California Chrome Will NEVER Win the Triple Crown
I love the horse, and the connections, but a final quarter in 26+ off a slow pace does not bode well for the 12F Belmont in five weeks’ time. He would have lost every Derby on a fast track in the 1960’s by multiple lengths. Hell, the final HALF was :52!! That was not California Chrome accelerating down the Churchill stretch, that was him decelerating slightly less than the other slowpokes.
I think 12 have won the Derby and Preakness since the last Triple Crown champ, and all fell short over Big Sandy. Chrome will do the same, if he gets by a new shooter (Social Inclusion?) in 2 weeks’ time in Maryland. Or perhaps he meets a Derby competitor who skips the trip to Pimlico and goes home to NY to rest up (Wicked Strong?) before the Belmont.
I first liked him off of his ambitious racing schedule the past 12 months, but fell out of love with him this week at Churchill as he arrived mid-week and did next to nothing over the CD strip. Wisely so, it appears in retrospect I must admit. I suppose his first plane trip and race outside of CA was stress enough that Mr. Sherman laid off the aggressive 2 mile gallops that had taken place at Los Alamitos.
I am in the process of doing some work with a glycogen loading protocol, and I wonder if horses, like humans, need to taper back the daily exercise in the days leading up to a big race, while at the same time loading up on carbohydrates in an effort to top off glycogen energy stores? But then I love the pre-race 3F blowout a few days out, so who knows where I am going with this-
Again, the $10k horse from modest beginnings coming out of a low-end circuit is one of my favorite story lines, but if Chrome is sat on the next 5 weeks with nothing more than jogs and slow gallops (no works), I will hope for him to lose the Triple Crown decisively.
Once more, I use Assault as the example of what a Triple Crown winner does in the mornings from May thru June:
3 – 4F in :48
4 – Won Kentucky Derby by 8 in 2:06 on sloppy track
5 – walked at CD
6 – shipped to Pimlico
8 – 3F in :40
9 – 8F in 1:45
11 – Won Preakness Stakes by a neck in 2:01 on fast track
12 – shipped to Belmont
16 – 4F in :52
18 – 3F in :40
20 – 4F in :48
22 – 8F in 1:44
24 – 3F in :35
25 – 1.25 miles in 2:05 (:50, 1:15, 1:40, 2:05)
28 – 4F in :50
29 – 1.5 miles in 2:32
1 – Won Belmont Stakes by 3 in 2:31 on fast track
5 – 4F in :52
7 – 4F in :51
9 – 8F in 1:43
11 – 3F in :36
13 – 8F in 1:43 at Aqueduct
15 – Won Dwyer Stakes by 5 lengths in 2:07 on fast track
-With all those works, did he ever simply gallop? Does he need to?
-16 breezes in that 45 day window, averaging nearly 6F per effort, in 12-13 sec/f paces.
-A Triple Crown AND Dwyer win within those very same 6 weeks.
-Note the Preakness was run 1 week after the Derby and he still worked TWICE.
-Also note he worked the entire race distance of 1.5 miles 2 days before the Belmont. You gotta be kidding me. I feel like I am making this up.
How about War Admiral in 1937?
“”Between the Preakness and the June 5 Belmont Stakes, trainer George Conway poured it to the little Admiral. Working at three-day intervals, War Admiral breezed 11 furlongs in 2:22, 12 furlongs in 2:35.40, 12 furlongs in 2:34.60, and 12 furlongs again in 2:34.60, the last move coming just three days before the Belmont.”
So, what am I saying? Should every TC runner start to emulate these programs? No way, not even close. First off, those old timers galloped an honest 2+ miles daily for months before April of their 3yo season, and weren’t plied with Lasix as a ‘preventative’ measure everytime they went fast at age 2.
Secondly, you must first gauge the recovery of your horse after a 5F work before going 6F, etc. Of course, I do this with a HR/GPS monitor, they weren’t doing that in the 40’s I assure you. Back then every horse went through a meat grinder of a conditioning schedule; many got hurt, but those that survived were monsters – absolute iron horses.
Today, they all go through a threadbare regimen: 1.25 mile daily gallops and weekly 4-5F works, only galloping out strong during the weeks prior to Derby. Many still get hurt, and the best of the survivors run Derby times of 2:03 and Belmont times over 2:30; times akin to those of several decades ago – despite a million occurrences of breeding the ‘best to the best’. What a scam.
Now imagine the future path of California Chrome:
I can show you his worktab prior to the Preakness right now:
And I can show you his worktab the week before the Belmont:
All this considered and the winner of the 2014 Belmont, whoever he is, will run slower than 2:30 on a fast track, guaranteed. That will be the fourth consecutive 2:30+ time in the decade, which hasn’t happened since the 1930s.
Chrome is the best of yet another bad 3yo bunch and that’s fine, but it won’t earn him a place alongside the legends of the game as a TC champion, in my opinion. But if I’m wrong; I’d be glad to be proven wrong by this bunch of connections: at least we have 10 races going into the Derby and those long 2 mile gallops to fall back on as reasons for his success.
EDIT: The Beyer came it at 97, the Oaks winner carded a 107. If Chrome ran successive quarters of 24-24-24-24-25 I would love him, but he ran roughly two 26’s at the end. And please, gearing him down from 35mph to 33mph 60 yds from the wire is meaningless to the final time.
PS. Fresh horse? If anything he was the least fresh, with 10 races in the last 12 months. All of them were ‘fresh’: nothing but jogs, slow gallops Derby week, last work 6-7 days out, no races for 3-5 weeks, etc. – and 15 of 19 ran like shit.
PS2. Mr. Sherman is already talking about taking it easy the week before the Preakness in Maryland, remember these quotes from the conditioner when he comes up short in the Belmont. But in all fairness he really has no choice at this point. All those well-spaced out 4-5F works at Los Al have pretty much committed him to this path already.
PS3. I’m reminded of all those 9F preps where the winner ‘did it so easy’, was ‘well within himself’, and my personal favorite ‘galloped out so strongly, the extra furlong of the Derby is in his wheelhouse’? 90% of those prep stars came home on rubber legs yesterday through easier fractions than they found in their 9F efforts.
EDIT2. I’m not the only one with doubts, from today’s paper:
Jockey Victor Espinoza: ‘he just got a little tired. A mile and a quarter, coming off shipping and everything, but he is fine.’
Trainer Art Sherman: ‘he didn’t eat every oat, but he just left a handful.’
Trainer Mark Casse: ‘I couldn’t believe how slow the race was because the track was fairly fast all day. ‘
EDIT3. Criticisms aside, he’s one good looking horse the morning after arrival at PIM: