California Chrome at Pa. Derby?

Posted: July 25, 2014

KENTUCKY DERBY and Preakness winner California Chrome has been back in training for a week after a long break at the farm where he was born in the San Joaquin Valley. Trainer Art Sherman is looking for one race to get his horse ready for the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic on Nov. 1 at Santa Anita. And that race, he said yesterday, could be the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby at Parx on Sept. 20.

"It kind of goes with my plan," Sherman said. "It's on the agenda. It's not out of the question, let's put it that way."

No Derby winner has ever run at Parx after winning the Derby. It was a decade ago, of course, when Parx-based Smarty Jones won the Derby. Smarty's first two races were at Parx in November 2003. The great Spectacular Bid won the Heritage Stakes at Parx in his final race as a 2-year-old in 1978 before winning the 1979 Derby and going on to become one of the best horses who ever lived.

In addition to the $1 million purse and the timing 6 weeks out from the BC, the Pa. Derby has another incentive for Sherman. The trainer and owner of any horse who won a Triple Crown race or the Haskell or the Travers gets $50,000 for each win as an incentive. So, Sherman is in line for $100,000 just to start his horse. His owners are in line for the same bonus.

"Why not?" Sherman said about the bonus. "It has a nice ring to it, don't it?"

Chrome is the California-bred version of Smarty Jones, so it would seem only right that a decade after Smarty, CC would come to his track to win the race Smarty's trainer John Servis was pointing for in the summer of 2004 before the colt's leg issues forced him into retirement.

"As long as the horse is training good and doing good, I'm all pumped up to see what happens," Sherman said. "It's there and the timing is all right."

It is a long way to Sept. 20 and these are racehorses, the most fragile of animals. Still, it is at least possible that the Derby winner could be running at Parx.

And if that is not enough, the brilliant filly Untapable, the likely favorite against males in Sunday's Haskell at Monmouth Park, is being pointed for the $1 million Cotillion, the same day as the Pa. Derby at Parx, as her final Breeders' Cup prep.

And just imagine if Belmont Stakes winner Tonalist, the favorite for Saturday's Jim Dandy at Saratoga, wins the Travers. Then, that colt's owner and trainer also could be in line for a pair of $100,000 Pa. Derby bonuses, which could make the Pa. Derby a showdown between the horses that won all the 2014 Triple Crown races.

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