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View Count: 85 |  Publish Date: April 03, 2014
This Derby horse is a real work of Art

For nearly 60 years, Art Sherman has tiptoed around the outer edges of horse racing fame. Now, he is ever so close to walking right into the middle of it.
Sherman is a dapper little man who, at 77, recently moved into a Rancho Bernardo community for seniors 55 and older.
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When he was smallish teenager, customers at his fathers barbershop took a look at him and suggested he become a jockey. So he did.
He got his jockeys license in 1957, won more than 1,600 races but eventually decided that being a trainer would better feed the family. So, 23 years later, he got a license to do that.
He learned a lot along the way, was relatively successful with horses such as Siren Lure, and was the sixth-leading trainer in victories in the country in 2007.
All that has been without big headlines and sound bites on the 11 oclock news. The Art Sherman story, like that of many of his peers who labor long and hard and watch Bob Bafferts horses run past them at the wire, is much more about showing up than winning and placing. Sherman has been a staple in an industry that would die without him and his fellow conditioners, all of whom secretly keep hoping that somebody will dump the next Secretariat in their lap.
In Shermans case, there is a chance that somebody has. He laughs at how it all began.
I got a text from the owners, he says. They told me they wanted me to handle a horse they called our Derby horse.
The owners were Perry Martin of Yuba City and Steven Coburn of Wellington, Nev. The horse was named California Chrome.
Sherman remembers chuckling. There is nothing wrong with enthusiasm and optimism, but he knew better. He knew how hard it was to win a Derby, how many disappointments always seem to occur along the way.
Horses are like glass cutlery, he says. Always ready to break.
He also knew what kind of quality horse it would take. He knew because he had slept with one.
In 1955, he was an exercise rider for a horse named Swaps. When Swaps was sent East to Kentucky, he traveled on a train and so did Sherman. Swaps slept in the hay in a freight car, and Sherman, then 18, slept there with him.
Swaps, of course, won the Kentucky Derby in 55 and is not only known as one of the best ever, but also one of only three bred in California to do so. The others were Morvich in 1922 and Decidedly in 1962.
Now, California Chrome is among the favorites to win this years Run for the Roses in Louisville and Shermans training tranquillity is over.
Nine radio interviews, he says, keeping tabs on the media blitz as he finishes a TV shoot. We had Channel 8 out the other day and Chrome was nuzzling the camera.
The buzz is warranted.
California Chrome has won five of nine starts. But the last three, with new rider Victor Espinoza aboard, have been stunning. He won by 6 1/4 lengths on the last day of racing (ever) at Hollywood Park on Dec. 22, then by 5 1/2 on Cal Cup day Jan. 14 at Santa Anita and by 7 1/4 in the San Felipe on Santa Anitas Big Cap Day on March 8.
Before the San Felipe, California Chrome had been a murmur. After winning by daylight over Bafferts Midnight Hawk in the San Felipe, the murmur became a roar. This was now the horse, the next famous Cal-bred, the smart choice come May 3.
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Time: 5:24  |  News Code: 392845  |  Site: L. A. Times
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