On an unseasonably cold morning in South Florida, Pegasus World Cup contender California Chrome paid his first visit to the Gulfstream Park track on Sunday, marking it with a spirited jog that suggested he was eager to do much more.
With his regular exercise rider Dihigi Gladney aboard, California Chrome, who arrived at Gulfstream Park from Southern California on Friday afternoon, hit the track at 5:45 a.m. The temperature at the time was in the mid-40s with a strong and persistent northerly wind. After jogging once the wrong way around the track, Gladney advised assistant trainer Alan Sherman that the 6-year-old needed another spin around the oval to take the edge off of him.
“That's why we ended up jogging him twice, just because he has been off three days,” Gladney explained back at the barn. “They walked him yesterday after he got here on Friday, so I knew today was going to be tough. And this weather today was not my best friend, either. But you know what, he's the type of horse that has energy, regardless. He doesn't care whether it's 100 degrees or 30 degrees; he's just one of those horses. He's gentle to ride, but he's that type of horse who knows who he is. He's on it.”
California Chrome's training at Gulfstream Park for the $12 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational on Jan. 28 is being supervised by Sherman, the son of the horse's trainer, Art Sherman, who will arrive in Florida around the time of the Eclipse Awards on Jan. 21. California Chrome is a finalist for Horse of the Year honors, which was bestowed upon him in 2014 when he won the first two legs of the Triple Crown, the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness (G1).
“He was feeling really good, so we decided to take him another lap,” Sherman said. “It's easier on everybody when he gets a little bit out of it, otherwise he just feels so good and gets a little tough to handle. That cold wind hitting him in the butt probably set him off a little bit.”
The inaugural running of the Pegasus World Cup, the world's richest race, is expected to showcase the eagerly anticipated rematch between California Chrome and Arrogate, who defeated him by a half-length in the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) at Santa Anita Nov. 5.
Recent rains in Southern California has delayed a workout from the Bob Baffert-trained Arrogate. But with an expected window of dry weather on Sunday, the 4-year-old was likely to work at Santa Anita on Sunday.
Alan Sherman said he's eager for California Chrome to again face Arrogate, an Eclipse Award finalist for champion 3-year-old male and Horse of the Year.
“I want to run against Arrogate, I hope he comes,” Sherman said. “Maybe he will get his work in today; I hope he does.”
California Chrome, who will be retired to stud following the Pegasus World Cup, will gallop the rest of the week. On Saturday, he's scheduled to work five-eighths with Gladney aboard.
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