California Chrome takes first steps at Belmont Park


The Sports Network

Elmont, NY ( - Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner California Chrome went to the Belmont Park main track for the first time on Wednesday morning as he begins preparation for the 146th Belmont Stakes on June 7.

With exercise rider Willie Delgado in the saddle, the chestnut colt took a jog once around the 1 1/2-mile Belmont track.

"He actually surprised me, how good he was feeling this morning," said Alan Sherman, assistant trainer to his father, Art Sherman. "It's amazing how quick this horse is bouncing back off these big races he's running. He was dragging me around the shed row, he dragged Willie around the track today. He was really feeling good.

"He seemed to get over (the track) fine. He only jogged, so we'll know more in the next few days galloping over it, but he seemed to be fine today."

Owned by Steven Coburn and Perry Martin, California Chrome will start galloping Thursday.

"He's usually (strong on the bit) the first day back (on the track) after a race, but today he was (like that) much (stronger) than normal," said Delgado. "It will take him a couple of days. New surroundings, he gets hyped up and tensed up, but it was just like that at Churchill (Downs) the first two days and at Pimlico the first two days. Once he gets used to his surroundings, he'll be back to walking back with a loose rein, looking for the (camera) kind of horse.

"After each race he has gotten much stronger. It's crazy because I have never seen a horse like that.

"He went the mile and a quarter (in the Derby) and was being eased at the end. That shows you how fit he is. We don't have to do anything special, just maintain him. He knows what he's here for. He's an athlete, he's a professional. I don't see a problem with him getting a mile and a half, or winning it. Come the day of the race, it's all up to him and God."

The 1 1/2-mile Belmont Stakes is the final leg of racing's Triple Crown. California Chrome will try to become the 12th horse to sweep the series and first since Affirmed in 1978.

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