Sports

California Chrome Visits Paddock At Belmont; Timed Workout Saturday

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — California Chrome visited the Belmont Park paddock and galloped his usual two miles on Thursday in preparation for his bid to win horse racing’s first Triple Crown in 36 years.

As CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan reported Friday afternoon, California Chrome has had an improbable rags to riches story. A humble $10,000 to breed, he is already worth $30 million.

It was no wonder that his blacksmith, who just refitted Chrome with hybrid horseshoes using glue and nails, was nervous.

“It makes you shake,” said farrier Judd Fisher.

Can those treasured hooves make it around the 1 1/2-mile track, the biggest in North America?
“His feet are pretty good,” Fisher said.

But Fisher was still knocking on wood as Chrome’s competition began arriving at Belmont Park.

The nasal strips California Chrome wore victoriously in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness will come out again on race day.

On Friday, he was familiarizing himself with the gates, galloping, and preparing for his first official workout.

“He’s climbing out of his skin right now, so he’s telling me he’s ready to work,” said assistant trainer Alan Sherman.

The chestnut colt first walked around the paddock before standing in a stall for five minutes so he can become familiar with the spot where he will be saddled for the Belmont Stakes on June 7.

“We don’t do a lot of schooling in the afternoon,” Sherman said. “We always school in the morning. It’s just something we do. Whether it’s right or wrong, I don’t know. It’s just the way we do it.”

Sherman said he’d prefer not to interrupt the horse’s feeding schedule.

“We’ll do it a couple more times throughout the week,” he said.

And Sherman said California Chrome will definitely have a target on his back.

“As a New Yorker, we are the ones that end Triple Crown contenders,” said racing fan Mel Stevens.

“The last one to have a shot was Big Brown, and that was a catastrophe,” said racing fan Artie Hettler.

So will California Chrome be remembered among those who fell short of the Triple Crown, or be held up with the likes of Secretariat, Seattle Slew, and Affirmed?

California Chrome’s 41-year-old jockey, Victor Espinoza, just flew in from California. He will take over the work riding. A painting of Espinoza on Chrome’s back was unveiled Friday, and the pressure was on.

What most concerns Espinoza is the weather.

“I hope no rain,” he said. “I don’t ask for much.”

A field of 10 is shaping up for the 1 1/2-mile Belmont.

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(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)