BALTIMORE — If Art Sherman has one worry about California Chrome, it’s the colt’s health.
The Kentucky Derby winner coughed a few times on Thursday, the result of a small blister in his throat that itches.
Alan Sherman, Art’s son and assistant trainer, said the blister appeared before the Derby and is being treated with a glycerin throat wash.
“After he ran in there, it came back a little bit,” Alan Sherman said. “It’s not a big deal at all.”
That didn’t prevent chatter that something was wrong with California Chrome and could affect his status for Saturday’s Preakness.
Sherman Racing Stables responded on Twitter, saying, “Chrome is fine. Vet stopped by to scope him and draw blood. Blood came back perfect. He is eating/acting normal.”
California Chrome visited the Pimlico starting gate Thursday, another step in making sure he is comfortable with his surroundings.
“He just walked in there and relaxed,” Art Sherman said. “There were a couple guys from Churchill Downs that were working on him. They knew him. He’s perfect.”
Ideally, every horse is pointing squarely at the racetrack when the gate springs open. California Chrome tends to rock side-to-side in the gate and that can leave him slightly off-balance when the bell rings.
“Sometimes he’ll get off just a shade slow,” Sherman said. “That can mean a length or two leaving there. That means you have to ride a different kind of race.”
THE WAIT: The owners of Pablo Del Monte declined a late invitation to join the Derby field.
The Preakness will determine if the wait paid off.
Pablo Del Monte was 21st on the list of horses eligible for the 20-horse Derby field. He moved into the field when Hoppertunity was scratched with a foot injury, but would have had to start from the far outside post.
The offer was rejected.
Two weeks later, Pablo Del Monte is in the Preakness as a 20-1 shot. He will break from the No. 9 post.
“Well, I like nine better than the 20,” breeder, trainer and co-owner Wesley Ward said.
Pablo Del Monte set the pace in his latest effort, finishing third over the synthetic track at Keeneland in the Blue Grass Stakes.
Ward feels the five-week gap since the Blue Grass gives his horse a chance against California Chrome.
“If you ever want to take on a Kentucky Derby winner, it’s when he’s coming back on short rest like these two weeks,” he said.
Jerry Sanchez will be aboard.
ALL HERE: Ring Weekend arrived Thursday after a short van ride from the nearby Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Maryland.
He was the last of the 10 Preakness runners to report to Pimlico.
Ring Weekend, a chestnut gelding, is 20-1 on the morning line. He won the Tampa Bay Derby in early March and most recently was second in the Calder Derby for trainer Graham Motion.
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