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ARCADIA, Calif. – Art Sherman knows what it takes to get a horse to the Kentucky Derby and win. He had a close-up view as an 18-year-old exercise rider when Swaps took the 1955 Run for the Roses.

Nearly 60 years later, Sherman is taking a colt he trains to Churchill Downs in Louisville as the early favorite for the May 3 Derby.

California Chrome romped to a 5¼-length victory in the $1,000,750 Santa Anita Derby on Saturday, a race Swaps won by a half-length two starts before he went on to Kentucky Derby glory.

Like Swaps, California Chrome is a California-bred chestnut.

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“He’s my Swaps,” said Sherman, a 77-year-old who is assisted by his son, Alan. “I’m very humbled to have a horse like this.”

Ridden by Victor Espinoza, California Chrome ran 11
8 miles in 1 minute, 47.52 seconds. He paid $3.40 to win in the Grade I race.

“Right now, he’s kind of freaky and I’m enjoying it,” Art Sherman said. “I can’t believe the races I’ve been seeing.”

Hoppertunity was second and also is expected to run in the Kentucky Derby, trainer Bob Baffert said.

Wicked Strong wins Wood

JAMAICA, N.Y. – Wicked Strong won the $1 million Wood Memorial — another major Kentucky Derby prep race — for 3-year-olds at Aqueduct.

Wicked Strong, trained by Jimmy Jerkens and ridden by Rajiv Maragh, passed three horses in the final furlong and beat Samraat by 3½ lengths.

Wicked Strong ran 11
8 miles in 1:49.31 and paid $20.40 to win as the fifth wagering choice in a field of 10 in the Grade I race.

Social Inclusion, favored at 8-5 in his stakes debut, faded from first to third.

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