Elmont, NY (SportsNetwork.com) – California Chrome, winner of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, took a nice long gallop Tuesday morning at Belmont Park as he continues to train for Saturday’s 146th Belmont Stakes.
With trainer Art Sherman in attendance, the Triple Crown contender galloped 2 3/8 miles over Belmont’s main track. The chestnut colt had been galloping two miles most mornings.
“I thought he looked better now than he did after the Preakness,” Sherman said. “I couldn’t believe how much weight he put on. He really looks good right now. Going on the Triple Crown trail, it’s kind of rough. He’s an amazing horse.”
The number of potential challengers to California Chrome for the Belmont Stakes was reduced Tuesday with the withdrawal of Kid Cruz.
“We have decided to pass on the Belmont,” trainer Linda Rice said. “Frankly, he didn’t perform at Pimlico. It was a flat effort on his part. We’ll just look for an easy race for him to get him back on track. It’s a long summer.”
Owned by Vina Del Mar Thoroughbreds and Black Swan Stable, Kid Cruz was eighth in the Preakness on May 17. He won two stakes in Maryland, the Private Terms and Federico Tesio Stakes, that put him into the field versus the Kentucky Derby champ.
“I just think his last effort was a non-effort on his part,” Rice added. “He’s a nice horse, and we want to do the right thing by him. We’re going to consider the Easy Goer (Belmont Stakes Day), but we may decide to wait for the Dwyer (Belmont Park on July 5).”
Wicked Strong, fourth in the Kentucky Derby, galloped 1 1/2 miles on Belmont’s main track Tuesday morning for trainer Jimmy Jerkens.
“I galloped him at 7 o’clock because I thought it was going to get kind of hot and I didn’t want to wait until 9:30 or 10 o’clock like we usually do the first day back after working hard,” Jerkens said. “He’s doing great.
“He had a pretty good excuse in the Derby. His Wood (first in Wood Memorial) was great, and he’s trained really well since then. He really is training great. But, you never know until you lead them over there.”
Saturday should be excellent for the 1 1/2-mile “Test of the Champion.” The forecast calls for sunny skies, no chance of rain and a post time temperature of near 80 degrees.