The New Year is here and one of racing’s undisputed good guys, Art Sherman, welcomed it in fine fettle as he prepares to turn 84 on Feb. 17.
In 2016, Sherman was named winner of the Big Sport of Turfdom Award, awarded annually by the Turf Publicists of America honoring a “person or group of people who enhance coverage of Thoroughbred racing through cooperation with media and racing publicists.”
Sherman, who gained fame and fortune most trainers can only dream about when California Chrome burst on the scene in 2013, is content with a more mundane pace these days.
On Sunday, he runs the 4-year-old filly Acting Out in the $75,000 Kalookan Queen Stakes for fillies and mares, four and up, over 6 ½ furlongs at Santa Anita Park.
She also was nominated to Saturday’s Grade 2 La Canada Stakes, but with two G1 winners in the field (Fighting Mad and Hard Not to Love), Sherman felt the race came up too tough and opted for a softer spot.
A gray daughter of Blame, who handed the great Zenyatta her lone defeat by a diminishing head in a dramatic edition of 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic under the late Garrett Gomez, Acting Out won her last two starts in overnight races by a combined margin of just over 10 lengths, one on turf and the other on dirt.
“She’s doing well and been running well on both surfaces,” said Sherman, who owns 50 percent of the filly with his son, Alan. Bobby Harkins and Zvika Akin share the remaining 50 percent.
Born in Brooklyn where he became street smart in his father’s Runyonesque barber shop, Sherman later moved to Los Angeles and went to work for Rex Ellsworth, accompanying the great Swaps in May of 1955 to Churchill Downs where he won the Kentucky Derby, and on Aug. 31 to Washington Park in Homewood, Ill., 27 miles south of Chicago, for a historic match race with Nashua before a crowd of 35,262.
Sherman began a career as jockey in 1957, retired in 1978, and took out his trainer’s license in 1979. Thirty-four years later along came California Chrome and the rest, as they say, is history.
Sherman is comfortable with a stable of “about 10 horses” at his Los Alamitos headquarters, and has no plans to call it a career.
“If people read that I might retire, nobody will want to give me any horses,” he said.
Winner of the Kentucky Derby in 2014 and a two-time Horse of the Year in 2014 and 2016, California Chrome became an international fan favorite and Team Sherman was aboard for the wild ride.
The California-bred son of Lucky Pulpit-Love the Chase retired with a 16-4-1 record from 27 races, earning $14,752,650. Now 10, he stands at stud in Japan for four million yen ($36,500 in Yankee dollars).
“The only time I get to see him is on Facebook,” Sherman said, “but I’d sure like to visit him. I have an open invitation to see him anytime.”
Aside from keeping tabs on California Chrome and winning races, Sherman’s foremost priority is his health, which, knock on wood, is good these days. Presently he is cancer-free from a tumor that was discovered on his bladder and surgically removed in March of 2019.
“My last visit four months ago I was free of cancer,” Sherman said, “so I won’t have to see the doctor again for a while.”
And that’s the best news of this or any year.
The field for the Kalookan Queen, race eight of nine with a 12:30 p.m. first post time: Amuse, Drayden Van Dyke; Biddy Duke, Umberto Rispoli; Qahira, Joel Rosario; Acting Out, Abel Cedillo; Dynasty of Her Own, Ricky Gonzalez; and Mo See Cal, Flavien Prat.
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