05/12/2014 4:37PM

Chrome report: Derby winner arrives at Pimlico

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Barbara D. Livingston
California Chrome attracts a large media contingent at Pimlico on Monday.

BALTIMORE - Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome, escorted by four Baltimore city police officers on motorcycles, arrived at Pimlico Racecourse a little before 3:15 p.m. Monday after shipping from Churchill Downs.

The Derby winner traveled by van from Churchill - where he has been based since shipping from California on April 28 - to Lexington, where he boarded a Tex Sutton charter accompanied by groom Raul Rodriguez, exercise rider Willie Delgado, and Jordan Olsen, a longtime friend of assistant trainer Alan Sherman. Sherman flew on a separate plane that landed at Baltimore-Washington International Airport at roughly the same time as California Chrome’s, and he led the horse off the van and into his new stall at Pimlico.

California Chrome, as he did arriving in Kentucky, declined to be cajoled off the van walking forward, and had to be backed out the door.

“That’s just something he wants to do,” said Sherman. “He did it coming off the plane, too.”

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Sherman said the trip had been uneventful and that California Chrome, who trained this morning at Churchill, handled the travel without incident.

“They said that everything went fine on the plane,” said Sherman.

The flight from Kentucky carried nearly a dozen horses for various races here Friday and Saturday. Among the others arriving this afternoon were Preakness starters Ride On Curlin, who finished seventh in the Derby, and General a Rod, who was 11th. Preakness starter Kid Cruz was to arrive by van from New York this evening, another flight from Kentucky comes Wednesday, and Preakness runner Ring Weekend will van from the nearby Fair Hill training center Thursday.

Alan Sherman has been overseeing California Chrome’s day-to-day training since trainer Art Sherman, his father, departed Kentucky for California last week. Art Sherman is scheduled to arrive Tuesday in Baltimore.

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Alan Sherman said California Chrome’s first training session here Tuesday morning hadn’t yet been mapped out.

“We’ll jog or gallop. I just want to see how he eats up tonight and go from there. If he does gallop tomorrow, it will be an easy gallop,” said Sherman.

Sherman said California Chrome won’t have anything more than steady, daily gallops leading into the Preakness, where he’s likely to be an odds-on favorite. All has gone well so far since California Chrome won the Derby by 1 3/4 lengths. This is another new experience for a colt that left California for the first time just two weeks ago. The Preakness setup is unusual: Horses shipping in for stakes races this week are stabled in a handful of barns situated on the other side of the grandstand from the racetrack itself, a far remove from the regular – and far more weather-beaten – Pimlico backstretch. A limited number of horses stable on the regular backstretch and morning-training traffic here is very light.

The main task at hand for the California Chrome crew now is waiting out what they hope are four more routine days before California Chrome tries for a second Triple Crown win.

“I’m not scared - I’m just excited,” Sherman said.