With clear blue skies and a bright morning sun beaming down for the first time since his arrival at Belmont Park earlier this week, Triple Crown candidate California Chrome "trained like a monster" this morning as he continued his preparations for the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes on June 7.
"He just keeps getting stronger," said Alan Sherman, son of and assistant to trainer Art Sherman, after the chestnut colt galloped two miles around the track. "I can see it in his stride and the way he's taking hold of [exercise rider] Willie [Delgado], he seems to like this track. He's actually put on some weight since the Preakness.
"This morning, with the way the sun was hitting him, he was shining like a new penny," he added. "He looks so good right now."
California Chrome, who would become the California-bred to win the Triple Crown should he add the Belmont to his victories in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, has been away from his home base at Los Alamitos in Orange County, Calif. since April
"It always takes him a day or two to settle in," said Sherman said of the colt's sojourns to Churchill Downs and Pimlico Race Course. "He's starting to figure everything out. He stands there and lets everyone take their photos. He's a big ham. He's enjoying himself and having fun."
Sherman said California Chrome would continue to train at 6 a.m. for the foreseeable future, with his lone scheduled work between the Preakness and the 1 ½-mile Belmont slated for May 31.
"He's nickering when we get to the barn in the morning," he said. "He doesn't like to stand around."
Art Sherman, 77, returned to California following the Preakness and is scheduled to arrive in New York early next week.
"He's probably missing the horse, but I'm sure he's enjoying the peace and quiet," said Alan Sherman of his father. "He's holding up well. He was getting a little tired, which is probably why he's staying at home a little longer."