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California Chrome seems to feel better every day

Kentucky Derby and ?Preakness Stakes winner California Chrome

Kentucky Derby and ?Preakness Stakes winner California Chrome is escorted by exercise rider Willie Delgado during his cooling down period at Belmont Racetrack in Elmont on May 28, 2014. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams, Jr.

The 20-degree drop in temperature fired up California Chrome Wednesday morning, when exercise rider Willie Delgado called him "a lot sharper than he was [Tuesday]."

And he was feeling awful good that day, too.

The chestnut colt was a double handful for Delgado on their usual two-mile gallop around Belmont Park's main track. "He was pulling me around, which shows he's really feeling good," Delgado said. "When he pulled up, he wasn't breathing hard enough to blow out a match. Fitness-wise, he's fine. He's gained weight and is sharper than he was before the Derby.

"He didn't like the track at Churchill, but he liked Pimlico and he loves this one."

Delgado's 6-year-old daughter, Savannah, lives with her mother in Columbia, Maryland. She's very proud of his connection to the 3-year-old superstar. "She says, 'Daddy, you're going to win the Triple Crown,'" Delgado said. "She tells her classmates, 'My daddy is a movie star. He's on TV all the time.'"

Delgado and Savannah had an emotional reunion at the Preakness, but she won't be at the Belmont Stakes on June 7 because he said it was too upsetting when they had to say goodbye. Delgado said Savannah will spend the summer with him in Southern California.

Assistant trainer Alan Sherman said he hadn't decided on the time for California Chrome's Saturday workout with jockey Victor Espinoza. Originally, he said it would be shortly after 8:45 a.m. "I might work him earlier," Sherman said. "It depends on when Victor gets in [from California]."

Sherman acknowledged that training the heavy favorite is a double-edged sword. "He's got a target on his back, he's the one they're all trying to beat," he said. "But Victor knows how to use his tactical speed and keep him out of trouble."


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