'Chrome's' Journey on the Derby Dozen

The Daily Racing Form website has published links to all their stories about California Chrome since his maiden win, providing a fascinating look back at how the colt made it from a 4 1/2-furlong maiden race to the Kentucky Derby winner’s circle.

That got me thinking that it might be interesting to do something similar regarding California Chrome’s journey from the Cal Cup Derby to the Kentucky Derby through the Derby Dozen–how he was perceived each week and how he moved up from Knocking on the Door to the No. 1 spot.

This is not meant to be self-serving in any way, just what my thoughts and observations were at the time, while showing how he progressed through his races and workouts, and what questions he had to answer along the way.

(A look back at photos of California Chrome at Churchill follows)

FEB. 3


It sounds odd saying this, but three of the most impressive 3-year-olds I’ve seen this year have been a California-bred and two New York-breds. I wanted very much to put CALIFORNIA CHROME in the Top 12, but I can’t justify taking someone off this quickly, and I need more space to write about him, so let’s consider him No. 13 for now, and not knocking, but pounding on the door.

I have not seen a 3-year-old this year more impressive than this colt. I watched all his races and loved everything I saw, especially the visual improvement in his last two starts – whether they were against Cal-breds or not. First off, forget about him being a Cal-bred. In the Cal Cup Derby he demolished a top-class horse in Tamarando, who had won a grade I and placed in two others and is one of the most consistent horses in the country and an explosive stretch runner.

In that race, California Chrome was caught looking to his left at the break and stumbled slightly, breaking awkwardly and bearing out and bumping with the outside horse. After going a bit wide into the first turn, he settled beautifully in third, and then at the five-sixteenths pole he unleashed an impressive turn of foot all on his own without being asked even slightly. He inhaled the leaders in a flash and cruised to the lead with Victor Espinoza already looking back several times, then changed leads smoothly and on cue and drew off on his own. This horse is so smooth and has such a long fluid stride and levels off so beautifully he is a joy to watch. Tamarando made his typical late run, drawing 3 1/4 lengths clear of the pack, but could not make a dent in California Chrome’s lead. C.C. covered his fourth quarter, going from two lengths back to 5 1/2 in front in :24 1/5 before cruising home, throwing his ears around, in :06 2/5.

In his previous start, the King Glorious, you couldn’t have asked a horse to run any straighter down the stretch. He accelerates on his own at the right time, nearing the head of the stretch, and for a long-striding horse his lead changes are so smooth you can barely see him do it.

As for his two prior defeats, in the Del Mar Futurity he got shuffled back around the turn and was stuck in traffic with nowhere to go, losing valuable ground. In the stretch, he again was in tight quarters and the way he threw his head out so abruptly, he had to have gotten hit across the face with the whip of the jock inside him. He still was beaten only two lengths by Tamarando.

In the Golden State Juvenile, he broke from the rail and leaped in the air at the start, dropping back to last. He then got very rank and quickly passed horses, getting as close as third. He had his head up in the air turning for home and never really leveled off until it was way too late. This time, he was beaten three lengths.

Earlier on, in his last race before getting Lasix, the 5 1/2-furlong Willard Proctor Memorial at Hollywood Park, he got caught up in a three-horse speed duel through a torrid opening quarter in :22 flat and that is not his style at all.

This horse has already won at 4 1/2 furlongs, 5 1/2 furlongs, seven furlongs, and 1 1/16 miles and runs like he’s just getting started. His sire, Lucky Pulpit, is by Pulpit, out of a Cozzene mare, and what I love the most about his pedigree is that his dam is inbred (Rasmussen Factor) to the great Numbered Account (a daughter of Buckpasser) through her daughter Dance Number and son Polish Numbers. And his third dam is by English Derby and Washington D.C. International winner Sir Ivor.

I may be getting too high on this colt, and am drawn to him because he’s run eight times already and is trained by an old-school trainer in Art Sherman, but I do love everything about him and can’t wait to see him face many of California’s top Derby contenders in the San Felipe.

FEB. 10

10 -- California Chrome Art Sherman

I’ve been waiting to get him in the Top 12. Love everything about this colt, especially from a visual standpoint. Not only was his Thoro-Graph number in the Cal Cup Derby the top 3-year-old figure this year, along with Cairo Prince’s Holy Bull, he paired up his previous number, winning by huge margins both times, so it would seem he’s for real. He had his first work at his new home, Los Alamitos, and went a sharp half in :48 with jockey Victor Espinoza aboard. All the other reasons why I rate this horse so high were mentioned extensively in last week’s Knocking on the Door.

Feb. 17

10 -- California Chrome Art Sherman

When you see a tough, classy, consistent horse like Tamarando come off a shellacking at the hands of California Chrome and win the El Camino Real Derby with another of his patented stretch runs, you can appreciate just how good a horse California Chrome is. He had his first work back since his romp in the Cal Cup Derby, drilling a half in :47 4/5 at his new home, Los Alamitos. This colt continues to become more and more intriguing, and he just needs show this same kind of brilliance in open stakes. It’s time to start thinking points, and he has the San Felipe and Santa Anita Derby.

Feb. 24

10 -- California Chrome Art Sherman

He certainly seems to have found a home at Los Alamitos, turning in another stellar work, this time going six furlongs in 1:11 4/5. I’ve said pretty much all there is to say about him, but will reiterate how much I love watching him run. He seems to be putting everything together the right way and at the right time, and while still unproven in open company, I can’t help but feel that he will continue his ascent against better horses. Using grade I winner Tamarando as a gauge, you have to believe his total dominance over such a talented horse establishes him as a legitimate Derby threat. But he still has to go out there and prove he can compete with horses like Candy Boy and perhaps even Bayern. I have little doubt he’ll be up to the task.

March 3

8 -- California Chrome Art Sherman

His big test is coming up in the San Felipe, and we’ll finally find out how he fares against open company. I’m looking for a huge effort, despite the competition, and have moved him up two spots in anticipation of that huge effort. I love the way he moves and accelerates, and he is the only 3-year-old to have won carrying as much as 124 pounds. If he can defeat these horses or even run a big race, don’t expect to see him anywhere near No. 8 next week. He continued his sharp series of works at Los Alamitos, drilling 5 furlongs in 1:00 2/5. You never know for sure until they show they’re competitive against open company, but visually, he looks like a star in the making and a potential bargain at 32-1 in the Derby Future Wager.

March 10

1 -- California Chrome Art Sherman

What the heck. I just wish I had the chutzpah to put him up here last week after stating back on Feb. 3 he was the most impressive 3-year-old I’d seen this year. The simple fact is, this horse has run three flawless and brilliant races in a row and just keeps getting better. In the San Felipe, he wanted out of that gate so badly he got a bit antsy in there, and then broke like one of the Quarter-Horses he’s been stabled with at Los Alamitos. He has a great mind and has proven he doesn’t need the lead or even want it. He was just so much the best and Espinoza had his hands well down on the horse’s neck as he merely cruised through fractions of :45 2/5 and 1:09 2/5 before running everyone into the ground. As I stated earlier, his lead change is so smooth, you can’t even see him switch, and down the backstretch and the homestretch he didn’t deviate an inch off his path. You cannot ask a horse to run any straighter, and he keeps his legs under him perfectly with no wasted action. Then he coasts home from the sixteenth pole to the wire under no urging and still gets a 107 Beyer. This is a horse who paired up “1”s on Thoro-Graph, and that was going into this race. So he has no concept of what a bounce is. In summation, this horse does everything like an exceptional horse and I see no one who deserves the top spot more than him. (See pedigree comments on him in Knocking on the Door).

March 17

1 -- California Chrome Art Sherman

He’s back in light training and just doing maintenance work, and Sherman is just going to play it by ear regarding his next start, saying there is “a chance” he’ll run in the Santa Anita Derby. This is an old school, blue-collar horse with nine starts and a strong foundation under him. With three monster efforts in a row, there is nothing wrong at all if he regresses a bit in the Santa Anita Derby. The ultimate goal with these preps is to get a horse to peak on the first Saturday in May. Since 1990, Mine That Bird, Street Sense, Monarchos, Real Quiet, Grindstone, Thunder Gulch, Lil E Tee, and Unbridled all took steps backwards in their final prep before winning the Derby, so he has a race to play around with and use a steppingstone. But if Sherman feels it’s best to go eight weeks into the Kentucky Derby with no 1 1/8-mile races in him, then that’s what he obviously feels is best for his horse. But history has shown that horses do not win the Derby who have never had at least one 1 1/8-mile race. The only two in memory who have come remotely close are Risen Star, who was third in 1988, and Eight Belles, who was second to Big Brown in 2008. But Risen Star had five two-turn races under his belt and was gifted enough to win the Preakness and Belmont, and Eight Belles had six two-turn races. Before that, you have to go back to the third-place finish of Tom Rolfe in 1965, who was making his 16th career start in the Derby. Needless to say, it is a very tall order and a lot to ask, but we’ll see what Sherman decides to do.

March 24

1 -- California Chrome Art Sherman

Good to see him bounce back with a sharp :47 2/5 work, out in 1:00 2/5 without blinkers. He just glided over the ground, cornered beautifully, and Victor Espinoza never moved a muscle on him down the stretch. He did everything effortlessly, throwing his ears around. Sherman, a bit concerned the San Felipe might have taken a little something out of him, indicated he would wait to decide on the Santa Anita Derby. But the colt quickly returned to his old self and all systems were go. With three straight monster efforts since December, and the Santa Anita Derby still to be run, will he be up to a peak performance on Derby Day? There are times when you would actually prefer to see a slight regression, because of how difficult it is to keep running these huge races and still move forward off them. So if he doesn’t dominate his opponents in the Santa Anita Derby the way he’s been doing, but is more workmanlike, that could be just what he needs at this point. He did appear to win the San Felipe under little urging in the final furlong, but when you run that big in fast time, it does take some kind of toll, especially if you keep doing it race after race. For him to keep piling up these runaway victories and huge speed figures without regressing shows what an exceptional horse he is. But no horse can keep that up over a period of time, so it may be time for him to back up just a little in order to re-energize for the Kentucky Derby.

March 31

1 -- California Chrome Art Sherman

He just keeps looking better by the week. He followed up last week’s sharp work with another brilliant move, breezing a half in a bullet :46 2/5, out 5 furlongs in :59 2/5 and did it under no urging on a loose rein down the stretch. I still cannot find a flaw in him, and it’s kind of scary how much he’s improved and how he carries his form, After running mostly double-digit Thoro-Graph numbers at 2, he has now run three straight races with a figure of “1” or lower, which is pretty remarkable. The only question now is, can he keep up that kind of pace? That is why I said last week, don’t be alarmed if he regresses a bit in the Santa Anita Derby and doesn’t blow his opponents away. The main thing is not to give him too hard a race. It’s great to win the Santa Anita Derby, but it’s not the ultimate goal. Look at what Vicar’s in Trouble did in the Louisiana Derby after losing the Risen Star, finishing a well-beaten third after two monster performances. Candy Boy and Hoppertunity are two tough opponents, and it’ll be interesting to see how he handles the step up in competition. If he beats them the same way he’s been beating everyone else, it could either be too much too soon or he’s a freak.

April 7

1 -- California Chrome Art Sherman

There is absolutely nothing more to say about this horse that I haven’t already said over the past two months. He is simply one of the most special young horses I’ve seen in years, and if the Triple Crown drought is ever to end, this is the kind of horse who will end it. Yes, I’m getting way ahead of myself, but I cannot remember the last time I’ve seen a horse as close to perfection as this guy. For a horse to keep piling up these freakish performances for so long is a rarity in racing today and he actually keeps getting better. My apologies for a little horn tooting, but I have a reason for doing so. Back on Feb. 3 after his Cal Cup Derby victory, I wrote, Cal-bred or no Cal-bred, this was the most impressive 3-year-old in the country, saying, “This horse has such a long fluid stride and levels off so beautifully he’s a joy to watch…you can’t ask a horse to run any straighter down the stretch. He accelerates on his own at the right time, and for a long-striding horse his lead changes are so smooth you can barely see him do it…this horse has absolutely no flaws.” Two months later and nothing has changed. He has run one monster Thoro-Graph number after another without regressing; he has run the best 3-year-olds in California into the ground at the exact same spot each time and with the same push-button burst of speed; he wins under no urging at all; his works are spectacular while under wraps; he’s now won at 4 1/2 furlongs, 5 1/2 furlongs, 7 furlongs, 1 1/16 miles, and 1 1/8 miles and has been racing steadily for an entire year; he’s brilliantly fast, but has a tremendous mind and knows how to harness his speed and when to use it; and his pedigree is inundated with classic winners at 1 1/2 miles from Europe and the U.S. Can a horse possibly keep up this remarkable pace heading into the Derby? In the words of Al Jolson, we ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Come to think of it, I take back my apology.

April 14

1 -- California Chrome Art Sherman

Yes, his speed and overall brilliance has been established, but his mind plays a huge part in his success. He has a wonderful relationship with people and knows exactly what he has to do, whether racing or training. Part of that is due to the amount of contact he had with people as a foal. His dam had a difficult time foaling him, suffering lacerations, and she and her foal had to remain in confinement for an extended period of time until she recovered, and he got to interact a great deal with people, while developing quite a personality and becoming very independent. Because he wasn’t able to socialize with the other foals in the beginning, he became more focused on people than he was on horses. To this day, he still has maintained those close ties to people. In his early days on the track at the farm he loved to go out and train every day and always enjoyed what he was doing and learned his lessons like a pro. And he was never sick a day while he was there; not even as much as a slight fever. The quote of the week goes to co-owner Steve Coburn, who had turned down a reported $6 million for the horse before the Santa Anita Derby. When a significantly higher offer came in after the Santa Anita Derby, Coburn’s reply was, “My answer last week was “no” and my answer now is “hell, no.” Some dreams are priceless.

April 21

1 -- California Chrome Art Sherman

Now that the preps are over, we can go over some of the questions pertaining to each horse and what they have to do and prove on May 3. With him, it’s whether he is as effective outside California, especially not having a work over the Churchill Downs track, and how he’ll take dirt in his face. Because of the track he’s been running over and the setup of his races, he is one horse who will need to break alertly and get a good position going into the first turn. Once he can establish his position and put himself in a comfortable spot and appears to be handling the track, it will be his race to lose. Despite what some think, he should have no problem getting the mile and a quarter. Cal-bred or no Cal-bred, his pedigree top and bottom is as strong as anyone’s and is inundated with 1 1/4-mile and 1 1/2-mile grade/group I influences from America and Europe. Once he turns on the afterburners at the five-sixteenths pole, we should know right away what we’re in store for. His last work, a half in :47 4/5, was once again flawless, as he did it all on his own with his ears pricked the entire length of the stretch. It seems as if everything is coming so easy to him now, as indicated by his four straight huge Thoro-Graph numbers. This horse doesn't know what the word "bounce" means.

A Look Back 

California Chrome arrives.

Chrome makes a heckuva great impression.

First morning schooling in the paddock.

Antsy and ready to get moving.

Posing for the cameras.

Checking out the paddock.

Posing just comes natural for him.

My Old Kentucky Chrome.

Striking yet another pose.

Basking in the morning sun.

Finding a new friend in Perfect Drift.

Shulman and Haskin frame the Derby winner.


Leave a Comment:


Well Draynay certainly didn't like him when he was knocking on the door,now California Chrome is in the house and he is homeless again.At least Coldfacts fessed up.

09 May 2014 1:34 PM
Pedigree Ann

My board buddy gave me an A+ for my elimination of certain 'wiseguy' horses who finished in the ruck, and also noting Samraat's one-paced style that could get him into the super (missed it by THAT much).

You, I think, deserve an A++ for recognizing Chrome's quality before most of the industry. Much too much was made of his 'paper' (pedigree, speed figures) and not enough was made of the horse himself.

I have been considering his dam, the $8K maiden claiming winner. Was it possible that even a mile/mile and a sixteenth were too short for her to run really well? I mean, Princequillo was a $2500-claimer at shorter distances when Horatio Luro claimed him and he turned out to be a great Cup horse (best at 12f+) and sire. It is a possibility that would make sense of the result of the breeding.

09 May 2014 1:51 PM

Just awesome Steve! Thanks so much! I went back and rewatched all of his races last week and he sets the standard for upward progression by a young race horse. What every owner and trainer hopes for, keep improving and he has climbed one of the highest mountains in our sport (K Derby) and now looks to conquer our Mount Everest of horse racing. Holding form at this point gets it done. A horse for the ages? We will soon see! Best chance in quite some time. Thanks again!!

09 May 2014 1:53 PM


Chrome looks at you and / or seems to notice you as if he's accepted you into the inner circle, or as was stated in Meet the Parents, the "circle of trust".

Your observations throughout the season, on each of the horses, in each year are weighed heavily in my own analysis and nothing is more fun!

Thank you, Sir!

09 May 2014 1:57 PM

Looking back at CC's record, He just may be a throw back to Swaps.  His two year old record was almost a carbon copy of Swaps who had a record of 3 for 6 at two and then turned into magnificent horse.  They are cut from the same cloth.  This is a little off topic, but all this reminiscing about Swaps reminded me of the time when Swaps cracked his leg in 1956 and Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons the trainer of rival Nashua provided Mesh Tenney with the body sling that saved his life and allowed him to go to stud.  Race trackers love all horses not just theirs.

09 May 2014 1:57 PM

I enjoyed the retrospective, Steve. Those who read your writings regularly should not have been the least bit surprised at Chrome's performance last Saturday. You can certainly say, "I told you so!"

09 May 2014 1:58 PM

It was fascinating reading the progression of your comments and observations of CC. All I can say is that he is one drop-dead gorgeous creature and I am totally in love!!!

09 May 2014 2:00 PM

Great article Steve. Looking back you mentioned regression being ok for SA Derby. Looking back an based on Beyers etc; I wonder if the Derby was actually his regression? Personally I think he was rated and just was happy to lope along at the slow pace until the Stretch - he just did what he had to do to win - hence the slow time, notwithstanding the track and headwind.

If that's the case, we might see a monster run in the Preakness! If he is that good, I hope he runs the same way in the Preakness as the Derby and just does what he had to do to win.

I want to go to the Belmont with a strong TC candidate, if the stars line-up.

09 May 2014 2:23 PM
Old Timer

You had him nailed, Steve. I was just thinking, with his 10 starts before the Derby, wouldn't it be cool if his success helped to change the current training philosophy of running horses so infrequently? CC is like the thoroughbreds that I remember back in the day, when they ran 7 or 8 times at 2 and then 3 or 4 starts at 3 before the first Saturday in May.

09 May 2014 3:23 PM
Steve Haskin

Thanks, Anncat, but it's not a question of "I told you so." I have one goal each year with the Derby Dozen, and that is to provide interesting and helpful information and observations on the Derby hopefuls, and to make the journey from Jan. to May a fun one for the readers of this column. If occasionally it helps in a monetary way for some of you, so much the better. I don't bet the Future Wager because I want to remain objective, even though it sure was tempting to get down on CC at 32-1. Some did and that made me feel good. The hardest thing is to latch on to a promising colt early and see him make it to the starting gate. So much can happen and you have to be lucky. So if people can enjoy following the Derby trail each year, and once in a while get lucky, then I feel as if I accomplished something.

09 May 2014 3:42 PM

I'm with you Steve, he's been my pick since Feb. I just had a feeling about him...

09 May 2014 3:47 PM
Karen Gogue

Thank you Steve ... you always "knock on the door" to my heart, taking me where my heart wants to go through your stories and photos ...

09 May 2014 4:26 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

I'm still trying to figure out if Alan Sherman's greatest achievement is as assistant trainer for California Chrome or for 'Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh."  From Camp Granada to Camp California Chrome, from sea to shiny sea. It's been very entertaining.

09 May 2014 4:46 PM

It's a love affair, all right, and I'm right there, believing he will make it all the way. He's the first horse since I've been following the sport in the last 4 years that I will be totally surprised if he doesn't win!  There have been many horses that captured my heart and that I rooted for, but not one of those horses did I have the utmost confidence they would win.  I always held in the back of my mind that, yeah, I love the horse, and HOPE he/she wins, but, I'm prepared in case he/she doesn't.  There just isn't any hesitation about my admiration for this horse, for his beautiful intelligence, his foundation, his superiority to others he is expected to face.  I just believe whatever they throw at him, he will take it in stride and bring home the prize at the end of the day. He will do it in style, he will win by daylight, as he has done the last 5 times.  No room for doubt in my mind.  He is the total package.  Go Chrome!!  

09 May 2014 4:53 PM

Steve you nailed this one..

Ever since you used the "F" word with him, it was going to be extrememly hard for me to get of him..

Anyway for monetary reasons I owe you a huge THANK YOU..

If memory serves me correct you mentioned Commanding Curve in one of your "Derby Dozens" that brief blurb on him helped me hit my biggest Tri to date.


I enjoy listening to you on the HRRN as well..

09 May 2014 4:58 PM
Dr Drunkinbum


    You are so talented  You could of had California Chrome in your top five on Feb. 3rd instead of knocking at the door. If you start going with your gut and stop pussyfooting around you could be tooting a tuba. As it is you still had Cal Chrome at number one quite early, and are to be congratulated for that, and your continuous super fantastic appraisals of every horse on the trail week after week.

    I love the way the Preakness is shaping up even more now with General A Rod in the race. With the Derby being a 20 horse field with numerous bad trips of potential winners year after year, the Preakness and Belmont are both becoming increasingly the races to really look forward to. We know Cal Chrome can win the Preakness but could he win the Belmont? The way he has been winning with ease and seemingly easing up at the end of races, and then coming out of races so strong it makes it difficult to know. His stride and time at the end of the Derby didn't strike me as one belonging to a 12f winner but that could be an illusion if he is slowing down in these races because he can't be caught. He hasn't even had to attempt to lengthen his stride yet.

09 May 2014 5:02 PM
Smoking Baby

Great journey Steve.  I'm too lazy to do it myself and truth be told it would probably just annoy me but it would be interesting if someone were to post one or two of Draynay's comments for each of these weeks.  It would probably read something like:

"Suddenly Wildcat Red is worse than Medal Count and Candy Boy?"  (for the record he finished behind both)

"The Holy Bull and Florida Derby will be the key race"

"General A Rod for the win"

"Danza for the win"

"California Chrome is a toss"

"California Chrome will never win a race outside of California"

"After the Derby you'll see why California Chrome will not run in any of the other Triple Crown races"

You get the idea.

09 May 2014 5:18 PM

Congrats for being so high on him, early on. He was never my cup of tea, and still isn't, but the blog was a Derby blog, and you isolated its winner. He won, and whatever later happens, he's still the Derby winner-the best horse, in that field, in that day-and that's what it was about.

09 May 2014 5:29 PM

Some did and that made me feel good. The hardest thing is to latch on to a promising colt early and see him make it to the starting gate. So much can happen and you have to be lucky.

Read more on BloodHorse.com: cs.bloodhorse.com/.../chrome-s-journey-on-the-derby-dozen.aspx


 I was one of the lucky punters that took a gamble on Cal Chrome back in February. Thanks to you I have made a nice piece of change. I only wish I keyed him in the exactas. Silly me. Thanks for the eye opening comments back on Feb 3rd. I have told many friends of mine about your column. It is the only way I would have had him in the 2nd Future Pool. I made another mistake by not betting him in Pool 3. The odds were a tick higher than Pool 2. He looks like a Champion. He just has to watch out for the trainers lying in wait at Belmont. There are sure to be one or two horses that may have the ability to defeat him on Big Sandy. Again Thanks for the nice tip on Cal Chrome back in early February.

09 May 2014 6:01 PM
Tiz Herself

Steve- what's your opinion of Ria Antonia running in the Preakness?

09 May 2014 6:46 PM
Tiz Herself

PS! Thank you for the photo of Perfect Drift with him in the post parade! Those are few and far between! Loved the article as always Steve, have a great weekend!

09 May 2014 6:49 PM

Hope no goes crazy on me but the way California Chrome looks around at his surroundings and displays his dominant stance reminds me so much of Z.  Then, the photo of CC pawing at the ground just re-AFFIRMED my thoughts.  Please, let this be the year.  And thank you so much Steve for every valuable word you've written this year and all the years in the past.  Keeps me going.

09 May 2014 7:20 PM
Proud Acres

I open up Bloodhorse.com everyday, I have been doing this for years.  I love horse racing and especially the stars that we become so enhanced with.  I am from California and love the story behind California Chrome.  In fact, one of his owners lives within approx. 10 miles from me.  I don't know him though but would love to meet him and his wife.  Thank you Steve for your wonderful insight into all the horses.  I just hope that CC can stay safe and sound and win the triple crown.  What a handsome horse he is.  Go CC go!

09 May 2014 9:04 PM

yes   perfect drift- had this tri and had perfect drift's derby tri. fond memories

09 May 2014 9:13 PM

Dear Steve Haskin ~

This really has put the cherry on "The Chrome".....After reading your journal-like notes of thought, observations and impressions and honest comments it has stirred up so many emotions of heart.  It seems as though we have been part of California Chrome since first he was foaled and grew so quickly into a mature and dominant figure as he followed the path to the Roses bringing along with him the memories of the great ones that he is responsible for awakening in us. It is obvious here, in your notes, that he gave you the chance to experience those same feelings too (and most of us that are "Hangin'" here).  

As this outstanding and brilliant colt does what he does best (along with Art Sherman and the rest of those he means so much to)he has been a remarkable source of energy to racing and to each of us. "The Chrome" has given us much more than a win - he has given us a reason to move on in a positive direction in racing.  An example of what strength and soundness can accomplish.

The Preakness gate awaits the moment he steps onto the track and into the gate - Yes, it's a different track with different (and tight) turns and different dirt and a different cast of players - but my favorite photo from your journal is "The Chrome" taking it all in as he is "basking in the morning sun" getting ready to give his best run ~ as you have done the same on the "Derby Dozen" trail ~ and I want to thank you so very much for "doing what you do best".

09 May 2014 10:05 PM

Very nice pictures Steve.  I bought a PowerShot to replace my antique Olympus camera and I'm taking it all the way to the other coast..... "Weird scenes inside the Gold Mine. The West is the Best."  By the way, Gold Mine is a full sister to Mr. P  

09 May 2014 10:15 PM

Steve, I had never heard of him until you mentioned him the first time.  However, your glowing assessment made me start paying attention to him then but did not put him in my top 5 until after the Santa Anita Derby. Great job picking him out and with all your evaluations throughout the prep season.  Do you have an opinion yet as to whether or not he will win the triple crown?  I  think he will and since Affirmed, I have only believed Spectacular Bid, Sunday Silence and Silver Charm would do it.  Unfortunately we know how that turned out....LOL   Will you be giving us  lots of pre-Preakness columns?  I sure hope so!  I think we get really spoiled before the Derby and I personally would love for it to keep going...  Thanks!

09 May 2014 10:45 PM
Tiz Herself

Darley/Godolphin appear to have a really nice three year old in Bay of Plenty. A dark bay or brown colt, he is sired by Medaglia d'Oro and out of the A.P. Indy mare Kotuku. He's a half brother to Fortify (runner up in the Hopeful Stakes and third in Champagne Stakes as a three year old, by Distorted Humor, earner of $323k+)

He looked really good winning an allowance race at Belmont Park on May 7, 2014 drawing off to win by at least 9 lengths.

Second dam Flagbird produced Dubai Belle (dam of Little Belle, runner up in KY Oaks and G1 winner of the Coaching Club America Oaks, Ashland Stakes, etc. earner of $666k+)

Third dam Up The Flagpole produced Prospectors Delite, Runup the Colors, etc. Prospectors Delite of course the dam of Mineshaft and Tomisue's Delight. Runup the Colors the dam of millionaire Revolutionary.

4th dam The Garden Club also produced Nostalgia (sire of multi millionaire Nostalgia's Star)

I watched the replay a couple times... he's another one to add to the horses to watch... wonder where they'll run him next?

09 May 2014 11:32 PM

I hope Steve doesn't make it a habit to look to DRF for ideas because almost nothing at that site is available without cost now. Love the photos.

10 May 2014 3:43 AM
Dawn in MN


Enter your comment.  You, Mr. Haskin are a very engaging writer.  I enjoyed reading your account of following this colt and I bet you can take satisfaction in knowing that you are good at your job on multiple levels.  As for California Chrome, what a beautiful horse, and to read that he has a people oriented mind is both beautiful and heart breaking.  I hope and pray for safe journeys for all.  I drift in and out of following Thoroughbred horse racing.  I am currently enjoying a chain of out years.  In my opinion the sport which has the horse at the center, as the athlete, with a support team of competitors bringing their best horse to the first Saturday in May, is a rite of spring.  I was pleased to see yet another promising chestnut colt with all the fragile beauty of California Chrome rise to the top to perform at that level.

10 May 2014 8:14 AM
Pedigree Ann

Speaking of the photo of Chrome and The Drift...,

Does it look like Perfect Drift is giving the kid The Eye, as if to say - you may think you're hot stuff, but I ran against REAL racehorses. Love the musculature in Chrome's neck and shoulder, by the way.

10 May 2014 8:45 AM
Love 'em all

Last year's Derby there were five names on my list of favorites, but this year there was one.  Guess who?  

Thanks to you, Mr. Haskin, it was California Chrome.  You nailed that horse from the get-go!  Being a beautiful chestnut with a very pleasant personality didn't hurt him, either.  Oh, and those fun-loving connections of his just topped it off, and better yet, his old school trainer who puts the horse first.  This has to be a winning combination for all involved.

Keep these stories coming, please!

10 May 2014 10:59 AM

How wonderful that you've taken the time to consolidate all of California Chrome's previous positions in the Derby Dozen, Steve.  This gives us a chance to revisit and realize how fortunate we are to have you to help sort these things out.  Another wonderful story from the magic of your pen - for which I will always be grateful.  Thank you and go right ahead and toot that horn!!  You saw it coming and I sure hope we will see him go all the way!!

10 May 2014 11:43 AM
Old Old Cat

Very nice article.   Good to see the progression.   The futures bet was something I never participated in, but while watching the wood at pimlico,  I realized it was available outside of las vegas and kentucky.  Didn't realize thevodds were so great or I might have bet.   Maybe next year..

even if you're old you can still learn something new.

10 May 2014 1:39 PM
dance with fate

Must join in to thank Mr. Haskin for wonderful stories and beautiful photos.  So appreciated. While visiting CD a few years ago, was awestruck by the magnificent Perfect Drift as he regally posed.  It's kismet to see 'Chrome and Drift together.  The postings are always so entertaining!  Wishing safe journeys to all! His CA fans love Chromey and are so thankful for the Derby ride.

10 May 2014 3:02 PM
Paula Higgins

The antsy leg pointing reminds me of Zenyatta also. He is a magnificent looking horse and his neck and shoulders remind me of Secretariat's. He is very inquisitive and he looks intelligent, as if he doesn't miss much. As someone said, he looks like a dominant horse. Great post as always and these wonderful pictures speak a thousand words as well. I will be in Europe next week and will miss this race. I am praying he does well and all the horses come home safe.

10 May 2014 3:25 PM

Steve, I do not often express having "respect" for someone. In fact very few people have earned my respect. But through reading your writings and reporting, you, sir, have earned my respect.  

10 May 2014 4:43 PM
Eric Rickard

I remember these articles very well. My only problem is why people put this horse down. I understand not betting him at the Derby because of his odds. They were to low for a 19 horse field. I have been following him as long as you and could only bet $50 to win and had him in doubles and pick 3's. He was much the best and is most likely still much the best. You were their as was I. The Derby race had to be a tiring track . He is much to fast to run that slow. I expect a very fast Preakness with more so called speed horses, Social Inclusion et al. I believe that California Chrome will again sit 3/4 and turn the after burners on when the speed horses are tiring. Already asked the wife about Driving to the Belmont. She stated that we jinxed Smarty Jones…. I said The Chrome aint no Smarty Jones.

10 May 2014 5:25 PM

Steve, speaking of retrospective, Tonalist has rebounded right back with a powerful win in the Peter Pan Stakes. That beautiful stride, along with the pedigree, seems ideal for the Belmont Stakes.

10 May 2014 5:55 PM

Just amazing Steve, how you were on top of California Chrome from way back.  You deserve the accolades.

When I visited the KD museum in 2011, Perfect Drift was stabled there.  He had a little buddy, a miniature by the name of 'Winston' and the two were inseparable. Do you have any information whether Winston is still Perfect Drift's best stable buddy?

10 May 2014 6:29 PM
Paula Higgins

Steve, I tried to post this to El Kabong on the other thread entitled "Californian Dreamin" about his sick beegle. I tried twice and it never got posted. So, 3rd times a charm and I am trying on this thread. El Kabong, ask your vet. about Vetmedin. It is a drug used to treat congestive heart failure in dogs and is very successful. It kept my dog alive for 5 years.

10 May 2014 6:49 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Chrome is going to struggle trying to deal with the speed of Bayern and Social Inclusion then Ride On Curlin is going to come flying down the lane for the win just like his pappy. Curlin ran one of the fastest Preakness times ever in 1:53.46. The Chrome had it easy in the Derby compared to the dogfight he'll be facing in The Preakness.

10 May 2014 9:10 PM
lawrence vaccarelli

tooting your own horn ?...are you kidding me ? you had this pegged way way back...very special horse indeed.....bloodhorse is soooo lucky to have  you...(eat your heart out drf.)

10 May 2014 11:12 PM
lawrence vaccarelli

plain and simple what you did steve...."you believed what your own eyes told you" and didn't waver. kudo's.

10 May 2014 11:18 PM
The Deacon

Ballou62:  Loved your post about Swaps. I know this legendary horses story well. Well said.....

11 May 2014 3:27 AM

Dr D

I see your scenario working well for Ride On Curlin in the Belmont but not the Preakness.  Chrome will stalk and pounce in the Preakness with his stamina being a clear advantage against the others.  I hope for that illusive triple crown but it could be Curlin might start a monopoly of siring Belmont winners.

Was that Ted from LA with several brief cases handcuffed to his wrist while he was totin em in a wheel barrel out to his limo after the Derby???

11 May 2014 11:16 AM
Dr Drunkinbum


   Yeah, maybe it's the Belmont or none of the above. I can certainly see Chrome pouncing and pulling away in the Preakness also. That wouldn't surprise me. I'd like to think Commissioner has a shot in the Belmont. I'm seeing the Preakness as a great race and a big test. There is other talent in there also with a chance to shine.

11 May 2014 3:05 PM


Your writing is impeccably poetic and thoroughly enjoyable. Nobody, however, has dug into Chrome's pedigree to see what might make him tick so I offer this commentary.

The winner of the Kentucky Derby is California Chrome who extends the recent trend of winners that are inbred maternally to either Mr Prospector or Northern Dancer. His pedigree has been described by others as plebian, ordinary, non classic, etc, as pundits struggle to understand where his racing excellence is coming from. Many thought he did not have the pedigree to go the distance but a closer look proves otherwise.

He is outcrossed on sire line - Nearco to Native Dancer and has a maternal inbreeding from his dam to his grandsire of Mr Prospector 4x3.  His sire, Lucky Pulpit whose stud fee is $2500 is another source of puzzlement to the thorobred pedigree experts. In addition to standing in California he was a modest racehorse although his dam is inbred maternally to Princequillo 4x4 and to Royal Charger (Nearco) 6x4 in a pattern of success familiar to standardbred breeders.

It is the dam of California Chrome, though, that likely provides the key to his excellence. Love The Chase was a low level claimer, bought for $8000, but her bargain price disguised a million dollar pedigree. She is outcrossed on sire line Mr Prospector to Northern Dancer and inbred to Northern Dancer maternally. That alone is sufficient to attract attention since mares inbred to Northern Dancer have been producing significant numbers of top horses in recent years. The real point of interest in the dam, however, is the mare Numbered Account who is 3x3 in X-factor position and thus Love The Chase is sibling inbred, Tesio style, through a son, Polish Numbers (Northern Dancer) and a daughter, Dance Numbers (Danzig, son of Northern Dancer) of Numbered Account.

Numbered Account is by two time Horse Of The Year Buckpasser who was undefeated at three but not eligible for the Triple Crown races, although he soundly beat the top three year olds. Her dam is Intriguing by a Kentucky Derby winner in Swaps, and Intriguing is well named since she could well be the key to the pedigree of California Chrome.

In her book The X-Factor, Marianna Hahn detailed the search for the "large heart gene" supposedly responsible for the performance of Secretariat whose dam was by the same Princequillo that is doubled up maternally in Lucky Pulpit. She traced the genetic trail back to a mare called Pocahontas 1837, whose three sons, Stockwell, King Tom, and Rataplan, are noted maternal influences through their daughters. As I wrote in my book "Queen Among Queens" the trail actually does not stop there but goes back through Diomed, the first winner of the English Derby and whose two best daughters, Young Giantess and Young Noisette, are doubled in X-factor position in Marpessa, the dam of Pocahontas.

Swaps, the sire of Intriguing, has an x-factor double to Stockwell maternally in his dam but more importantly his second dam is by Triple Crown winner War Admiral, who also is from a mare that has an x-factor double to Pocahontas through two of her sons, Stockwell and King Tom. But it gets better than that since the second dam of Intriguing is also by War Admiral making her a 4x3 x-factor inbred to a triple crown winner and double inbred to Pocahontas and to the two best daughters of Diomed accordingly. Now that is maternal power.

By the way, California Chrome's second dam is also inbred maternally to Princequillo, sire of the dam of Secretariat.  Not bred to go the distance eh?

Intriguing isn't it ?

Norman Hall, pedigreematching.com

11 May 2014 3:44 PM
Dr Drunkinbum


   I thought it looked more like Bob from Boston with the wheelbarrow full of cash. I thought I caught a glimpse of Ted from LA emptying his piggy bank onto the counter at the ticket window the race after the Derby. He seemed irate, "What do you mean you don't take pennies !!!! It's cold hard cash just like everything else. What is this country coming to when a man can't bet copper? BS."  Later he was at the bar mumbling about how he would of won the last race and recouped his losses if they let him bet. "A penny saved is a penny earned. What BS."

11 May 2014 7:09 PM
George Rowand

Steve, I don't think that there is anybody in the business who sees what you see and can articulate your thoughts so elegantly. Before I look at any big race, I always want to know, "What does Steve think?" Thanks again for superb writing and reporting.

12 May 2014 8:16 AM


"At least Coldfacts fessed up."

What exactly was my confession? I congratulated the connections and supporters on CC’s Derby victory and cited he was much the best on the day. If that is a confession then so be it. It appears I have been unable to clarify my position of California Chrome leading up to the Derby. Not liking a horse's chances of winning does not equate to not liking the actual animal. I cautioned those going overboard that the race had to be run and that all slates were cleaned when they arrived at CD. He justified the hype and has rightfully given his supporters bragging rights.

I am not convinced from the Derby that CC is a super horse. With the obvious exception, the others in leading group folded like cheap suite cases in surprisingly slow fractions. Those trailing were engaged in a Demolition Derby and this compromised the chances of the few that could have challenged CC. Wicked Strong my selection to win, was part of that Demolition Derby and might have initiated the 1st of many near collisions. He lost and I have moved on with the hope he will meet CC under more favorable conditions next time.

In addition to CC, there were several other horses that I submitted posts about that was never my #1 choice. Some are listed below.

Intense Holiday: Mr. Haskin classified him as rising star after his Risen Star victory and allotted him a high ranking. I hasten to highlight that I had been a fan of the colt long before his piece and he convinced me he just flattered to deceive. Many confused my caution regarding the colt performance with the beautifully compiled story on him. He was ideally positioned in the Derby and again repeated what he had done so many times in the past that led top my frustration with him. He failed to quicken when it mattered.

Constitution: I was adamant that he deserved just as much hype as CC as he was unbeaten, unknown and had won a G1 against race against graded stakes winners in only his 3rd start. I further advised that he was not my #1 choice to win the Derby. His trainer’s <3% Derby win record; the number of mares bred by his sire and his dam sire made him the unlikely 2014 Derby winner.

Hopportunity: He was ranked #2 and I did not like his high ranking as never impressed as a likely Derby winner. I questioned from very early the interest in the colt. Despite his victory in the Rebel I was not convinced he was a #2 horse. He is far striding colt with not a lot of acceleration. I also could not see Any Given Saturday siring a Derby winner ahead of Hard Spun and Curlin. His dam sire hailed from the Damascus line that has never feature in the primary generation of a Derby winner on either side.

There are three battles comprising the Triple Crown war and only 11 horses have won all three. With California Chrome’s victory in the 2014 Derby he joined 140 other horses that won the 1st battle. Let’s Hope CC can distinguish himself further and win them all.

12 May 2014 9:03 AM
Rob Whiteley

I think you said it all on April 7th ... "There is absolutely nothing more to say about this horse that I haven’t already said over the past two months. He is simply one of the most special young horses I’ve seen in years, and if the Triple Crown drought is ever to end, this is the kind of horse who will end it."

Athletic, well balanced, confident and intelligent with tactical speed ... he picked a good year to show his talent. None of the other contenders to this point have looked visually impressive and they appear to be a very average to mediocre group of contenders. Hoping Danza won't get body slammed early or blocked late and will get second like he deserved in the Derby. Happy for Sherman the way his life story has played out and happy to see a proletariat horse proclaim that you can't buy the Kentucky Derby no matter how much you spend on a mare and stud fee. Lots of fun any way it's sliced. (And I'm still blown away that CC and Danza keyed with the small hand full of horses who had a mile and a quarter in their pedigree could produce a $1712 trifecta for $1. But not complaining.)

12 May 2014 9:39 AM

Pedmat, thank you for that interesting pedigree evaluation.  I was never in that group that thought his pedigree was suspect.  I saw plenty of great things and failed to understand why so many people were only focusing on what the sire and dam did on the track.  It seems that many people do not take into account the pedigree past the first couple generations but I happen to believe that influences come through from much further back.....your post seems to support that theory...?    Coldfacts - I am not sure why so many people give you a hard time about your posts.  I'm guessing it's because Steve and others generally post the reasons why they like a horse or think it will win but you often post the negatives.  I personally do not see that as "bashing" or anything of the sort. In making my choices I weigh the positives and negatives and go from there.  The things you point out can be helpful and I love the statistics you present.  Would still love to see a stat about Native Dancers influence on the Triple Crown - both on the sire and dam's side.

12 May 2014 1:33 PM
Dr Drunkinbum


   I like Social Inclusion's chances too. He should have the lead at some point. I just hope he doesn't have the pre-race antics like he did last time that cost him valuable energy that he'll need for the stretch. It's the turned down 12 million dollar horse vs. the turned down 8 millions dollars horse.

12 May 2014 2:19 PM
Johnny D

Steve, you deserve to do a little horn tooting here.  Great early call on him.  

12 May 2014 2:42 PM

Dr. D.: tell Ted from LA not to come and bet in Canada.  We've ended the penny.  I am still trying to figure out the "round-up" v. "round-down" thing.

12 May 2014 2:49 PM
Judy G ~ CA

Steve, thank you for another awesome write up. I feel this horse is Heaven sent! The stars were in perfect alignment for the owners and the trainer... Now, may the racing gods grant us a Triple Crown king this year: The Year of The Horse.

12 May 2014 3:18 PM

Dr. D

I agree with you, Preakness & Belmont both look like tougher tests.  Time to stress test the Chrome!  I think you're right on Bob from Boston, too.  I had always wondered what happened to Spuds McKenzie & when the limo door opened, I had my answer!  Seemed there were several white bikinis in there, too.  Hopefully, Ted from LA will rebound after the Preakness & we'll be calling him "Pablo del Money"!!!

12 May 2014 3:26 PM
Dr Drunkinbum


   I didn't know that they had dumped the penny. That is really cool. They've talked about doing it here. Maybe it's politically incorrect or something or they're afraid of a lawsuit or of offending copperhead rattlesnakes. What are you going to do if they bring back penny candies, and 3 cent candy bars and sodas?

Peggy in California

   I just read your comment on the other blog. That was really nice to hear. I enjoy your posts very much and was really glad when you started posting again. I'm still hoping to make it down there sometime to meet some of you.

12 May 2014 5:10 PM


These guys are serious about the horses they support and take offense where none is intended. Highlighting what I perceive to be historic and other negatives associated with some horses is classified as bashing.

I guess only positive highlights are allowed. I was always under the impression that one should not speak ill of the dead but the living is fair game.

Going forwards I will just state that I have some profile concerns without the details.

By mow you should be familiar with my rants about over bred stallions.

California Chrome was produced from a book of 35 mares bred in 2010. Commanding Curve was produced from a book of 52 mares bred in 2010.  

All the Derby contenders whose sires bred 150 or more mare in 2010 finished amongst the also ran.

13 May 2014 1:31 AM
Tana Rae

Hi Steve!  Your trip back memory lane on your impressions of California Chrome is  priceless.  You saw something in this colt.  And I think you figured it out in your April 14 post:  "Yes, his speed and overall brilliance has been established, but his mind plays a huge part in his success.  He has a wonderful relationship with people, and knows exactly what he has to do, whether racing or training".  Chrome's first days - and weeks - being confined to a stall with his momma.  Key. His imprinting by humans caring for mom and him.  And finally, his discovery of being able to run.  Another key.  To me, it all adds up .  Of course, his breeding plays a part.  I researched him months ago 10 generations back and was blown away.  Large heart factor?  You bet.  Efficient cardio-pulmonary system.  Solid foundation (many races and learning experiences) as a 2-year old smoothly going into 3-year old season, indicating soundness (never being stopped on) and a strong constitution.  To me, his racing history is a throwback compared to the more lightly raced horses of today.  Next question:  why are so many of today's horses so lightly raced?  Compared to Chrome's resume?  Soundness, constitution, race-day meds, pedigree, trainer preferences?  He is different.  And I think that's what many of us have seen.  He's just different.  He's totally observant of his environment to the point of being comical.  He loves being hugged on. His exercise rider is always loving on him.  And he relishes it (human imprinting).  How can one not be captivated with this young horse?  And his performances on the track?  He's so responsive to Victor, demonstrating what I believe is his early handling by people.  And Victor has his number.  He, to me, is such an intriguing horse.  And I think others are starting to take notice.  Every once in awhile, one comes along that captivates you.  God Bless you, Chrome.

13 May 2014 3:05 AM
Tana Rae

Oh, forgot to mention, I love All of your photos of Chrome.  But the one of you and Lenny watching the finish line is a "Wisha I could've been there with you" finish.  

13 May 2014 3:17 AM

It would be worthwhile if someone would direct the connections of Social Inclusion to the HOF trainer and 5 times Preakness winner views on equipment change for his speedy colt:

BAYERN – Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert has decided to take the blinkers off speedy Bayern for Saturday’s 139th Preakness Stakes.

The son of Offlee Wild has pressed the pace in all four of his career starts. He broke his maiden on Jan. 4 wearing blinkers but didn’t have them on for an allowance victory by 15 lengths on Feb. 13 or his third-place finish in the Arkansas Derby (G1) on April 12. The blinkers were back on for the Derby Trial (G3) on April 26, when he finished first but was disqualified and placed second.

There appears to be plenty of speed in the Preakness: Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome, Pablo Del Monte, Ring Weekend, Social Inclusion and Dynamic Impact have all been prominently placed in their recent races. After the Derby Trial DQ, Baffert said that the colt had to be able to stalk the pace, hence the decision to make the equipment change.

”If we’re going to get him to track horses, track the speed, he needs them off,”

Social Inclusion trains and runs with blinkers. He probably wears them in his stall. This is a one dimensional need to lead colt that has left the gates awkwardly in two of his three starts. Should this recur in the Preakness, he is unlikely to relax for his rider with blinkers on and his race will be over.

If his trainer is unsure how far he wants to go, why not remove the Blinkers and let him relax more and conserve more of his energy. He appears to have stamina limitation at this stage of his career. He needs all the help he can get.

If a trainer that has won the Preakness 5 times can recognize the benefits of removing blinkers from his speedy colt in an expected speed fest, why shouldn't the trainer of Social Inclusion take note?  One is never too old to learn.

13 May 2014 9:55 AM
Byron Rogers


An interesting take on California Chrome's pedigree. Some comments if I may.

Firstly, the "X-Factor" theory has been widely criticized and debunked in equine scientific circles for a decade. It has zero merit. The X-Factor was based on taking ECG measurements of the heart which was initially done by Steele, et al in the 1970’s. Unfortunately since that time scientists have not been able to reproduce these findings at all. They have been able to ascertain athletic performance using the more recent technology of m-mode, but Haun didn’t use that in her books which are romantic but complete bunk. I suggest you read Lightowler, et al (2004), Echocardiography and electrocardiography as means to evaluate potential performance in horses (www.vetsci.org/.../journal_view.html) as a starting point and go from there.

Outside of the method that Haun used to measure the large hearts being unreproducable and shown to NOT have any correlation to athletic performance, the suggestion that a single variant within a gene on the X Chromosome is also false. There is only one gene that has been linked to cardiac hypertrophy (growth) on the X Chromosome but the more important genes associated with this process are located on the nuclear chromosomes, thus they are subject to the laws of Mendel. It also must be said that there are a lot more “large hearts” than there are good horses, so just having a larger than normal racehorse doesn’t make you a good one.

Secondly, the Mr Prospector inbreeding of 4x3 has, in the exact position it appears in California Chrome, been tried 1,268 times for just 25 black type winners. California Chrome is the only gr.I winner and the next best is the gr.II winner Beethoven. Ascribing the success of California Chrome to the presence of Mr Prospector as it appears in his pedigree looks erroneous based on the data. Also to suggest that because of her inbreeding 3x3 to Numbered Account, the dam of California Chrome is “the key” as you put it shows a lack of basic research which is surprising for someone who is purporting to be a pedigree authority. There are 11 mares that are 3x3 to Numbered Account as Love the Chase is that have racing produce. Their combined produce record reads 29 foals of racing age for 2 stakes winners – California Chrome and Great Love, a Listed winner. If there were “magic beans” to be found in the mares that were 3x3 cross to Numbered Account, them producing a horse like California Chrome would be a repeatable event which it is clearly not as there is a long way in racing class between California Chrome and Great Love.

California Chrome is the 10,000/1 Mendel crapshoot. It is a great story and you can only wish the guys that own the horse all the best as it is what dreams are made of but trying to repeat the mating will send you broke (unless you are literally repeating the mating between the sire and the dam themselves in which case it is quite a reasonable chance to produce another stakes winner) and explaining the pedigree with not even a shred of valid evidence to support the assertions made is bordering on intellectual dishonesty.

13 May 2014 9:57 AM


What do you do for a living?  You are so analytical with horse racing.  I know you were an owner so the interest is there but I envision you with books and graphs because it can't be off the top of your head.  I have the feeling that your career must involve this type of work because you see things in a very studied manner and what, I think, some of the others don't realize is that you don't involve any emotion in your analysis because there is no room for any but as your handle says, just cold facts.  I have never thought you malicious in any way but you blow me away with your knowledge and you bring up some amazing data. The difference with you is you don't have any emotion involved like some of the rest of us.  I for one, am very emotional about horses, always have been and so are some of the others on here but I can certainly respect your point of view.

13 May 2014 10:31 AM
Peggy in California

Since I haven't posted yet on this blog, I want to thank Steve for the insights that he had about California Chrome early in the Derby season and for putting them together with the pictures he took to share for all of us.  You know you are appreciated by all of us.

Dr. Drunkinbum, I'm so happy to hear from you.  One of the reasons I started reading the comments again was that seeing your name always makes me happy.  I'm not quite sure what some of your comments meant (Bob from LA) since I haven't been reading, but they made me laugh anyway.  Please keep posting, because I worry about you if I don't see something written with your incomparable style. --Peggy

13 May 2014 11:11 AM
Shelby's Best Pal

It feels so good to have your faith justified.  Great reminder of California Chrome's dominance.  Thanks also for the beautiful pictures of him.  And I really liked getting a look at Perfect Drift too.  He filled out an exacta for me on more than one occasion.  

13 May 2014 2:08 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Peggy in California

   I don't know what it meant either. If I don't post on Steve's Derby Dozen then you can worry. The rest of the year I can't guarantee, but I'll do my best. Thanks for your special words. Glad you came back. Don't go away.

13 May 2014 6:48 PM

                  steve ive loved chrome as long as you have every year my friend and I start discussing derby horses in the beginning of January itold him that there is this cal horse that looks really good.my friend said hes a cal bred I laughed and said cal bred triple crown winner keep the good stories coming and after he takes the crown you can pat yourself on the back like ill be doing go chrome

13 May 2014 7:55 PM
Peggy in California

A story for Dr. Drunkinbum:

Once upon a time in a kingdom far away, the king sentenced a man to death for an offense (which is not important to this story).  The man told the king that he had a rare talent and could teach the king's favorite horse to sing if given a year to do so. So the king relented and allowed him to try to teach the horse to sing.

The man sang cheerfully to the horse every day.  One day a helper asked the man why he was so happy when he would be put to death in a year when the horse hadn't learned to sing. The man said, "I have a year which I didn't have before and a lot can happen in a year.  The king could die, I could die, the horse could die, and perhaps. . . the horse might even learn to sing."

I enjoyed this story when I first heard it years ago and have tried to remember it when things look hopeless.  The reason that I bring it up is that you said that you will always post to Steve's Derby Dozen blog.  Hopefully, Steve will continue to do this blog next year, but a lot can happen in a year, so I'm giving you my email address so you can keep in touch if/when you want.  It is:  peggylindsay@comcast.net

You mentioned that you might join "us", meaning (I guess) the original Steve Haskin's bloggers group, some day.  We are not physically close to each other so we don't see each other in person often.  I live in Northern California, 3 are in So. Cal. and one in Colorado.  I stay in touch with a couple of them by email which allowed me to have a day at Santa Anita with one recently and to make plans to go to Belmont with her.  Until then I will be here on the blog and will look for your postings.

14 May 2014 9:12 AM
Carlos in Cali

One thing is certain:

sceptre,et al, lack the knack spotting talented horseflesh.

Go Chrome!  

14 May 2014 3:46 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Peggy in California

   I don't know if he was self-taught or if somebody taught him but Mr. Ed could sing quite well. So anything is possible. Thanks for the nice story.

   California Chrome looks really strong and is obviously a special horse but I still have a feeling that Ride on Curlin will run really well, but will it be good enough? And it will be very interesting to see what Social Inclusion does. He loves to run, is very talented, and is a competitor. I'm just not sure if he is quite ready to beat these. It would be exciting if you guys are in Belmont for a Triple Crown try so I might be rooting for California Chrome.

14 May 2014 5:45 PM
The Deacon

Dr. D:  I hope you do root for 'Chrome. You have been saying for a while now that you want to see a Triple Crown winner. Many of us bloggers feel the same. Well there is only 1 horse that can make that happen this year. I think he wins the Preakness but the Belmont is another story. That race is usually the grave yard of possible immortality. The list is endless of very good horses that have tried. Spectacular Bid whom I consider to be one of the top 5 ever should have done it but the pain of a safety pin ruined that day. Real Quiet getting beat a nose where to the naked eye (my opinion only) it appeared he won the race was another.

Smarty Jones was another, that was a real heartbreaker for America.

Whom ever you root for I wish you the best of luck. Your posts are always a great read.......

Let folks speak their minds and opinions, no more negatives from me. Passion for a horse shouldn't turn into an argument...........

1. California Chrome

2. Bayern

3. Social Inclusion

15 May 2014 1:59 AM
Tana Rae

Pedigree Ann, I've read that California Chrome's mom had a breathing problem which was never fixed.  But from my research, her genetics were there to produce a classic distance foal as I'm sure you're aware of.  Thus, Chrome arrives. Healthy, strong constitution, never sick.  Key.! Strong genetics re-inforced by good old school training.  No shin problems early. Soundness on the track (and off) as indicated by his multiple starts as a 2-year old.  No back-off time .  Learning to be a racehorse.  His three-year old year and he puts it all-together - thanks to Victor who out of nowhere connects beautifully with this horse.  Does it Any better than this?

15 May 2014 2:24 AM
Ted from LA

Hey You Mugs!  I just got of jail.  Why would the Louisville police care if I wanted to take one of the police horses for a spin after the Derby?  I am often misunderstood.  Who called me Bob from LA?  That's confusing to us.  California Chrome is your winner (followed by Ride on Curlin, Ring Weekend, and General A Rod).  Ted Bob is heading to NYC to watch CC win the Triple Crown.

15 May 2014 11:44 AM

Steve, are you okay?  Haven't heard a thing from you lately.....no Preakness articles this week and no pictures?  

15 May 2014 12:30 PM
Steve Haskin

Racingfan, they've been posted as news stories on top of the page instead of a column. I sent in a few photos, but they weren't used. I will be sending in a photo blog today with captions

15 May 2014 1:00 PM
Jean in Chicago

Ted from LA,

Glad to see you back!  Can't imagine why police would mind a slightly slaphappy rider taking one of their horses for a short jog.  Say hi to Bob from Boston.  Love, Jean

15 May 2014 1:51 PM

Oh, thank you!  I was worried!

15 May 2014 2:17 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

The Deacon

    Smarty's smarted the worst, and the Bid's was the second most painful of all time as far as horse racing losses go. Jerry West's Lakers losses against Boston were as painful as it gets along with the 62 Giants loss against the Yankees in the seventh game. I'm not even sure I want to be that invested again so I'm laying low in the hope department. The Belmont will be toughest of all if he gets there but I also wonder if the racing gods will allow a Triple Crown until the medication issues are resolved. There must be some reason they haven't allowed one since the 70's. They actually started with Spectacular Bid. Why did it start then and continue through the present day? We've had plenty of chances. The California Chrome story would be as good as it gets though. Maybe that's what they've been waiting for is hard working owners with an inexpensive horse with a pedigree that nobody thought could get it done. The Preakness is a big test. If he passes this one then I'm sure not going to say he can't win the Belmont.

15 May 2014 2:39 PM
Peggy in California

Ted from LA, I am the one who got your name wrong.  Just from being too lazy to look up the original comment when Dr. D. made me laugh about you taking a wheelbarrow of pennies to the window to place a bet.  I'm going to Belmont also.  Will I recognize you by your wheelbarrow of pennies?

15 May 2014 2:56 PM
Peggy in California

Deacon,  I echo your comments about Dr. D.  The blog wouldn't be the same without him and his sense of humor.  Don't worry.  I would be willing to be Ted from LA's wheelbarrow of pennies that Dr. D. will be a 'Chrome fan before the Belmont.  He may not be willing to place a win bet on him at short odds, but he will be rooting for California Chrome to win.

15 May 2014 3:02 PM
The Deacon

Dr. D:  Being born and raised in So. Calif I remember all those Laker heartbreaks of the 1960's. I went to a few of those games. I remember when the Lakers won 2 in Boston only to come back to the L.A. Sports Arena and lose, I was there for game 3.

That 1962 Giants baseball team you speak of ruined my beloved Dodgers season. In a 1 game playoff the Dodgers were up 4-2 in the 9th inning and the Giants scored 4 runs to win.

Majestic Prince in 1969 was painful to me. Knowing he wasn't sound for the Belmont Stakes but McMahon over ruled Longden and raced him. Arts and Letters was a monster but the Prince was a great horse. Could have been one of the best. The Charismatic Belmont incident was hard to watch as well.

I just hope Chrome stays healthy

15 May 2014 3:13 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

The Deacon

   We could go on and on about those rivalries. I went to a mid sixties Lakers game also. Luckily we had the Bruins to make up for the Lakers in those days and luckily the Lakers had 72 which helped quite a bit but not completely. It was more of a relief than anything.  What did you think of Don Nelson? The Astrodome? Those were two tough losses. I'll tell you what I thought- "How could they let that scrub Nelson beat them, and why did the Bruins have to play in the Astrodome?"  Let's have a safe trip for all on Saturday. I think it's going to be a classic Classic. Class will be in session and class will rule. Or will it be "anyone, anyone?"

15 May 2014 7:11 PM

Beautiful. That gorgeous powerhouse just takes my breath away. I notice Perfect Drift is wearing shoulder pads. Could it be that he's met CC's teeth more often than he wished? The Chrome seems to going for a nibble..or a hunk.

Dr. D: Fury was one of my favorite shows too...and My Friend Flicka..and Mr. Ed. Remember the Cisco Kid? Beautiful horses!

Why do horses have such an awe inspiring effect on us? Then we talk about our machines in terms of horse power.

Beauty, size, grace, power, speed, and a heart and soul. Regal, intelligent, brave, and loyal, the horse is durable and commands not only our attention but also our respect and love. I don't have enough words for what I feel when I'm in the presence of such a gallant creature.

(Are there horses in heaven, and if there are, do I still have to watch where I step?)

15 May 2014 8:33 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Peggy in California

   I emailed you to tell you to have a good time at Belmont but in case you didn't get the email- have a good time and good luck at Belmont.

16 May 2014 11:14 AM
Peggy in California

Got it, Dr. D.  Thanks.  Good luck to 'Chrome and safe trips to all--Peggy

16 May 2014 10:54 PM
Lise from Maine


Let the "dream" ride on.

Any photos of California Chrome as a foal?

I love watching them as foals, growing up, read about

the training (photos/videos, too), racing, retiring, and see the new babies and so on with them.

Good luck to California Chrome and his team!

Thank you!

Lise from Maine

21 May 2014 9:05 AM

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