BALTIMORE (AP) — Art Sherman thought nothing could be better than winning the Kentucky Derby.
Then came the Preakness, when California Chrome proved just how good a horse he can be when pressed for the lead.
And now, Sherman needs only a victory at the Belmont on June 7 to achieve every trainer’s dream: winning the Triple Crown.
“It would be the ultimate in my career,” the 77-year-old said Saturday evening.
“I’ve been in the game 60 years,” Sherman said. “Triple Crown winner? If you would have said that to me at the beginning of the year, I would have said, `What, are you crazy?’ And now that I’m getting closer, I’m elated.”
Sherman operated in relative obscurity before the Derby. Now the diminutive trainer stands out in a crowd.
“I’m kind of getting used to it,” he said. “After I won the Kentucky Derby, I said, `Wow, all of a sudden I feel like Willie Nelson,’ the old rock star coming through the airport.”
Still, it’s been a whirlwind.
“Sometimes I need to take my little siesta for about an hour,” he said. “I just call it charging my battery a little bit.”
SECOND TO ONE: Unsatisfied with the rides of some of Ride On Curlin’s former jockeys, trainer Billy Gowan said he simply wanted his colt to get a fighting chance in the Preakness.
Jockey Jose Rosario gave him just that, recovering from a slow start to make his move down the stretch before finishing second, 1 1/2 lengths behind California Chrome.
“I thought it was awesome,” Gowan said. “California Chrome ran a great race and he’s a great horse. My horse ran a great race. He was in a good spot down the back. Joel said he got shut off for a second, but he came running in the stretch and gave me a heck of a thrill.”
It was a vast improvement from Ride On Curlin’s 11th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby.
Gowan said he plans to send the horse to the Belmont, provided the colt comes out of this race in good shape.
CHURCHILL DOWNS A DOWNER: Steve Coburn, co-owner of California Chrome, lashed out at Churchill Downs after the Preakness.
“Churchill Downs needs to call Maryland to get a lesson in hospitality,” Coburn said. “These people right here, they’ve treated us like royalty.”
Co-owner Perry Martin didn’t make the trip to Pimlico, and Coburn was asked why.
“The hospitality we received at Churchill Downs wasn’t very good, and Perry Martin, he decided that he and his family were going to watch the race some place within the world.”
ATTENDANCE RECORD: Saturday’s attendance of 123,469 set a Preakness record, eclipsing the previous mark of 121,309 set in 2012.
The card’s overall handle, $83,786,363, was the sixth largest in history, and the Preakness handle of $53,655,673 ranking eighth all time.
CHUCKAS SPEAKS OUT: Tom Chuckas, president and CEO of the Maryland Jockey Club, wants to see a change in the scheduling of the Triple Crown races.
The current schedule calls for a two-week gap between the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, followed by a three-week break before the Belmont.
Chuckas wants to see the Derby held on the first Saturday in May, the Preakness on the first Saturday of June and the Belmont on the first Saturday of July.
“I’m not anti-tradition, but the game’s changed,” Chuckas said. “The breeding’s changed and more importantly, the trainers’ philosophy has changed.”
Only three horses from the Derby came to Pimlico for the Preakness and only 10 of a maximum 14 entrants competed on Saturday.
“We haven’t had any conversations with Churchill (Downs), we haven’t had any conversations with Belmont. I don’t know what their position is,” he said. “But we intend to at some point after the Triple Crown season take a hard look at it. You’re going to have mixed opinions. The traditionalist will say no. But I don’t want to go the way of the dinosaur and go extinct.”
FEMALE TROUBLE: This was the first Preakness with a filly at the starting gate, a female jockey and a female trainer.
None of them fared well.
Ria Antonia finished last in the 10-horse field.
Rosie Napravnik, who rode Bayern, came in second-to-last.
And Kid Cruz, who was saddled by trainer Linda Rice, took eighth.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)