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Working-class hero California Chrome attacks Santa Anita after Los Al works

October 29, 2014     E-mail this page to a friend!

California Chrome
(photo by Los Alamitos Race Course)
Wednesday morning, assistant trainer Alan Sherman sent 2014 Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome out for a gallop at Santa Anita.

“He galloped 1-5/8 miles at 6:30 this morning,” said Sherman, son of trainer Art Sherman, beaming with the way the 3YO colt looked under regular exercise rider Willie Delgado.

“He stood in the gate and was perfect,” continued Sherman. “All systems are go.

“He’s performed so well on this track in the past, I’m not worried about the surface,” added Sherman, who said the California-bred colt will gallop up to the race. “He will go to the paddock tomorrow and jog the morning of the race.”

Grooming the colt has provided a thrill of a lifetime for Raul Rodriguez. “It’s like a dream,” said the veteran, who has been California Chrome’s groom since the colt joined the Sherman barn as a 2YO last year.

“It is very exciting and makes me feel proud,” said Rodriguez of seeing the development of the racing star. “I knew he was very different from other horses from the first time I saw him. Just the way he galloped, I knew he was going to be a good racehorse.”

Rodriguez said California Chrome has a good temperament around the barn. “He’s a really calm horse,” he said. “If you don’t mess with him, he doesn’t get aggressive.”

Rodriguez, 57, was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and was exposed to horses while growing up on his father’s ranch. He came to the United States when he was 17 and started on the racetrack in 1982. He worked for trainers Jerry Fanning and Allen Severinsen before joining the Sherman stable 12 years ago.

Rodriguez groomed several of Sherman’s other major stakes winners, including Siren Lure, eighth-place finisher in the 2006 Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

Rodriguez said he had handled several nice horses but nothing like California Chrome. “The horse is ready,” he said firmly with a voice of caution to Classic rivals.