09/17/2014 2:06PM

Hovdey: California Chrome, Shared Belief on collision course

Kim Pratt
California Chrome, with assistant trainer Alan Sherman, trains at Parx on Wednesday for Saturday's Pennsylvania Derby.

Beginning on Saturday, with the appearance of California Chrome in the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby, every 3-year-old who matters will be running somewhere in something important over the next two weekends. For once, the glamour division has risen from the rubble of the Triple Crown to stand tall in the fall, and thank goodness.

What looked like a muscular bunch of older horses that included Palace Malice, Will Take Charge, Game On Dude and Mucho Macho Man has been winnowed to a rivalry between Moreno and Itsmyluckyday. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Bayern, Tapiture, and Candy Boy give depth to the field California Chrome will face in Philly, while Tonalist, Wicked Strong, and V. E. Day meet Sept. 27 in the $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park. That leaves Pacific Classic winner Shared Belief, unbeaten and untied, with the last word before the Breeders’ Cup Classic when he runs in the Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita Park, also on Sept. 27.

To that end, Shared Belief worked three-quarters of a mile in 1:15.20 on Tuesday over the Tapeta synthetic surface at Golden Gate Fields. He will have one more work there next Tuesday, after which he will ship to Santa Anita.

Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer had this to say about the workout, in which Shared Belief broke off behind two stablemates, then blew past them in the stretch:

“It was a very good work on a very dead track. I always like to give him a target. I’ve seen other people do that a lot – Bob Baffert, John Shirreffs with Zenyatta. Not that I’m copying someone, but sometimes it’s helpful. When I work him alone, we’re just looking for a little maintenance. In this case, I’m training him up to the race on the 27th.”

Shared Belief, a gelding, has a low-key professionalism about him that taps into the class provided by such ancestors as Candy Ride, Key Phrase, Tribal Rule, and Pirate’s Bounty.

“He’s remarkably consistent,” Hollendorfer said. “In all fairness, I think that’s how all trainers gauge their horses. If they show them a little bit more or a little bit less, they try to adjust. He’s in a good, consistent place right now, and I hope he stays that way.”

While Hollendorfer has a horse in perfect racing trim, with three well-spaced appearances since Memorial Day and no hiccups along the way, the training challenge for Art Sherman has been decidedly different. California Chrome must go from the dead stop of his post-Belmont downtime at Harris Ranch to full speed ahead Saturday against three very talented colts at 1 1/8 miles.

“He’s an easy enough horse to train,” Sherman said of California Chrome. “But you’ve got to know him. He’s a totally different horse in the afternoon. He’s so competitive, it takes the atmosphere of a race to really get his engines going. That’s why the work before last between races at Los Alamitos was so important. The light went on. He figured out what we were asking him to do.”

Sherman was in Lexington, Ky., on Tuesday afternoon, awaiting word from Philadelphia of his colt’s safe arrival at Parx after leaving Ontario International Airport in eastern L.A. County early that morning. Sherman would be joining the party in Pennsylvania on Thursday. To kill time, he bought two yearlings at Keeneland.

“One of them looks just like Chrome,” Sherman said. “Three white feet, not four, big blaze down his face, and he has a swagger to him you won’t believe.”

Sherman bought the colt for Dr. Ed Allred, the owner of Los Alamitos, where California Chrome has trained since February. The colt’s dam, Shes Roughin It, is a daughter of Forest Camp, and her granddam, Tennis Lady, is a full sister to 1994 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Concern.

“I gave $160,000 for him and wasn’t sure I could get him for that,” Sherman said. “But all the big guns were gone, so I had a shot. I told Doc Allred I bought him the next Chrome.”

Of course, Sherman knows the chances are slim that lightning like California Chrome will strike the same barn twice. He is more concerned right now with making sure the real thing is ready to roll Saturday. Earlier in the day, the trainer found himself defending the decision to run the Derby-Preakness winner in the Pennsylvania Derby instead of waiting a week to play at home in the Awesome Again.

The suggestion was that Sherman and the owners – Perry Martin and Steve Coburn – were doing it more for the $200,000 in Parx incentive payments they would be sharing for simply bringing California Chrome to the race. Sherman, who gets $100,000, was hardly sneezing at the bonus. But the idea of six weeks to the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic instead of five was every bit as appealing. And ultimately, winning the Classic – and with it Horse of the Year – is the point of the exercise.

“If you can help it, the last thing you want to do bringing a horse back is ask him to run in the toughest race around,” Sherman said. “I think the Awesome Again comes up a much tougher race than the Pennsylvania Derby.”

An earlier version of Sherman’s answer was greeted with a degree of skepticism during a national teleconference. How could any comeback challenge be tougher than what California Chrome will face in the Pennsylvania Derby? Sherman had to laugh.

“I guess they never heard of Shared Belief,” he said.

Billy Spathanas More than 1 year ago
People think that these two connections of CC and SB are dodging one another , How ? SB going strong months ago and then foot problems. CC ran in all of them until a little break. One is in the west, the other in the east. Okay, get them ready and keep them sound and see you both in the Classic, that's the goal isn't it ?
rahman Williams More than 1 year ago
Actually both horses are west coast base horses.
anna villafane More than 1 year ago
Bayern all the way home.
mike More than 1 year ago
Frank Reach More than 1 year ago
Shared Belief will beat CC. My only worry at this point is I hope they both get to the Classic healthy. If they do, CC will be looking at SB's backside at the finish. It'll be fun.
Shawn Britton More than 1 year ago
Cali chrome. Wins. Shared belief wins. And then hype begins. Bottom line it would be FANTASTIC FOR HORSERACING. This is why we love the game.
Pagani Zonda More than 1 year ago
I think VE day could win the Classic. still kinda flying under the radar, seeing how he won the Travers and is still not getting much press.
[removed] More than 1 year ago
This comment has been deleted
Chris Lowe More than 1 year ago
You get flagged more than the Oakland Raiders.
Raymond More than 1 year ago
People who say that the owners are doing it for the money are correct. But Art Sherman is right. Shared belief is the toughest horse right now to run against. He is a freak. In addition people who criticize have never owned horses. It costs at least $25,000 per year to maintain a horse. Whether a horse runs or not there are trainer's fees, vet fees, entry fees etc. Believe me I have owned and raced thoroughbreds before and will never do so again. You are the sucker who feeds everybody even the touts on the race track.
Rick Swiftwater More than 1 year ago
Part of what you say is correct, unfortunately, it's the Big Dogs that dictate what Races are allowed, therefore the money goes to the Big Dogs. As far as the TRACK, they should be owned by the Horsemen, who has the biggest investment in all this? Of course there is the Track Owner, but if the Horsemen owned the Tracks, there would be some changes....Nepotism in the MONEY/JOBS... As far as how these tracks are regulated; I know some states have no clue about horses, all they do know is, where the money is.... 60 Dollars + Day Money Vet Bills - All ways a Vet Bill Supplements, those too cost quite a bit
Vince Lentini More than 1 year ago
Not a big fan of CC but this thought that he is "avoiding" Shared Belief is silly...Shared Belief could have entered the Pa Derby couldn't he??
JeAnna Ramirez More than 1 year ago
Yes Vince he could have, but Hollendorfer doesn't want to take on California Chrome yet either. . . . . The big meet will be in the BC Classic. Oh what a race that is going to be. :)
Boyd Cord More than 1 year ago
Cal Chrome is in a heap of trouble on Saturday. He will impress me again if he beats this field easy as many say he will. looks difficult to me How many Grade 1's do people think he can win? Untappable does not have an easy race either.
John Howland More than 1 year ago
The Pa Derby is a Grade 2.
mike More than 1 year ago
Eric Singer More than 1 year ago
The Penn Derby is an interesting handicapping race. Scenario one - CC sits off Bayern and CJ, sporting a lovely tracking trip and cruises home. Scenario two - CC is a bit rank off the layoff and presses into a blistering pace prematurely, setting the table for Tapiture (more than Candy Boy who loves to run 2nd), also perhaps opening the lower rungs of the exotics to the local horses through the pace meltdown. Scenario 3 Bayern is just faster than these, he bounces back and runs away from them. Scenario 4 Bayern comes up flat, CC is not 100% - CJ"s Awesome steals it up front. (okay that last one is a stretch.) I honestly feel Scenario 1 is most likely and will pay the least well. Scenario 2 also seems fairly likely and could pay a ton better. Note that both Tapiture and Candy Boy have trained on well since the VA Derby.
Dee R. Eff More than 1 year ago
That's an awful lot of scenario's using only the first, second and third choice so it won't matter much. You won't cash the trifecta ticket if you don't use Protonico.
Hail No More than 1 year ago
Protonico has a real nice developmental pattern, Nobel Moon look's sneaky good, too, and he is 15-1, has Graded experience from second start, might use in gimmicks, The odds line for this race is strange, CC and Bayern should be all the steam, Candy Boy or Tapi should be next choices, I'd want double digits on the rest, if they're getting that surface ready, the jocks were mostly staying off the rail and racing a few paths off the last couple of days.... good luck!
Dee R. Eff More than 1 year ago
This is a weird race and will only get a few bucks from me, but I can tell you Protonico will be prominent on the ticket. It sets up weird too. Bayern will shoot out for the anticipated hot rail, CC behind him with CJ outside of him. You have to hope CC get out before Tapiture comes up alonside and Protonico soon after. You might be white knuckling it when thye turn for home. CC should be good enough to overcome it but no one is best on any layoff. The race is strange enough so it's good there are no horses with weird names like Yagli. Pay attention. Oh, and hope your friend doesn't show up in wedding dress.
Dee R. Eff More than 1 year ago
And you're right, Noble Moon is a live long shot. This one just might not be his best, but I would be watching him for the one after this.