California Chrome was spotted partying in Las Vegas this weekend, touching off a flurry of speculation that the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes champion is not focused on his Triple Crown attempt at Belmont.
“I doubt Secretariat was out partying and drinking the weekend before Belmont back in 1973,” said NBC horse racing analyst Gary L. Stevens of the thoroughbred considered the greatest of all-time. “There are obvious warning signs here.”
The horse was spotted at numerous Vegas locations throughout the weekend, but it spent most of its Saturday in the pool at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. Sources with the casino say the horse ran up a bill exceeding $13,000 in food and alcohol during the afternoon and evening.
But Perry Martin, one of the horse’s owners, says that number is misleading.
“We’re talking about a horse,” he said. “He can consume far more than you and I can without getting drunk. It’s ridiculous that people are trying to make a controversy out of this. This is just a young, three year-old horse trying to live his life and have fun. He’s allowed to try to clear his head before the biggest race of his life.”
Art Sherman, Chrome’s trainer, said he was given the weekend off from training to rest up and get ready for Belmont.
“What was he supposed to do? Just sit in the paddock all weekend doing nothing?” said Sherman. “Did I love that he decided to go to Vegas? I would have picked something else for him to do, but this is a smart horse with a good head on its shoulders and nothing happened. People need to leave him alone.”
Fellow Vegas partygoers say California Chrome was well-behaved and didn’t seem intoxicated, although he was asked to leave the Hard Rock pool Saturday night after twice taking huge horse bowel movements in the water.
“It looked like giant boulders falling out of his ass,” said a witness. “He must have hit up the casino buffet pretty hard.”
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