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Jewish trainer wins world’s richest race

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JACK MILNER

California Chrome is trained by Art Sherman, one of the few Jewish trainers in the US. 

Sherman was born in Brooklyn, New York and is the son of Russian Jewish immigrants. At the end of the Second World War he moved with his family to Los Angeles, where his father opened a barber shop.

As he began to reach his mid-teens, Sherman realised his family’s genetics would make it unlikely to pass the five foot, two inches (157,5cm) mark and he began to consider  a career as a jockey after receiving considerable encouragement from his family as well as customers in the barber shop where he often went to help out.

Sherman’s career as a jockey began in the mid-fifties when he was already 17, although he failed to enjoy any real success. In 1980, at the age of 35, he hung up his racing boots to become a fulltime, licenced trainer, enjoying regular but not spectacular success during his 35-year career until he first met California Chrome.

Perry Martin, who bred and is one of the owners of California Chrome, considered the horse a Derby contender even before the colt raced. When the colt was ready to enter race training as a two-year-old, he asked Steve Sherman, who had trained horses for Martin before, to recommend a trainer based in the highly competitive southern California area.

Steve suggested his father, Art, who had an “old school” reputation for patience with young thoroughbreds and a small racing stable of about 15 horses, which allowed each animal to be given individual attention.

Art liked the enthusiasm of Martin and partner Steve Coburn but when Martin e-mailed a “Road to the Kentucky Derby” plan outlining which races California Chrome should run, Sherman was dubious.

It all worked out to a “T” as California Chrome won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, the first two legs of the Triple Crown, in 2014. At this stage Sherman was already 77, which made him the oldest trainer to win a Derby. 

Unfortunately California Chrome failed to win the Belmont Stakes, the final leg of the Triple Crown and then suffered an injury.

He was brought back into training last year to contest the Dubai World Cup, but failed to win but this year Sherman said his charge was at least five lengths better than last year.

He drew No 11, not a great draw in this race on sand over 2000m, and was ridden as usual by Victor Espinoza. He raced wide the entire race, suffered a saddle slip, and still went on to win by 3,75 lengths in course record time to claim the $6 million first prize.

The good news for South Africa is that Mubtaahij, trained by South African Mike de Kock, stayed on for second spot and earned $2 million. De Kock also placed fourth in two other races on the night and earned around R39 million. That would be equivalent to winning the Durban July 17 times!

Amazingly Sherman downplays his role in training California Chrome. “This horse is my California rock star. I’m just his manager,” the modest trainer remarked.

 

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‘Jew’ Messi slammed for Egyptian show donation

It is amazing that no matter who much one tries to do the right thing, someone will knock it – and pour on the insults – even if you are soccer superstar Lionel Messi.

The Argentinian has come under fire in Egypt for donating his shoes to charity. Appearing on the programme “Yes I am famous”, on the Saudi-owned Egyptian network MBC, Messi gave his female host a pair of his shoes and asked her to have them auctioned off in Egypt, earmarking the proceeds for needy children.

But shoes apparently have a negative connotation in Arab culture and are considered an insult or humiliation, so Egyptians expressed their anger on social media, accusing Messi of belittling them. Some people remembered Messi had visited Israel three years ago and said: “It’s no wonder. Messi is a Jew.”

Actually, he is not.

Among Messi’s detractors was Egypt’s former national team captain, Ahmad Hassan. “This is hugely insulting to the great country of Egypt. With all respect to him as a football star, we do not need his shoes,” he was quoted in privately-owned Egyptian newspaper Youm7.

But Hamem Emam, a retired Egyptian soccer player who is considered to be among the most popular in the Middle East, came to Messi’s defence. “It is common for soccer players to donate their shoes,” he said. “Messi was not showing a lack of respect for Egyptians”.

Emam pointed out that another former Egyptian soccer player, Mahmoud El-Khatib – nicknamed Bibo – also donated his shoes to charity.

 

 

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