After his 6 a.m. workout Friday on the wettest track he's ever encountered, the Kentucky Derby winner's connections downplayed his throat condition, revealed Thursday after he coughed in the morning.
"I just want to say that California Chrome is fine,” said assistant trainer Alan Sherman. “His throat is fine. He’s got a little tickle in his throat. That’s why he coughed. He’s not going to be scratched. He’s fine. It’s not a problem. I don’t know why it got blown out of proportion. I’m just letting everybody know this horse is in perfect shape.”
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A veterinarian examined California Chrome on Thursday morning and again Friday. The official diagnosis is a small throat blister, for which he’s receiving a glycerin throat wash. There was some confusion whether the veterinarian ran blood tests or scoped the horse’s throat to check his condition further. But Sherman said California Chrome hadn’t been tested since last weekend, before he traveled to Baltimore.
“Sometimes they get a little scratchy with throat blisters,” said head trainer Art Sherman. “And it’s not a big deal as long as their blood comes back good and they eat up everything.”
Art Sherman said he couldn’t be happier with his horse’s form. As a California horse, the Derby champion hasn’t seen much rain in his 3-year-old life.
“I think it’s going to be perfect for him,” Sherman said. “Now that I see him going over the track today with the way the track was and the wind was blowing, he just went around there like, ‘Hey, I can go. I can do it.’ So I’m sure he’s going to run.”
Sherman said he didn’t know before the gallop how his horse would deal with the pounding rain and mud.
“I’ve never seen him on this type of a track since I’ve had him," he said. “I was curious how he was going to handle it. But my exercise boy said he went perfect, and that’s good enough for me. … I think he’ll be a good mud horse, myself.”
California Chrome will jog again Saturday morning as he readies for the second leg of the Triple Crown.
One scary thought for the rest of the field? Jockey Victor Espinoza said he’s yet to call on California Chrome’s full running power.
Asked if the 3-5 morning-line favorite has more to give, the veteran jockey said: “In my opinion, yes.”