05/04/2014 11:00AM

Kentucky Derby win still sinking in for trainer Sherman

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Tom Keyser
California Chrome stands in the winner's circle with rider Victor Espinoza after winning the 140th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – For trainer Art Sherman, winning the Kentucky Derby Saturday with California Chrome still hadn’t sunk in yet Sunday morning.

“I’m still numb, to be honest,” he said Sunday morning. “I can’t describe it. The Kentucky Derby is the Kentucky Derby. I was so happy when we won the Santa Anita Derby, when you think of all the good horses that have won that race. That was my biggest thrill – until now.

“It’s pretty cool. You wake up in the morning and go, ‘I just won the Kentucky Derby.’ It’s a dream come true for me.”

With five straight wins, California Chrome will now head to Pimlico for the second leg of the Triple Crown, the May 17 Preakness Stakes. As of Sunday, it appeared he would face very few challengers from the Derby, plus several new faces to the Triple Crown.

California Chrome is certain for the Preakness, and the only other possibilities from the Derby field were Commanding Curve (who finished second), Danza (third), and Ride On Curlin (seventh).

Others under consideration for the Preakness are Bayern, Dynamic Impact, Kid Cruz, Our Caravan, Pablo Del Monte, Ring Weekend, and Social Inclusion.

Untapable, the filly who won the Kentucky Oaks, will not compete, trainer Steve Asmussen reaffirmed Sunday morning, saying it is “not in her best interest to run back in two weeks.”

California Chrome got a Beyer Speed Figure of 97 for his Derby win. He came out of the Derby well, said Sherman, who said California Chrome would remain at Churchill Downs in a stall in the barn of trainer Tom Proctor until he ships to Pimlico early the week of the Preakness.

“So far, everything looks good. His legs are cold and tight,” Sherman said.

Sherman said California Chrome would not work between races. He trained the horse lightly between the Santa Anita Derby and Kentucky Derby, believing it was the best way to keep him fresh for the task ahead. He believes the same approach is needed for these circumstances.

“I don’t have to do too much, just keep him happy and fresh,” Sherman said. “I never run back in two weeks as a rule. It’s usually six or seven weeks. I just need to keep him fresh. He just ran a mile and a quarter, and his next race is going to be a mile and three-sixteenths.”

Sherman said California Chrome would get a few days off before returning to the track for a jog Wednesday. He would then have daily gallops from Thursday through the Preakness.

Sherman’s son and assistant trainer, Alan, is staying here with California Chrome while Sherman returns to California to oversee his stable at Los Alamitos this week.

“As long as he’s here, I’m here,” Alan Sherman said.

Art Sherman said he would not rejoin California Chrome until the colt travels to Pimlico. It will be Sherman’s first time at Pimlico. As a jockey, he said he rode in Maryland at Bowie and Laurel but never Pimlico. As a trainer, he’s never run a horse there.

Because of all the demands on his time after the Derby, Sherman didn’t eat dinner at his hotel until about 11:30 p.m. Saturday, and he got to sleep around 1:30 a.m., “way past my bedtime,” he said.

But by 5 a.m. Sunday, he was at the barn.

“When I left the hotel, at 4:30, it was rockin’,” Sherman said. “People had me signing autographs. Chrome was taking a little nap when I got here. I didn’t want to wake him up. So I took a nap, too.”

Dallas Stewart, the trainer of Commanding Curve, on Sunday said he was “50-50” to run in the Preakness.

Danza, trained by Todd Pletcher, is still possible, according to Aron Wellman, who heads the Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners syndicate that owns Danza.

“Todd and I agreed to let the dust settle for right now. He’s had two very, very hard races in three weeks, and the Derby was a very physical race,” Wellman said. “I don’t think we’re ruling anything out at this point.”

Danza, winner of the Arkansas Derby three weeks ago, was clobbered by Pletcher-trained Vinceremos first time through the lane. Wellman said the two-week turnaround for the Preakness wasn’t as a big a concern as the prospect of running three times in five weeks.

Billy Gowan, the trainer of Ride On Curlin, said he will definitely consider the Preakness.

“Didn’t get beat all that far with a horrible, horrible trip,” Gowan said.

Trainer Bob Baffert said Chitu (ninth) would return to California. Baffert said Hoppertunity, scratched from the Derby, needed further tests to determine what is nagging him but is definitely out of the Preakness.

Baffert said Bayern, disqualified from a win in the Derby Trial last time out, was his lone contender for the Preakness. He was scheduled to work Monday at Churchill Downs.

– additional reporting by David Grening and Marty McGee