Patience pays off for California Chrome's trainer

Fri Jun 6, 2014 3:10pm EDT
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By Julian Linden

NEW YORK (Reuters) - As any horse trainer will testify, patience is not so much a virtue but an occupational hazard.

For Art Sherman, the 77-year-old trainer of Triple Crown contender California Chrome, his persistence has been put to the ultimate test, a wait of almost 60 years for his first great horse.

The son of a Brooklyn barber who fell in love with the racing game when he was a skinny teenager, Sherman did have an early brush with fame when he started out as a stablehand in California in the mid 1950s.

His job included working as an exercise rider and one of the horses he rode in training was Swaps, the 1955 Kentucky Derby winner. Sherman accompanied Swaps on the long train trip from the Golden State to Churchill Downs and even slept in the horse's boxcar on a bed of straw.

Sherman watched in awe as Swaps won the Run for the Roses - and bought himself a pair of alligator skin boots with the money he won in betting - then set his sights on winning the race for himself.

In 1957, Sherman became a jockey, spending the next two decades in the saddle, but he never got to ride in the Derby.

In 1979, he quit riding and took out his trainer's license, establishing a successful operation. Like his time in the irons, he won plenty of races but never had a horse good enough for the Derby or any of the Triple Crown races.

Then, at an age when he could easily have been retired, along came California Chrome, the horse he had been waiting for all those years.   Continued...

Jun 3, 2014; Elmont, NY, USA;  Horse trainer Art Sherman prior to speaking at a press conference about the progress of California Chrome in preparation for the 2014 Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports