Smith: Kentucky Derby's winning trainer warmed up with Sonoma Slew

Some of the locals howling Saturday as the humbly reared California Chrome won the Kentucky Derby were happiest for a greyed ex-jockey named Art Sherman.

He is California Chrome's trainer, and at 77 is now the oldest trainer in history to win at Churchill Downs. But a decade ago, some will remember, Sherman toiled to groom a winner for Sonoma State University.

In one of the most curious college athletics fund-raisers ever, an independent corporation at SSU bought and then sold shares in two racehorses — Sonoma Slew, grandson of champion Seattle Slew, and Seawolf. That was 2003.

Kentucky Derby Hats


The shares sale raised a quick, easy $100,000 for the college's under-funded athletic scholarships. Investors stood to share in the riches were the horses to run well.

Art Sherman came in as Sonoma Slew's trainer. He's a sweet guy, so part of the pay-off to investors in Seawolf

Stables was getting know him and soaking in some of his knowledge of the ponies.

Sonoma Slew was a beauty of a horse, but he seemed to not have his heart in racing. Seawolf fared better, but not all that much.

In 2005, Sonoma Slew was adopted out and Art Sherman, then 68, moved on to new challenges as a trainer.

Look at him now. With California Chrome, who knows, he just might be in the running for the Triple Crown.

THEN THERE'S 'MULE': Last summer, it surprised or intrigued many of us to spot a wiry, sun-baked guy walking along a street, road or highway with three pack mules.

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