Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner California Chrome made his first appearance of the year at Del Mar on Sunday morning, breezing a half-mile on the turf in 52 seconds under regular jockey Victor Espinoza with trainer Art Sherman looking on from the second level of the grandstand.
California Chrome is nominated to both the $300,000 Hollywood Derby on grass and the $200,000 Native Diver on Polytrack on Saturday, November 29 at Del Mar. Sunday’s workout, the first for California Chrome on turf, was to determine his affinity for the surface and help in the stakes decision.
If California Chrome runs next Saturday, he will be the seventh Kentucky Derby winner to race at Del Mar after winning the Run For The Roses in the 75-year history of the track.
With an estimated crowd of 500 watching, California Chrome was given the opportunity for a solo run over the Jimmy Durante Turf Course. He entered the turf from a gate just past the finish line, his chestnut colt glistening in the early morning sun.
The colt jogged easily around the clubhouse turn to the backstretch, then broke off from the accompanying pony and started the half-mile work. The turf course “dogs” (marker cones) were well out from the inner rail to protect the surface and the work was conducted more than halfway toward the outer rail.
Track clockers had splits of :13.80 and :26.60 for the first two furlongs and :52.00 for the half-mile, meaning a final quarter in :25.40 seconds. Espinoza had California Chrome well in hand the entire way and clockers labeled it “breezing,” an assessment not routinely accorded on the Southern California circuit.