinez/Los Alamitos
California Chrome will work between races Saturday as he prepares for the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby on Sept. 20.

CYPRESS, Calif. – It is a week of firsts for California Chrome.

The Kentucky Derby winner schooled at the Los Alamitos starting gate early Thursday, his first visit to a gate since the Belmont Stakes. On Saturday, California Chrome will have his first between-races workout at Los Alamitos.

Trained by Art Sherman and assistant Alan Sherman, California Chrome will work between the third and fourth races Saturday as he nears his first start since a fourth-place finish June 7 in the Belmont Stakes.

California Chrome is targeting a Sept. 20 return in the Grade 2, $1 million Pennsylvania Derby at Parx. The Saturday workout under jockey Victor Espinoza will be his fifth in a weekly sequence that began Aug. 8.

“He’ll go either five-eighths or three-quarters and gallop out good,” Alan Sherman said.

California Chrome held his weight through a demanding Triple Crown campaign that included wins in the Derby and Preakness. According to Sherman, California Chrome returned from his six-week layoff looking much like he did when he left.

“He put on a little bit of weight, but not much. He didn’t really need to gain a lot of weight,” Sherman said. “He actually held his weight really good [through the Triple Crown].”

California Chrome has been training regularly at Los Alamitos since returning July 17 from a short break at Harris Ranch in Coalinga, Calif.

Owned by breeders Steve Coburn and Perry Martin, California Chrome has won eight races and $3,532,650 from 13 starts, including four graded stakes. A California-bred sired by Lucky Pulpit, California Chrome is the leading candidate for 2014 champion 3-year-old male and Horse of the Year, along with Shared Belief.

:: DRF Live: Get real-time updates and insights from DRF reporters and handicappers starting at 12:30 p.m. ET on Saturday

California Chrome came onto the track Thursday at 6:20 a.m., galloped 1 3/4 miles under exercise rider Willie Delgado, and visited the gate for the first time since the Belmont. The colt was initially reluctant to enter the gate. “He’s always like that; he has a tendency to hesitate,” Delgado said. “Once he gets in, he’s fine.”

California Chrome minded his manners after he loaded. He will gate-school again and work once more after Saturday before shipping Sept. 16 to Parx for the 1 1/8-mile Pennsylvania Derby.

While the between-races workout Saturday generates publicity for Los Alamitos, there also are benefits for the horse.

“They get a better workout [in the afternoon],” Sherman said. “We used to do it more. Lykatill Hil used to work between races at Bay Meadows.”

Lykatill Hil was a multiple stakes winner for the Sherman stable in the 1990s.