ELMONT, N.Y. -- As he prepares for Saturday’s 146th Belmont Stakes, California Chrome and his connections have found a lot of fans in New York City.
More than 50 media members turned out Wednesday at 6 a.m. to see the chestnut colt gallop 2 miles around Belmont Park’s sweeping oval under overcast skies. Trainer Art Sherman and co-owner breeder Steve Coburn were among those on hand.
“We flew in Monday afternoon with Art and Faye (Sherman) and it’s been go, go, go ever since we hit the ground,” Coburn said. “This is my first time to see him gallop since we got here and he looked very, very well. I believe we’re going to make history.”
Following impressive victories in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, California Chrome will attempt to become racing’s 12th Triple Crown winner and the first since 1978.
After his bath, Chrome sported his new Skechers blanket; the shoe company is the horse’s first official endorsement. Bobbleheads are coming soon, Coburn said.
Making their first trip to New York City, Steve and Carolyn Coburn have been making the rounds in honor of their horse. Tuesday, they were guests of honor at a lunch hosted by NBC, which will broadcast Saturday’s race.
“We went to the top of Rockefeller Center, then we went to the top of the Empire State Building,” said Coburn, who lives in Topaz Lake, Nev. “This is our first time in New York, and we’re here because of a horse.
“People have been very, very friendly. They’re very hospitable, very polite. You hear stories about New York, how rude people can be, but not to us. There may be some people out there who don’t want us to win, but there are a whole lot more who do. He’s got quite a following.”
Coburn joined jockey Victor Espinoza for Wednesday’s afternoon taping of “The Late Show with David Letterman.” Coburn had a gift for the host: Nasal strips like those worn by California Chrome. After some early controversy, New York racing officials approved Chrome’s nose gear, similar to nasal strips worn by football players.
Yuba City’s Perry and Denise Martin, Chrome’s co-owners and breeders, were expected to arrive Wednesday night, Coburn said. The Martins skipped the Preakness to devote attention to their Sacramento business, Martin Testing Laboratories.
“He’s taking care of business,” Coburn said. “He said, ‘You sound pretty good on TV – just keep talking.’ ”
Call The Bee’s Debbie Arrington, (916) 321-1075. Follow her on Twitter @debarrington.