Haskin's Derby Recap: California Dreamin'

Dreams come in all shapes and sizes. Some are literal. Some are figurative. Most don’t come true. But on rare occasions they do, and that is when fairy tales are born.

The fairy tale that is California Chrome was born on Feb. 18, 2011 at Harris Farms near Coalinga, Calif., and for trainer Art Sherman and his sons Alan and Steve, owners Steve Coburn and Perry Martin, jockey Victor Espinoza, and exercise rider William Delgado, life would never be the same.

That is why more than three years later, on May 3, 2014, which happens to be Coburn’s birthday, emotions hit so hard following the stunning victory of California Chrome in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), words were difficult to get out.

Perry Martin, standing by the rail with his 83-year-old mother Catherine, helped her into a wheel chair, and as he walked behind her as she was wheeled across the track to the winner’s circle he tried hard fighting back the tears that were welling up. His brother had driven her to Kentucky from Michigan. He tried to speak, but nothing would come out. All he could do was shake his head and say with a quavering voice, “I have to go after my mom.”

Alan Sherman, who is his father’s assistant, was trying to come to terms with his own emotions as he led California Chrome back to the barn area following the winner’s circle ceremonies. He was breathing heavily walking on the track as the cheers from the crowd rained down on him and the colt. The wall of noise that engulfed him was drowned out by the thoughts and feelings swirling around in his head, as he tried to comprehend everything that had happened not only on this day, but over the past couple of months.

“It’s awesome,” he said, only able to get several short exclamatory phrases out at a time. “I can’t believe it; unbelievable. I’m at a loss for words. I’m just so excited. It’s amazing. This is so great. I can’t even imagine (how my father feels right now). I want a beer.”
Art Sherman, after arriving in Kentucky, had gone to visit the grave of his beloved Swaps located behind the Kentucky Derby Museum to say a little prayer. Sherman had accompanied Swaps on the train from California to Kentucky in 1955 when he was an 18-year-old exercise rider. His prayer was that California Chrome could be another Swaps. Several days later, Sherman, at age 77, became the oldest trainer to win the Kentucky Derby. He had found his Swaps.

Overwhelmed by the experience, he said as he was led to the interview room by four Louisville police officers, “This is pretty cool. I’ve never had a police escort before. You think about it, that you’re going to get lucky one day, but maybe it’s all fate somehow. I’m a big believer in fate.”

As Coburn said following the race, “Art Sherman has come full circle, from exercise rider of a California-bred that won the Kentucky Derby to training a California-bred that won the Kentucky Derby (becoming only the fourth Cal-bred to capture the roses).”

Coburn’s confidence that California Chrome would win the Kentucky Derby bordered on cockiness, as he all but assured victories in the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) and Kentucky Derby. But he, like Sherman, believed he and California Chrome were being driven by fate. Several days before the expected birth of a foal by Lucky Pulpit, who stands for a $2,500 stud fee, out of a mare who raced for an $8,000 claiming tag, Coburn had a dream the foal would be a big chestnut with four white socks and a big blaze face. When they went to see the newborn foal, his wife walked over to the stall, took a look inside, and told her husband to come take a look. There before him was the colt in his dreams.

“There’s your dream,” she said.

And Coburn has been clinging to that dream for the past three years, even turning down millions of dollars for half interest in the colt following his brilliant victory in the San Felipe Stakes (gr. II). When an offer for eight figures was made following his equally brilliant score in the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I), Coburn’s response was, “Last week, my answer was ‘no,’ and this week, my answer is ‘hell, no.’”

Despite the temptations to sell, he kept thinking back to that day at the farm when he told his wife, “We better hang on to this ride, because it’s going to be a good one. And no matter what we have to do to keep him healthy and in the game, we’re gonna do it.”

For William Delgado, fate had worked its way into his life, allowing him to join in the dream. Based in Maryland as an exercise rider and assistant trainer, he decided to come to California, where his brother Alberto was riding a nice 2-year-old Cal-bred named California Chrome, who had won two of six starts, with a several troubled trips. Alberto told William about him, but after the colt’s sixth start, a sixth-place finish in the Golden State Juvenile for Cal-breds, in which the colt broke dead-last, Alberto was replaced by Victor Espinoza. Three days before William was scheduled to return to Maryland, Alan told him he had this colt he wanted him to get on. California Chrome’s regular exercise rider had gone on vacation and the colt was too strong for the girl they put on him. It was strange and bittersweet exercising a horse his brother had ridden, but the first time he got on him he went, “Whoa,” He could immediately feel the power the colt generated. So, Alberto went back to Maryland to ride and William stayed in California and grabbed hold of the dream that had begun at Harris Farms two years earlier.

That was when Love the Chase gave birth to her colt. But it was not an easy birth. The mare had lacerated the wall of her uterus and could not be re-bred that year. She was bright and active and outwardly unaffected by the ordeal, but she and her foal had to remain confined to the stall for an extended period of time while the mare was treated and recovering.

“He got to develop quite a little personality and became pretty independent,” said Harris Farms general manager Dave McGlothlin, who remembered the birth of another big strapping colt at the farm named Tiznow. “He wasn’t able to be out with the others to socialize and carry on so he was a little more focused on people than he was on horses. Once he got out and adapted he came around fine. He had a rather unremarkable childhood otherwise. But he could be a little bit impetuous.”

McGlothlin could see history repeating itself after California Chrome’s victories in the San Felipe and Santa Anita Derby.

“I think we are seeing something special,” he said. “It’s so great for racing in general, because of the profile of the owners and the trainer. This is a movie in the making. I hope it generates a lot of ripples and can rejuvenate the interest and enthusiasm in racing. It’s just so great in the respect that from out of nowhere you get this. We always had a lot of faith in Lucky Pulpit and it’s great to see him get the recognition. He’s been a very useful and popular stallion for several years. It’s an exciting time at the farm. We’re hoping (California Chrome) makes Cal-breds significant again. It’s fun to watch it happen for wonderful people, and I just hope the ride continues.”
When California Chrome went out on his own and began training, he impressed Harris Farms trainer Per Antonsen.

“He always had a lot of class,” he said. “He was very precocious and very forward and never missed a beat. He was a sound horse; never had a temperature, never got sick, and never had a pimple on him the whole time he was here. He enjoyed training and I told the owners, ‘You’re going to have a lot of fun with this one.’

“We breezed him here a little bit and when he went to the track to Art Sherman he worked him right off the bat within a week’s time, so I knew he was going forward. We always partner horses in sets of four and five and he learned to gallop inside and outside and between horses, and he just enjoyed everything he did. It’s amazing what he’s turned out to be. He really grew into a helluva horse. How much can he improve?"

He would find out four weeks later at Churchill Downs when a handsome chestnut colt proved to the skeptics and the elitists that it does Reign in Southern California.

With Espinoza aboard, California Chrome rattled off victories in the state-bred King Glorious Stakes by 6 1/4 lengths, the state-bred Cal Cup Derby by 5 1/2 lengths, the San Felipe by 7 1/4 lengths, and the Santa Anita Derby eased up by 5 1/4 lengths.

After the Cal Cup Derby in late January, Alan Sherman spoke in glowing terms of California Chrome and how much potential the colt had. He felt the Cal Cup Derby was no fluke, but instead the beginning of a rise to stardom. He blamed his defeats on troubled trips, including a bad start and getting whipped across the face. But most of all, he was thrilled to see his father have a horse this talented so late in his career.

The Derby trail this year had taken a strange and unfortunate turn, as almost every top 2-year-old fell off the trail with an injury, including Shared Belief, who looked as if he was going to be the superstar coming out of California following his brilliant victory in the CashCall Futurity (gr. I). At the time, California Chrome was just a Cal-bred speck on the Derby map until he thrashed the classy and consistent stretch runner Tamarando in the Cal Cup Derby. He no longer was a speck, but he still was considered nothing more than just a good Cal-bred.

But the transplanted Brooklyn, N.Y. native Art Sherman knew he was more than that. And Steve Coburn certainly knew it, boasting that the Santa Anita Derby would be a mere formality, eventually expanding his optimism to the entire Triple Crown. And he backed that up by turning down outrageous offers for the horse, despite being basically a working man, getting up at 4:30 every morning, putting on his boots and heading to work.

As Delgado said, “Steve told me, ‘This is my dream, and you can’t put a price on a dream.’”

Coburn explained that he and Martin have put in so much “blood, sweat, and tears and their savings into this horse,” the emotional impact of the entire experience actually leaves him speechless; well, to a degree.

Mike Pegram, co-owner of Rebel Stakes (gr. II) winner and Santa Anita Derby runner-up Hoppertunity. lives right down the road from Coburn, and was well aware of the task he was about to undertake.

“I told him, ‘Steve, you just don’t know how hard this race is to win. You have no idea.’ He’s talking Triple Crown. He’s really enjoying it, and he’s a nice man, but he just doesn’t realize what he’s in for.”

Sherman decided to keep California Chrome, who is now referred to as Junior around the barn, at Los Alamitos Race Course in Orange County, where he has been training since Hollywood Park closed down.

“I’ll just let him soak in that California sun for as long as possible and not have to worry about the weather,” he said prior to shipping to Kentucky. “Everything is becoming overwhelming. I’ve done about 15 radio shows, about four television shows, and I’ve got Sports Illustrated and Fox News becoming. It’s been wild and woolly, I can tell you that. I call him the rock star and I’m just his manager. People knock his pedigree, but there are a lot of knockers out there. To me, a runner is a runner. He’s the people’s horse. He’s fun to be around and the people love him. They come to watch him work and take pictures of him from the side of the road.”

As for not having him work over the Churchill Downs track, Sherman said, “Believe me, he’s tight enough and he’ll run on anything. I don’t worry about racetracks. Whether he wins or not, you’ll see a good race from him, I can promise you that.”

California Chrome had become sort of a folk hero at Los Alamitos, which is mainly a Quarter-Horse track.

“It’s been thrilling to have California Chrome stabled at Los Alamitos,” marketing director Orlando Gutierrez said several weeks ago. “He is giving the track so much attention with his spectacular performances. We simply couldn’t have bought that kind of publicity. Our track kitchen, Schwanie’s Grill, is packed whenever California Chrome works. The Vessels Club restaurant is already serving an Art Sherman Combo, which is Petite Filet, Lobster, and Shrimp. It’s become a popular item on the menu. If California Chrome goes on to do well in the Kentucky Derby, I don’t have the words to say how exciting that would be for Los Alamitos Race Course.”

Meanwhile, at Churchill Downs, Derby horses were arriving from all over. There was a good deal of buzz surrounding Danza, the surprise brilliant winner of the Arkansas Derby (gr. I), as well as the Twinspires.com Wood Memorial (gr. I) winner Wicked Strong. The remainder of the field was considered fairly wide open. Of the 23 original Derby Future Wager horses back in November, only Ride On Curlin made to Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May.

On the Monday before the Derby came the eagerly awaited arrival of California Chrome, who was backed off the van, because of his tendency to lunge when confronted with a ramp. He was then led into his first residence outside of California in trainer Tom Proctor’s barn. It was only appropriate that the first look people got of the Derby favorite was of his butt, because that’s pretty much all that his opponents would see five days later.

When the horse was tucked away in his stall safe and sound, Delgado, who had arrived with Alan the night before, finally could relax.

“Now that he’s here I can breathe,” he said. “It’s been a tense morning just waiting for him to get here. I haven’t slept. All the nerves and butterflies were starting to hit from the anxiety of waiting. Alan said to me, ‘You’re awful quiet, are you alright?’ I told him once I get on him tomorrow everything will settle down. The way he trains, you can feel the power in him. I’m just there to prevent him from going too fast. When he’s galloping, I have to look down to see if he changed leads because it does it so smoothly. I love working for Art and Alan, because they treat you like a member of the family. I’m just sad my brother didn’t get a chance to experience this. He’s become like Paul Feliciano (who rode Secretariat in his first two starts). But he’s happy for me. He keeps telling me, ‘Go on with him, little brother.’”

The following morning, around 6:45, Art headed to the trainer’s stand, while Alan drove to the frontside to meet California Chrome and school him in the paddock. The colt then took an easy jog once around. They followed the same routine the next few days, letting him open up in his gallops. But many observers and experts were not impressed with what they saw, feeling he wasn’t handling this track.

The field of 20 was reduced by one when Hoppertunity came down with a bruised foot following a half-mile work, adding to the numerous defections this year. That allowed Pablo Del Monte in the race, but the colt's connections declined, deciding to wait for the Preakness.

Derby morning dawned sunny and breezy, with most of the backstretch still abuzz over the performance by Untapable in the previous day’s Kentucky Oaks (gr. I). California Chrome went out for a jog, as did several other Derby starters, with Wicked Strong having a gallop. The happiest owners had to be the large West Point Thoroughbreds assemblage, who just got their improving colt Commanding Curve, third in the Louisiana Derby (gr. II), in the race at the 11th hour, with the late injury to Ring Weekend, in whom they ironically owned part interest.

As the draw drew nearer, West Point president Terry Finley said, “You know what? We would be biting our nails right now, getting this close to the draw. But it’s bittersweet, having lost Ring Weekend.”

Finley and West Point’s executive vice president Jeff Lifson were both encouraged by their colt’s speed figures, which showed him on an improving pattern. Last year, Commanding Curve’s trainer, Dallas Stewart made it in the Derby at the last minute with Charles Fipke’s Golden Soul, and the colt came from far back to finish second at odds of 34-1. Commanding Curve would go off at 37-1. Could history repeat itself? Although Commanding Curve had been purchased as a 2-year-old for a modest $75,000, Finley said the colt had “a large heart and a very efficient heart. He’s not a horse who is going to take your breath away the way he moves, but he has ability, he’s improving, and he’s in the perfect set of hands.”

As Lifson said, “It’s starting to get real. I can tell by that Terry stare, which means he’s confident. All I pray for is just to be able to yell at the top of the stretch and think, ‘We can win this thing.’”

The central figure immediately before and during the walkover was actor Tony Danza, for whom Danza was named. Excited and bewildered by this new world into which he was thrust, Danza burst into a chorus of “Fugue For Tinhorns (‘I got the horse right here,’ from Guys and Dolls). “This is unbelievable,” he kept repeating, as the fans cheered him.

The field as a whole was well behaved, although California Chrome, who would go off as the 5-2 favorite, did begin to get a bit antsy walking over before eventually calming down. The only three other horses in single-digit odds were Wicked Strong at 6-1, Danza at 8-1, and Candy Boy, who took a ton of late money to be bet down from 16-1 to 9-1.

Leading California Chrome to the post was none other than the old warrior, Perfect Drift, a veteran of five Breeders' Cup Classics, who finished third in the 2002 Kentucky Derby. The jockey who won that Derby? California Chrome's rider Victor Espinoza.

At the start, Wicked Strong stumbled slightly, as Calvin Borel on Ride On Curlin, made a sharp left-hand turn and headed right to the rail from post 19. Chitu and Uncle Sigh outran the other speed horses, followed closely by California Chrome, who broke cleanly and had a perfect position going into the first turn, where Intense Holiday was caught wide and Candy Boy had to take up sharply when bumped by Wicked Strong, costing him valuable position. Danza also encountered trouble when he was bumped by his own stablemate Vinceremos.
Down the backstretch, the opening quarter in a testing :23.04, Uncle Sigh established the lead, followed by Chitu, California Chrome, and Samraat on the far outside, sitting right off California Chrome’s flank. Danza had run into some traffic problems early on and was steered to the inside, while racing in midpack. The pace lightened a little with a half in :47.37 and three-quarters in 1:11.80. Around the far turn, Espinoza made his move on California Chrome and he moved up to challenge the leaders, with Samraat breathing down his neck, matching strides with the favorite. Intense Holiday was making a bold move right behind, with Danza on the move directly to his inside. Tapiture, Medal Count, and Dance With Fate all looked to have run in them as they began to make their moves.

Turning for home, California Chrome, as usual switched leads smoothly and right on cue and began to ease away from Samraat. Danza looked strong rallying up the inside in the two path when jockey Joe Bravo looked to his outside to see if the path was clear and steered his colt abruptly to the outside, with Wicked Strong looking for room right behind him. When Danza came out more sharply than anticipated, it forced Wicked Strong to alter his path to the inside. But most of the damage was to Medal Count who was splitting horses and had his run stopped cold.

Meanwhile, California Chrome was drawing off just as he had done in his previous four races, opening a five-length lead at the eighth pole under a hand ride. By now, the crowd was cheering wildly. Commanding Curve, who had been as far back as 18th, was forced eight wide and was flying past horses on the far outside under left-handed whipping from Shaun Bridgmohan. Espinoza began to ease up on California Chrome, who began flicking his ears around. At the wire, it was California Chrome by 1 3/4 lengths, with Commanding Curve finishing 1 1/4 lengths ahead of Danza, who proved his Arkansas Derby was no fluke with his powerful performance. For Dallas Stewart, history had indeed repeated itself. Wicked Strong, who had an eventful trip, just nosed out Samraat for fourth. The final time for the 1 1/4 miles was 2:03.66. Although the time and final fractions were slow, there did appear to be a pretty stiff wind against the horses in the stretch, and California Chrome was being eased late, flicking his ears around.

Just how freaky is this remarkable colt, who never regresses off his huge victories and who defies the experts? Churchill Downs outrider Greg Blasi, who has led back the last nine Kentucky Derby winners, said California Chrome “wouldn’t of blow out a match after the race.” He said he had never seen anything like it. It is apparent this is an extraordinarily fit horse who must have an exceptional heart and lung capacity, especially considering he’s been in steady training since April of last year and never had a break between 2 and 3.

“Usually the Derby winner is pretty tired and hot right after the race, but when I was bringing him back, he was prancing and dancing,” Blasi added. “He actually was hotter walking to the paddock than he was after the race. He didn’t look like a horse who had just run a mile and a quarter. Most horses will have that crease on their back after a race; we call it being quartered up. But he wasn’t quartered up at all. I have to say, he left an impression on me. It’s a tribute to the trainer that he wasn’t even tired after the race.

“The first day he galloped, he was bunny hopping around there and seemed stiff legged. I said, ‘This is our favorite for the Derby?’ But it was probably just the new surroundings, because the next day he did fine with everything and didn’t look like the same horse. All I know is that I was very impressed with him after the race. Racing really needs a horse like this. If any horse can sweep the Triple Crown, he’s the one.”

Even a skeptic like Dale Romans, trainer of Medal Count, is now a believer. “I didn’t think that California Chrome had any chance going into this race and I was very, very wrong,” he said. “Whether the crop is a good crop or not, that’s a special horse. I was wrong. I was a very big skeptic; I threw him out of all my tickets in every spot. I didn’t think he fit the profile to win the Derby. I’m very impressed the way he came into it, the way he looked, the way he was prepared and the way he ran. Now he has a new fan.”

So, Racing has itself a much-needed hero, a strikingly handsome golden chestnut surrounded by popular and likeable people, who can only enhance the image of the sport.

As Alan Sherman’s childhood friend Bobby Harkins said, “This is one of those things you’ll appreciate more and more as time goes by.”

Among those sharing in the victory was Larry Williams who not only bred and raced Lucky Pulpit, he also owns Tamarando, who by taking it on the chin in the Cal Cup Derby, showed the racing world that a new star had emerged.

Alan, now composed, leaned against the railing of the barn while his father was celebrating at the Kentucky Derby Museum and was able to reflect what had just happened.

“It’s been such an emotional day,” he said. “Right from the start everything starts going through your head, and all you’re thinking is, ‘Please just let him have a good trip.’ I’m just so happy for my father. He doesn’t feel like he’s above anybody. If anybody asks him for help he helps them. Every year the 2-year-olds come in and you hope. But to have something like this is beyond anything you can hope for. He just blossomed at 3 and grew up and turned into a man.”

Perhaps he should have said THE man. One of his clients stopped by and explained why he didn’t come over to him after the race, “I could see you were falling apart like a cheap suitcase, and it wouldn’t have helped if I went over and bawled with you,” he said.

Art said the following morning he heard Santa Anita and Los Alamitos erupted when he won and that both places “went bananas. I’m glad for everyone in California. As I said, he’s a rock star.”

Yes, it was truly a time for California Dreamin.’ For Steve Coburn, his dream had become a prophecy; the ultimate fairy tale. For Art Sherman, his dream had been guided by fate and the memory of Swaps and sleeping in the straw next to the horse on a cross-country train ride nearly six decades ago. For Alan Sherman, it was a dream come true for his father and a lifetime of dedication to the sport. For Victor Espinoza, it was reliving and surpassing the magic he felt winning the Derby in 2002 on War Emblem after 12 years out of the national spotlight. And for William Delgado, it was fate being in California and being asked to ride a chestnut Cal-bred just before leaving for Maryland and the dream he is now living, not only for himself, but his brother, who could only watch from the sidelines, wondering ‘what if.’

And while on the subject of fate, California’s Chrome’s broodmare sire Not For Love’s third dam is Intriguing, a daughter of Swaps. By being inbred to Intriguing through the great filly Numbered Account, it means that California Chrome is inbred to Swaps.

Art Sherman summed up the day and the experience best when he said, “I think of all my friends who have died who are watching, and they’re all saying, ‘We wish you the best of luck, Art.’ I’m so thankful that I’m here. I have a lot of friends at the racetrack and I’ve been around a long time. But I’m still the same old Art Sherman…except I won the Kentucky Derby.”

Thanks to Alex Cutadean, formerly Stable Boy, for catching California Chrome flying down the stretch right between me and Lenny Shulman


Leave a Comment:


Very nicely done, Steve. Greg Blasi's comments seem highly significant, coming from a guy who has seen nine previous KD winners up close and personal.They give me confidence in C.C. for the Preakness and beyond. Just stay healthy, big boy.

05 May 2014 8:19 PM

Congrats to everyone "Cal Chrome"! He is a colt with a great mind! Word to Espinoza, don't get in the habit of "easing up" your horse at the end of the race...To many bad things can happen.....and besides, I'd like to see how good this horse really is! (Final time)

05 May 2014 8:34 PM

Great stuff. Wonderful writing. The story, the characters, the miracle that this horse is. If I were breeding this story I would have to say it is by Carry Back out of Nice Guys Do Finish First...

05 May 2014 8:40 PM

Thanks for the great read. I first read about CC in your columns. Then saw the Cal Cup Derby and emailed a friend "He reminds me of Secretariat." My opinion hasn't changed.

05 May 2014 8:43 PM

Great retrospective, Steve! Homage to Prior Stable Boy as that shot is classic... I would want a double print of that photo coupled with the rooftop shot depicting Chrome finishing in the shadow of the Twin Spires...Thanks for your support of Chrome - as predicted we went nuts at Los Al - with many cashing multiple tickets! Regards to Lenny - Joel n Heidi in Los Alamitos

05 May 2014 8:44 PM
Fernando Rodriguez Larrain de Lavalle


05 May 2014 8:47 PM
NH Gal

Wonderful article Steve and I thank you  for writing about California Chrome very early in the year.  I just love him and his connections.  I bought my tickets to the Belmont Stakes a month ago due to my belief he'll win the Triple Crown.

05 May 2014 8:49 PM

I have no idea why anyone would question California Chrome's pedigree.  His broodmare sire's female line and his dam's female line is replete with stamina.  Buckpasser sired some great mares.  Past the 5x, there is an abundance of Princequillo influence, who by the way was one of the greatest long distance runners of all time and was the broodmare sire of Secretariat.

So to question California Chrome's pedigree, well I don't get it, so someone please explain to me why some have said he has a "cheap pedigree".  

05 May 2014 8:52 PM

                    steve I keep hearing how cal ch outran his pedigree isn't breeding the pedigree part cc goes back to 4 triple crown winners on the female side and ap indy seattle slew secrateriat on top just exactly where is outrunning his "pedigree"

05 May 2014 8:55 PM
Kathy Weightman

This is one of the best Derby stories I've ever read, and of course, written so beautifully by the best storyteller we have.  Thank you, Steve.  I loved Chrome since last year, although he wasn't my first choice.  I was hoping the Derby gods would smile on AP Indy, and give him a winner in his last crop.  Since Indy himself was unable to make the Derby, apparently it was not meant to be that he sire a winner.

Being fascinated with pedigrees, the most intriguing part of the story to me is that Swaps appears in Chrome's pedigree. Swaps sired a few really good horses, Chateaugay, Primonetta and Affectionately I know right off the bat, but other than through Private Account, he really isn't a sire you routinely see in the background of many horses.  The fact that Swaps appears twice in the background of Art Sherman's very own Swaps, is a shining example of Derby destiny. 'Twas truly meant to be!

05 May 2014 9:00 PM

Very nice article, Steve. And great picture by Stable Boy! I can imagine you and Lenny both saying, "wow...he's for real."

The race time was slow but there was a stiff wind and also the track itself was not watered during that long break between 10 and 11. Why not? It seemed much drier than earlier. I wonder if Beyer and Brisnet will adjust to the projection? I find it hard to believe that all the top 10, except for Comm. Curve who already had low BSFs, regressed so dramatically.

Thanks for simply not dismissing the race as a donkey run...the time did not happen in a vacuum, as I know you certainly do know. And I think we will see something a bit faster in the Preakness.

05 May 2014 9:12 PM

Steve Haskin ~

so very nice to read your outstanding recap of the Derby and perfect ending photo of a perfectly run Derby.

Yes, this is about "fate",courage and belief in California Chrome and his team and all those connected whether it be a hot walker, groom or exercise boy.  The son of Lucky Pulpit and a mare both whom know no price proves to many that love and heart are absolutely priceless.  It is the nurturing and timing, the knowledge and care, the right choices, the energy that flows through your hand as you brush across the mane and and look into your horses eyes - deep and that you listen well and hear the whisper that is for you alone and what you want to hear and to do the right thing if it isn't.  Trust flows between Sherman and "The Chrome" and Espinoza.  Everyone is one and won! This is how it happens.This is why it happens.  No dreams just belief.

Reviewing the Derby several times I cannot alter my comment that overall most of these opponents appeared lifeless with little effort of challenge as California Chrome simply glided through the race with ease and enjoyment, without stress or struggle. If I were to take him out of the race - I would have thought I was watching only a very good Allowance. Most of these will not go on to the Preakness as they cannot.  In the judgement of most of our fellow trainers that are deserving of equal admiration it is a relief to know that they are making decisions that are in favor of these fine equine that ran for "The Roses" and those that prayed for a "California Chrome" defeat. The simple fact of skeptics and media analysis all questioned what they could not imagine - fixed with facts and fractions and furlongs found themselves speechless as "fate" struck.  It was not the smell of the roses that carried California Chrome across the finish line in such fine form it was his honesty and his heart - all for one and one for all.

A talented and tender colt sending us all a message of hope.

05 May 2014 9:12 PM
Tiz Herself

The Derby was so special for so many reasons.

1) California Chrome proved he belonged, people can say someone ran this or missed that, he was absolutely gorgeous and he did what was asked of him. I thank Espinoza for the ride he gave Chrome, for he will have plenty for the Preakness.

2) Perfect Drift, the retiree earner of $4+ million was the pony who escorted California Chrome to the starting gate.

3) The A.P. Indy legacy lives on. Last year sons of Indy were responsible for the Oaks and Derby winner, this year, it was Indy's son Pulpit whos sons sired both the Oaks and Derby winner. Ultimately this goes back to the immortal Seattle Slew and the legacy of Secretariat.

4) Although Kentucky Breds have dominated the Derby, that does not mean that horses bred anywhere else are omitted. Secretariat was VA bred, Northern Dancer was CDN (can you believe it was 50 years ago the little Canadian horse that no one wanted wore the roses?)  while Tiznow was not a Derby winner, he too was a CAL bred and he fought tooth and nail to defeat Giant's Causeway and Sakhee in the 2000 / 2001 Classics. And my all time favorite Skip Away was FL bred.

5) There are many people at my work who do not watch racing other than the Derby and they are rooting for him... Skip Away was my inspiration to become more than a casual fan, California Chrome will be that for many as well.

Also I want to congratulate another chestnut who refuse to lose this weekend - congratulations to Wise Dan. Seek Again looked like he was going to run right by him and that gelding said no way.

Also, welcome back to Havana - see that he's returned to the worktab, cannot wait to see his debut this year!

Also, I am excited to be going to the 2014 Irish Derby at the Curragh! It will be my first Derby of any kind and I cannot WAIT. I hope Sudirman, Australia, Outstrip, Indian Maharaja, Guerre, Stubbs, Sir John Hawkins, Friendship, Oklahoma City, etc., etc. will be there! I cannot WAIT. I was there in 2008 to see Again win the group one Moyglare Stud Stakes, hope her son (Indian Maharaja) will be there! Maybe there is a chance Toormore will be there too!

05 May 2014 9:18 PM

Great article Steve. I flew down from Canada for the derby, it was quite an experience. I hope Chrome can carry this forward for the next five weeks. The comments about him not being tired are encouraging.  I felt Samraat showed so much heart in that race, and performed way beyond what was expected.

It seems that there was so much pace paranoia that the horses bunched up and it was all about positioning. Made to order for the winner! Why would such knowledgable horseman decide to take their horses back? Has that ever worked?

05 May 2014 9:20 PM

Excellent writing, Mr. Haskin! Bravo! So many great stories within this one big story. Thanks for another interesting read! It makes this Cal-Bred very proud to root for a Cal-Bred not only in the Kentucky Derby, but now, in the Triple Crown. P.S. I saw you on television as connections were being interviewed and got as excited as  seeing California Chrome win! I shouted, "Hey, there's Steve Haskin!!". The Chrome isn't the only "rock star" I saw on Derby day.

05 May 2014 9:21 PM

Great job, Steve.  The emotion, the joy, the gratitude between all the connections are front and center in your piece.  You put us right in the middle.  I get this feeling there will be more to this dream.  I'm going to email your story to all my friends who contact me at Derby time to see who I like and of course I gave them Junior.

I also made reservations in NY, just in case.  One race at a time, Junior, stay healthy.  And great shot Alex, 3 winners in one shot!    

05 May 2014 9:24 PM
Michael J Arndt

Steve, I don't know you other than sitting outside Ben 'n Jerry's in Saratoga while the grandkids ate their ice cream, but I am guessing you've always had the ability to write the best horse racing movie of all time. I hope you consider this article the "treatment" and shop it, and then write it and the book. No one could do it with the heart and love for the sport that you could. Nows the time, Mr. Haskin.

05 May 2014 9:26 PM

This was most enjoyable to read.  Those of us not able to be in the midst of Derby history in the making really appreciate all the details.  So, many thanks!

Indeed, Stable Boy captured a great moment, with the huge screen displaying a dominating victory.

05 May 2014 9:27 PM
Tiz Herself

PS thank you Steve for capturing the essence, every emotion... even had I not watched the Derby, I could read your recap and see the picture in my mind and it was as though I were truly there in person.

Steve, do you think he's the one who could end the drought?

For one who was decades too late to witness a Triple Crown winner in person and can remember Silver Charm, Real Quiet, Charismatic, War Emblem, Funny Cide, Smarty Jones, Big Brown, most recently I'll Have Another... let's not forget Sunday Silence, Alysheba, Spectacular Bid... he could be the one we've been waiting for. sorry that Hopper's injuries were more severe and pray a speedy recovery...

Thinking ahead, with Honor Code, Commissioner, Havana, Shared Belief, Top Billing, Conquest Titan, etc.. we are could have an exciting 4 year old division to follow next year (one can hope all these guys stay healthy)

Untapable is something special, too.... cannot wait to see more from her!!

05 May 2014 9:27 PM

Great story Steve,had to read it twice to make sure I did not miss anything.

I had a great day as far as gambling as I hit the Ex and the Tri..

I owe you great thanks Steve as the media and experts kept trying to talk us of this horse you were solid all along.

I also must thank Draynay and Coldfacts for helping me eliminate any and all horses they liked.

Again as stated previous I will never bet a Pletcher horse to win the Derby..

On to the Preakness..

05 May 2014 9:33 PM

Awesome article. Awesome picture. Awesome horse!

05 May 2014 9:34 PM

Superb job with this story Steve.  This story is just so great on so many levels. Great working class owners, a colt who surpasses his pedigree, fate at work, a potential for a triple crown, the Art Sherman story, it's all just great.  When Art Sherman said on tv he said a prayer at Swap's grave site I got teary.

Steve, you have been touting California Chrome since January, what a great eye you have.  The colt seems extraordinary, not even winded after the Derby.  Art and that quarter horse taught him well!  I love the Los Alamitos angle in this as well.  I was worried about the looking and gawking around but I was worried over nothing!  A true champion can run on any surface and they knew he would handle any surface.  So much for getting a workout in him at Churchill.  But if they make it to Big Sandy I think they better rethink that, those wide sweeping oval turns are tough at Belmont.  Experience may be more helpful there.  It was a great race and CC established his ground early.

Great run by Danza.  Similar to Afleet Alex in that they both were the Arkansas Derby winner, got bumped pretty good in the Derby and both took 3rd.  Alex had more of a foundation under him prior though at 2 and 3, that is the difference.  But Danza is the real deal, this proves it.

Wicked Strong, not that bad of a race and Commanding Curve was very good, but he was a surprise in there.

What a birthday present for Mr. Coburn!  Wow, it doesn't get much better than that.  He was almost in tears.  

This is all so good for racing, especially since these Peta allegations have surfaced.  Now's the time for the industry to clean up its act and say yeah, we've made some mistakes but progress from them and move forward without medications.  

Congratulations California Chrome!!!!!!

05 May 2014 9:50 PM

Thank-you immensely for the finest, most astute reporting of this great event and dominating performance by a throwback, blue collar, fleet footed super special race horse. The race was over when he broke well and established a good stalking position into the first turn. I do not think I have ever seen, especially in this race, a horse in the exact position I hoped for at every stage and point of call of the race. He simply has a turbo that kicks in at the top of the stretch that reminds me of how Afleet Alex soared past his rivals in the Belmont. Pegram is so right on, you have to have experienced all the trials and disappointments of this game to realize how beyond comprehension this story really is and how incredibly difficult it is to win this race. Proclaiming a triple crown win makes me cringe but every "workout" makes me nervous until I know they have come out of it sound. If CC remains in top form and there is no reason to think he will not as Derby winners tend to be so pumped up from the win, they tend to run very big in the Preakness so I fully expect a sensational performance in Baltimore. This is rarified air we horse racing enthusiasts are breathing right now, something many of us might never experience again in our lifetime. The extreme pleasure of witnessing races and being around Zenyatta and some other very special race horses including my own modest Cal bred, are seize and drink in the moment times in my life that get the blood pumping and will always bring back a flood of warm memories. I am feeling the next two and following three weeks are going to live up to those expectations. Let's all enjoy this wonderful ride, hopefully right into racing lore!

05 May 2014 9:53 PM

Dear Steve, This is one of the most beautiful pieces you have written. I have been watching and waiting for two days for your post and it has been well worth the wait.

I cannot speak for others, but I am here to say that this colt and his story and that of his owners and his trainer and his jockey and exercise rider have touched my heart more than any racehorse since perhaps Secretariat.

My goodness,that old adage truth is often stranger than fiction certainly applies here.

The tears were flowing everywhere all over this country when he crossed that finish line. Tears flowed again as we watched the post race coverage, the trophy presentation, Cali being walked back to the barn. Heck I even cried the next morning when I watched that short video of his legs being hosed down. And usually by Sunday afternoon, most everyone has finished discussing the Derby, but not this time. People are still buzzing about it. That is just the impact this dream come true story has impacted everyone.

This is the American Dream story and the players, all of them are just like the people that live next door.

When Mr Sherman said he was riding Chrome the last 70 yards with Victor, LOL, there were millions of people riding with Victor as well.

I do not know if Chrome can win the Triple Crown. I think he can and I hope he can and you can bet that I will be cheering him on, praying that he stays safe that he brings it home 2 more times.

One note on Commanding Curve, I liked this colt from the first time I saw him race. He has a bright future in racing and once again I wished I had placed that bet on him to place and wow...place he did. So when you were looking for closers a few weeks ago..well here is is for you!. The way he went wide and came past that pack and was charging to that finish line..it was just amazing to watch. I am proud too of Samraat, I think he ran a hard, determined race and missed the board by a nose.

It was at the end of the day most exciting Derby races I have seen in awhile, our hero won and that little longshot came out of nowhere and took 2nd. All the horses and colts came back safe. What more could one ask for from a race!  

05 May 2014 9:56 PM
Paula Higgins

First, I have been looking for your piece after the Derby for 2 days now and you know why Steve? Because the vast majority and I do mean vast majority of the writing has been flat and banal. Claire's was an exception. One piece on the Kentucky Derby, was entitled (I kid you not) "Aesthetically Pleasing but Historically Slow." This paragon of journalism writes for the Washington Post. That's all I will say so I don't get into trouble, but I had a lot more to say when I emailed him. So, I was anticipating your narrative and take on this wonderful Kentucky Derby and I was not disappointed. Once again, you take us to places no other writer in horse racing goes to and that is to the heart and soul of the people who make it all happen. You never forget the horse, his personality and his road to the race. Your ability to flesh out a story is amazing. When they interviewed Art Sherman right after the Derby, I saw you there with your recorder(?) and yelled out to my husband "There's Steve Haskin!" I knew we were going to get a great story. So a big thank you.

I was beyond thrilled to see California Chrome do just what we all hoped he would do. I haven't been this happy since the days of Queen Z and Rachel. I was thrilled for Art Sherman, Mr. Coburn and Mr. Martin. They took a real chance and it paid off. Art Sherman is a sweetheart of a man and to see him at age 77 win was so gratifying. He's clearly a modest and kind man. Mr. Coburn is a character and he couldn't contain himself. I loved it. Mr. Martin was more retiring and I loved that too. The two of them are a perfect fit as owners. Ying and Yang. I would love to personally thank Mrs. Coburn for telling Mr. Coburn that no, he couldn't have a plane but yes, he could buy a horse. Thank you Mrs. Coburn. I would love to thank Mr. Martin for his "road map to the Derby." I mean you can't make this stuff up.

Ok, I just want to put it out there that my last list before the derby was as follows:

California Chrome

Intense Holiday

Wicked Strong



If you switch out Intense Holiday for Commanding Curve I wasn't too far off. Since I will never be this close again, I am bragging this one time. I will say Commanding Curve was never on my radar, which was clearly a big mistake because he is a pretty impressive horse as well. I do not think this is an unimpressive crop of 3 year olds as some people have stated since the derby in an effort to diminish CC's win. It is way too soon to make statements of that kind and I don't buy it. As for the final time, I am thrilled that Victor Espinoza did not try to set records with California Chrome but instead, went fast enough to win and also save his horse for the next race. Smart jockey. He did a beautiful job with California Chrome. He is also a compassionate man and donates 10% of his winnings to children who are hospitalized for cancer treatment in a California area hospital.

I hope California Chrome can repeat his success two more times, but whether he does or not, this is one very special horse. He has quite a future ahead of him.

05 May 2014 10:01 PM

Thanks so much for the goosebumps Steve!

05 May 2014 10:02 PM
Toro On Turf

Wonderful story Steve....for a wonderful horse....I went to my first horse race at Del Mar in summer of '76 and while in the service got to visit all of the SoCal tracks including Santa Anita, Hollywood and yes many times to Los Alamitos for the Quarter Horses.  This California Story is perfect for Cali Horse Racing and more importantly Horse Racing itself....I got a good feeling about "The Chrome" Couple more wins would be fantastic!  Good luck!

05 May 2014 10:09 PM

Steve, congratulations on a marvellous piece of writing. Should the impossible happen, perhaps you may wish to do some screenwriting. Not that there isn't a wonderful 'dream storyline' movie ready to be made already.

Victor Espinoza's mentioning of his support and admiration for young people with cancer was also truly beautiful.    

05 May 2014 10:16 PM

Great read, Steve.  You've been on CC for a long time, as have I.  He did not disappoint and I only hope the can carry his form a few more weeks.

I am dying to hear what some of his critics have to say now, though I expect most will be mute.

05 May 2014 10:32 PM

Thank you, Steve, for the wonderful Derby recap.  Loved the part about California Chrome being inbred to Swaps.  Will be praying he stays healthy and continues on this monumental quest.

05 May 2014 10:39 PM

You really are quite the wordsmith Steve. I virtually always enjoy your prose.

Most poignant telling of the 'Cinderella Equine Man'--Cal Chrome fairy tale in the making. I echo the sentiments already expressed. Stay healthy big boy and hopefully you will reign at old hill top....THEN, and only then will there be one left and what a one

that is.

05 May 2014 11:04 PM

It's been a great Derby Trail, Steve, thank you, so much!!!

Art Sherman said something interesting before Chrome made it out to Churchill.  When mentioning his horse just galloping once he made it there, Sherman said, "I want him to really spend his time LEARNING the track", which I think speaks, not only to his intelligence, but all the looking around Chrome was doing while on the track.  We know he's figured out when it's showtime once he comes off the final turn.

Chrome has a trend, when he hits the accelerator and gets separation from the pack, he tends to scale back to cruise control.  If you watch him coming down the stretch in the Derby, you'll see his right ear aimed back at the competition listening for someone to come join the party & when there's no one there he puts it on autopilot, regardless of what Espinosa is doing.  

This is one reason why his time was slow.  How was the wind at race time?

05 May 2014 11:13 PM

Well, I had a superfecta box:



Commanding Curve

Dance with Fate (being stalled 3 separate times did me in!  Wicked Strong beat him by ½ length!)

05 May 2014 11:16 PM

I've been waiting with bated breath, Steve, for your perceptions of the Derby (especially seeing you right there behind Art in the televised interviews).  As a California racing fan, I have had the privilege of seeing Junior run  in three of the 4 wins- the King Glorious (on Hollywood Park's closing day), the San Felipe and the Santa Anita Derby, and each time, I've been impressed by Junior's abilities and his continued improvement with each race.  I've also been very impressed by his mind- he doesn't act like the typical 3 yo- he seems to have a "wisdom of the ages" much like Zenyatta.  I hope that his story continues to have its fairy tale ending and that we see another gorgeous chestnut Triple Crown winner.

05 May 2014 11:29 PM
Bays are Best

Love this story.  And you have written it so well.

05 May 2014 11:34 PM
Eric Rickard

Great read. I have bee playing the "ponies" for 38 of my 46 years. Have had many favorites. He is a throw back ; runs a lot and is so consistent . A rare combo. What is not to like. For the two days I was talking him up to my fellow patrons in section 125. Told them he would sit third or fourth.. Move up into the far turn and put the after burners on exiting the turn. From their it would be a cruise.

How many times does a horse run the same race every time? It looks like the Chrome does. After the race the naysayers turned into believers. After my long drive back to Boston ; I asked my wife to book the Belmont. She said , " he will make up for the Smarty Jones trip". Hope to see you their.

On a side note ... Could you mention to your friends In the industry that Churchill needs to put the fractions of the race on that huge tv. Only a few people could see the tote and without knowing how fast the races are going is a let down to horse players.

Thank you for the great opinions and articles.

05 May 2014 11:46 PM

I'm always surprised by the continual references to CC's "lowly" bloodlines.  The dam sire is a Phipps horse and the sire of the dam of the dam is a Phipps horse so CC's dam is 3/4 Phipps and line bred on Numbered Account.  The tail line is Sir Ivor.  That doesn't seem so shabby to me.

05 May 2014 11:50 PM

Great recap as always Steve!  Glad to hear that he was in fact geared down and not tired or blowing after the race.  That is the way I saw it too on TV but have read some comments that the time was slow because he was tired and stopping.....just haters I guess.  I feel like we are finally going to see a triple crown winner - and I do not say that lightly.  Thanks for all your hard work and information over the past months.  It really adds to the triple crown excitement for me - especially since I will never see any of them live.  Reading your writing and seeing your pictures brings it all closer.

06 May 2014 12:20 AM
The Deacon

Brilliant read Steve. He was your #1 most of the Derby trail, kudos to you. I am please for Art Sherman. The Swaps connection really hit home for me.

I didn't try to beat I just enjoyed the race. Espinosa did a brilliant job of riding. He deserves a lot of credit. Good break between speed horses, kept him off the rail and out of harms way and as usual exploded just above the 8th pole. What an acceleration and turn of foot. Hope he stays healthy...........

Thanks for an exciting Derby trail ride. You out did yourself on this one.

06 May 2014 12:21 AM

Bravo, Steve - beautifully written article about a beautifully trained and ridden California bred, our state hero California Chrome.  The governor of our Sunshine State ought to declare a California Chrome day.  Thank you for commenting on Greg Blasi's comments.  I have watched so many derby's on the telly and always wanted to know the name of the fellow that gets to escort the derby winner.  I noticed him on Calvin and Birdy's 2009 and thought, is that the greatest job in the world or what?  We are still celebrating at our home.  A great Kentucky Derby, my only regret is I wasn't there to see it all in person.  

06 May 2014 12:25 AM

7 races as a two year old with no break between 2-3, followed by restricted stakes races and a series of 4 fast furlong works at Los Alamitos. It defies logic! Win number 5 with no sign of bounce.  Talk about conditioning.  He runs a 45 1/2 and a 109 and change in the San Felipe and comes back to win the Santa Anita Derby by 5 lengths followed by a win in the Derby without a single work over the track!!!  Yes, a fine line between madness and genius indeed.  Amazing, special, awesome...

06 May 2014 1:35 AM
spectacular bid

every year we jump on the derby winner bandwagon and hope against hope for a triple crown winner. the sport needs it so so badly. this one just feels different. the comment about him perhaps having a bigger motor made me think about secretariats heart and how big it was when they weighed it, could Junior have the same engine? as a californian, i sure hope so.

06 May 2014 1:42 AM
Tana Rae

Hi Steve!  I, along with many others I imagine, was anxiously awaiting your take on this past weekend's Kentucky Derby.  Boy, you did not disappoint!  Terrific article with a masterful blend of perspectives from many different sources.  And, it seems, all came up with basically the same conclusion:  what a horse.  But you've been saying this for quite some time.  Thank you For making the road to the Derby so enjoyable.  By the way, I had him like you did - months ago.  So, is he that obvious or are we all that smart?  LOL.

06 May 2014 2:46 AM

Danza should have been disqualified for impeding the path of Medal Count in the middle of the stretch! Period.

06 May 2014 4:41 AM

Can I ask why Calvin Borel would have wanted the rail trip,when the rail was slower and deeper than the middle of the track? I believe Ride on Curlin lost at least 6 lengths from being angled "in and out"- Bad ride Calvin!

06 May 2014 4:48 AM

I though there was nothing to write about with the low profile of the participants, but this was a nice story, well done Haskin, as usually.

06 May 2014 5:06 AM
The Peacock

As always Steve, great job...very informative. A wonderful counter to the seemingly "sour grapes" recap by sir Andy Beyer.

What can be said of a scribe/tout whose past top figures were the eventual winners, but he selects another colt? While dismissing the winner.

Yes, BadSaddle, Blasi's comments seem very meaningful; especially the heart/lung capacity words. And he's a chestnut. What other horse on his sire's side does this sound like?  

06 May 2014 5:23 AM
Don from PA/DE

Wonderful story, writing, and deserving outcome for CC Steve...PS: Yesterday I reread your April 21 KD-DD, and was blown away, but now that I am back, you were so on, had the winner #1, #2 scratched, #3-3rd,#4-5th, and first horse after DD was Commanding Curve, with a long long paragraph of why he is so worthy...this year you were so "on" you get the "Nostradamus" award, thanks again for sharing all your knowledge and emotions. Don

06 May 2014 6:17 AM

What a wonderful article! Thank you again Steve.  I loved the race and the backstory is even better! I learn so much more.  Off to the Peakness.  Let's hope CC stays healthy and sound.

06 May 2014 7:09 AM

Great article and great photo Mr. Haskin.  After the recent disappointments do we dare hope for a Triple? Hell,YES!

06 May 2014 7:21 AM

Hi Steve, thank you for another great year of derby coverage that only you can provide through your pictures and words. This was a great article Steve, reading the comments from Greg Blasi I agree with Badsaddle, they seem significant. Steve, could you explain what crease and quartered up means. Also, “wouldn’t of blow out a match after the race.” could you clarify what this means. Thanks again Steve, you are the best.

Kind Regards,


06 May 2014 8:30 AM
Melissa P

Wonderfully written, as always! No one can put the magic that was this Derby into words like you can, Steve.

06 May 2014 9:07 AM
Linda in Texas

Bigtex - just as the race was about to start, i checked weather.com and the Temperature was 68, Wind out of the west at 12 mph, Humidity 36% UV Index 0 to Low.

06 May 2014 9:20 AM
Other Linda In Texas

Steve, I really enjoy your wonderful writing!!

06 May 2014 9:31 AM
Mister Frisky

CC ran like the the favorite he was.Its only a big field when most of the 18 other horses are in front of you.He made it look easy with the way most races are won every day ,with a well positioned stalking trip.Not the usual chatter about how the TC is a foregone conclusion,maybe too many disappointments the last 35 years.Ironically this horse has fewer obstacles than past Derby winners.Quick turnaround, can't wait for Baltimore.

06 May 2014 9:56 AM
Pedigree Ann

The idea that California Chrome is a 'throwback' or a 'freak' overlooks the fact that he was by far the fittest horse in the field. After all the racing he had done at 2 and 3, he was rock hard fit without an ounce of fat on him. Next to CC, some of the other horses in the post parade looked soft and squishy, not fully fit. Art Sherman learned his training from the old-school guys and he has shown his juniors this year how that old-school method develops a colt using racing as part of the conditioning process. At this point, CC needs only daily maintenance work, not speed works, to keep in shape.

06 May 2014 10:01 AM

Now the focus is, can CC accomplish it? I would love it.

Thanks Steve for  keeping us horse adicts informed and interested.

You do a great job of promoting horse racing for the industry I hope the industry appreciates that.

06 May 2014 10:12 AM


If you're considering a screen adaption of California Chrome's story, here's a word of advice: wrap up Steve Haskin immediately as your industry consultant/screenwriter.  It will be the smartest move you will make.

Bigtex--Good points about Junior's running style.  I'll admit I was concerned the first day on how Junior was reportedly taking to the track but as I posted earlier, I had to trust Art Sherman knew what was best for his horse.  Junior is an intelligent animal, not a robot and he was feeling out the whole situation, getting himself acclimated to his surroundings.  When it came to putting the blinkers on Saturday, he was all business.  We'll probably see the same routine at Pimlico.

My tri box had California Chrome, Danza, Wicked Strong, Intense Holiday and Medal Count.  Second year in a row got knocked out by Dallas Stewart.  Did have win money on California Chrome and lo and behold I hit the Oaks/Woodford Reserve/Derby $.50 pick3--my $7.50 investment paid a whopping $4.25--woohoo!

Draynay--You can come out of hiding, it's ok.  By the way is Dublin Up still a maiden?  I see the horse that beat him in the Santa Anita Derby won the Kentucky Derby on Saturday.  

06 May 2014 10:19 AM
Steve Haskin

Thank you very much, everyone, for your kind words and all the support and comments throughout the Derby trail. I actually have added a line about Perfect Drift, finsing out about that late. There was an irony in him leading Chrome as well.

06 May 2014 10:36 AM

Congratulations are in order for the connections and supporters of California Chrome.  He distinguished himself from the others in an emphatic manner. He was never my choice to win but was never discounted. I wish the connections, supporters and the big chestnut continued success in the remaining legs of the TC.

I was disappointed particularly in how the race unfolded and with the race in general. Now, this is taking nothing away from CC’s victory as he was much the best. With so much speed in the race I expected a faster pace. That did not unfold and consequently based on the track that was on display on Friday that was the same on Saturday, no closer had a chance.

When the winner of the biggest 3YO in the country geared down to win in 2:03.66, many questions must be asked. The primary question has to be – Was there no colt/gelding in the field capable of recording a time of 2:03.66 over 10F fully extended? Even with a trouble trip there should have been at least one other horse that could have broken 2:04. That is sad aspect of the race.

My selection Wicked Strong was very unsettled and was not in receipt of the best ride but did well to finish fourth.

I made a late case for Commanding Curve on the Unlocking Winner Blog when he backed. The CC exacta was the only wager I collected on as I stupidly tossed Danza. Happily the returns left me in a surplus. See Below:

“With a clear trip, Commanding Curve would have finished a clear 4th in the Risen Star ahead of the highly touted Hopportunity. With an incident free trip in the LA Derby, he would have finished a clear 2nd ahead of current buzz horse Intense Holiday. It is obvious Commanding Curve relishes the surface at CD as denoted by his 3 positive efforts there.”

“Although the sons of A P Indy have the superior Derby record, Commanding Curve is a significant underdog when compared to California Chrome and Tapiture. Although CC’s sire Master Of Command was not a major player in the breeder shed similar to Lucky Pulpit prior to California Chrome, he has the best racing record of the three stallions.”

“A well bred son of A P Indy with a progeny at 50-1 is always worth a wager base on the results in the last 4 years.”

06 May 2014 10:36 AM

Once again the stars aligned in the derby, i.e. Sea Hero, Orb, Ferdinand, etc.  When Art Sherman stopped and said a prayer in front of Swaps asking for only half his talent,  I knew the deal was sealed.  Where do I go to become an extra in the movie?

06 May 2014 10:48 AM

Such a pleasure and pure joy to read your wonderful prose, Steve.  It's not just the facts of this horse and his connections, because as we all know, the facts have been reported over and over.  What is fresh is your way of capturing so much of the emotion about this particular story.  I could feel the tears well up when I read the first two paragraphs. If I feel overwhelmed, what must those closest to this horse be feeling, I thought?  Yet, you captured those emotions and more. It's amazing, but there are actually people out there who still aren't convinced.  Many seem determined to tamp down everyone's enthusiasm for what looks like a sure assault on the Triple Crown.  The race was the slowest Derby, weak crop of three-year-olds, he won't be able to get the Belmont distance, his pedigree is not "blue" enough, etc., etc. Fortunately, those "negative nabobs of negativism" will be drowned out very quickly. This is just too good a story not to jump on the bandwagon that is California Chrome.  As always, your take puts into words what so many of us feel and wish we could articulate. Thank you so much.  This column was the one I was waiting for since Saturday.

06 May 2014 10:50 AM


You have outdone yourself!  I am a huge fan of your writing because you write with so much heart.  This article is superb.  You have a gift that few have and I so appreciate it and enjoy everything you write.  I do have a question for you though.... what were you thinking, in the shot with Lenny, as Chrome thundered down the stretch?  I'd really like to know.

As for Chrome he is the symbol of dreams come true and a symbol of hope to all who have dreams who think they can't come true.  Not that this will happen to all but these owners have not stopped believing, they have faith and trust in this amazing creature and rightly so.  It's as though the racing gods smiled down on them and gave them a magical horse who doesn't know he's supposed to be tired after a Derby win. I have no doubt he will win the Preakness I am concerned about the Belmont after seeing Commanding Curve coming down the stretch and he will be fresh going into the Belmont.  This is why we have had no TC winners, too many horses skipping the Preakness and going to the Belmont but thinking on it longer I am buying into that dream of DAP.  This horse is unusual and special and yes, magical.  Watching him run the way he did on Saturday, made the rest of them look as though they didn't belong there when in fact they did.  I know that the elite were sure he would bomb, I know Jerry Bailey and Randy Moss has him as finishing fourth.  It was as if all the stars were in alignment.  I have never seen a favorite have a script-like trip like that as though it had been written and directed for the screen.  Not one snafu as though angels were leading the way. I remember someone saying on a Secretariat documentary that when Secretariat ran his Belmont it was like the Lord was holding the reins, that it was almost supernatural and it was. I'm not saying that God is concerned about racing but horses are his creatures and I do think that there is some Divine intervention cause it sure looked like it in 1973. Secretariat was scary he was so good.  I'm not saying Chrome is another Secretariat but I do think he is special in his own way and I will be watching the next two races and I think that after the Belmont that the attending crowd will be heard all the way to Manhattan.  A Triple Crown can be nothing but good for this sport and it will be so nice to witness it again after a 36 year drought.  

06 May 2014 10:57 AM
Smoking Baby

Congrats to California Chrome.  He ran big. I thought he would but you never know until they do it (remember Brother Derek and Mister Frisky?).  I was surprised no one claimed foul on Danza.  I thought I saw him wipe out Wicked Strong not once but twice.  

The race time & Beyer were slow but no biggie.  Remember when Big Brown crushed Icabad Crane in the Preakness with a 100 Beyer and we were supposed to be so impressed?

I do tend to agree with Coldfacts about the rest of the Derby field.  California Chrome was geared down but not so with the others and no one could break 2:04?  I read they didn't water the track for some time so could the track have simply become much slower than earlier in the day?  It might be that simple as I think this group of horses is much better than that.

On to Baltimore.

06 May 2014 11:10 AM


You are our Cal Chrome, great work and simply the best turf writer in the country. APPLAUSE

06 May 2014 11:19 AM

I had to make another comment.  I heard the commentators for NBC remark on the slow time.  Charlie Whittingham was asked if he was concerned about the slow time Sunday Silence ran in 1989 and his reply was:  "No, all the rest of the horses were behind him."  I sure miss Charlie.

06 May 2014 11:35 AM

The field ran into the wind twice. It was about 10-15 mph which makes a difference. Chrome didn't do any drafting into the wind. It was very impressive.

06 May 2014 12:07 PM

Great reflection on the Derby, Steve. The best horse in the field, California Chrome won hansomely and with a lot in hand to scare away most from wanting to face him again in the Preakness. Congratulations to his connections.

I did not anticipate the crazy pace of recent derbies in this years renewal but was a bit disappointed in the slugish final time and sub-100 Beyer speed for the winner. It is clear that California Chrome could have run faster if faced with stronger competition but the field was clogged up with milers and synthetic horses that didn't belong. Although California Chrome was my winning selection I maintain that the best Derby field was not facilitated by the qualifying system and that a redress of the system is needed.

The Preakness is going to be very interesting with a lot of the clutter removed to make room for the likes of Social Inclusion and Bayern and possibly the starry-eyed filly Untappable.

06 May 2014 12:22 PM
Old Timer

Steve I have seen many stories the last few days on the race, but was eagerly waiting for yours. You never disappoint! Nice writing. I particularly note your comment about the headwind in the stretch. The final half mile went in 51 and change which is awfully slow, but maybe that was the reason why. And CC was #1 on the Derby Dozen. Nice!

06 May 2014 12:40 PM

Pedigree Ann,

Interesting assessment. Big Brown had only 3 starts heading into the Derby. He ran out a convincing victor and destroyed the field gearing down in the Preakness. Did his trainer show the old guys the art of using limited races and a lack of foundation to win?

Many derby winners in the last 10yrs were lightly races. CC had two 4 1/2F and two 5 1/2F races in his 10 starts before the Derby. How many 4 1/2F and two 5 1/2F races are written on the east coast?

Ride On Curlin covers .5F less than CC in one less race heading into the Derby. He finished unplaced.

Just how many races would be ideal heading into the Derby.

06 May 2014 12:46 PM
Old Old Cat

Thank you again, Steve, for your perspectives.  My perspective on the TIME.  He ran fast enough to win.  He rated early in the race running at his natural speed, (which is superior to most or all of the other horses),  and DID NOT USE HIMSELF UP IN A SPEED DUEL.  His exhuberant jockey stood up in the stirrups at fool 30 feet prior to the finish line, (pun intended) and saluted the Derby crowd.  That is usually a signal to the horse that he does not need to keep running.  TIME IS IRRELEVANT, it only counts in horseshoes.

06 May 2014 12:47 PM
calico cat

Mr. Haskin,

Great piece, well worth the wait (which seemed longer than it actually was).

Although I loved every word of it, the quote from the outrider Greg Blasi was priceless. You're the only writer (as far as I know) to give an account of Chrome's condition right after the race. Thank you so much for that. It gives me great hope for the future.

My Derby fever has subsided but I can feel a Preakness mania coming on... and it's gonna be a burning one.    

06 May 2014 1:04 PM

For those wondering if Chrome has the breeding to win the Triple Crown...I say he does.  His dam is 3x3 to Numbered Account who is by stamina influence Buckpasser.  His 2nd dam is by the Danzig son Polish Numbers.  3rd dam by Sir Ivor.  4th dam by Vaguely Noble and 5th dam by Ribot.  They bred this mare to a good miler son of Pulpit, who was also probably best a 1 mile to 1 1/8th miles.  Then Belmont winner A.P. Indy as sire of Pulpit.  His dosage seems high at 3.14 and based on his breeding, I disagree with it.  I would put it around 2.0....MAX!  This colt is so dead fit, and is trained by a man who learned the right way how to train a race horse, his toughest race will be the Preakness.  he will be trained hard after the Preakness and should he enter the starting gate with a shot at the Triple Crown, it won't be his breeding that keeps him from winning the toughest prize in all of sports.

06 May 2014 1:18 PM
Soldier Course

Thanks, Steve, as always.

A few observations:

California Chrome: The thing speaks for itself.

Art Sherman: A wonderful gentleman and old-school professional.

Never second guess first water.

Steve Coburn and Perry Martin: I haven't warmed to the owners yet, but no use longing for Team Funny Cide. Believing in fate is one thing; taking it for granted is another.

Victor Espinoza: Don't ease/stand up before the wire. Ever again. Not on this horse. When I saw Commanding Curve barreling down on the outside, I saw Birdstone. And Bill Shoemaker.

The movie "Dreamer" is no longer a fairy tale. For that matter, neither is "Racing Stripes".

Over 40 years ago another CC had something to say that is applicable to California Chrome. It was Coca-Cola. "It's the real thing, in the back of your mind. What you're hopin' to find is the real thing."

I'm just Bubbling Over over California Chrome.

06 May 2014 1:29 PM

Have been following this horse via your columns since way back Steve!  Great column.....

Also cannot see why people don't like his pedigree....LOOK at it...beyond 2 generations...dam is linebred on Buckpasser...tail female line is Ribot and Vaguely Noble...every stallion in the pedigree in 3-5 is a legend!  AP Indy on top - closer linebreeding on Mr P....but the Ribot & Vaguely Noble tail female line!!!!  I have studied TB pedigrees all my life, and now breed European German Shepherds - the backmassing and sires of the females are super super important....

Here's hoping his heart is big enough and the fairy tale dream comes true all the way through NY!

06 May 2014 1:35 PM
Mike Relva


Great writing! Love this horse and wish him and connections nothing but the best. Shiek Mo has spent millions and years trying to bred a Derby winner to no avail,here comes along couple guys with limited resources,no blue blood horses and they strike gold first try. BTW,seems Draynay has cut and run,imagine that. lol

06 May 2014 1:35 PM
Steve Haskin

Thanks again to everyone. Monica, I don't know exactly what I was thinking only that I was extremely happy for the result and the horse finally proving to the skeptics that he was for real. I will be having a follow-up later today on my perspective on the owners and the horse.

06 May 2014 1:36 PM
Robyn Louw

If you believe hard enough, dreams do come true.  I'm half way around the world, but this horse, his people and this story (thank you Steve!) have brought me so so much joy.  Having a horse is a dream come true for most folks.  Having a good horse, an impossible piece of luck.  A horse that wins the Kentucky Derby, I don't think most of us could even contemplate.  But the fact that someone has is enough to give the rest of us hope and get us all up in the mornings too.  Dreams don't come by every day, but when they do, for those brave enough to grab a chunk of mane and jump on board, it's a heck of a ride.  Thanks to Chrome and his connections for allowing all of us a ringside seat x

06 May 2014 1:38 PM
Carlos in Cali

To: Marcus Hersh and Andy Beyer @DRF,

#GetAclue #OnAnIsland

Another thing that hasn't been mentioned is how the rest of the early pressers backed-up,meaning Cali Chrome was the lone survivor of the "slow" pace. That tells me the the track was slow/heavy for the Derby because they didn't water it down in between races. Makes it even more impressive...

06 May 2014 1:46 PM
Terry M.

No one can write about horse racing like Steve Haskin! Just when I think he has written his best piece, along comes yet another incredibly written story. Steve, you are the BEST. I loved every sentence.

06 May 2014 2:14 PM

Thanks for giving CA Chrome the write-up he deserves. Despite all the negativity from the experts I never deviated from being in awe of this horse & his commonplace roots. Dale Romans is a standup guy for admitting his new found admiration of CA Chrome. Where are the rest of them? Hiding under their desks (as they say). Where ever this jubilation takes us it's great for the sport & for the everyday folk who dream big & cash in on that dream. Happy trails, CA Chrome!

06 May 2014 2:22 PM

Great story Steve and I agree with all the comments encouraging your involvement with a future movie/book when this journey ends with a Triple Crown win for the Chrome connections. Heck even if C Chrome gets beat this story still needs to be told to the masses and who better then you to tell it, I just hope you realize how sincere we are in our thoughts. As for the remainder of the journey at hand, I believe the Preakness will be the acid test with the fresh runners being the biggest obstacle in Chrome's path. Some may argue the distance of the Belmont and Chrome's supposed lack of lineage will be to much to overcome and I'd never be foolish enough to get in a debate about breeding but I know what I see. What I see hasn't changed since the SA Derby when I commented about Chrome looking like he hadn't even worked up a sweat and now it's been validated by another 1/8th of a mile and by Mr Blasi's first hand account and experience with other Derby winners after there races. And come to think of it some of those other winners were being touted as having plenty of pedigree to win the Belmont and the TC. I'll repeat myself from my posting a month ago, these are the connections that will make people who stay with this sport through all the self imposed  black eye's proud to be fans. They already have.

06 May 2014 2:34 PM
Rusty Weisner

El Kabong,

Congratulations on the super!

06 May 2014 2:59 PM

Steve, greta article.  How Classy is Dale Romans?  His horse is knocked from any chance at second or third in the stretch and he doesn't gripe about that.  Instead he complments the winner for a great race and the trainers for a great job.  We need more like him in this sport.  

06 May 2014 3:18 PM

So happy for the connections, a very deserving group of people. The horse seems magnificent, yet I'm afraid to be overly confident. So nice that California has another great contender representing them in the sport. Zenyatta, now California Chrome. I'll be on the band wagon for this pony to win the triple crown, but I know too well what a difficult feat that has proven to be. There are several really nice 3 year olds this year. The competition is there. CC will have to prove his worth and they aren't going to hand him anything. That's what it's all about though, to wear the crown you must be the king.

06 May 2014 3:19 PM
Jean in Chicago


The 'wouldn't blow out a match' (or candle) comment just means he wasn't huffing and puffing after the race. Just breathing normally.  I don't know about the 'crease' or 'quartered up', but I would guess it shows the hindquarter muscles have been pumped to the max.  CC NOT showing these signs implies a very well conditioned horse with a lot left at the end of the race.

I gave my heart to Art Sherman when he made a passing comment that 'it made him sick' the way Swaps was raced when he was in so much pain.  Yes, everyone would love a Triple Crown, but I think they would put Junior's well being ahead of any lust for fame or glory.  And, unlike Majestic Prince or Cannonero, if they were told that the Belmont would be too much, they would say take care of the horse first.  (Cannonero's Belmont attempt was bad enough, but I've never forgiven his people for refusing to let the horse's goat companion go with him unless his purchasers paid an extra $10,000 for the goat.)  

06 May 2014 3:26 PM

Since the point system was incoorperated the horse with the most points going into the Derby is undefeated..

This is a Coldfact and cannnot be ignored..

06 May 2014 3:41 PM

Noticing the comments about not watering the track…why did Churchill Downs do it this way?  The cynical side of me is wondering if maybe someone was TRYING to slow down the Cal bred???  I honestly don't know.  Anyone???

06 May 2014 4:42 PM

Pedigree Ann

I completely agree with you.  There is no conditioning a horse quite like the races as opposed to workouts.  Plus, since Coldfacts tried to rain on your parade, I'll go so far as to say we might see the occasional Derby winner that's lightly raced, a la Big Brown, but if we ever want to see a triple crown winner again it'll be a horse who's been conditioned for it.

"California Chrome: The Art of Horse Racing!"

06 May 2014 4:56 PM

Great piece, as always.

Two things really struck me. First, the comments of  outrider Greg Blasi about CC's appearance immediately after the Derby jives perfectly with my impressions of CC after his last 4 races prior to the Derby. Living in SoCal, I had been able to see CC in person for his last 4 local races. Of the many things that impressed me was that it seemed to me that CC looked just as good if not better following his races than before. He would just be bouncing effortlessly, energetic yet controlled.

Secondly, I loved learning that Perfect Drift was CC's lead pony in the post parade. Having lived in the Midwest during the 2000s, I saw PD run in person about 15 times. He was a fan fave himself.

06 May 2014 6:54 PM
Flying Paster

In April of 1979, I was diagnosed with bone cancer at age 19 and told I had a 50/50 chance to survive. Weeks later, I rooted my heart out for Cal-bred Flying Paster to beat Spectacular Bid. When the Bid blew by the Paster on the far turn, I bawled my eyes out. Thirty-five years later when CC surged to the front down Churchill's long stretch I bawled my eyes out again—this time from joy.

06 May 2014 7:08 PM
Ida Lee

What a wild ride this wonderful horse has taken us on...Thank you for a great article.  It says it all.  I'm just so happy with everything "Chrome". It doesn't matter to me if he wins or loses the Preakness, or if he ever wins another race. The KD is my favorite horse race, actually my favorite sport event of any kind, and he's made it even more special. A very special boy indeed.

06 May 2014 7:22 PM

I was in tears reading this article.  I am the little guy with the "cheap" horse.  I was SO rooting for him to win; and, it was magical when he did.  I have been so close to getting out of this business completely but, after watching this race, I am encouraged to keep trying for another 100 years.  I hope he goes all the way.

06 May 2014 8:02 PM

Jean in Chicago, I believe Johnny Longden and the owners bumped heads on the decision to run Majestic Prince in the Belmont. Longden was a picture of misery after the loss. He loved the horse and was against running him in the Belmont.  Many of the fans were rude and nasty after he lost his bid for the triple crown. Longden was a nice person from everything I read about him, It was a sad situation. The temptation must be overwhelming for the connections. Kudos to those who truly think of the horse first. We will have another triple crown winner someday. Whether or not it will be California Chrome is yet to be seen, and if I live long enough to see it is another matter. I'm pulling for him, but not willing to "bet the farm" on it." Just too many hopes dashed throughout the years. It's a difficult feat for any horse. California Chrome is ornery from what I saw, perhaps his feisty disposition will give him an edge.

06 May 2014 8:14 PM

Tiz Herself!

   I wish I was going to the Curragh with ya! I've been to the races in Sligo and Balinrobe and they were awesome! Can't wait to go back there again. Drink a Guiness for me!


   I don't think the qualifying point system had any impact on this year's Derby. However, I wish the Illinois Derby had a few points to add to it. I believe it has relevence and the Hawthorne stretch is nice and loooooong!


   I hypothetically gave you and Dray 25-1 on Cal. Chrome and you guys still turned him down.

   I had the bulk of my bet on Medal Count. Danza impeded him and I believe he could have came in at least second...he was just getting revved up!

06 May 2014 8:54 PM

Wow! We love Steve Haskins' account of aything! My daughter (13) and I are completely hooked. Thanks to the web we can tap into horse racing. Before, it was the Black Stallion series over and over, and the hope of a Sports Illustrated article. Actually it began with Billy & Blaze. We moved to out of the country and for her at age 5 we were on Barbaro watch everyday. I thought that would ruin her interest, but it didn't. We can't wait for the new year and the Derby Dozen. Since she is a kid and so much more on top of things than me, we cheer for horses like Quotient (he has a blaze like her pony by the way AND is credible!) And, she just had a feel Commanding Curve was going to do something. We love each and every one of them! My youngest jumps in at the big moments with special cheer posters for Orb and fortunately Chrome!! Thank you, Steve, and eveyone else for scratching the itch we have. Is there a career or college she should enroll in to follow her passion?

06 May 2014 8:57 PM

Read, reread and reread again, and still gleaning nuggets.  My favorite it the outrider's impression that the race did not take anything out of Chrome.  This says a lot.

What I think is most telling about the race time, is that the "speed" other than CC, backed up.  I think Samraat actually did best of those on or near the lead.  He finished 5th about 6 lengths back.  Chitu was 9th, 8 back; Intense Holiday 12th, 9 back; Uncle Sigh 14th, 15 back, and poor Vicars in Trouble, last and eased.  This tells me the track was no longer playing fast by the time the Derby was run, or that the headwind took a toll on most of these colts.

Also, notice how CC finished the race.  He slowed when Victor went to the hand ride, but his stride was as fluid as ever and he wasn't shortening stride in the least.

06 May 2014 9:38 PM
Tiz Herself

My guess too if California Chrome returns to Churchill for any reason that they will not spell his name wrong on the saddle pad!

I was hoping Ride on Curlin would have been in the top 3, however for what he put in a bold effort too... he never gave up.

06 May 2014 9:40 PM
Paula Higgins

Coldfacts it was  good of you to congratulate everyone who had California Chrome as first, especially since he wasn't your pick. It was more than a certain someone has done and should have by now. But no surprise.

On another note, I totally agree with Pedigree Ann that because Art Sherman comes from the era when horses trained hard and raced consistently, that made a difference in California Chrome's fitness.

I also agree that Dale Romans was a stand up guy for commenting on what agreat job Art Sherman did with CC and that CC was a much better horse than he thought. I wonder if other trainers had similar kind words for Art? I hope so. I know it would have meant a lot to him.

Who is Marcus Hersh? Is there actually someone else who thinks like Andy Beyer??? Please tell me it isn't so.

06 May 2014 9:42 PM

Surely there is some room on Chrome's wings for his gallant competitors, a whimsical tribute for all:

Califor"ina"Chrome- "Poetic justice"!  It's king of the mountain and this colt is on top.

Commanding Curve-  Made it to the mound after the "hook", and almost got the "no hitter"

Danza- Shedrow foreman isn't all that bad

Wicked Strong- it is the "Derby" but not a demolition derby

Samraat-"When does the plane leave?"

Dance With Fate-Sea side on my itinerary

Ride On Curlin- "Bo-rail!"?

Medal Count- No medals for eighth, perhaps an "E" for effort

Chitu-Made you say "uncle", sigh

We Miss Artie-Saved enough ground to get Canada

General A Rod-Demoted to Colonel

Intense Holiday-Didn't "crossfire"

Candy Boy-Triskaidekaphobia, them's "Fight'n words"  

Uncle Sigh-Ahhh, glad that's over

Tapiture- Couldn't tap into the coattails

Harry's Holiday, maybe I'll bounce to Chicago or Toronto

Vinceremos- Did I bump the boss? Sorry.

Wildcat Red- I got in a cat fight and have the scar to prove it, ouch!

Vicar's In Trouble was

06 May 2014 10:29 PM
Susan from VA

Steve, you always write so well!  Thanks for bringing California Chrome to our attention earlier in the year.

06 May 2014 10:43 PM
El Kabong


It's always amazing how much you pour into your Derby recap. If anyone wanted to know the story behind this horse or any horse that wins the Derby, they need only come here every year. People really open up to you Steve and that says it all as far as your reputation as a journalist is concerned.

If you're a part of the winning connections, get the frame out and place this right beside the photos.


Gettem. I'm with you on the time. Take a look at the frame by frame photos and get a look at Garcia and Ortiz-they're talking pace. I'd love to know what was said. Anyway, time isn't important. It was quitting time all to soon for Chrome and I don't blame Victor one bit. He has two more important races, so why smoke the engine? That was a sound defeat.


Thanks. That's two times now I thought I had it figured out, went out to my local track for a backside breakfast, and pounded out a super saver ticket. I guess the first step is just meant to get me close. The tweak gets me home and both times required a miracle run for 4th(Went The Day Well and Wicked Strong). You can only put yourself in a position to be lucky.  Someone has blown me a kiss twice now, but I'd like to think it could happen again:) Regardless, I'll always go for it.

Jay Jay,

Thanks. This sport is worth all the time and effort. Keep sharpening the tools and on race day, put together a ticket that humbles your best effort by just a bit. Use the advice of Willy Wonka(Roald Dahl) and John Lennon and just imagine it. Without that last stretch of imagination, I'd  have nothing to show for all my reasoning.

06 May 2014 11:06 PM
The Deacon

Mary: You are right on about Chrome's pedigree. I didn't get it. Those few bloggers had crow for dinner Saturday night and humble pie for desert.

There are 2 in particular in here. Lets see if they admit they were wrong or they'll find some excuse or negative spin to continue their negativity towards a nice colt. These types of folks aren't fans or true horsemen, not in my opinion. You don't build yourself up by tearing something else down...........well written Mary.

06 May 2014 11:07 PM
Princess Cecilia

Thanks Steve, for another moving article on this wonderful colt. I went back to read what you wrote about CC on Feb 3, which is when you listed him as "knocking on the door".  You were so prophetic in that, and your subsequent postings about him. I'm grateful that you brought him to everyone's attention (especially mine!) and allowed us all to share in your excitement. Dreams do come true, and I've purchased Belmont tickets for a chance to ride on the coat tails of this one.

06 May 2014 11:45 PM
Greg R

Uplifting story about a "happy ending" Derby.  Sometimes I feel slightly let down after the Derby, because "my" horse didn't win or place. Not this time!  CC was my pick and my rooting interest all the way!

Some other Derby horses may be just as talented, but they don't have the right mind and personality to cope with it all, or they don't have the right trainer or the right jockey at the right time.  So many things have to come together.  If those who made the multi-million dollar offer had gotten him, who knows, he might have lost because he missed his groom/exercise rider/trainer/routine, fill in the blank.  Pimlico, here we come.

06 May 2014 11:50 PM

Great article Steve. The way this incredible dream has played out is fantastic and it's a win-win situation for everyone who loves thoroughbreds and this sport.

07 May 2014 2:13 AM
Bill Two

People talk about this horse's pedigree like he's got no folks. Not For Love has been a great stallion for years and my eyes and ears perk up when I see that name close up.

07 May 2014 8:15 AM

Johnny 06 May 2014 3:41pm:

Your point is taken but what does the cold facts about the runners-up say to you? Both Golden Soul last year and Commanding Curve this year got into the Derby fortuitously. Last year points became irrelevant but this year, only the second year of this contrived system, strong cases can be made for a few excluded hores that could have won or changed the complexion (pace) and outcome of the race. Please dont take my view in this matter as any sort of knock down of California Chrome. He trounced the field that was assembled but there is no way to prove that the outcome could not have been different with the likes of Social Inclusion, Bayern and Rise Up in the race. Take all the cold facts into consideration my friend not just the one that supports your position.

07 May 2014 8:56 AM

Jean in Chicago,

Johnny Longden did not want to run Majestic Prince in the Belmont, he was against it.  I know this for a fact because I worked with his former ranch manager back many years ago and he used to come into the office every now and then to take Jolene to lunch.  He was a very nice gentleman and always willing to talk about his career.  The thing I remember most were his hands.  All those years of riding made his hands very muscular and big.  He was truly a very nice man.

07 May 2014 9:51 AM
Smoking Baby

Tiz Herself.  Have fun in County Kildare.  I'd be interested to hear what you have to say about your visit when you return home.  WAY jealous.

Someone mentioned that the closers didn't have a chance.  I'd have to disagree only because the closers occupied most of the top placings except for the winner.  By Derby time, the closers had EVERY chance on that track and were simply outrun near as I can tell.

07 May 2014 10:02 AM

Paula Higgins,

I will always remain a gracious looser and give credit where its due.  

Below are extracts from one of my posts that truly reflected how I viewed California Chrome.

“I have not really focused inept on California Chrome. I have posted a few historic points that have been taken totally out of context. It appears that stating that a Derby contender is unlikely to win equates to it being unable to win. I hardly believe unlikely is the same as absolutely.”

“CC is from a small book of mares bred and out of a lightly races mare and consequently fits the Derby winner’s profile I have been advancing for years. Why then do I dislike his chances of winning? It is a question I have been struggling to answer and my quest for answers has led to more questions.”

I posted comments on many Derby contenders and have taken some heat from just about everyone including the moderator. I consider it a part of the process and no offense is ever intended. I am not into the over glorification of thoroughbreds despite their immense abilities. I am more focused on the Derby and it bizarre history.

Regarding Pedigree Ann’s post, I cannot agree with same as it implies that Mr. Sherman’s old school approach to training is superior to that use by other trainers. Not only is premature to post such statement but it indicts other training techniques.

The last 12 Derbies have been won by first time trainers. Four of those Derby winners also won the Preakness but failed to win the Belmont. Did these Derby and Preakness winners lack fitness? Were the 11 other first time winning trainers using flawed training technique?

CC won the Derby and his next big test is the Preakness. Should he win, Mr. Sherman will join possibly 32 other trainers that won the first two legs of the TC. Only eleven of those trainers eventually won the TC.

I would love to see Pedigree Ann’s view on Bob Baffert’s training methodology. He won the Derby 3 times and was runner up 3 times as well. He has also won the Preakness 5 times. Of the 23 horse that won the first two legs of the TC and failed to win the TC, Speedy Bob trained three. He probably holds the record for the most TC misses. I wonder if those horses were fit enough.

07 May 2014 11:11 AM


You clearly missed my post regard the wagers I intended to make. The CC exacta was the only wager I collected on.

The Deacon,

You are so blinded by your bitterness towards me that you fail to comprehend the contents of my posts. You have declared you do not enjoy reading them and I have no problem with that. However, I would appreciate if when you do read them they are not taken out of context.

I would appreciate, that at your earliest convenience you read my post directed to Paula Higgins.

I never sought to tear down California Chrome just to temper the over  glorification. One horse a Derby does not make.

As usual I harbor no ill feelings towards you and continue to hope that your bitterness will some day be replaced with tolerance.

07 May 2014 11:28 AM
Cynthia Holt

There is so much about this story to love, that I could write a comment as long as your article, Steve (but not nearly as good).  There is something so poignant and compelling about a dream which comes to us later in life, especially if it it rooted in an earlier time.  There is no better example of this than Art Sherman, who has the imprint of Swaps' hooves stamped all over his heart and soul.  I was at Santa Anita on Saturday, and I can attest that the crowd reacted as one with an explosion of applause and cheers as the Derby field headed into the homestretch.  There were high-fives all around, tears, and a euphoria which I have not seen since the days of Zenyatta.  You recognized the potential in California Chrome as a racehorse and as a great story well before any others, Steve.  I'll always associate him with you, just as I do William Nack with Secretariat.  He could not have found a finer wordsmith.   The photo of you and Lenny Shulman watching California Chrome in full flight for the wire is wonderful. You represent  a generation who have spent their lives facing trackward, ever watchful for the first signs of greatness, and congnizant of its connection to the past.  

07 May 2014 11:34 AM
Linda in Texas

GunBow - Hope that Perfect Drift gets a special sign for his stall door saying - PERFECT DRIFT - Lead Pony for The 2014 140th Kentucky Derby Winner - CALIFORNIA CHROME. I admire the fact that you remembered Perfect Drift and mentioned him, thanks as those are the things i love to know. He must have been special.

07 May 2014 1:56 PM
Jersey Girl

What a joyous victory for California Chrome and Victor Espinoza, running with such ease and class. Courage also, I would add, as CC tucked in to that forward position so early, maintained without a flinch, and then took off when Victor asked him. Just wonderful. During the post parade horse and jockey looked calm and cool as could be. You could feel it coming...

Art Sherman touched many hearts along the Derby Trail, and it was tremendous to see how very much this victory meant to him. And such proud owners! You almost wanted to whisper s-s-s-h! when Steve Coburn started talking Triple Crown, but his exuberance, as well as Perry Martin's shyness when he took the mike, brought smiles and a few tears, even to those of us watching at home.

My friends and I put teams bets together, and always have a grand time doing it. We were rooting for California Chrome all the way, and positioned Wicked Strong, Ride On Curlin and Danza to come in behind him. We chose to ignore Commanding Curve at our own peril, even after seriously considering him... and we paid the price, but we didn't mind. The journey was once again priceless.

Congratulations to all the competitors. I'm thankful the horses came back feeling good and for the most part ready to go. Best wishes to Wildcat Red. He's a tough guy and I hope he heals soon.

Thank you, Steve, for providing a wealth of information, setting the landscape of this sport's emotion, and offering us a forum where we can share...and share alike?

Preakness around the corner. Good luck, everyone. We've only just begun.  

07 May 2014 1:58 PM
Carlos in Cali


Re:Marcus Hersh. I can honestly say unequivocally that he is California Chrome's biggest detractor from a Turf Writers point of view. The 'tweets' he sent out trying to disparage CC and his decisive victories in the San Felipe/SA Derby and even heading into THE Derby were foolish,idiotic,ridiculous,ludicrous,absurd,nonsensical,fatuous,silly,inane and empty-headed. In other words- Asinine!

Not surprisingly,he's already gone on record(twitter) stating Wicked Strong will win the Belmont @ 5-1 odds...  

07 May 2014 2:11 PM
Soldier Course

Bill Two

I agree with your comment about CC's pedigree. I was getting the impression that CC had been foaled in a ditch somewhere off the Golden State Parkway, and that his dad was that orangutan in "Every Which Way But Loose". Then after the Derby I learned that he was foaled at Harris Farms, no less. Phew. Glad someone set that record straight.

07 May 2014 5:09 PM
Soldier Course

Hi, Mike Relva.

07 May 2014 5:23 PM
Greg R

As for pre-Derby handicappers who doubted California Chrome. They were simply overthinking it.  They couldn't bear to go along with the uninitiated masses.  They patted themselves on the back for coming up with esoteric picks.  They suffered the usual downfall of professional experts:  Too much time to think about their own subject.

07 May 2014 5:32 PM

Steve: many thanks for your insights on The Derby and its lead up.

TommyBoomer: I posted earlier my record at Derby winners was good, but predicting the race flow was awful. I surmise maybe when there is little speed, somebody thinks they can steal; and when there are speed horses riders are careful not to get in a suicide pace. And some horses get very bold on the lead. Still surprised Chitu and/or Vicar didn't employ the gun and catch me tactic. It was seemingly their only chance?

07 May 2014 5:40 PM

El Kabong,

Congratulations on hitting your Super.  Well done!


Congrats oon hitting the ex. and tri.  Well Done also!

07 May 2014 8:02 PM

I am such a huge fan of this horse.  I have been watching him for quite awhile and he is special.  The look of eagles sir!!

07 May 2014 9:07 PM
Jean in Chicago

Monica & ksweatman9,

I don't blame Johnny Longden at all. He was a great jockey and a great, caring trainer.  He was also the best judge of Majestic Prince's condition because he actually exercised him himself.  And I don't mean to take anything away from Arts and Letters.  I blame owners who become blinded by the shine of trophies dancing in their heads and refuse to take advice from the people who spend far more time with the horse than they do.

07 May 2014 9:56 PM

Johnny:  Right you are and a little bit of cold facts ( for those who can't think ).  Social Inclusion would've been farther down the list if we were using the Graded Earnings system...Bayern would not have made the field either with his disqualification in the Derby Trial.

El Kabong : I was sold on CC but only in California, I didn't dare to dream, was just too stubborn.  I can't say I learned something from my handicapping of the Derby this year as I probably won't see the likes of Chrome again for a long time.  Next year, I'll probably approach it the same way...and I'll probably lose again.  I'm quite happy with how I did in handicapping the prep races, it's always the big race that kills me.   Are you planning to go to the Preakness or Belmont this year ?  

07 May 2014 10:17 PM
El Kabong


Apparently 5-1 is what Marcus needs to recoup his Derby losses. Don't let up, those clowns apparently need more crow on their plate.

Tjconway, you're killing me. LOL. You gave 25-1 and not a bite? That is too funny.

07 May 2014 11:36 PM

Coldfacts, you must be kidding.  The line breeding on California Chrome's tail side is super important; Numbered Account by Buckpasser, was the champion 2 year old filly of 1971.  I could go on and on relative to the tail side of CC's pedigree, but I like to keep things short and sweet.  I will post something short and sweet another day, perhaps tomorrow, i.e Ribot.

08 May 2014 12:26 AM
Paula Higgins

Carlos in Cali thank you for your response to my question about Marcus Hersh. I really do not get the point of trashing a horse, even a horse that never wins, never mind California Chrome. I mean what kind of inner demons/angst do some of these writers have that compels them to write this stuff? Is it still all about east vs. west racing? That's the only thing I can figure out but it is just nuts. That is why I love Steve's writing. He always finds something to like or even love about a horse and its connections. I think it comes down to this: trainers and then horsemen who are also trainers, owners and then owners who are also horsemen, writers and then horsemen who are also writers, bettors and then fans who love horses. One type does it for the money etc. and the other because they love horses. If they don't feel much for the horse, it shows. I have never disliked any horse, including Blame when he beat Zenyatta. He was a gritty horse and he liked people. Steve had a column afterwards about him and it was wonderful. I really liked that column because it gave all of us a perspective we would not have otherwise had as Zenyatta fans. That's the difference between a writer who is a horseman and a writer who doesn't relate to the horse (all cold blooded analysis and commentary from a jaundiced point of view).

08 May 2014 12:30 AM
Lise from Maine


California Chrome is also related to A.P.Indy, Seattle Slew and Secretariat on the Lucky Pulpit side of the family.

I am so happy for his breeders.

Hope he wins the Preakness.

Thank you!

Lise from Maine

08 May 2014 2:01 AM

Greg R,

The modern day Derby is a race consisting mostly of 20 horses. Do you conceivably believe every handicapper would have selected CC to win? It does not mean because a horse is not selected to win it will be omitted from wagers. Many handicappers missed the 2nd place finished. What’s your indictment of them?

To those that supporter CC, congratulation is in order. For those who did not select him to win, they have another shot at him in either the Preakness or Belmont. There is only one race in the TC series that has been contested. Some handicappers do not like chalks and it has nothing to do with over thinking.

I respect those who selected CC, why is it so difficult for those who did not, to be similarly respected as opposed to being ridiculed. I suspect the CC supporters have already crowned him 12th TC winner. There are those that have not and they will no doubt be viewed as being in a state of denial. There is still 21 1/2F to be contested at two different venues and anything can happen when a horse returns in two weeks against fresh talented opponents.

Many horses in the Derby performed disappointingly and that made CC’s victory even more impressive. It does not mean the field assembled against him will do likewise. If he is defeated none of his supporter will not give credit to the victor and the excuses will be a plenty. It’s human nature.

08 May 2014 7:19 AM

The Deacon,

“These types of folks aren't fans or true horsemen, not in my opinion. You don't build yourself up by tearing something else down.”

Can you provide any evidence to indicate that I am not a fan of true horseman? You have these extreme opinions driven by your contempt for me. The extent to which I am a fan you could not conceivably imagine.

In former life I owned and raced several thoroughbreds. During this ownership period I discovered the incompetence of some of my trainer. With mounting losses I was forced to educate myself about a sport and an industry I knew very little about. My education covered   pedigree analysis, keep and care, training & recovery, conditioning, nutrition etc.

I had no prior interest in thoroughbreds but after getting closely involved; I became very close to my horses and developed a passion only a true horseman would be able to understand.

Many regard California Chrome as special and I am not one of this opinion as yet. It’s far too early for me to classify him as same. By not endorsing that he is special does not equate to tearing him down.  I have a very high bar for those I considered special.

Many nasty insults have been directed to me on this blog but none compared to the one contained in you quote above. If proper evaluation of hearts of contributors was possible through their writings, the contempt you have for others would certainly headline your evaluation.

08 May 2014 8:13 AM

Regarding CC's pedigree: He traces tail male to Seattle Slew.  That did it for me.

08 May 2014 8:56 AM

Regarding CC's pedigree: He traces tail male to Seattle Slew.  That did it for me.  

08 May 2014 8:58 AM
El Kabong


No plans for Preak or Bel, and my plans for the Breeders Cup are on hold until I get Suzy's EKG results(my beagle). My vet discovered a murmur tuesday, did an X-ray and saw some problems with her heart that explain her occasional coughing/hacking that developed recently. So depending on those results, I may be staying close to home in the fall as well. Got my fingers crossed right now, but I had a blast at the 2012 Breeders Cup with my brother and we scheduled our return for this fall. California in November is really the place to be. Crisp cool mornings and low  to mid 80's in the afternoon. You're a winner before you even place a bet.

08 May 2014 12:44 PM
Mister Frisky

Look at the pedigree of every thoroughbred and you will find great horses in it,albeit 3 to 6 generations back.CC is a very good horse who has with out a doubt outrun his very modest pedigree.A buy nothing out of nothing bloodline worked great for John Henry and many others.At the end of the day it's what you do on the track that matters.CC is legit,no need to reach deep in the pedigree to validate him,he did it himself last Saturday.

08 May 2014 1:20 PM

Thank You TrackJack:

As I stated this forum is pretty awesome in helping me to hit those wagers.

08 May 2014 1:22 PM


Are you sure your post was directed to the correct contributor. I am at a loss!

08 May 2014 1:27 PM

Sweet read brother. All these stories associated with CC really touch the senses.

08 May 2014 1:40 PM

Hope that the racing industry continues to promote this story because it reinforces the idea that you don't have to have unlimited oil money to live the dream. I stated earlier that I believe the 2011 colt crop is below below average and nothing that has happened since has changed my opinion in that regard, but this story is great for racing.  I think maybe Untapable is the best thoroughbred from the 2011 crop but doubt she could get the 10 furlongs just like the other Tapits consistently fail to do.  Two years in a row Dallas Stewart horses have come from nowhere to ruin many of our exotic bets.  It will be interesting to see if this year's second place finisher can accomplish more than last year's who was a one hit wonder. The large attendance at this year's Derby is encouraging.  Maybe the "baby boomer generation" is embracing horse racing now that many of them have extra time on their hands as retirement looms.

08 May 2014 1:56 PM
Soldier Course

Mister Frisky:

I share your thoughts about CC being a thing unto himself. His is not a story about bloodlines or connections. It is only about the horse. I remember last year when Orb won the Derby, steeped in a storied set of circumstances that made a Triple Crown win seem inevitable. The racing gods were playing with us.

08 May 2014 4:37 PM
The Deacon

Coldfacts:  I am not blinded or bitter by anything about you. You just don't know what you're talking about in my opinion. Horse racing has many gray areas,  it's not always black and white.  I've acknowledged your pedigree and breeding prowess. My point has always been that pedigree and breeding alone do not determine the Kentucky Derby winner, or any other major stakes. You have tunnel vision and are narrow minded when it comes to other opinions.  Other bloggers including our brilliant moderator mention stuff like this all the time. It seems to zoom right over your head.

Pedigree Ann was correct in her assessment of Mr. Sherman. His methods on training a horse are working for him. I don't he cares if you disagree or not.  I don't recall her saying other methods by other trainers DON'T work.

You touted many horses in this years Derby Trail and gave your opinions why you liked each horse. Nothing wrong with that. What me is that you continue to find fault with horses you don't necessarily like while you build up your own selections. I've been around this business most likely longer then you've been alive and I know for a fact true racing fans love all the others. They may root for a particular horse but they certainly don't denigrate another horse.

I just have lost respect for you and your opinions.

You only see what you want to see. You make good points from time to time but know this, there are some pretty smart horse folks that contribute to these blogs. You need to learn to respect their opinions and feelings.

Last I checked you weren't the moderator here and this isn't called "Hangin with Coldfacts".......

Gee, a Cal-bred won the Derby, that must have ruined your day........

California Chrome is a very nice colt and his story along with Mr. Sherman's is ripe for a Hollywood script.....

08 May 2014 5:11 PM

"I just have lost respect for you and your opinions."

I'll 2nd that

Spot on Deacon

08 May 2014 6:02 PM
Carlos in Cali

Where's all of the California Chrome doubters?...

I want to read what you have to say.

Silence is golden!!!

08 May 2014 6:45 PM
Carlos in Cali


Does a horse have to sprout wings in order to impress you?

08 May 2014 6:49 PM

Coldfacts, no it was not directed to you.  I did not thoroughly read your post.  I apologize.  I will say this to you, please broaden your horizons and look at the super important female lines of a horse's pedigree.  

08 May 2014 8:10 PM

Jay Jay & Johnny:

Let the Preakness be the arbitrator on the quality of the field assembled in this year's Kentucky Derby by the prevailing points regime ...can't wait.

Let it be known that in the 26 years of the Graded Earnings system (1986 - 2012) it never left the kind of quality gap that will become evident after the Preakness. Under the GE system the dynamics of the build up to the Derby some how allowed the best horse to get in the Derby without fail and I double dare anyone to challenge that cold fact.

I've never said that the GE system is the best ...only that it is superior to the present hastily contrived one. I'm all for change that will yield the best 3YOs (colts, geldings and fillies) in the Kentucky Derby.

08 May 2014 9:19 PM
Mike Relva

Soldier Course

Hey,how's it going with you? Always glad to hear your comments.

08 May 2014 9:49 PM
Mike Relva

Some individuals,who I won't identify knocking CC's chances to win Derby and the usual junk. Of course,when a horse does something many feel improbable,instead of giving credit where credits due then it's his slow numbers,etc. As the great Jack Van Berg says,time only matters in your in jail.

08 May 2014 9:54 PM
El Kabong


Thank you, one of these days my main ticket will prove worthy but for now I have to be thankful for the back up. It's really hard to second guess, and that is what we are doing, but you have to stick with convictions after months of scrutiny. But don't for get to see what isn't in your clearest vision. Life is full of surprises.


good to hear, second hand, that you did well on the Derby. I love the Fairgrounds and have looked for talent there as it is a true distance from turn to home. Glad to see someone else here liked Commanding Curve enough to place him up top. He doesn't seem to get rolling until  he's run 8F's. Dangerous for 12F's and  Dallas knows it too.

08 May 2014 10:25 PM

Coldfacts, my buddy!

You're a real trooper ...keep those posts coming my friend ...only empathise with the fickle-hearted ...understand that some can't handle discenting/diferring opinions (I don't mean that dispargingly).

You're a jolly good fellow.

KY Vet: Your post race silence is deafening ...Is it because you haven't recovered from the diet of crow ...feathers all over your mouth (LOL) Please come out and tell us if California Chrome was part of your futures wager given his hectic winter campaign and that he peaked before the Derby(LOL).

08 May 2014 10:32 PM

El Kabong :  I'm sorry to hear about Suzy, I hope everything goes well.   Tell Suzy she has quite a few (I'm speaking for some of the bloggers here but I'm sure they won't mind, I'm sure some of them will post something about her by the time this gets posted) folks where you blog that's keeping her in our thoughts.  I might actually make the Breeder's Cup this year although my immediate plan is to spend a week or two at the Delmar meet.  I really like that track, a lot better than Santa Anita Park.   I'm also excited about the new Los Alamitos Thoroughbred meet, thanks to Chrome, it will get a lot of attention.   We need more horses in California, I have no idea where they all went...most of the race cards here have 6 horses specially at GG.

Ranagulzion : Your posts about the points system is a joke as it always have been.   I had to remind you about SI's position in the standings had we been using the GE system.  Now you're saying the "build up" to the Derby... blah blah blah...

The points system was created for the KENTUCKY DERBY, not for the Preakness or the Belmont or Travers or Haskell and definitely not TRIPLE CROWN.  Anyone can make a case for any horse AFTER the Derby, if they're a late developer, then they didn't belong in the Derby.  THINK HARD (or just THINK) before you post about the points system again...please.

09 May 2014 1:10 AM

Carlos in Cali,

“Does a horse have to sprout wings in order to impress you?”

You have not been reading my posts. I have joined with CC’s supporters on more than one occasion to salute his impressive performances. I have chosen not to over glorify them and classify him special as yet.  I have seen such performance before by 3YOs and the real special horses emerges post Triple Crown.

Orb’s 5th consecutive victory was recorded in the 2013 Derby similar to CC’s 5th consecutive victory in the 2014 renewal. He closed from the back of the field with ground devouring strides and his Derby victory would be his last. The unplaced Will Take Charge emerged as the exceptional 3YO and unofficial HOY on dirt.

The brillinat Skip Away finished 12th in the Derby and was never identified as special at any point. He emerged after the TC to be an exceptional horse dominating at the highest level.

A 3YO can appear exceptional against its lesser opponents but in time those he defeated handily can transition from inferior to superior. I suspect the aforementioned will be taken out of context so let me hasten to cite that I am not predicting same CC although it is quite possible.

It is the policy of some to demonize those who take a conservative approach to the evaluation of performances. If one is not on board about a top horse that person is seen as tearing down the particular horse. It is a concept that I will never understand.

Every Derby winner has an associated story. I know Americans love good stories and there is no one better at depicting them in writing than the moderator. I do not focus on stories as those associated with the majority of the horses finishing behind the Derby winner are never told. The story should never become bigger than the race as one horse a Derby does not make.

09 May 2014 9:05 AM

El Kabong Thanks and a congrats to you on the Super..

I tossed Wicked Strong due to his post and how he acted up in the post parade.

Still a  AWESOME day!

Only 359 more days until Derby 141!!  

09 May 2014 9:11 AM

The Deacon,

“Last I checked you weren't the moderator here and this isn't called "Hangin with Coldfacts”

I have been accused of providing misinformation to the vulnerable less informed. Mr. Haskin has in the past been advised to stop posting my submissions. I have been accused of using his blog to launch one of my own. I have been accused of starting controversies for my own sinister agenda. Now you have joined the league of the misguided with your own bit of ignorance “This blog isn't called "Hangin with Coldfacts”

I beg your pardon if I have somehow depicted in my submissions that I have gotten ahead of myself to the point that I consider myself Mr. Haskin’s equal. My compliments directed to Mr. Haskin are few and require no repetition as he knows how good he is. He has the awards to show for his excellence. I neither possess his credentials nor have I received any awards in anything category of excellence.

Why is the above statement necessary? Have I ever declared or inferred that I am in any way connected to this blog in an official capacity? I am but a contributor like all who have chosen to support Mr. Haskin. This is a classic example of an assessment gone wild. I have often referred to the terms and conditions for participation outlined by the moderator. I never referred to them as formulated by me. Our submissions are all posted at the discretion of the moderator.

What kind of a mind conceives the thoughts above and what kind of person see it fit to place them in writing? Amazing! Is this your best form of expressing contempt?

“You need to learn to respect their opinions and feelings.”

I have not disrespected the opinions and feelings of any contributor. Challenging an opinion, does not equate to disrespecting it. You will agree opinions have foundations and consequently a flawed foundation will lead to a flawed opinion. Opinions can also change if pertinent facts that were either unknown or missed are highlighted. My opinions have been challenged repeatedly and I do not regard said challenges as disrespect. I have been disrespected on so many occasions on this blog that I would never emulate the offenders. I treasure respect as it is a powerful character trait.

“Pedigree Ann was correct in her assessment of Mr. Sherman.”

You clearly disagree with my interpretation of her post. By highlighting Mr. Sherman training methodology as old school infers that it is somehow superior to current training techniques.  Mr. Sherman became the 12th consecutive first time trainer to win the Derby. The training techniques of the previous 11 never seemed to matter. It not a case of right or wrong, it’s one of relevance. Mr. Sherman cannot take a horse that does not have the ability to win the Derby and used old school training methods and get it to win. He had the horse on this occasion and that’s the significant factor and not the training methodology.

I will no emulate you and include demeaning statements in my submission. It is always my hope that as adults we can all coexist in this faceless forum where certain lines are not crossed. I would never advise you to go away and in there lies the differences between you and I. You see I have been schooled in the social graces and try my very best to use measured language in all conflicts or disagreements. I can take and have taken a lot of insults but sometimes I wonder why my submissions are viewed so differently for those of other contributors.

09 May 2014 10:27 AM
Steve Haskin

To the few of you to whom this applies, all this banter back and forth between Coldfacts and certain posters is getting tiresome. Let's just enjoy the Triple Crown. I really don't have the time to read every single post in its entirety to make sure there are no hostilities. Several months ago, Coldfacts basically said he was leaving this blog and sent a rather long-winded comment, in which he called me ruthless, a trait I wasn't aware of. When he started posting again, I was fine with it, because I'm not going to let a derogatory comment prevent a regular poster from contributing if he or she has something to contribute. I would hope he regrets having made such a ridiculous and insulting comment. So, I ask everyone who continuously goes toe to toe with him not to resort to personal attacks, no matter what you think of his comments. Thats not to say you can't disagree with him. Just do it in a civil manner. In NFL terms, let's refrain from having a disruptive locker room. Thank you.

09 May 2014 10:49 AM
Jersey Girl

It's so true that "every Derby winner has an associated story", as Coldfacts mentioned in his post. Let's add the word "thankfully" to that. The Derby's story cup overflows every year, drawing people to the race and the sport in ways that stats alone simply can't. So this year for months we enjoyed California Chrome and Art Sherman, first framed in their possibilities, and now in their glory. Wildcat Red, Wicked Strong, and Uncle Sigh also tugged at the heart strings, just to name a few.

The stories will continue, through the Preakness and the Belmont and into the summer...along with the intrigue. Initially many thought that CC would not excel outside of California. Now that he's put the Derby field away, beating thoroughbreds from points North, South, East and West, we'll see what the future holds as he continues to take new competitors on, on different tracks, with litte rest and bigger challenges each step of the way. I imagine if he could talk he'd say, "Bring 'em on."

I wouldn't draw any comparisons between the 2013 and 2014 Derby. Yes, Orb and California Chrome both had their 5th consecutive win recorded with their Derby victories. But last year, Palace Malice dictated the unfolding of the Derby, and congrats to Orb on the win. This year CC and Victor dictated the race from the break, and crossed the finish line with ease.

Let's see how the rest of this story develops. A new star emerging could only add to the fun, but in the meanwhile, on with the celebration!

09 May 2014 10:52 AM
Linda in Texas

El Kabong - Suzy is going to be fine. Heart meds for dogs are amazing, plentiful and helpful. Just took my 13 1/2 year old Yorkie/Poodle curly furred Cissy to my vet. No coughing, just seemed to notice her breathing fast.

Has a little problem with her heart so she is on Digoxin, Lasix and a liquid i give her twice a day. She has responded and is 95 per cent better. Years past i have had 2 other dogs with murmurs like your Suzy. They lived several more years with meds. I have 7 dogs, 5 in the 12 to 14 year old range, 2 in the 5 to 10 range. Her 2 brothers are fine. So stay positive and as the vet told me when i asked if i should change her light and healthy diet, don't change what you feed her, changes throw their systems off! A few extra hugs for her won't hurt, that is your medicine.  

09 May 2014 1:24 PM
Peggy in California

Thank you, Steve for your call to stop posting negative comments directed at one of our community, Coldfacts.

I agree but wanted to post a positive comment meant for Coldfacts, and hope that it's OK with you.

Coldfacts, I have been a long time reader of Steve Haskin's blogs and his books starting with when I discovered racing due to Rachel Alexandra.  Through the blogs I became acquainted with a community of people who, like me, love horses and express their feelings with enthusiasm.  We sometimes disagree, but if that is done in a manner which accepts that the other person has a right to his/her opinion, we can still stay friends. So, I always look forward to seeing comments from those people that I have come to respect.  Dr Drunkinbum, who often makes me laugh is an example.  He stated on another blog that he is not on the California Chrome bandwagon (yet).  Needler in Virginia who signs off, "Safe trips to all."  When she disagrees with someone it becomes, ". . . to almost all". Slew, who obviously has a love for her namesake and contributed some very heartwarming comments on Steve's blog about Seattle Slew. I always remember the fact that Mike Relva loves Cigar and visits him on his (Cigar's) birthday.  I am also happy to see new contributors like Monica V, whose comments I am coming to appreciate.  Even though we have(mostly)not met in person the bonds between people on this group are strong because we share a camaraderie that would be hard to find in the outside world.

I had stopped reading about racing because my sister died three years ago, only returning to read Steve's blog when I'll Have Another came along.  I didn't start reading the comments until this Derby season when California Chrome made me want to read everything I could find about this story and this horse.  

So, because I care about you and hope that I will someday think of you fondly, like the others whom I mentioned I have one request of you, Coldfacts.  There were many people who waited for Steve's descriptions of California Chrome's win because the race isn't over until we hear it from his lips.  Please don't rain on the parade of all of the people who read this blog by posting negative comments.  It will be a long time until this story is over and we want it to be (as Needler says), a ". . .safe trip for all."  --Peggy

09 May 2014 1:59 PM
Mister Frisky

Steve,Do you have any info about the Hollendorfer trainee Tonito M.He makes his mainland debut Sat in the Laz Barrera at SA.Is he the real deal?Thanks.

09 May 2014 3:39 PM

Steve, your articles is very useful to all of thoroughbred horse racing fans. Your giving us always the latest news about what's really happening to a horse ( pedigree, breeder, owner, etc.)... in short you're the kind of person that this industry need, a media that  share and promote only truth and nothing but the truth.

09 May 2014 4:24 PM
El Kabong

LInda In Texas,

Thank you, that helps. I'm not changing a thing about her diet (Acana plus some cooked chicken) as she is extremely healthy otherwise. Doc immediately put her on Lasix and the cough/hack has stopped completely. Not one since she began taking the med.  EKG is scheduled for May 29th so hopefully the news about her hacking will be a good omen. I'll get to work on the extra hugs if that is possible. She really is irresistible.  

09 May 2014 4:34 PM

Jay Jay:

I will oblige you by not posting anymore criticisms of the points system for now BUT if Social Inclusion romps the Preakness and Belmont Stakes, I promise that I'm gonna be breathing FIRE. You obviously think that its the best system ...good for you, my friend. Peace.

09 May 2014 7:00 PM

Ranagulzion : Thank you, it's about time.   As for the Points System being the best, I never said that.  Unlike you, I don't care for being recognized as a knowledgeable contributor, I'm not desperate like you.  Once again, you didn't pay attention, read my previous post.   The points system has nothing to do with the Preakness or any races other than the Kentucky Derby.   The point system has proved to be a good system when it comes to getting the right horses in the KENTUCKY DERBY.   Find something else to prove you have knowledge of this game....so far, pedigree analysis, triple crown prediction and points system has proven too much for you.

Are you predicting a win by Social Inclusion in the Preakness ?  Is he a sure win ?

10 May 2014 1:51 AM

Jersey Girl : Yes, there are stories every year about the Derby winner, but I can't say I've read any of these good stories anywhere except here on Steve Haskin's blogs.  Steve writes these stories not as a journalist but a true horseman and that's the big difference.   Whether I win or lose during the day, I can rely on a good read on this blog.

10 May 2014 3:54 AM

Jay Jay: I know you fairly well by now ...thank for your backhanded compliment (LOL) Regarding pedigree analysis, I know that Union Rags is forever fresh in your mind and regarding your Derby tout, Samraat, you were critical of me assessing him as short on stamina for the Derby distance ...he failed to hit the board ...thank you very much.

Re the Preakness, Social Inclusion is my firm selection to take the sheen off California Chrome, no matter how the race is run (speed a plenty). Enjoy my friend.

10 May 2014 5:20 PM
Jersey Girl

Yes, Jay Jay,

It goes without saying, even though we're happy to say it often, that Steve Haskin's articles provide the very best in horse racing insight from a number of styles and levels of perspective.

I actually was referring to the wealth of topics we are fortunate enough to enjoy each Triple Crown season and beyond, the stories that extend from the winner's circle to a great number of horses, owners and jockeys. This year is no exception, and as we have already enjoyed the tales of the Derby, no doubt we have many heartwarming stories yet to come.

Countdown to Preakness. Good luck, everyone.  

10 May 2014 5:59 PM

Jersey Girl : Yes, totally agree.  I didn't mean anything by my post just highlighting the fact that Steve's blogs are the best when it comes to telling the stories of the horses, the connections and the races.  Case in point, the bit about Dale Romans becoming a fan, it's cool to read another trainer expressing his honest opinion about Chrome which is exactly how I felt except my reasoning was that Chrome will get shuffled around with all the speed from inside and outside which never materialized but now, I'm a fan.   It would be nice to see him win the next two legs but I know the Belmont will probably stretching him.  Will I bet against him, nope :)

Ranagulzion : It's sad, actually pathetic that it's now 2014 and all you have to hang on is Union Rags...I'm of the opinion that Belmont was the worst field in its history.  Can you please re-post where I was critical of you about Samraat ?  I didn't realize I gave you a compliment at all (backhanded or not) about your pedigree analysis skills, that would be odd because I never thought you had that skill.   I'm serious though, find something else that might help get whatever credibility you had before.   Did you have Chrome in the Derby ?   If I recall correctly, you said he didn't tower over that field...you picked FOUR horses to beat him and my Samraat beat 2 of those 4.

11 May 2014 12:54 AM

Jay Jay: You are becoming notorious for your selective memory concerning our discussions. I need to remind you that the archives continue to yield damning evidence againt your lame attemps at malignment of my views. Read below an excerp of a response to your criticism of my pedigree analysis of your Derby tout, Samraat in Steve's Derby Dozen of March 3, 2014.

14 Mar 2014 2:50 PM: This year I've touted your favourite colt, Samraat in both his victories over Uncle Sigh. He's a quality miler in the making and I believe that he could fare better being pointed to the Preakness but I don't see him finishing in the frame in the Kentucky Derby because of the very high probability of stamina limitations according to my reading of his pedigree. You are entitled to your views but from the evidence so far, highlighted by your unrepentant classification of Belmont Stakes winner, Union Rags, as a miler I think that you have a lot to learn about pedigree analysis.

I try to keep your memory fresh with references to your old nemesis, Union Rags (LOL). I don't need him, you do my friend. Peace.

11 May 2014 7:11 PM

JayJay, be respectful please of others opinions and Ranagulzion, you were right on relative to Union Rag's pedigree.  Both of you have a wealth of knowledge and I thoroughly enjoy reading your posts, until the feuding begins.

The truth is, the pace in the 2012 Belmont was slow and the pace in the 2014 Kentucky Derby was slow.  Regardless, the best horse won in each of these races.

11 May 2014 8:19 PM


Please pardon the feuding with my antagonising buddy Jay Jay, but I've got to keep him honest. Okay?

12 May 2014 9:46 AM

Ranagulzion :  What was that for ?   Did you even read my question ?   I asked if you can please re-post where I was critical of you about Samraat ?  You're not the only one that didn't think Samraat was going to win the Derby but he was my pick and I stuck with him.  I thought he did well considering he's most likely a miler.  Unlike you though, I'm quite happy if he stays as a miler.  He could end up not winning another race and I'll still like him, he's a gorgeous looking horse.  Instead of picking who will not win the Derby, how about you pick who will ?  You had Chrome in the past, not sure why you jumped off the wagon in the Kentucky Derby...baffles me.

Mary : I'm sorry but where did I disrespect other's opinions ?  I've always respected other people's opinions on here and the other blog.  Can you please point me to the comment where I did ?   I'm not disrespecting Ranagulzion, I'm merely asking him to provide information on his predictions of Triple Crown, why he thought SI was the next triple crown winner, he couldn't provide any except he got excited.   Same thing with the points system, he can't provide any valid arguments.

12 May 2014 12:51 PM


My dear colleague you have created the Union Rags monster and you must now live with him. If nothing else I admire your passion for the ones you consider special.

UR narrowly defeated a colt with only a MSW victory in the win category en route to his Belmont victory. You will admit he did not live up to expectations a 3YO.

I see you are on the Social Inclusion a bandwagon. I like the colt as I think he has lot of natural talent. However, I do not like his trainer. Any trainer that states after a race "He will kill them next time" should be fired. The statement implies the colt was prepared to kill opponents but was rather prepared to be killed. What prevented his charge from killing them in the Wood?

The field SI will face in the Preakness will be much strong than the Wood. His trainer is now stating he is uncertain how far the colt wants to go. What nonsense!

The colt ran out of energy over 9F. He lost by 2 1/2L and he is now going 1/2F longer and his trainer is uncertain of his effectiveness at the distance. What Nonsense! Was given endurance training to further carry is brilliant speed? How did he perform in those endurance drills? Would the removal of the blinkers allow him to relax more and be stronger in the lane? Would a ride with velvet hands and a great record with need to lead types be a better fit?

Some of these old school trainers are set in their ways and a very resistant to change. Mr. Lukas never removed the blinkers from Strong Mandate despite his struggles to win as a 3YO. Why? When they were affixed as a 2YO he won two consecutive races and therefore it was deemed that they had a positive effect. Could he have needed the race he lost to bring him on and not the blinkers? Did Will Take Charge win two races in blinkers? Yes! Did his performances improve dramatically after they were remove? Undoubtedly!

12 May 2014 2:13 PM

Jay Jay: I gave the archival reference, Steve Haskin's DerbyDozen of March 3, 2014. Sorry buddy, no more spoon-feeding for your questions ...go scan through the blog and you'll see the answer to your question.

12 May 2014 2:29 PM

Ranagulzion : I went to that blog and I read the whole conversation and I'm correct, I didn't question your criticism of Samraat's distance limitation…it was The Bid that actually asked you about your hesitation with Samraat.  I questioned your pedigree analysis "skills" where you went as far back at 6th generations for Shared Belief and then stopped at Storm Cat / Indian Charlie for Samraat, once again proving what I’ve said all along.  Your pedigree analysis is nothing but guessing because you only see what you want to see.  There are pedigree handicappers here that are honest with themselves, they look at both sides (the potentials and the limitations)…whereas you, you get excited watching a horse romp at Gulfstream and then find something, anything in their pedigree to say he can go the classic distance, then declare them the triple crown winner.   You can prove me wrong by posting your record for successful triple crown winner predictions.   Another case in point, you said Trinniberg deserved to be in the Derby, his speed will carry and he finished 17th…Samraat has distance limitations and he finished 6th.   Care to explain that ?   Nah, you can’t, you’ll ignore it just like every one of my questions.

Try again…

12 May 2014 10:32 PM

Coldfacts my friend:

What Union Rags monster do I have to "live with"? That was one crackerjack of a racehorse that we unfortunately didn't get to enjoy fully due to early retirement. Yes his Belmont Stakes was historially slow (as this year's Derby has been described without being a knock on California Chrome) BUT it was the fastest of the last four renewals of the Belmont Stakes. Our mutual friend JayJay, in attempting to discredit my ability to analyse peigree has also knocked down Union Rags with his ignorant and misleading references to slow Belmont time in order to justify his categorization of the horse as a miler(LMAO) Union Rags ran a faster Belmont Stakes than his favourite Palace Malice yet that one is never regarded as not being a true stayer. UR was a far greater talent than PM as a 3YO and few would doubt that he'd very likely be a monster 4YO if the connections kept him in training for one more year. I keep refering to him in my rumbles with Jay Jay to expose the latter's dishonest arguments and hold his feet to the fire.

Regarding Social Inclusion, I think this is the most exciting 3YO colt in America right now and I fancy him to win the Preakness and Belmont Stakes, having been excluded from the Kentucky Derby and a possible Triple Crown sweep under the current qualifying regime. I don't care too much that his trainer doesn't know how far he wants to run. I think that his pedigree has strong class and stamina influences to carry him a mile and a half (Blue Larkspur inbreeding on top as well as Brigader Gerard, and Dr Fager, top and bottom with inbreeding to Mahmoud on the Dam side. I was all aboard Honor Code before the emergence of Social Inclusion and I trumpeted out the coming-out party of California Chrome in the San Felipe BEFORE Steve Haskin promoted him to his Derby Dozen ...the Achives will confirm this but I believe that Social Inclusion is the better colt of the two, bearing in mind that he's a May foal and should be on the rise while his rivals have already run peak performances. Blinkers or no blinkers, its going to be all over bar the shouting when he turns for home at the head of affairs in the Preakness on Saturday.Enjoy

Jay Jay: What you think of my pedigree analytical skills is neither here nor there friend ...the accurate conclusions they lead to are more important. Wisdom is justified by her children (don't know if you ever heard the saying). Who is your pick for the Preakness?

13 May 2014 8:42 AM

Not to get of topic but Union Rags biggest problem was the Jock ask Dialed In.. Notice he did not have a mount in the Derby..

13 May 2014 5:02 PM

Ranagulzion :   3 Things :  

1.  Look at all of UR’s 8 races then come back here, post here which races past 8.5Fs he won.  I believe Da Tara also won the Belmont...is he a TOP 3YO ??

2.  I’ve proven you wrong every time, you can’t provide any information to support your argument.  You choose to ignore my questions because it’s pretty obvious you can’t argue with it…now you resort to calling my arguments dishonest lol.  Typical immature response when someone can't argue.

3.  Credibility is earned, not claimed...earn it.  Until you have, keep your ego in check.

14 May 2014 3:16 AM

Jay Jay:

Your question is rhetorical and mischievious but here goes; Union Rags ran three races beyond 8.5F, The Florida Derby, Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes and won the most gruelling 12F contest finishing strongly and going away in the fastes Belmont of the last four years. See fellow poster Johnny's comment for an objective viewpoint of his two other losses ...smart alec (LOL)

As for credibility, mine doesn't need the endorsment of a guy with your obviously flawed judgment ...sorry Pal. I hope that doesn't hurt your ego too much.

14 May 2014 11:07 AM

Ranagulzion : LOL, I don't know how long it took you to come up with that response but it's pathetic.

15 May 2014 12:42 AM

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