If California Chrome wins in Saturday’s Belmont Stakes in New York, he will be the first horse in 36 years to have won in three major consecutive races and become racing’s 12th and California’s first Triple Crown winner.
But what sets Chrome apart isn’t just that he’s the first horse from the Golden State to have won the Kentucky Derby in 52 years (he’s also won the Preakness). It is his humble beginnings and blue-collar background that make this a real Cinderella story.
Traditionally in racing, horses that are bred from a regal or blue bloodline of the winningest horses are the likeliest contenders for such victories. According to the Los Angeles Times, California Chrome’s mother, Love The Chase, was bought for the bargain price of $8,000 and bred with his stallion father, Lucky Pulpit, for just $2,500.
The cost to breed a blueblood horse usually starts in the hundreds of thousands and goes into the millions of dollars. If Chrome wins the Triple Crown, his breeding value is projected to be between $15 and $20 million-a stunning return for a horse that was bred from parents with a mediocre racing record.
Chrome was born on a rare rainy day on Harris Farms in California’s Central Valley, which has been at the epicenter of California’s drought, according to the Times. The three-year-old copper penny-colored champion has placed a little-known small town, whose inhabitants are also trying to make it big, on the map.
And there’s nothing regal about the initials DAP printed on the purple and green silks that adorn Chrome’s face during the races. The initials stand for “Dumb Ass Partners” and stem from a time when a local told Chrome’s breeders, Perry Martin and Steve Coburn, that only a “dumb ass” would buy the horse that became Chrome’s mother to breed a racehorse.
As California Chrome prepares for the most anticipated race of the year, one thing is for certain: Chrome’s presence has been a uniting force. “Society might not agree on anything,” said John Harris, owner of Harris Farms where Chrome was born. “But everybody agrees they want to watch this horse of humble beginnings run.”