Five reasons to love Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome
MAY 03, 2014 7:58p ET
California Chrome won the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, the betting favorite delivering down the back stretch at Churchill Downs. If you don't follow horse racing, you might not know the great story of Chrome. Here are five reasons to love him:
The trainer is one of the most charming stories in sports.
Art Sherman -- who provided a diary during the week leading up to the race -- was Swaps’ exercise rider. That was in 1955, when he was a teenager. Imagine that, nearly 60 years later, Sherman, now 77, becomes the oldest trainer to win the Kentucky Derby. To give some perspective: Dwight Eisenhower was president of the United States in ’55. The vice president? Richard Nixon.
The horse’s ownership is under the name Dumb Ass Partnership.
Owners Steve Coburn and Perry Martin run the colt under Dumb Ass Partnership? How’d that come about? "When Perry and I bought the filly, one of the barn hands said we must be dumb asses to get into this game and hence the name," Coburn said. But the breeding of Lucky Pulpit and Love the Chase, which cost $2,000, produced a colt named California Chome. And as an homage to one of the people they know who comes to the track with a tattoo of a jackass on his shoulder, Coburn and Martin have a jackass on Chrome’s riding silks.
And the owners and trainer stayed true to their beliefs. Despite no other horse having won the Derby that had a published workout at Los Alamitos, California Chrome’s home base, he was based there. Horse racing is the sport of kings. Los Alamitos is charming, quaint and as far from royalty and bluebloods as could be. The Cypress, California, track is best known for quarterhorses, not Triple Crown winners. However, California Chrome trains at Los Alamitos as Sherman has stuck to his regimen and beliefs and wound up with a Kentucky Derby winner.
California Chrome is a working-class horse. Bred in California.
He was the favorite at 5-2 on the tote board, but was anything but that when it came to bloodlines.
A Cal-bred had not won the Kentucky Derby since Decidedly in 1962. That led to plenty of doubters heading into the Derby. They’re either pretty quiet now or trying to figure out how to buy the horse from Martin and Coburn, who aren’t budging. They were offered $6 million for Calfornia Chrome, turned it down and, as Coburn says, "It felt like a slap in the face after all we'd done. You can have all the money in the world to buy every single grain of sand on a beach, but you can't buy this story.”
The horse’s name was picked out of a hat. Honestly.
The owners and their wives went to a restaurant. They put some names in a hat. A waitress pulled out California Chrome. And the rest is history. Oh, one of the other possibilities? Sea Bisquick. Marketing possibilities, yes. Racing royalty? Thankfully, California Chrome was pulled from the hat.
And, finally: Steve Coburn told FOXSports.com's Sam Gardner in mid-April that California Chrome was going to win take the Roses.
“He’s going to win the Kentucky Derby,” Coburn said. “This horse is going to win the Kentucky Derby, not a doubt in my mind."
And he did just that.