California Dreamin': History and high hopes as California Chrome looks ahead

05/03/2014 06:56 PM

(UPDATED WITH VIDEO) — California Chrome’s win in Saturday’s Kentucky Derby already made history. But “Team Chrome” isn’t done yet — not by a long shot.

No Golden State-bred horse has won the Triple Crown. But California Chrome seems intent on running through historical barriers and bringing his trainer along for the ride.

The Kentucky Derby winner was the first California-bred horse to win in 52 years. And 77-year-old Art Sherman became the oldest trainer to win the run for the roses.

“I’m just the same old Art Sherman … except I just won the Kentucky Derby,” he said Saturday evening, prompting reporters and the entire California Chrome team at the post-race press conference to burst into laughter.

While California Chrome entered Saturday’s race as the heavy favorite, the horse’s back-story is one of rags to roses.

Bred from a $8,000 mare and a $2,500 stallion, California Chrome was the first horse bred under the racing partnership of Steven Coburn and Perry Martin, which they named DAP. That’s short for “Dumbass Partners” — a nickname they got when they purchased their first horse.

Coburn, an Arizona native, told reporters he always believed California Chrome would be in the winner’s circle.

“It’s an incredible journey we’ve been on to see this baby and watch this colt grow and develop and run — he loves to run. To see this dream come true and to see this horse win the Kentucky Derby, I have no words except another California-bred horse has won the Kentucky Derby,” Coburn said.

Interested buyers offered Coburn and co-owner Perry Martin $6 million for a stake in California Chrome at one point. But Coburn said they turned down the offer because they didn’t want to lose controlling interest in the horse.

Espinoza said Saturday’s win was more exciting than his 2002 Kentucky Derby victory on War Emblem.

“I’m ready to retire now,” said Espinoza, who turns 42 last this month.

Except, as horse owner Coburn pointed out, Espinoza still has at least two more big races to run as California Chrome seeks to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.

And for that, Coburn laid out some high expectations.

“I said all along this horse will win the Kentucky Derby. I believe this horse will win the Triple Crown,” he said.

Espinoza said he’ll need a little luck to capture the Triple Crown. But so far, he said, California Chrome has delivered for him.

“I know how lucky I am. I say let’s go. I’m ready for the next one.”


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