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HRN Original Blog:
From Coast to Coast

California Chrome dazzles in 140th running of the Kentucky Derby

 
The stage was set. The storylines were something out of a Hollywood movie. A trainer who 59 years ago traveled east to the Bluegrass state to accompany champion Swaps to his date with destiny now back as the trainer for another California-bred colt. An $8,000 mare that, together with a stallion standing for a mere $2,500, produced a flashy chestnut colt with unheralded bloodlines. A colt that defied the odds and continued to impress even when the naysayers said that he could not replicate his state-bred success against open company. It was all there. All that was left was a storybook ending, an ending that millions of spectators got when favored California Chrome took control of his destiny and strode home a convincing winner in the 140th running of the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby.
 
 
Sent to post as the 5-2 favorite under jockey Victor Espinoza, California Chrome broke beautifully and immediately took up a good early position just off the pacesetting duo of Uncle Sigh and Chitu. Running up the stretch for the first time, Espinoza smartly took back California Chrome just a bit and eased him to the outside for clear running. Samraat, Vicar’s In Trouble, who was rank early, Wildcat Red, and Intense Holiday took up positions right in behind those three early leaders.
 
 
Throughout the running, the positions of those on or near the lead changed very little. Uncle Sigh and Chitu continued to show the way with California Chrome just to their outside. Samraat came next, and the only movement on the front end came from Vicar’s In Trouble, Wildcat Red, and Intense Holiday trading running positions. Despite how it looked on paper, the pace was not blindingly fast at all. The opening quarter went up in 23.04, and the half was posted in 47.37. Three-quarters went in 1.11:80, and the mile was a slow 1.37:45.
 
 
As the field spun off the far turn and entered the stretch for the final push to the wire, it was the flashy California Chrome who came away with the lead. Behind him, the early leaders desperately clung to their advantage as the closers came rolling up the track from the back of the field. Such was not the case for California Chrome, however. Under Espinoza’s expert handling, the chestnut colt still had plenty left in the tank and spurted clear of his challengers, finishing 1 ¾ lengths clear of the runner-up after being geared down in the final yards. His final time for the 1 ¼ mile long event was 2.03:66.
 
 
“I never felt in my dreams that I would win two Kentucky Derbies in my career. I was a young guy and I never knew I was going to be a jockey and look at me now. It is an awesome feeling,” winning jockey Victor Espinoza voiced following his victory. He expounded upon his initial statements with, “Awesome. I never dreamed I’d win a second Kentucky Derby, but here it is. This was a typical race for him. He ran like he always does. Art (Sherman) just said, ‘You know him, ride him.’ I had the trip I wanted. I don’t mess with him too much. I just stretch his legs and little bit and then let him do his thing. Pressure will be back on for the Preakness, but that’s okay.”
 
 
Danza, who appeared to be a bit leg weary, moved up into fifth at the top of the stretch and continued forward, lugging in and out. With all the lateral movement he made in the stretch, it was easy for Commanding Curve, content to trail early, to breeze past him to move up into second without threatening the victorious California Chrome. Danza finished third.
 
 
Shaun Bridgmohan, jockey of runner-up Commanding Curve, was pleased with his mount’s effort. “All I had to do was just ride him hard and he gave me everything. I was starting to get him geared up when he turned for home and I had half the field beat at that point. I just was looking for somewhere for him to go. Once I got him down the lane, man, he lengthened his stride and really dug in for me,” he said.
 
 
“Jersey” Joe Bravo was aboard Danza, who upset the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby at odds of 41-1 in his last start. Bravo praised both his mount and the colt’s trainer, “Really nice the first turn, I had everything good, but turning for home I had to wheel out and go around horses, but he kept kicking and Todd (Pletcher) knows how to get them to the big game.”
 
 
Wicked Strong nosed out Samraat for fourth after having to alter course behind Danza as that one weaved across the track. The order of finish was completed by Samraat in fifth, Dance With Fate, Ride On Curlin, Medal Count (who also had to alter course behind Danza), Chitu, We Miss Artie, General A Rod, Intense Holiday, Candy Boy, Uncle Sigh, Tapiture, Harry’s Holiday, Vinceremos, Wildcat Red, and Vicar’s In Trouble.
 
 
Off his 5-2 odds, California Chrome returned $7.00/$5.60/$4.20 for a $2 wager. Longshot Commanding Curve paid his happy backers $31.80/$15.40 for the place, and Danza returned $6.00 for the show. A $2 exacta wager returned a hefty $340.00, the $1 trifecta paid $1,712.30, and the $1 superfecta was worth $7,691.90.
 
 
Trainer Art Sherman, who accompanied champion Swaps in 1955 as his exercise rider, emphatically stated, “He gave me the biggest thrill I ever had in my life.”
 
 
Excitement and enthusiasm were far from lacking in the 77-year old trainer. "Just awesome. I'm breathless. This is so cool," he expressed. "I think I rode the horse with Victor (Espinoza) the last 70 yards. It was a picture-perfect ride. He was right where he should have been all the way around. Coming down the stretch I was thinking: 'Keep rollin' big boy. Keep rollin'.' This has to be the sweetest moment of my life. To be my age and have something like this happen, what can you say? For all my friends in California, this is for you. We did it!" 
 
 
Also adding to the fantastic storylines surrounding the winner was California Chrome’s pony, Perfect Drift. Third in the 2002 Kentucky Derby, the gelding later became a Grade 1 winner in his own right. After retiring with a 50: 11-14-7 record for earnings of $4,714,213, Perfect Drift became a stable pony, accompanying horses to and from the track. Monnie Goetz, who oversees the pony operation at the track, specifically chose Perfect Drift to accompany California Chrome. Interestingly enough, the horse Perfect Drift lost to, War Emblem, was piloted to victory by none other than Victor Espinoza himself.
 
 
A homebred for owners/breeders Steven Coburn and Perry Martin, California Chrome is by Lucky Pulpit and out of the Not For Love mare Love the Chase. He improved his career record to 7 wins and 1 place from 11 career starts, and the $1,240,000 winner’s share of the Kentucky Derby purse pushed the colt’s total career earnings to $2,374,850. In winning “America’s Race,” California Chrome became the first California-bred to do so since Decidedly in 1962. Trainer Art Sherman became the oldest trainer, at age 77, to win the event, surpassing the age mark of 76 set by Charles Whittingham when he trained Sunday Silence to victory in 1989. 

 

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Older Comments about California Chrome dazzles in 140th running of the Kentucky Derby...

GOD BLESS YOU ALL GREAT TIMES FOR YOU ALL! CONGRATULATIONS CHROME*
Funny how folks like to point out that CC's time was slow inthe Derby when 18 others ran SLOWER. Someone posted this: Sunday Silence 2:05, Alysheba 2:03.2 Silver Charm 2:02.2, Animal kingdom 2:02, And of course Monarchos 1:59.4 - time doesn't mean anything.
  • Avaolivia · Exactly....cc is a beast. The people who complain about his time are the people who are upset bc they didn't bet him. · 232 days ago
cedar, he could have won by more but he could not have opened another ten lengths and run 201 and change let alone under 201. He could have won by another three for sure. I was just glad that he had enough left at first thought that he did not get run down by curve as I had him under then I remembered he was one that I had in the pick fours and I never saw the payouts anywhere. I looked for close to an hour and could not find the pic three that day, the pick four or the oaks, turf derby pic three will pays anywhere so I have no idea what it would have paid. But I am glad he saved room for next time. He is a nice horse but I wish they ran a little faster earlier and that none that got in trouble early and often got hurt. Too many got hurt before the derby. It would be nice to see a good three year old crop emerge from all of this chaos.
97 BSF for the Derby winner.
  • rita.polander · Great race by California Chrome! Really shows that Beyer Speed figures need to be taken with a grain of salt. California Chrome was the easy winner, that't all that matters. He only had to beat the other 18 in the field, and he did that convincingly. On this web site I know Chrome was knocked by his lack of pedigree to get 1 1/4. His pedigree was good enough to get him across the finish line ahead of the rest. His winning time is inconsequential. I liked Chrome since his Cal Cup romp. I will be cashing my KDFW exacta box Chrome/field at 30-1. Fortunate that I liked him so early in the 2014 season. Those Future wagers are alot of fun. · 232 days ago
rather him win with ease and save some for the next than blow out a 2:00 derby. If he really labored for that 2:03 time then that would be a different story
I watched the replay of this race and it was an impressive performance. Easily separated himself from the field at the head of the straight. Won as he pleased.
Tom. Yes he is. I wish him the best.
He's an oldie but goodie Buck. Trainers you can root for.
Great picture on Twitter of Art Sherman back at the barn this morning looking over the Santa Anita condition book.
It is funny with the detractors , unless there is an apparent major edge to a horse such as track condition. Why does this horse have to justify the fact that he not only won the Derby,he absolutely demolished this field. You may be right,he did not do this or he did not do that. But what he did do is demolish the best field in this years class. The problem is that in their minds now he ran against history and not the 2014 3yo class. Personally i feel he will at least be afforded the opportunity to go for the Triple Crown come Belmont Staked Day. But if for some chance he doesn't. Who really cares,he just won the Kentucky Derby.Just remeber,the horse that you guys are trashing and saying he did not run fast or he did not do many things. Since he did not do all these things and still demolished the field. How bad then were the other horses in the race.
1.) Churchill is not a fast track when routing. Never has been never will be. Heard the track was closed and sealed early in the morning, to get out any remaining wet spots, but then harrowed the rest of the day. There could have been a bias, but I say not. IMO the track was much faster and much more biased two years ago when IHA won his Derby. Yes, the times were fast, in sprints. Yes, the winners of those races were on or near the lead, but in the final dirt race, before the Derby, we saw both Shakin it Up and Clearly now make up loads of ground to finish second and third. Central Banker had finished second in a grade one prior to this race and had actually run and won over Churchill before as well. So while there may have been a slight bias, I don't think it was enough to cost anyone the race. 2.) Apparently there was a strong head wind into the stretch. To see a horse separate himself so easily while running head first into a strong head wind, IMO, is impressive in itself. 3.) Victor was waving his stick at him most of the stretch, barely hit him, and as they neared the wire he started waving it at the crowd. Curve looked impressive closing, yes, however it is very easy too look that good when you are the only closer with relatively clean trip down the stretch and your main competition is being geared down. Make no mistake, had Victor kept riding, Chrome wins by 7 in about 2.02 and change. I agree with Florida. The race was dazzling. He won completely in hand, geared down, jockey showboating, when he could have won by 7.
I agree with Tom, Icy and everyone who feels this guy is heads and shoulders above the rest. He is. Victor did a great job riding him. The horse definitely has another gear that wasn't needed at CD. I heard the TVG commentators talking about the track at Los Al having the longest stretch now, longer than CD ( at least that is what they said) so Art Sherman prepping CC there was a very smart move as a good many contenders die in the stretch at CD.
I would think you all might be thinking of maybe having a Triple Crown horse this year instead of trying to figure something to beat him...and why complain about the time? He only went as fast as needed to beat them...seems everyone else went a lot slower...
The time of the race is truly the most irrelevant part, unless a horse wires the field like Seattle Slew used to do, the pace, or the way the race was run determines the fractional and final times. California Chrome may lose the Preakness,(I doubt it) but he won't lose the Belmont stakes as he can run all day and half the night. Victor ran the race to win, not break Secretariat's record. If one can't see the specialness of this horse I truly feel bad for you, and I mean no sarcasm truly. I mean in the end money comes and goes, but the memories that comprise the essence of who we are is our only wealth. I will remember California Chrome.
We'll see in Baltimore. Danza with a better trip beats California Chrome IMO. The Derby is rarely won by the best horse in the race but by a good horse with a good trip. I'd love to see Untapable in the Preakness because I think she'd be competitive.
Geldedridgeling, I would have to disagree with you about California Chrome not going on to win the Preakness. He is 4 for 4 now and I think he's the real deal. It doesn't matter that the winning time was slow but that every horse came home safely! Victor did a good job of riding CC to the win!!!!
I really think Ride on Curlin would of finished better than 7th had Vicar not stopped in front of him when he tried his move up the rail. Then when that didnt work, he got shut off through the middle and Borel finally had to go to the outside losing ground through all that. Was still closing when he made it to the outside. Sneaky good race.
He won the way he had won in California.
I know the haters are going to come out but if you watch the race Espinoza wasn't even really pushing chrome coming down the stretch. He knew Chrome was going to win the race at the top of the stretch so that is more of an indictement of the rest of the field
Geldedridgeling there is a saying around the track. Time is only important when you are serving a prison term. Forget what happened after the race,prior to the race many took shots at this horse and tried to come up with every excuse as to why he would not win. The performance may not of been dazzling as you say. But it was dominant,this horse cruised past the leaders without any effort on the turn.As a matter of fact as it turned out.The biggest effort from Espinosa was just before the wire when he stood up and waved the whip. I agree with you Johnny, doubt anyone from the horses that ran behind him today can make up that ground. There sure isn't one on the sidelines that stands much of a chance either.

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Meet Ashley Tamulonis
  
 

Despite growing up in a non-horse racing state, Ashley has been a fan of the sport since a young age. Her love for horse racing was fostered through the kids’ book series Thoroughbred by Joanna Campbell, and it was her love of reading and horses that led her to educate herself on the ins and outs of the sport. Since becoming actively involved in the industry just a few short years ago, Ashley has had the opportunity to meet many important players in the industry, attend the Eclipse Awards, see personal favorite Mucho Macho Man race twice in person, and get to personally meet and befriend many of the fantastic fans and horsemen involved in the sport.

 

Before joining Horse Racing Nation, Ashley created her own blog Wired with Ashley Paige. The idea to venture into the world of blogging came to her when she realized that she had much to say about horse racing and no one to say it to at the time. Ashley began her time with Horse Racing Nation blogging as The Florida Filly. Using that moniker, she mainly covered racing in South Florida but also blogged about nationwide racing, industry issues, and from time to time offered her opinion on how various changes could be beneficial to the industry as a whole. A move north to New Hampshire began both a new chapter in both Ashley's personal life and professional life. She currently pens the new From Coast to Coast blog for HRN, which is simply a revamped version of The Florida Filly. Don't let the new look and name change fool you, though. Ashley still brings to the table the same great coverage as From Coast to Coast as she did for The Florida Filly. Ashley also participates as a voter in the NTRA Top Thoroughbred Polls.

 

An alumni of Macon State College, Ashley is from Central Georgia but is currently living in New Hampshire with her husband Chris and their two sons Charlie and Michael. A stay-at-home mom, Ashley juggles parenting with blogging and her other passions. Aside from horse racing, Ashley is a fervent football fan, enjoys reading and studying history, and hopes to someday author a historical work covering the Tudor period as well as biographies of horse racing’s stars, equine and human alike.