Wednesday, April 30, 2014

California Dreamin’ About the Kentucky Derby

Derby hype is reaching a fever pitch in California – the home of this year’s early favorite for Saturday’s Kentucky Derby, a flashy chestnut colt by the name of California Chrome. He is currently listed at 11/5 odds as seen here at

Santa Anita Racetrack, which for the first time will conduct a live race meet during the Triple Crown races, is touting the “biggest Derby party west of Kentucky.” It will include a hat contest, California Chrome T-shirts, a craft beer garden, food trucks, and a gourmet BBQ in an exclusive VIP area.

The excitement is understandable. If California Chrome lives up to expectations with a victory in Saturday’s Run for the Roses, he will be only the fourth California-bred Derby winner and the first one in more than 50 years, joining the ranks of Morvich (1922), Swaps (1955) and Decidedly (1962).

California Chrome was an impressive 5-length winner of the Grade I, $1 million Santa Anita Derby April 5.  In 78 runnings of the Santa Anita Derby, only three horses have run the historic race faster than California Chrome. He put in his final work before the Kentucky Derby on Saturday morning, going four furlongs at his Los Alamitos headquarters in 48 1/5 under regular rider Victor Espinoza. He shipped to Churchill Downs Monday, apparently taking everything in stride.

 “He’s my Swaps,” said Trainer Art Sherman, who is making his first trip to the Kentucky Derby as a trainer. “I’m very humbled to have a horse like this.” Things have come full circle for Sherman, who at the age of 18 accompanied Swaps to Louisville as his regular exercise rider.

Owned by his breeders, Steve Coburn and Perry Martin, California Chrome is a chestnut colt by Lucky Pulpit out of the mare Love the Chase. He has won six races from 10 starts and has been second once while earning $1,134,850. Now the hopes and dreams of the entire state rest with him as he seeks to become the first California-bred since 1962 to win the Kentucky Derby.

“He’s a Cal-Bred, but he doesn’t know that!” said co-owner Steve Coburn.

California pride will certainly be on display at Santa Anita, Los Alamitos, and all of the California off-track wagering locations on Saturday.

The west coast post time for the 140th Derby is at 3:24 p.m. The first live race post time at Santa Anita on Saturday is at 11:30 a.m.


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Things have come full circle for Sherman, who at the age of 18 accompanied Swaps to Louisville as his regular exercise rider

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