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Sherman taking 'wait and see' approach with California Chrome

  • California Chrome (Benoit Photos)

Trainer Art Sherman said there was "a chance" that Grade 2 San Felipe hero California Chrome could run in the Grade 1, $1 million Santa Derby on April 5, but any firm plans for the California-bred colt's next race were still undetermined as of Sunday morning.

"We're playing it by ear with him," the trainer said of the streaking stakes winner, who has captured his last three added-money events by a combined margin of 19 lengths, most recently the San Vicente on March 8, which earned the son of Lucky Pulpit 50 qualifying points to the Kentucky Derby on May 3.

"The horse is doing well," Sherman added. "He galloped this morning (at his Los Alamitos headquarters). Let's say he's on the Derby trail and there's a chance he could run in the Santa Anita Derby."

Without a race between the San Felipe and the Run for the Roses, California Chrome would have gone nearly two months without running prior to the Churchill Downs classic.

"We'll wait and see how the horse is doing," Sherman stated.

In other Triple Crown news:

Meanwhile, trainer John Sadler was back on the beat on a warm-and-getting-warmer Sunday morning at Santa Anita after a disappointing trip to Arkansas Saturday where Grade 2 San Vicente winner Kobe's Back finished seventh of eight, beaten 28 lengths, in the Grade 2 Rebel at Oaklawn Park.

"He wasn't really ready for the start, he ducked out on the first turn, and after that it got worse," Sadler said in succinct candor, explaining the debacle.

Sadler said the gray son of Flatter was due to return to California Sunday, but had "no plans at this point. We'll have to see how he comes back."

The Rebel was won by the Bob Baffert-trained Hopportunity under Mike Smith, who at the moment appears to be in an enviable position when it comes to potential Kentucky Derby mounts.

The Hall of Fame jockey rode Intense Holiday to victory in the Grade 2 Risen Star on February 22 at Fair Grounds and next Sunday pilots Midnight Hawk for Baffert in the Grade 3, $800,000 Sunland Derby, where Martin Garcia will be aboard fellow Baffert trainee Chitu.

Smith has been in the irons for all four of Midnight Hawk's trips to post thus far, scoring in their initial two outings, including the Grade 3 Sham on January 11, before placing in the Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis and San Felipe. Garcia has partnered Chitu in his three career starts, including a half-length second in the Lewis last out.

Ponito M., champion colt at age two and three in Puerto Rico, arrived at Santa Anita Friday for a three-year-old campaign under the direction of Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.

Owned by Mickey Gonzales' M Racing Stable, the son of Rock Hard Ten has won six of seven starts in Puerto Rico and hopes to follow in the footsteps of Mister Frisky and Bold Forbes, who invaded from the Island Nation to make their marks in the three-year-old classics.

Hollendorfer-trained Tamarando was spotted at Golden Gate Fields on Sunday working seven furlongs in 1:28. The Bertrando colt was last seen taking the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby in mid-February.

On the East Coast, Grade 1 winner We Miss Artie took to the fast track at Palm Meadows Training Center for a four-furlong breeze in :49 2/5. The Todd Pletcher pupil was a well-beaten eighth in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth most recently.

Undefeated multiple Grade 3 hero Samraat worked at Palm Meadows on Saturday, clocking a half-mile in :50 2/5 over the fast dirt. Intense Holiday, a nose winner of the Risen Star and expected back at Fair Grounds for the Grade 2, $1 million Louisiana Derby on March 29, was credited with the bullet for four furlongs, recording a best-of-66 move in :48. Cairo Prince breezed five furlongs in 1:00 4/5.

Grade 2 Fountain of Youth victor Wildcat Red took a spin around Gulfstream Park's fast dirt Saturday, going four panels in :47 4/5, while rival General a Rod toured five furlongs in :59 2/5. Grade 3 Lecomte winner and Risen Star third Vicar's in Trouble, who could face off against Intense Holiday in the Louisiana Derby, was caught in 1:00 2/5 for five-eighths.

Uncle Sigh, runner-up to Samraat in both the Grade 3 Gotham and Withers, turned five furlongs on Belmont Park's fast training track in 1:01 4/5 on Saturday.

Tanzanite Cat, hero of the Smarty Jones but a well-beaten fifth in the Grade 3 Southwest last out, traveled a half-mile Saturday on Oaklawn Park's fast dirt in :48 1/5.

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California Chrome is attempting to become only the fourth California-bred, Kentucky Derby winner in history and the first since Decidedly in 1962.