Daily Belmont Update: Sunday, June 8

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6/8/2014
5:16 pm EDT

CALIFORNIA CHROME -- Trainer Art Sherman discussed his preliminary plans for the remainder of California Chrome's 3-year-old season and reflected upon the past five weeks this morning. California Chrome was returning to California this afternoon.

Sherman, 77, said California Chrome will need time to recover the Triple Crown experience and from the injury he sustained to his right front foot when stepped on by Matterhorn -- but will be ready to compete during the final half of the 2014 racing season.

"They bumped together and jhe reached over on his right front and just hit his hoof and took a big chunk out of it," said Sherman. "We can heal that up. It will take about two to three weeks, then we'll stop on him for six or seven weeks and then give him some pasture time. So Chrome is going to have a needed rest. It's been a tough campaign for him."

While disappointed in California Chrome's defeat, Sherman said he accepts the bad luck as part of the game.

"It couldn't have helped him any, and I was watching the race and down the backside he was in all kinds of trouble," said Sherman. "Victor was trying to get him out. They were pushing him down in there and he had no racing room. But, hey, listen, the horse has had six straight races with perfect trips. Sometimes, in this game, when you have a bad trip, that's part of it. Racing luck means a lot. Being a former rider, I know that."

Sherman said he likely will keep California Chrome in California for the remainder of the year, with the Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita being his long-range objective and Del Mar's Pacific Classic in August being a possible target in the interim.

"I think I'm going to keep him in California and get him ready for the Breeders' Cup," said Sherman. "He loves the Santa Anita track, he runs his best his races down there. It is home for us. I'm sure he'll enjoy that."

Sherman said that he is grateful for having had the opportunity to win the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, despite the rigors of the Triple Crown and the disappointment at the end.

"Your horse needs time to recoup," said Sherman. "I'm here and I'm just thankful that I could run in a Triple Crown. It's been a great ride for me. Hey, listen, it's been a super year."


COMMISSIONER/MATTERHORN -- Todd Pletcher had four horses run second on Saturday, and the most notable one was Commissioner, who led nearly every step of the way before getting nailed by Tonalist on the line.

One think the trainer didn't anticipate is how the race played out for Commissioner. Then, when he was a length and a half in front at the furlong marker, Pletcher thought maybe he had it.

"I was a little surprised Commissioner made the lead, but I wasn't surprised that he was close," said Pletcher. "I was pretty sure we had lost the photo. At the top of the stretch I didn't know, at the eighth pole I thought we had a big chance, and still did at the sixteenth pole. It was a pretty nasty beat."

Commissioner and Matterhorn, who finished eighth, will take divergent paths exiting the race, according to the trainer.

"Commissioner is going to WinStar for a little and will hopefully come back in the Jim Dandy or the Haskell," Pletcher said. "Matterhorn we always felt might improve on the grass, so he'll most likely make his next start on the turf."


MATUSZAK -- Bill Mott said Matuszak was "good" Sundaaymorning after being eased in the stretch of the Belmont
"Matuszak is good," Mott said. "There was nothing much to think about; we were never a factor."


RIDE ON CURLIN -- As expected, Ride On Curlin will be getting a break after competing in all three legs of the Triple Crown.

The Preakness runner-up was eased at the quarter pole by John Velazquez.

"He bled probably a three out of 10," trainer Billy Gowan said. "He ate everything last night and his legs look good, so that's the main thing. He was going to get a little break anyhow, so maybe it's time to give him one."

The trainer and Ride On Curlin will head back to their base in Kentucky on Monday.

"I'll take him back to the track and see how he is," Gowan said. "Maybe I'll take him to the farm and just kind of see how he's doing. He's a pretty tough horse. He didn't really want to go a mile and a half, looking back on it. Anybody can be a Monday morning quarterback, but I probably won't ever run him a mile and a half again."

The Belmont was only the third time Ride On Curlin had finished out of the money, including the Kentucky Derby, where he wound up seventh following a tough trip.

"The bleeding is what stopped him," Gowan said. "His head went up, and that's a tell-tale sign. The bleeding will stop one dead in their tracks because they can't get their air. Johnny did the right thing. He said at the three-eighths pole he didn't have a lot of horse. He asked him one time and there was nothing there, so he just eased him and I'm glad he did."

"It's hard to say (what's next)," Gowan said. "We'll look at (the Travers), but we're going to give him 30 to 45 days off," he said. "It's been a long grind, for me and the horse."


TONALIST -- Though it was right back to business for Christophe Clement this morning, the trainer of Belmont Stakes hero Tonalist did take time to enjoy the moment.

With the winning blanket of white carnations draped over a bench just outside his Barn 21 office at Belmont Park, Clement passed out donuts around the barn and accepted congratulations while he got horses ready for their regular exercise routines.

"I received a lot of texts from all over: the States, France, England, everywhere," he said. "I've got to start to sit down and answer all my texts, which I will. I'm just going to enjoy this for a day or two. It's a nice feeling.

"I think we always forget that this should be fun. It's nice to enjoy it for a few days. For all of us: the horse, the whole team. We're New York people, so it means a lot to us."

Clement said Tonalist walked for 30 minutes and grazed before being given a bath and returning to his stall, where he showed good energy and stuck his head out to greet a steady stream of visitors.

"He's doing good," Clement said. "He didn't surprise me, because I knew he was a good horse going into the race. They didn't give him the race. He had to fight pretty hard in order to do it. He just confirmed that he belongs with some of the best 3-year-olds in the country at the moment."

The Belmont was Clement's second Grade I win on dirt, having saddled Funny Moon to win the 2009 Coaching Club American Oaks.

Winner of the Peter Pan prior to the Belmont, Tonalist was making only his fifth lifetime start in the Belmont. He broke his maiden and was second to eventual Florida Derby winner Constitution over the winter in Florida before being sidelined with a lung infection.

The illness caused him to miss the TwinSpires.com Wood Memorial, and the lack of qualifying points kept him out of the Kentucky Derby. Clement and owner Robert Evans decided to point for the Peter Pan and Belmont, in which he overcame the far outside No. 11 post to catch Commissioner in the shadow of the wire to win by a head.

"I don't put importance in the number of starts as some people do, maybe because of the way we train," Clement said. "He was a very immature horse to start the year but as the year went on, he improved probably more mentally than physically. With his pedigree and the way he's built, I would expect him to keep improving through the year."

Clement said the Travers Stakes at Saratoga Race Course on August 23 would be among the races he would target for Tonalist, a bay son of Tapit.

"The Travers is very much under consideration, I'm sure," he said. "I will have to speak to Evans about it. Of course, you like to think about it. I do believe there is more to come. I really do. I think physically and mentally there is more to come. My whole deal is keep it simple; just keep him sound and keep him fit and he will take care of the rest because he is a nice horse."