05/13/2014 12:46PM

To work or not to work - that is the question

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Barbara D. Livingston
Ride On Curlin gets a bath at Pimlico on Tuesday. He is scheduled to breeze on Wednesday.

BALTIMORE – Late Monday afternoon, when California Chrome had arrived at Pimlico after shipping from Churchill Downs, assistant trainer Alan Sherman said the colt’s connections had not yet decided whether California Chrome would jog or gallop during his first training session in Baltimore.

Out on the racetrack Tuesday morning, California Chrome had an easy jog, and the decision to take a less-demanding path cleaved to the general approach trainer Art Sherman and his team are employing with the Derby winner.

California Chrome will not have a timed workout between the Derby and the Preakness, and Alan Sherman said a work was not ever strongly considered. It’s not an obvious call. There’s no blueprint outlining the moves to make after the Derby and before the Preakness. Young horses in North America rarely run 1 1/4 miles. They seldom race with only a two-week break between starts. Some thrive on work; others need rest. The goal is to strike a balance between keeping a horse fit and sharp without wearing him out. The approach depends on the trainer; it depends on the horse.

::DRF Live: Reports from training hours at Pimlico 8-9 a.m. ET this week

“Oh yeah – we want to keep this horse fresh,” Alan Sherman said Tuesday morning. “I’m not worried about fitness at all, and running back in two weeks, this horse is going to be sharp.”

The Sherman outfit is not a heavy workout barn anyway. Sherman said horses in the stable usually work 12 to 14 days after they race. Adding a post-Derby, pre-Preakness workout would change California Chrome’s routine.

Of the three Derby horses running at Pimlico, only Ride On Curlin will work between the two races. Trainer Billy Gowan plans to let Ride On Curlin breeze an easy half-mile Wednesday.

“Hopefully he’ll go in about 52 [seconds],” Gowan said. “If that takes something out of him, we probably shouldn’t be here anyway. I just want him to get a feel for the track. Plus, it just gives him something to do. If he doesn’t get to do anything, he’ll be up in the air.”

General a Rod will not do any more than gallop between the Derby and Preakness, despite a troubled Derby trip that did not permit the colt to really extend himself.

“Usually I don’t work for two weeks after a race anyway,” trainer Mike Maker said. “If he were a lazy horse, I might do things differently.”

Maker was an assistant for trainer Wayne Lukas during Lukas’s Triple Crown heyday, and he said Lukas nearly always worked Derby horses intended for the Preakness the Monday or Tuesday before the race. Lukas gave Oxbow a half-mile workout nine day before he won the 2013 Preakness, and Itsmyluckyday, trained by Eddie Plesa, and Mylute (Tom Amoss) also worked between Triple Crown starts and ran well here last year. Goldencents had no works before finishing fifth in the 2013 Preakness, but his trainer, Doug O’Neill, used the same no-work strategy when Derby winner I’ll Have Another won the 2012 Preakness. The Shug McGaughey-trained Orb also worked after the Derby last year and ran below his Churchill form at Pimlico.

::DRF Live: Reporting and insight from the Preakness draw 6-7 p.m. ET on Wednesday

Most recent Derby winners have worked before the Preakness, some as far as five furlongs, but there is no established pattern among the good and the bad performances, no rule book to follow. A trainer just has to feel his way through the series, especially an outfit like Sherman’s, which is new to the Triple Crown game.

“You try to have a plan,” Alan Sherman said. “You think, ‘Okay, if he were to win the Derby, then what?’ or, ‘If he were to win the Preakness, then what?’ But you don’t want to get too far ahead of yourself.”

California Chrome takes it easy

All five Preakness starters on the grounds went to the track Tuesday, including Social Inclusion, who had a fast workout Monday, and California Chrome, who got his first feel for the Pimlico surface.

California Chrome, going out at about 6:45 a.m., jogged one circuit around the local oval under exercise rider Willie Delgado, who said the colt wanted to do more. California Chrome is scheduled to gallop Wednesday morning, and trainer Art Sherman, who was flying from California on Tuesday, will be here to see him.

General a Rod galloped 1 1/8 miles during his first tour of the track.

“You saw the way he went by,” trainer Mike Maker said when asked his opinion of the gallop.

California Chrome, Kid Cruz, and General a Rod all trained before 7 a.m., with Kid Cruz – the only Preakness starter with a race at Pimlico – galloping 1 1/2 miles in his first morning here this week.

After the renovation break, at about 8:30, Ride On Curlin galloped about 1 1/8 miles at a clip faster than trainer Billy Gowan preferred. Ride On Curlin’s regular exercise rider, Bryan Beccia, told Gowan he had slowed Ride On Curlin down as much as he could.

A few minutes later, Social Inclusion jogged once around the track clockwise one day after his Monday work, in which he galloped out six furlongs in 1:13.60.

“He came out of the work good,” said his smiling trainer, Manny Azpurua. “I’m very happy with him.”

Social Inclusion jogs Wednesday and then gallops each morning before the Preakness.

In Kentucky on Tuesday, Dynamic Impact galloped 1 1/2 miles at Churchill, while Bayern and Ria Antonia walked the day after working. Those horses as well as Keeneland-based Pablo Del Monte fly here Wednesday.

::2014 PREAKNESS STAKES: Latest news, video, and more

At the Fair Hill training center, Ring Weekend galloped 1 5/8 miles Tuesday morning. He ships here by van on Thursday.

◗ There’s a moderate chance of showers here Wednesday and Thursday, and a 90 percent chance of rain for Friday’s Black-Eyed Susan card, but the Preakness Day forecast is looking ideal, with sunny skies and a high temperature in the low 70s.