NEW YORK —
If there’s one worry Sherman has, it’s whether his chestnut colt with four white socks can run that far after a tough campaign of three big races in five weeks.
“One thing I always wonder about is stamina,” Sherman said. “It could be walking pace the first part of it. All of a sudden, the guys kicking in the last part don’t get there.”
Ultimately, Sherman will leave the decision-making to Victor Espinoza, who saw his bid for a Triple Crown aboard War Emblem end in defeat at the 2002 Belmont. He and California Chrome have teamed to win six consecutive races.
“He gets him to relax. I never give him any instructions,” Sherman said. “I’m sure there will be different tactics, but that’s OK as long as Victor can have a spot where he can run the last quarter of a mile.”
Racing has been aching for another Triple Crown champion since Affirmed became the third horse in the 1970s to sweep the Derby, Preakness and Belmont. California Chrome and his team would be welcome members of the exclusive club if the colt can pull it off in front of a crowd expected to top 100,000.
“It has to be a super horse to win that,” Espinoza said.
Owners Steve Coburn and Perry Martin have shown that a couple of working stiffs who spent $8,000 on a mare they bred to a stallion for $2,500 can trump the sport’s blue blood owners and breeders. They were called “dumb asses” by a trainer for buying a mare who gave no indication that she could produce a standout offspring who could run fast.
“This horse has given everybody else out there the incentive to say, ‘You know what, we can do it, too,”’ Coburn said. “This horse is letting America know that the little guy can win.”