You know what? California Chrome rocks. There are many people who say how racing is dying and how we need to recover and how there needs to be a superstar horse to save it. I do not think a horse can get much more popular than Zenyatta who definitely did bring in new fans, but that hardly changed the popularity of the sport. However, at the end of the day, she was a very blue-blooded horse sired by one of the top sires in the world – her owner even has a record label. Let’s be honest here: who really cares when the rich get richer?
That’s what makes Chrome different in my mind – he is everything racing should be. His owners’ story in the racing world has been repeated over and over. But you know what? It is still pretty cool. Just a bunch of dumbasses getting together, buying horses, and hitting the jackpot. Especially when they didn’t have to spend much money on him in the first place! $10,500 for a horse that nearly won the Triple Crown is amazing. One of the owners, Steve Coburn, made the name Dumb Ass Partners make a lot of sense, giving a whiskey-fueled rant after Chrome lost the Belmont. But you know what? He’s still human and made a mistake, and while the apology took some time to come it eventually came. Ever since then, Coburn has been level-headed and well-spoken in all of his interviews. People make mistakes, but it is how you recover from those mistakes that says the most about who you are, and Coburn has shown that he is not just a normal guy but one that learns from his mistakes.
Too often we have our champions race, win a few times, retire, and go to stud to make millions and millions for their farms. Sure, a lot of times it is for injury, but on occasion it is for their stud value and nothing more. Need I remind you of I’ll Have Another? Hard to get into a sport when the athletes stop competing for money altogether. California Chrome has pretty bad bloodlines and likely won’t do well at stud and is also unlikely to stand in Kentucky. Even if he does, it will not be for more than a couple of years. Since there is not a demand for him, you know what that means? More racing for the 2014 Horse of the Year!
What also makes Chrome awesome is that he does not back down from a challenge. He was just a couple lengths away from winning the Triple Crown. While based in California, he has also raced in Kentucky, Maryland, New York, and Pennsylvania. Soon to be added to the list? Dubai. He also has run on and won on dirt, synthetic, and turf. What makes him even cooler to watch is that he doesn’t always win. Sure, undefeated horses are pretty awesome, but it’s also fun to see a horse give it his all, which may not be the best at that time, and be able to come back again and win.
Not to mention how cool Art Sherman is. He has trained a couple grade one winners but no real superstars. He was a part of Swaps’s Derby-winning team way back in 1955 when he was only 18 years old. Nearly 60 years later, Art wins the Derby again but this time completely under his own care and guidance. It is wildly refreshing to see a trainer win the Derby who is not part of one of the major training operations.
All in all, California Chrome rocks. As the Derby winner he does get more outside attention, especially with Coburn’s outburst at the Belmont. When talking to friends, more people know the name California Chrome than they do Orb, I’ll Have Another, or Animal Kingdom. Is the horse perfect? Nah, no horse can be. But he’s a fun horse to like, and if you don’t like him, you don’t like horse racing.