NEW YORK — California Chrome arrived in New York on Tuesday to begin preparations for his bid to become horse racing’s first Triple Crown winner in 36 years.
The Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner arrived at Belmont Park after an uneventful four-hour journey by van from Baltimore.
He was backed off the van — he doesn’t like walking straight off like most horses — and then led into the barn by assistant trainer Alan Sherman. California Chrome walked several laps around the barn before being taken outside to pose on the grass for a media horde. He later settled into his stall.
“He likes to stand out here and pose,” Sherman said. “He loves to get his picture taken. He’s a very inquisitive horse. He’s always checking out what’s going on around him. He’s actually been so straightforward to train; he’s made our jobs easy.”
California Chrome will start training on the track daily beginning Wednesday.
Belmont Park stewards cleared the horse Monday to use a nasal strip, which opens his nasal passages, just as he did in winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. That issue potentially could have kept the horse out of a run at the Triple Crown.
But now the 3-year-old colt is set to run in the Belmont Stakes on June 7. He owns a six-race winning streak, including the Derby by 1¾ lengths and the Preakness by 1½ lengths. No horse has swept the Derby, Preakness and Belmont since Affirmed in 1978.
Preakness runner-up Ride On Curlin accompanied California Chrome on the trip from Baltimore.
Another Preakness starter under consideration for the Belmont is third-place finisher Social Inclusion, who is scheduled to arrive in New York on Friday. General a Rod (fourth), Ring Weekend (fifth) and Kid Cruz (eighth) are questionable to run in the 1½-mile race.
Other probables are Commanding Curve, Danza, Wicked Strong and Samraat, the second, third, fourth and fifth-place finishers from the Derby; along with Tonalist and Commissioner, who were first and second in the Peter Pan at Belmont; and Intense Holiday, 12th in the Derby.
“It looks like it could be a tough one,” said Todd Pletcher, who trains Danza, Commissioner and Intense Holiday.