On Saturday, May 3, the 140th Kentucky Derby was run at Churchill Downs in Louisville, KY. And for one of the few times in the race’s long and storied history, the betting line favorite actually one. California Chrome had been the favorite all week and just before the call to post, he was listed as the 2-1 favorite. The Kentucky Derby has a history of humbling even the most decorated horses, but the horse from the humble beginnings dominated the field, winning the Run for the Roses by an astounding 1 3/4 lengths.
Most Derby winners are born and raised within the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Most have bloodlines that can be traced back to Triple Crown race winners for generations. They’ve been bred just for the spotlight that comes with racing on the first Saturday in May underneath the Twin Spires of Churchill Downs. Which makes California Chrome’s victory all the more compelling. Co-owners Perry Martin and Steve Coburn bred an $8,000 mare to a $2,500 stallion to produce the Derby winner with their one-horse stable. Martin and Coburn named their partnership Dumb Ass Partners Racing after a trainer referred to them as “dumb asses” for purchasing California Chrome, a horse with absolutely no pedigree. On this Saturday, however, the horse with the donkey on the silks, made the two men from California look like geniuses.
Jockey Victor Espinoza won his second Kentucky Derby (he won aboard War Emblem in 2002). Espinoza had California Chrome near the front of the pack as Chitu and Uncle Sigh set the early pace. As the pack turned down the homestretch, Victor Espinoza asked for, and received a burst, that propelled rider and horse across the finish line with a time of 2:03.66 in front of the second largest crowd for the Kentucky Derby (164,906).
Commanding Curve finished in the place position with “Who’s the Boss?” star Tony Danza named Danza coming in the show position. Wicked Strong, the 6-1 second choice, was fourth. Samraat was fifth, followed by Dance With Fate, Ride On Curlin, Medal Count, Chitu, We Miss Artie, General a Rod, Intense Holiday, Candy Boy, Uncle Sigh, Tapiture, Harry’s Holiday, Vinceremos, and Wildcat Red. Vicar’s In Trouble, ridden by Rosie Napravnik, finished last.
In the Winner’s Circle, with the victorious horse receiving the world famous Garland of Roses, co-owner Steve Coburn boasted that California Chrome would win the Triple Crown, a feat that hasn’t been accomplished since Affirmed in 1978. “I believe this horse will win the Triple Crown,” Coburn said. If California Chrome, winner of 5 straight races, makes it 7 in a row, the sun will definitely be shining a bit brighter on the California coast.