05/16/2014 8:16AM

Chrome report: Sloppy trip to the track Friday a.m.


BALTIMORE – California Chrome, the Kentucky Derby winner, had a routine gallop of two miles on Friday morning at Pimlico during conditions that were anything but routine, a heavy downpour that left the track sloppy and forced the afternoon’s grass races to be moved to the main track.

Fortunately, the storm was predicted to be fast-moving, was expected to be gone by late Friday, and thus should result in a fast track by post time Saturday afternoon for the Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the Triple Crown.

“He seemed to handle the track perfect,” said Art Sherman, who trains California Chrome. “Wind at 25 miles an hour; he’s not used to that. But he went through the mud like, ‘Hey, I can do it.’ I was curious as to how he’d do it. I think he’d be a good mud horse myself.”

The California Chrome camp was relaxed and jovial, a day after they revealed that California Chrome was being treated for a very small blister in his throat.

“I’m not worried. I think they’ve got to worry about me, to be honest,” Sherman said. “My horse will run his race. If he gets outrun, he gets outrun. But they better have their running shoes on.”

Alan Sherman, Art’s son and top assistant, on Friday morning said California Chrome “is fine, his throat is fine.”

“He had a little tickle, a cough, but it’s not a problem,” Alan Sherman said. “I don’t know why it got blown out of proportion. He’s in perfect shape.”

Art Sherman said the blister could have been irritation from feed. “Maybe a little kernel lodged in his throat, Sherman said. "But his appetite is good. Maybe he likes the crab cakes.”

California Chrome’s temperature remains normal, and blood work taken as precaution showed no infection, according to Alan Sherman, who said California Chrome is being treated with a glycerin wash that coats the throat.

“He coughed one time today,” Art Sherman said. “We’re in the clear.”

Art Sherman said his biggest worry in regard to the Preakness is coming back just two weeks after the Derby.

“Two weeks is two weeks. We’ve never done that since we’ve had him,” he said.

Asked how he’d relax Friday night, Sherman said, “I might have a cocktail or two.”

As for Saturday morning, Sherman said California Chrome would jog one mile, as Sherman does with all his horses on race day.

“I like to repeat the pattern so they don’t worry,” he said.

By race time, Sherman said he’ll only get nervous once the horses go in the gate.

“When you run a 3-5 shot, there’s a lot more pressure, but I think we can handle it,” he said.