Horse racing is dominated by regally bred horses, not some “blue-collar” animals and owners. But the 2014 version of the world’s most famous race gave us a different story line won , as California Chrome won the Kentucky Derby by 1 3/4 lengths.
He is only the fourth California-bred horse to win the Kentucky Derby, following Morvich in 1922, Swaps in 1955, and Decidedly in 1962. Unlike the Thoroughbreds we’re used to, coming from prestigious bloodlines and plenty of money, he is the combination of a $8000 mare and a $2500 stallion from a one-horse stable, trained by a 77-year old Art Sherman, becoming the oldest trainer to lead a horse to a Kentucky Derby win.
California Chrome ran 1 1/4 miles in 2:03.66 and paid $7, $5.60 and $4.20. He was a 5-2 favorite, ridden by Viktor Espinoza, who took him to four consecutive wins prior to the meet at Churchill Downs: Victory at the King Glorious Stakes, California Cup Derby, San Felipe Stakes, Santa Anita Derby and now the biggest one of all. California Chrome was the winner of previous raced with Albert Delgado jockeying him: Maiden Special Weight and the Graduation Stakes.
There’s nothing flashy about his ancestors as well. His mother, Love the Chase, won just one race, and the duo of Coburn and Martin purchasing her made a trainer call them dumb asses. That helped them name their operation DAP (dumb ass partners) racing.
Steve Coburn lives near Reno, Nevada, and works as a press operator at a small company that makes magnetic strips for credit cards and driver licenses. His partner, Perry Martin, lives on the California side of the Reno vicinity, and runs a lab that tests high-reliability equipment, like car air bags and medical equipment. They came up with the name after drawing it out of a hat. Their partnership was sealed on a handshake. Their horse never left his home state until this week.
California Chrome is the 13th horse to win the derby from the 5th post position, which is usually a great starting point. He was comfortably in third place during the early goings, with Uncle Sigh and Chitu setting the early pace. He broke ahead on the final turn along with Samraat, but Chrome sped off to make it a decisive victory, becoming the first California-bred horse to win the race since 1962.
Commanding Curve, a 37-1 shot, rallied for second, with Danza third. Wicked Strong was fourth and Samraat finished fifth. California Chrome’s owners are promising a Triple Crown, something that hasn’t happened since 1978, as Affirmed followed his Derby victory by finishing first at the Preakness and Belmont.