NEW YORK —
Trainer Art Sherman often describes California Chrome as a “push-button horse,” meaning the colt can respond to whatever Espinoza asks him to do. Tactically, he can run on or near the lead or make a move for the front in the latter stages of a race, like California Chrome did in the Derby and Preakness.
“He’s going to probably be galloping on the lead,” Sherman said. “He doesn’t want any horse passing him.”
California Chrome is clearly the dominant horse in the 3-year-old ranks, having won six straight races and impressively taken charge in the Derby and Preakness. He has given every indication in his gallops and one official workout at Belmont Park during his nearly three weeks in New York that he likes the deep, sandy track.
Unlike at the Preakness, California Chrome hasn’t coughed and he’s been eating up all his feed — both welcome signs that he hasn’t missed a beat in his preparations.
“I just like what I see. He looks so darn good,” Sherman said. “People have a lot more respect for this horse than they did going into the Derby. I really think he’s the real McCoy.”
The 1 1/2-mile distance could catch up with California Chrome, whose modest pedigree suggests he can’t do what he’s already done. Now it’s a question of whether he can run an extra quarter of a mile in the Belmont.
Of course, 10 other horses will have a say in what happens Saturday.
“California Chrome is a horse that’s going for history, and we’re all trying to throw something in his way,” said Rick Violette, who will saddle Samraat.
Luck — good or bad — plays a big part in winning the triple Crown. Bad luck could befall California Chrome in the form of stumbling out of the gate, getting squeezed or bumped by his rivals or being ganged up on by other horses.
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