Updated on 05/20/2014 2:33PM

Chrome report: California Chrome arrives for Belmont

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Alan Sherman walks California Chrome after his arrival at Belmont Park on Tuesday.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Thirty-six years in the waiting, 12 furlongs to go.

California Chrome, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner, arrived at the final stop on his Triple Crown journey Tuesday, when a horse van carrying him and Preakness runner-up Ride On Curlin passed through the gates of Belmont Park shortly before 10:45 a.m.

The van arrived following an approximately 4 1/2-hour trip from Pimlico in Baltimore. The van got stuck in a little rush-hour traffic near the George Washington Bridge before picking up a police escort from the Throgs Neck Bridge.

On a glorious, sun-splashed spring morning, a gaggle of media – including representatives from most, if not all, of New York’s local television stations as well as CNN – were present when the horses arrived. California Chrome, as is his wont, was backed off the ramp before being led by Alan Sherman, the son and assistant of trainer Art Sherman, into Barn 26, where both he and Ride On Curlin will take up residence.

California Chrome took a quick tour of the barn before coming out to graze and take a gander at all the cameras.

Alan Sherman said California Chrome “traveled great” and ate for a good portion of the trip. He said the horse, who has simply walked since the Preakness, apparently has taken the first two races of the Triple Crown in good order.

“He came back just as good, if not better, than he was,” Sherman said. “He was cooled out in about 20 minutes after the Preakness.”

California Chrome will attempt to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978. He is the 13th horse since then to capture the first two legs of the Triple Crown. Eleven of those horses lost in the Belmont, and a 12th, I’ll Have Another, failed to make it to the Belmont in 2012.

Sherman said California Chrome was to return to the track Wednesday for a jog. He would then gallop from Thursday through May 30. On May 31, a Saturday, California Chrome will breeze four furlongs over Belmont’s main track before jogging and galloping into the race.

“Hopefully, everything goes forward in his training; I don’t look for any setbacks,” Sherman said. “These races are tough on these young horses. You can’t overtrain; you got to keep them fresh, keep them feeling good. He’s so easy and nice on the track, he doesn’t put a ton into his training. The first mile, he’s really good, then he starts grabbing the bridle the last five-eighths of a mile. As long as he stays fresh and happy and eating good, he should be fine.”

For Sherman, 45, this is his first visit to New York. He said he looks forward to visiting New York City and throwing out the first pitch at a New York Yankees game, which is expected to occur June 1 or 2.

Sherman said California Chrome has taken him and his dad on “an unbelievable ride” during this Triple Crown run, which he called “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

“It’s the first time we’ve ever had a horse in these types of races,” Sherman said. “It means a whole lot. I’m just so proud of my dad. For him to be able to do this toward the end of his career, he’s very deserving.”

There are at least eight horses expected to challenge California Chrome – Commanding Curve, Commissioner, Intense Holiday, Kid Cruz, Ride On Curlin, Samraat, Tonalist, and Wicked Strong – with Ring Weekend and Social Inclusion possible.

On Tuesday, trainer John Sadler said Candy Boy was “under consideration” for the Belmont. Candy Boy finished a troubled 13th in the Derby and has been training at Santa Anita since then.

Asked who he felt California Chrome’s toughest opponent will be, Sherman said, “Ride On Curlin. I just think he’s the second-best horse in the race.”
Ride On Curlin, beaten 1 1/2 lengths by California Chrome in the Preakness, was accompanied on the ride by assistant trainer Bridget Lambert.

Trainer Bill Gowan said from Kentucky that Lambert told him Ride On Curlin shipped in “perfect.” Gowan said Ride On Curlin would return to the track Wednesday to jog.