California Chrome, the first California-bred horse to win the Kentucky Derby in 52 years, made the Run for the Roses look so easy that horse racing experts buzzed about his odds of possibly becoming the first horse (and the first California-bred horse) to win the Triple Crown in 36 years.
Co-owner Steve Coburn was even more exuberant.
“I said, ‘When this horse wins the Kentucky Derby, I believe this horse will win the Triple Crown. … I told people this colt will go down in history,” he said. “When he wins the Triple Crown, he will be the first California-bred to ever win a Triple Crown. That’s where we’re going.”
Oddsmakers have California Chrome at even odds to win the Preakness in two weeks in Maryland. Horse racing writers were buzzing too. NBC Sports noted that there were enough stories in California Chrome for “TEN superstar horses”:
The California Chrome story is so absurdly good that it triggers an odd emotion in sportswriters. We spend our days and nights and weekends trying to wring the last drop of delight or curiosity out of players who spew clichés and coaches who barely hide their contempt and games that barely have even a whiff of drama. We do this continually and then, every now and again, we get a quotable character or a truly heartwarming story or a thrilling game, and these feel like small miracles.
So, what is there to do with Chrome — a horse with TOO MANY good stories? What do you do when you have a Kentucky Derby winner that somehow emerged from a $10,500 investment ($8,000 for the mother; a $2,500 breeding fee for the sire)?
What do you do with horse owners and breeders who named their partnership Dumb-Ass Partners because it was built around a mare that a groom said only a dumb ass would buy?
What do you do when the horse is trained by a kindly little 77-year-old man (now the oldest to ever win the Kentucky Derby, of course) who had only been to the Derby once, almost 60 years ago, when he was the guy responsible for cleaning up after a Derby winner called Swaps?
What do you write when everything around you — absolutely everything– is magical and impossible and, in the truest sense of the word, unbelievable?
“I’m sorry,” jockey Victor Espinoza is saying after he breaks down crying. He is not crying over winning his second Derby. He is crying thinking about the young cancer victims it will help … Espinoza gives 10 percent of his earnings to City of Hope, a cancer treatment center in Los Angeles.
Read much more here.