It's all questions. Can California Chrome win the Triple Crown? Can California Chrome win the Preakness? Will the distance of the Belmont be a problem?
It all started out with dumb ass partners. They had a cheap-priced mare, Love the Chase, who was in foal to Lucky Pulpit. When the foal was delivered on February 18, 2011, no one thought he'd be the next Kentucky Derby winner.
Known as the dumb ass parters, the letters D, A, and P were put on Chromes blinkers, on the left front of the jockeys silks, and a jackass on the back of the silks.
As a young foal, California Chrome was given the nick name Junior. But when it was finally time to choose a name for the flashy colt, the Coburns went to a restaurant and wrote several different names on pieces of paper, and asked the waitress to draw a name. The word "chrome" was drawn, which was a slang term that meant flashy white markings.
When California Chrome began his racing career, he finished second in his first race at Hollywood Park. Three weeks later he went on to win his second race by 2 3/4 lengths. In the Willard L. Proctor Stakes, California Chrome was ridden by Corey Nakatani and was assigned 120 pounds. After fighting for the lead California Chrome faded and finished fifth in a field of nine. Six weeks later California Chrome was entered in the Graduation Stakes at Del Mar racetrack. He had Alberto Delgado up, and once again was assigned 120 pounds. California Chrome won that race by 2 3/4 lengths. For the first time, he raced with blinkers and also ran on Lasix.
Next out, in the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity, California Chrome ran a strong race although he finished sixth in an 11 horse field. After a nearly two month lay off California Chrome was entered in a Breeders Cup undercard. It was the Golden State Juvenile Stakes, in which he broke badly from post one and finished sixth. Sherman claimed California Chrome to still be learning how to be a race horse.
California Chrome's last race of the year, which was at Hollywood Park, was the King Glorious Stakes. Victor Espinoza was on California Chrome for the first time. Espinoza led California Chrome to a multiple length win. Sherman was impressed with the colt and the way Espinoza rode him, so he kept him as the jockey.
California Chrome began his 2014 campaign with a 5 1/2 win in the California Cup Derby, with Victor Espinoza as the jockey once again. Next California Chrome won his first graded stakes in the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita. California Chrome went wire to wire with a win margin of 7 1/2 lengths. His first Grade 1 win came when he won the Santa Anita Derby. He broke slowly but raced to the lead before getting caught behind. California Chrome took off down the homestretch, without being asked. He won by 5 1/4 lengths. Art Sherman made the decision to take his flashy colt to Churchill Downs for the 2014 Kentucky Derby. And with rider Victor Espinoza.
Many people doubted California Chrome and thought he was a dud. People thought he couldn't go the distance. They thought he wouldn't win because he never raced out of California. But California Chrome proved all those doubters wrong.
California Chrome jogged well around Churchill Downs every morning leading up to the Derby. Finally Derby Day came. California Chrome was the favorite. Art Sherman and the whole California-crew hoped that Victor Espinoza could lead the big chestnut horse to victory and fulfill their Derby dreams.
California Chrome broke well from the gate and went up to the lead with Uncle Sigh and Chitu. Espinoza pulled California Chrome to a stalking position on the rail. As the horses ran all the way around the track and approached the final turn, California Chrome made a striking move on the outside. He took the lead as the horses turned into the homestretch. California Chrome surged away from the pack. As the final yards came and eventually the finish line, Espinoza slowed California Chrome as he crossed the finish line. Fast closing Commanding Curve finished just behind California Chrome in second, Danza came in third on the rail, and Wicked Strong edged Samraat for fourth. Victor Espinoza led California Chrome to win the Kentuvky Derby for Art Sherman. It was almost like a fair tale. Dreams came true for the California crew. The blanket of roses flowed over the big chestnut horse as he was led into the winners circle. Now we've got another race in the history books.
This Saturday is the Preakness Stakes. Speed horses Bayern and Social Inclusion are going to be California Chrome's biggest competition. As long as California Chrome breaks well from the gate and does what he did in the Derby, he will be sure to win and be one step closer to the Triple Crown. Hopes are high and in the sky. People are loosing heart in the sport as each year goes by without a Triple a Crown winner. Many fans have lost their spirit in the sport and have gave up and walked away.
I believe in this horse as much as everyone else, but I've taught myself not to get my hopes up high. Last year I was devastated when Orb lost the Preakness. I thought he was going to be the horse to end the drought. But he wasn't. He was just another Kentucky a Derby winner like all the owns since 1978.
~Written by Daniella Ricci