Join Kat Waldvogel, official photographer for Sherman Racing, for a behind-the-scenes glimpse of life with the connections of Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner California Chrome as he nears his return to competition in the $1-million Pennsylvania Derby on Saturday at Parx Racing. (All photos courtesy of Kat Waldvogel/forestbird photography)
Team Sherman is beginning to assemble just outside the City of Brotherly Love!
Assistant trainer Alan Sherman and I flew in yesterday, along with his longtime buddy Mark North. Philadelphia has already been good to us, delivering cooler temperatures and low humidity upon our arrival last night, and a brief shower this morning. What a welcome relief from the heat that still lingers back in Southern California.
We’ve also enjoyed some top-notch eats at a The Fox Hunt as well as the support and encouragement of local fans. I love Southern California, but there is something about the vernacular and local accent that warms my heart — good people.
Our morning started with Alan attending to the glamorous end of the business - paperwork. Parx Racing Secretary Sal Sinatra picked us up and brought us to the racing commission office for licensing and fingerprints. Since we were there, I asked if I could grab my media credentials a day early as I noticed they were ready. I loved Sal’s response, as he smiled at me and said, “I’m not saying no to you about anything.”
The team here is so excited to have California Chrome on the grounds and in Saturday’s race, and they have been going out of their way to ensure we have everything we need.
Back in California at 2 a.m. PT, Chrome’s traveling companions — groom Raul Rodriguez and exercise rider Willie Delgado — escorted the colt from Los Alamitos to the airport in Ontario, Calif., where they boarded the special transport to carry them to the airport in Allentown, Pa., with a stop in Lexington, Ky.
Willie reported that the temperature in flight was a bit on the chilly side, but everyone landed safe and sound a little after 1:30 p.m. ET. Trailering onto the backside around 3:45 p.m. ET, Chrome called to Alan as soon as he saw him walking bedside the trailer as it pulled in.
After backing down the ramp — his signature move — he threw his head in the air and announced his arrival to anyone within range, then walked eagerly with Alan to the shedrow that is to be his home for the coming days.
Alan said he was on his hind legs and very happy to be out and walking around. After a quick check by the veterinarian, Raul got to work cleaning him up and getting him fed before we attended to Raul in the same manner.
After dinner, we returned to the barn to meet Steve and Carolyn Coburn, who had just arrived to say hello to their champion stallion. Chrome showed his spunk, playing his favorite game - steal Alan’s hat! A few cookies and some strokes of his face had CC very calm and ready to get settled in for a restful night, with temperatures forecast for the mid-50s.
Tight security is on hand 24/7, so everyone on the team can sleep well knowing this top athlete is well looked after. We’ll return to the track in the morning, where Chrome will go out for an easy jog at around 8:30 a.m. and Alan will greet the press at 10 a.m. ET in the paddock.
Meanwhile, trainer Art Sherman is enjoying himself in Lexington, taking a few days at the Keeneland September yearling sale to assess yearlings and connect with clients and colleagues.
This morning he reported buying a colt that he is calling “Little Chrome,” due to his striking resemblance to CC. I can’t wait to meet him and track his progress. Maybe we’ll see him in the big show in a couple years.
We’re all looking forward to having the big boss join us at Parx, and I’ll collect him at the airport on Thursday.
Meanwhile, I made a solid connection with Lucky, the barn cat.