California Chrome strong in key Belmont workout

Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner California Chrome produced a strong showing Saturday in his final workout ahead of his Triple Crown sweep bid at next week’s 146th Belmont Stakes.

The three-year-old colt ran one-half mile at Belmont Park in 47.69 seconds and galloped six furlongs in 1:12.95 and seven furlongs in 1:26.28.

“I couldn’t ask for anything more,” said assistant trainer Alan Sherman, the son of trainer Art Sherman. “He galloped out great and (we got) exactly what we wanted.”

California Chrome will spend the next Saturday’s in final preparations for the third jewel in US flat racing’s treble, which was last swept by one horse in the same year in 1978 by Affirmed.

A dozen horses since then have won the Derby and Preakness but fallen short over the final 1 1/2-mile test.

But Victor Espinoza, the colt’s regular jockey who was on board for Saturday’s workout, liked what he saw from California Chrome.

“It was great,” Espinoza said. “I started not too fast. We were going :12, :12, :12. We picked it up a little at the end. Across the wire I dropped the reins a little bit. That’s what he always does.”

Espinoza likes his odds of winning the Triple Crown better than in 2002, when he was aboard War Emblem and finished eighth in the Belmont Stakes.

“I’m more confident this time,” said Espinoza. “With War Emblem, he only had one way to go: in the front. It was not that easy for me to ride him. it was difficult. When you have a front-running horse you don’t have many options. If something happens, that’s it. Your chances are gone.

“With California Chrome it’s different. I have a lot of options with California Chrome. I believe I have a better chance than I did in 2002 because I have a different kind of horse.”

Nine challengers appear set to challenge him, including Derby runner-up Commanding Curve, Commissioner, Matterhorn, Matuszak, Medal Count, Ride On Curlin, Samraat, Tonalist and Wicked Strong.


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