05/07/2014 9:53AM

Chrome Report: California Chrome jogs at Churchill

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Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography
California Chrome jogged at Churchill Downs on Wednesday.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Four days after winning the 140th Kentucky Derby, California Chrome finally took a victory lap around Churchill Downs.

With exercise rider Willie Delgado aboard Wednesday, the chestnut colt never got out of a slow jog when going once around the one-mile oval clockwise. It was his first trip back to the track where he became the first California-bred since 1962 to win the Derby and the only horse to keep alive hope of becoming the first Triple Crown winner in 36 years.

“He was on the bit and happy,” said Alan Sherman, who is deputizing here for his father, trainer Art Sherman, before the colt leaves for Baltimore and the second jewel of the Triple Crown, the 139th Preakness on May 17 at Pimlico Race Course. “He wanted to train. He was tired of walking.”

Sherman said the daily routine would be notched up to galloping Thursday as California Chrome eases back into a slightly more vigorous regimen. His father, back home in California tending to his stable at Los Alamitos, has said he does not intend to have the colt breeze before the Preakness, either here or at Pimlico.

Art Sherman has said he wants to ship the colt to Maryland earlier than the Wednesday before the race, which has become a traditional time slot for Derby horses holding over at Churchill. A flight has been tentatively scheduled for Monday to transport California Chrome and other horses, but there are maintenance-scheduling issues that could preclude that flight from happening, according to Buddy Fife, the local booking agent for the Tex Sutton equine charter service. The company’s online schedule currently lists a Wednesday flight from Louisville International Airport to Baltimore-Washington International, but not one for Monday.

“If we can’t go until Wednesday, then that’s what we’ll have to do,” said Alan Sherman.

Delgado, a former jockey and trainer, has deep Maryland roots, having spent most of his life there. He said he is looking forward to receiving a hero’s welcome as an integral part of the Derby-winning team.

“My daughter’s there, so I’m looking forward to seeing her,” he said.

::2014 PREAKNESS STAKES: Latest news, video, and more

Delgado clearly has a close rapport with California Chrome, and they were very much in sync throughout their 15 or so minutes on the track together Wednesday. Delgado then held the colt’s shank as he was bathed in sunlight outside Barn 20 on the Churchill backstretch, then helped cool out the colt on a shed row otherwise occupied by the Tom Proctor stable.

“He didn’t miss a beat,” Delgado said. “He’s back to himself, went really, really good. I don’t think the race took much out of him at all.”

Under Victor Espinoza, California Chrome, bred and owned by Steve Coburn and Perry Martin, was a dominant winner of the Derby on Saturday. Always in a comfortable striking position, the colt bounded to the lead after straightening for home, opened a big lead, then was easily safe of a belated run from Commanding Curve when finishing 1 3/4 lengths in front.

California Chrome is one of 10 prospects for the Preakness; five of the others also are training at Churchill until the planes depart. One of those, the filly Ria Antonia, will breeze Monday, with a firm decision to be made afterward on whether she will be sent to Maryland, according to new trainer Tom Amoss.

In other Preakness doings:

** From Maryland, Pimlico oddsmaker Keith Feustle said he expects to make California Chrome “in the 3-5 range” on his Preakness line.

“He’d have to be somewhere around there, maybe a touch lower,” he said. “Deciding on the second, third, and fourth choices might be a little tougher.”

This will be the first Preakness as oddsmaker for Feustle, who replaced the retired Frank Carulli. Feustle has been part of the Pimlico chart-calling crew for Equibase since 1993.