As another sun-kissed chestnut 3-year-old pulled away from the pack last Saturday, we need be reminded of so many colts before California Chrome that have done the same.
There was Point Given, in 2001, "T-Rex," Bob Baffert called him. He would overshadow the field with his giant stride in the San Felipe and the Santa Anita, only to perform 5th to Giacomo in the Kentucky Derby. A great racehorse, winning the Preakness and the Belmont, he fell short that first Saturday in May.
California Chrome will fall short too. Forget his margin of victory. Forget his 107 speed figure. Forget the deja vu you get as you see him pull away from the field, hitting the wire several seconds before the rest. California Chrome is no Secretariat. No Smarty Jones. No chestnut colt defying gravity, or reality for that matter. California Chrome just doesn't have what it takes to win the Derby, despite his speed.
The most alarming part of California Chrome is his pedigree. Sure, a lot of horses are inbred, but this colt is inbred beyond what looks pleasant on paper. What stands out above all is the inbreeding from his dam's side. "Numbered Account," is his 4th grand-dam on his dam's side twice over. Twice over. Plenty of Kentucky Derby hopefuls are inbred, but not on one side of their family tree. Twice over. Now let's add Mr. Prospector into the mix. Which usually is a good thing, unless you mix him twice over, with Numbered Account twice over, and Northern Dancer twice over. There's simply just too much overlap. The horse isn't built for the race.
Taking a peak at the rest of the potential field, Samraat has no inbreeding in his 5-generation pedigree. At all. Wicked Strong? Only Northern Dancer lines; one from sire, the other from dam. Which begs the question, how much inbreeding is good inbreeding? Let's take a look.
Since I brought him up, Point Given's Native Dancer lines equated nicely on both his sire and dam's side. Smarty Jones only had Bold Ruler lines once you looked at his 5th generation pedigree. Secretariat? No inbreeding for at least five generations. Orb? An impressive pedigree with no inbreeding on his dam's side. I'll Have Another? Inbred on his sire's side. As far as I'm concerned, that's ok.
In my book, the mare is the X-Factor. No pun intended. I'm giving the Kentucky Derby to a different horse,
California Chrome may have speed, but does he have the heart to win no matter what, or does his pedigree prove otherwise?