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California Chrome returns to the track, travel plans still in flux

California Chrome was ready to get back to work on Wednesday following his Derby victory (Wendy Wooley/EquiSport Photos)

California Chrome made his first appearance on the track at Churchill Downs Wednesday morning since winning the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby last Saturday.

At 6:55 a.m. (EDT), California Chrome was led from Barn 20 by Alan Sherman, son of trainer Art Sherman, with regular morning partner Willie Delgado in the saddle.

Owned by his breeders Steven Coburn and Perry Martin, California Chrome paused before reaching the five-furlong gap, taking a couple of minutes to check out the activity before going to the track. The Lucky Pulpit colt stood in front of the clockers' stand briefly and then jogged one mile.

"Good. Good. Really super," Delgado said of the morning exercise. "He went out there like he always does. He is his normal self."

Alan Sherman was similarly delighted.

"It went really good," Sherman said. "He wanted to train; he was tired of walking."

Sherman said California Chrome would resume galloping Thursday and maintain that schedule for as long as the California-bred colt remains at Churchill Downs. He will travel to Baltimore's Pimlico Race Course early next week to compete in the May 17 Preakness Stakes, the second jewel of the Triple Crown.

"I still haven't heard about the plane; whether we will go to Pimlico Monday or Wednesday," Sherman said. "I'd prefer Monday. The key now is to keep him happy."

California Chrome will bring a five-race win streak into the Preakness, including romping wins in the Santa Anita Derby and San Felipe in California. The gleaming chestnut made his first foray outside of California for the Derby and will now attempt to carry that form to Pimlico.

Four other three-year-olds with Preakness aspirations were on the Churchill Downs track Wednesday morning for various exercises.

Kentucky Derby seventh-place finisher Ride On Curlin returned to the track for the first time since Saturday's race. With trainer Billy Gowan on the right and groom Bridget Lambert on the left, Ride On Curlin walked from Barn 47 to the six-furlong gap where exercise rider Bryan Beccia hopped aboard. Ride On Curlin backtracked to the finish line and then galloped an easy 1 1/8 miles.

"He was 110 percent; all systems are go," Beccia told Gowan after the exercise.

Ride On Curlin is continuing on to the Preakness off his Derby seventh (Oaklawn Park/Coady Photography)

"He will do the same thing the next two days," Gowan said. "I will probably work him a slow half when he gets to Pimlico."

Gowan is hoping there will be a Monday plane to Baltimore and he said Ride On Curlin would not work under the Twin Spires even if there should be no flight until Wednesday.

"I am betting on a plane for Monday," Gowan said.

Ride On Curlin is still looking for his first stakes win after placing in the Arkansas Derby, Rebel and Southwest leading up to the Kentucky Derby.

Bayern returned to the track on a mild, clear morning to jog a mile under exercise rider Jorge Alvarez for trainer Bob Baffert.

Bayern, who was disqualified from first in the April 26 Derby Trial for interference in deep stretch, had worked a bullet five-eighths in :58 1/5 on Monday under Rosie Napravnik. Jim Barnes, who is overseeing Baffert's Churchill Downs string, said Bayern would resume galloping Thursday and work again on Monday.

"That is our usual routine to work five days out and then ship on Wednesday," Barnes explained.

Bayern (right) carried Embellishing Bob (center) out in the Derby Trial, resulting in his DQ (Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography)

Bayern is now 2-1-1 from four starts, including a 15-length allowance romp and a third in the Arkansas Derby.

Dynamic Impact, winner of the April 19 Illinois Derby in his stakes debut last out, galloped 1 1/2 miles under Marco Cano for trainer Mark Casse. Miguel Mena, who was aboard the Tiznow colt for the Illinois Derby victory, is slated to be aboard when the bay works on Saturday.

"That was the first time he rode him in a race," said Norman Casse, assistant to his father. "He may have gotten on him last summer when he was helping us out getting on horses."

Ria Antonia galloped 1 1/2 miles at Churchill Downs shortly before 6:30 a.m. Wednesday morning with Maurice Sanchez aboard for trainer Tom Amoss. Sixth to Untapable in the Kentucky Oaks last Friday, Ria Antonia is scheduled for a light breeze Monday.

The Rockport Harbor filly has been transferred from trainer Bob Baffert to Tom Amoss' shedrow for a possible face-off against the boys in the Preakness. Amoss told the Louisville Courier-Journal that Ria Antonia's Preakness status would be firmed up early next week.

"A decision will be made on Tuesday whether or not we're going to do that -- that will involve how she trains, how she works and how she comes out of her work," Amoss said. "If the decision is made to go on to the Preakness, it will be a decision that I also stand behind.

"I'm willing to take that responsibility, because I would not run a horse unless I thought we had a shot to win," he added. "People who know me and know my reputation, know that's the way I operate. I can assure you either I'm going to be for it and we'll do it, or we're not going to do it."

In other Preakness news:

Kid Cruz hasn't been challenged in his past two against stakes company (Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club)

Veteran Maryland jockey Julian Pimentel has retained the mount on Kid Cruz for the 139th Preakness.

Pimentel, 33, a regular in Maryland since the summer of 2006, rode Kid Cruz to easy victories in the March 8 Private Terms at Laurel Park and April 19 Federico Tesio at Pimlico. He is the regular rider for the top turf sprinter Ben's Cat, owned and trained by King Leatherbury. Pimentel is 17-for-27 on Ben's Cat and they are scheduled to try for a repeat win in the Jim McKay Turf Sprint on May 16.

Kid Cruz, a son of Lemon Drop Kid, has three wins and a second in five career starts. Trainer Linda Rice claimed the colt for Vina Del Mar Thoroughbreds out of his second start on November 22. He finished second in an Aqueduct allowance race in January, won the two Maryland stakes and is scheduled to try graded company for the first time in the Preakness.

"He did get a race over the course down there, handled it well," Rice said. "It's going to be a big step up in company to run against the Derby horses, particularly California Chrome. It's a big jump up in competition, but we are hopeful."

Following the Private Terms, Rice entered Kid Cruz in the Wood Memorial on April 5 at Aqueduct but opted to scratch out of the New York contest.

"I put him in the Wood with the idea that if he did run well it still kept the door open for the Derby because he did not have any points to get into the Derby," she said. "But he has had a bit of an issue with his right front shoulder with what I believe is a pinched nerve at the base of his neck. So we were treating him for that. He came up a little sore after his breeze into the Wood and I decided to wait and give it some time, so I wasn't able to run him in the Wood."

In the Tesio, Kid Cruz came four-wide from off the pace to post a 3 1/2-length victory.

Trainer Wesley Ward reported that Pablo del Monte jogged at Keeneland Wednesday morning and that the Giant's Causeway colt would work over the weekend for the Preakness.

Pablo del Monte drew into the Kentucky Derby field from the also-eligible list when Hoppertunity scratched with an injury, but Ward decided to wait for the Preakness instead of having him run from the outside post in a 20-horse field.

In six career starts, Pablo del Monte has two wins and two thirds. He was third in the Blue Grass last out after setting the early pace and leading into the stretch.

Preakness prospect Ring Weekend, winner of the Tampa Bay Derby in early March, is scheduled to breeze at Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Maryland, for trainer Graham Motion.

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