California Chrome's trainer, a local from Rancho Bernardo, is still pinching himself

RANCHO BERNARDO - A local horse trainer is flashing confidence and eyeing a storybook finish for California Chrome, as his horse runs for the Triple Crown at the Belmont Stakes.

Trainer Art Sherman, who lives in Rancho Bernardo, admits he's still pinching himself.

“That is the ultimate race to win, the real McCoy and he's going to win this race,” Sherman told the Associated Press.

A confident Sherman is in New York enjoying the final leg of an improbable story. The plot includes a horse with modest roots -- and blazing speed -- along with a longtime trainer who had never brought a horse to the big three races until this year.

Sherman says horses can lose upwards of 35 pounds in a race, but California Chrome has regained all the weight back. One expert called his recovery unbelievable.

“It's a marvelous thing for all of racing,” said Mac McBride, Director of Media at the Del Mar race track, where California Chrome raced several times last year.

Last week, Sherman told 10News that California Chrome's first race back after the Belmont Stakes could be at the $1 million Pacific Classic in Del Mar in August.

McBride recalls the 1996 Pacific Classic, where the horse Cigar went for a record 17th consecutive win. The horse lost, but shattered attendance records.  

More records could be set, if California Chrome returns a Triple Crown winner.

“Everybody loves to see a star, especially a star that's a rag-to-riches special like this horse.  It would bring out a lot of non-racing fans,” said McBride.

Jockey Victor Espinoza, who lives part of the year in Del Mar, first saw the horse during a race at Del Mar and told his agent he had to ride that horse. Months later, he got his wish and they have yet to lose.

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