04/02/2015 3:01PM

Hovdey: This year, Sherman watches from sidelines

Shigeki Kikkawa
Bolo, third in the San Felipe, goes in the Santa Anita Derby for a partnership that includes Stronach Group executive Keith Brackpool.

At the time, it wasn’t the saddest thing in the world. A horse on the road. An empty stall.

“You going to put one in there while he’s gone?” a visitor asked, not even halfway serious.

“No way,” Art Sherman replied. “I’m superstitious, and that would be nothing but bad luck.”

It was the day before Sherman left for Dubai. California Chrome already was there, training for the World Cup. The colt finished second, as everyone knows, to a local horse who basically dropped from the sky, and the whole California Chrome crew – including groom Raul Rodriguez, exercise rider Willie Delgado, and assistant trainer Alan Sherman – could return home with their heads held high after a tough mission almost accomplished.

The problem is, they left a man behind.

Once he cooled out in Dubai, California Chrome made a beeline for Newmarket, England, where he will be trained for a possible appearance at the Royal Ascot meet in June. Art Sherman was outspoken in his opposition to the move but was outvoted by Perry Martin, the colt’s majority owner.

“I might have come on a little strong,” Sherman said. “But it’s just how I felt and what I thought the horse needed right now after such a tough trip and hard race in Dubai. I’ll miss him bad, but I’m sure he’ll be well taken care of over there.”

The empty stall plucked at especially poignant strings this week as Saturday’s $1 million Santa Anita Derby approached. At this time last year, California Chrome was the talk of the West Coast, fresh from a bracing score in the San Felipe Stakes and creeping up the lists of Kentucky Derby contenders. His 5 1/4-length win in the Santa Anita Derby put Sherman, Martin, and co-owner Steve Coburn on the national map as the horse to beat in Louisville. Nobody did.

“I really thought I was running the best horse in the Santa Anita Derby,” Sherman said. “Of course, you never know for sure until they do, but he showed up big that day and kept right on going.”

Sherman will be at work Saturday saddling the maiden California-bred Cat From Iraq in the first race of the 11-race program, beginning at noon Pacific. After that, he’ll be able to kick back and enjoy the rest of the day, which also includes the $400,000 Santa Anita Oaks and simulcasts of the Blue Grass Stakes from Keeneland and the Wood Memorial from Aqueduct. Asked whom he likes among the local Derby hopefuls, Sherman gave an appreciative nod to the unbeaten Dortmund, the heavy favorite, although he likes the chances of Prospect Park, who finished second to Dortmund in the San Felipe.

“He looks like a horse just coming around to his best,” Sherman said. “And I don’t think he’ll have any trouble getting more distance.”

Then there is Bolo, the San Felipe third who previously won the Eddie Logan Stakes for a partnership that includes Keith Brackpool, The Stronach Group’s director of West Coast operations, fellow Stronach Group executives Tim Ritvo and Alun Ossip, as well Frank Stronach himself. Veteran owner Earle I. Mack also owns a piece, while the Stronach execs race as Golden Pegasus Racing. Carla Gaines is their trainer, and Mike Smith rides.

“Every time you see a young horse win on the grass, you hear the same question: ‘Will he be able to do that on dirt?’ ” Brackpool said. “Your trainer will tell you he trains great on the dirt, but the reality of the race is different. You never know until they are asked.”

After making his first three starts on turf, Bolo seemed to answer the question in the San Felipe, in which he pushed Dortmund’s pace from the outside and was head-and-head with the leader as the field rounded into the stretch. Dortmund gradually pulled away from Bolo, who was caught for second in the final strides by Prospect Park.

“Not to make excuses, but the colt did miss some training between the Eddie Logan and the San Felipe,” Brackpool said. “This will be the real test on Saturday.”

Brackpool is understandably prejudiced, but as the man putting on the show, he can play favorites only up to a point.

“Of course, I’ll be rooting for everybody,” he said. “But I do think owners appreciate the fact we are going through what they go through – the pressure, the expense, the excitement.”

Among Brackpool’s guests Saturday will be Sherman, who has the good sense not to root for another horse besides Bolo in the Santa Anita Derby. Or at least not out loud.

“No, I like that horse,” Sherman said. “He ran big the other day and just did get beat for second.” That’s how you win elections.

“But I’ll tell you who gets my money in the Kentucky Derby,” Sherman added. “That horse I watched win in Dubai.”

To his credit, he did not try to pronounce Mubtaahij, the romping winner of the UAE Derby.

“He’s a real runner and all racehorse,” Sherman said. “I was very impressed.”

In the meantime, Sherman is still faced with an empty stall impossible to fill.

“I’ve got to put one in there,” he said. “It’s depressing. I think I’ll give it to that Chrome look-alike we’ve got, a colt by Macho Uno I bought last year. He’s a beautiful chestnut with a white blaze, just like Chrome. Only difference is, he’s got three white stockings instead of four, which is okay. There’ll never be another one like Chrome.”

Sandra Warren More than 1 year ago
Art, they'll never be another one like YOU. You, your sons, your wife and your staff have shown all the class and dignity and open friendliness that racing needs. I'm so glad you got your Derby. Whatever happens after this, you'll always be Kentucky Derby winning trainer Art Sherman.
Tony Volu More than 1 year ago
sad to see that the move is a move to see if another trainer can out do Sherman.the owner doesn't realize how really lucky he was getting a colt like chrome.i think its an ego thing but sad after the good job that art and co.did to keep him in top shape
Cover2 More than 1 year ago
Watching from the sidelines is exactly right, CC goes to jolly old England, new handlers all the way around. Comes back to US of A , same thing in Chicago, Aug, then its on to Keeneland BC, then stays in Ky to breed shed, retired, Sherman & Co in March 2015 all done with the Chrome, thanks for the memories>>>>>>>
redboy More than 1 year ago
Chrome is a once in a lifetime horse for a trainer like Mr.Sherman ,he found himself with a Cal-bred that could just flat out run and from Jan.to May 2014 and was able to campaign him into the best 3yo in the country and onto eclipse Horse of the Year for 2014 and as it sits today is one of the best older males in the country just running a fantastic 2nd in the Dubai World Cup ,unfortunately Chromes value as a stud is on the low end and even if he can stay healthy his racing career has a limited window in top level competition . If Mr. Sherman had been able to win the Triple Crown or the Dubai World Cup then I think without a doubt he would have been Chromes trainer until Chromes retirement . Unfortunately Mr. Sherman isn't considered a elite trainer with a barn full of graded stakes prospects add all this up and I think its makes easier for the ownership of Chrome to go in a different direction Chrome is a special horse and I think no matter who's hands he's in he'll put himself in a position to have a say in the outcome come race day
Lynne Veitch More than 1 year ago
No, Mr. Sherman. There'sll never be another one like Chrome.
Vince Lentini More than 1 year ago
There will be many...no dirt wins in 10 months..losses to every top 2 year old....as many losses as wins....in my 40 years following racing the worst choice for horse of the year I have ever seen
Vince Lentini More than 1 year ago
should say top 3 year old
Slew32A More than 1 year ago
So the only reason I waste my time reading your diatribe is so that I may offer a comment but the fact that I did, with no malice or profanity but was not a pat on the back for you or the subject of your article you chose not to print. Try writing for a paper in Iran you'll be met with less push back. And again the horse made the trainer not the other way around!
TRacingLifeMore More than 1 year ago
The world of racing has changed in the over 20 years I've followed. Losses are condemned harshly now, no matter if they're second place finishes or 20th. People only want to see big margin wins, or the horse simply disappoints his fans. If Ferdinand ran in this era, I think the internet would knock him for losing so often even though he always competed against the best horses.
Tom Hickey More than 1 year ago
It was always there. The internet makes it easy for those types of comments to be heard. It's the downside. DRF becoming pay got rid of most it here - BH is becoming a cesspool.
r More than 1 year ago
P Martin is a greed monger who is abusing this horse. Shame, this was such a cool story for racing, but nothing more that greed taking hold here.
Randy Baker More than 1 year ago
The term for Martin/Coburn is Greenhorns.They were thrown right in the deep part of the pool right off the bat.I look back 26 years ago when I got my first decent horse.(nothing close to CC). I wanted to place my horse much higher than he fit.They would benefit taking thier trainers advice as I did.
[removed] More than 1 year ago
This comment has been deleted
Cover2 More than 1 year ago
But at least try to win , not go wide all the way around, looking ahead to England !
Brandon Layer More than 1 year ago
Remember Rocky IV when Rocky wants to go to Russia to fight Ivan Drago? Remember when Adrienne yells at Rocky, "You can't win!"? That's what you "cowards" sound like. You have no marbles! I still believe in you Chrome! Don't listen to the doubters.
Cover2 More than 1 year ago
Keep watching those movies