Lady and The Track | December 7, 2022

Scroll to top


Home » Horses We Love » California Chrome: Continually Chasing Glory

California Chrome: Continually Chasing Glory

California Chrome: Continually Chasing Glory– Owned and bred by Dumbass Partners Perry Martin and Steve Coburn, California Chrome would prove his owners to be anything but. The California-bred chestnut earned his name due to his four distinctive stockings and broad, white blaze, and he would go on to achieve much greater things than his owners had anticipated and even bred for.

California Chrome

Since Dubai, California Chrome has traveled to England to prepare for the prestigious turf races of Royal Ascot week this summer. Photo: Coglianese/NYRA

California Chrome looked so much like his sire Lucky Pulpit that he was nicknamed “Junior” early in his career. Lucky Pulpit was a decent sprinter with respiratory issues whose best race was a win in the five-furlong Smile Stakes over the turf, and as a sire he has not been notably successful. Love the Chase, the dam of California Chrome, also had some respiratory issues that resulted in a brief racing career. Her sire Not For Love, recently pensioned, was stakes-placed and an allowance winner, and his pedigree as being a full brother to Champion Two-Year-Old Male Rhythm warranted his retirement to stud duty. Perhaps most interesting in California Chrome’s pedigree is that he is inbred to Champion Two-Year-Old Filly Numbered Account on his dam’s side.

California Chrome debuted at Hollywood Park early in his juvenile career, finishing a close second in a 4-1/2-furlong race over the all-weather track. He rebounded to break his maiden in May over the same track and distance in such a way that indicated the colt wanted more distance.

The bright colt wouldn’t get the distances he desired quite yet, however, as he next raced in the 5-1/2 furlong Willard L. Proctor Memorial Stakes at Hollywood Park. He dueled well enough throughout the quick, sprinting pace, but he ultimately weakened to finish in fifth. California Chrome put himself together again to then take the 5-1/2-furlong Graduation Stakes by 2-3/4 lengths, but after that decisive performance, he finished sixth in both the Del Mar Futurity (GI) and the Golden State Juvenile Stakes.

With Victor Espinoza settling into California Chrome’s saddle for the King Glorious Stakes, a winning team was concocted. In the colt’s final start as a two-year-old, he pressed the pace over the seven-furlong track and won by 6-1/4 lengths under a hand ride.

The flashy chestnut’s victory in the King Glorious would lay the groundwork for a successful three-year-old season, and trainer Art Sherman and son Alan Sherman certainly recognized the potential of the colt. Kicking off his sophomore year with a run in the California Cup Derby, California Chrome won by an easy 5-1/2 lengths.

Entering graded stakes company for the first time since his sixth-place run in the Del Mar Futurity, California Chrome would evoke much different results. Finally getting distances he was better suited for, the colt took the San Felipe Stakes (GII) by 7-1/4 lengths and the Santa Anita Derby (GI) by 5-1/4 lengths over promising rival Hoppertunity. California thus had a homebred hero heading to Kentucky, and “Chromies” began to appear in support of the colt’s lofty ambitions.

California Chrome played as the favorite going into the Kentucky Derby (GI), and he gave plenty of reason for why he should remain there. As was his style, the bright chestnut in the purple and green blinkers rated behind the leaders and upon asking shook clear of the rest of the field to win by 1-3/4 lengths.

The next logical step for California Chrome was for him to pursue the Triple Crown. He came as close as many other contemporary horses in winning the Preakness Stakes (GI) by 1-1/2 lengths but falling short to finish fourth to Tonalist in the Belmont Stakes (GI). The colt simply couldn’t muster up enough fight to claim the Belmont after a grueling series of races, and he was afterwards found to have torn tissues in his right front heel after being stepped on during the race.

Dumbass Partners gave their homebred some well-deserved time off from June until September when the colt made his return in the Pennsylvania Derby (GI). Off his lengthy layoff, California Chrome was only able to manage a sixth-place result in Bayern‘s track record-setting race.

“The people’s horse” was then tasked with taking on the field in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI), and while he loomed large and ran on willingly, he was unable to get past Bayern and Toast of New York, thus finishing a close third.

Eclipse Awards California Chrome

California Chrome took home the Eclipse Award for three-year-old male and the title of Horse of The Year at the 44th Annual Eclipse Awards on January 17, 2015.
Photo: Coglianese/NYRA

To close out his three-year-old season, California Chrome changed tactics and tried the turf in the Grade I Hollywood Derby. The copper-colored colt handled the green quite well in setting the pace and relinquishing the lead only to regain it to clear Canadian Horse of the Year Lexie Lou by two lengths. In doing so, California Chrome became the only horse of 2014 to take Grade I events over both dirt and turf surfaces.

The national favorite cleaned up with awards at the end of 2014, taking the Eclipse Awards for Horse of the Year and Champion Three-Year-Old Male. He was also honored with the Secretariat Vox Populi Award, officially becoming the horse of the people.

The colt was not quite done though as he has returned for a 2015 season as a four-year-old. California Chrome’s first race of the year in the San Antonio Invitational Stakes (GII) was quite a challenge as he faced Shared Belief, a gelding widely considered to be the best runner in the nation. The champion helped to cement that belief as he could not keep up with the gelding and finished second by 1-1/2 lengths.

California Chrome would again play second fiddle in the rich Dubai World Cup (GI). Considering he ran without lasix, his runner-up finish to the impressive winner Prince Bishop was anything but disappointing.

Since Dubai, California Chrome has traveled to England to prepare for the prestigious turf races of Royal Ascot week this summer. While fans are rather disappointed that California Chrome will not be racing in the United States in the near future, they will at least be provided with the chance to watch the reigning Horse of the Year tackle some new challenges overseas.

Kentucky Derby 2014 California Chrome Replay: