Familiar faces greet Triple Crown hopeful California Chrome
By Phil Janack | 06/02/2014 07:01 PM ET
Trainer Art Sherman and co-owners Steve and Carolyn Coburn arrived at Belmont Park this afternoon to check on their Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner, California Chrome.
A chauffeured black limousine pulled into the backstretch at 4:13 p.m. carrying the connections of the California-bred colt who will attempt to make history in Saturday's Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes.
Only 11 horses have swept the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont, and none since Affirmed in 1978. California Chrome, who has won his last six starts, is the 12th horse in the past 36 years to arrive in New York with a shot at the Triple Crown.
"We've had such tremendous support with this horse because of what he's done. The little guy is winning," Steven Coburn said. "We're very excited about this. There's not a doubt in my mind. This horse will win the Triple Crown."
Sherman, 77, had not seen California Chrome since his Preakness victory on May 17, returning to tend to his string at Los Alamitos Race Course near Los Angeles. In Sherman's absence, his son and assistant, Alan, has remained with the horse.
"The horse looks great," Art Sherman said. "I know he's all right because he tried to bite me right away. He wanted to know where his cookies were. We have some pasture cookies and he loves those. He thought I had one in my hand and I didn't. Then, his groom gave him a couple."
California Chrome figures to be heavily favored in the 1 ½-mile Belmont, the oldest and longest leg of the Triple Crown that could have as many as 13 contenders for its 146th renewal.
Meanwhile, the connections plan to enjoy their time in the area. Alan Sherman and California Chrome's jockey, Victor Espinoza, are at Yankee Stadium tonight to throw out the first pitch before the Yankees host the Seattle Mariners.
"I'm not apprehensive about what might happen or anything until they get in the gate. That's when I feel it," Art Sherman said. "Leading up to it, I'm going to have a good time in New York. We're going to see a few things and my wife's going to a couple plays. I hired a chauffeur; that's the only way to go. I can't drive down here."
Coburn mentioned having a stronger sense of confidence going into the Belmont, which has only been won by two California-breds: Comanche (1893) and Africander (1903).
"Yes I do, because I've seen him perform the other two times," he said. "His work this past Saturday shows me this horse is healthy, he's happy, he's gaining weight, and he's putting on more muscle. This horse is ready to go."
California Chrome is scheduled to resume galloping Tuesday morning over Belmont Park's main track, and Sherman will meet with members of the media outside the Belmont Café at 8 a.m.