ELMONT, N.Y. — — California Chrome took his first steps Wednesday on the Belmont track that could lead him to a place in horse racing immortality.
The Triple Crown contender went on a leisurely jog around the dirt track with his regular exercise rider Willie Delgado.
The 3-year-old showed no ill effects from his back-to-back wins in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness this month as he prepares for his chance to become just the 12th horse to win all three races.
"He actually surprised me, how good he was feeling this morning," assistant trainer Alan Sherman told reporters. "It's amazing how quick this horse is bouncing back off these big races he's running.
"He was dragging me around the shed row; he dragged Willie around the track today. He was really feeling good."
Sherman said California Chrome would start light galloping today and would have just one serious workout, next week, before the $1.5 million Belmont on June 7.
It has been 36 years since Affirmed won the Triple Crown in 1978. The final leg is the longest and most exhausting of the three races, held over 11/2 miles.
California Chrome is the 13th horse since Affirmed to win the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness. Twelve were beaten in the Belmont, while the most recent, I'll Have Another in 2012, withdrew from the last leg with an injury.
Delgado said California Chrome felt better each time he got on board, and he had no doubts the chestnut colt would handle the longer distance.
"After each race he has gotten much stronger. It's crazy because I have never seen a horse like that," Delgado said. "That shows you how fit he is. We don't have to do anything special, just maintain him. He knows what he's here for.
"He's an athlete; he's a professional. I don't see a problem with him getting a mile and a half, or winning it."
Belmont Park, Elmont, N.Y.
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