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May 09, 2014

California Chrome wins Kentucky Derby


Louisville, KY ( - Post-time favorite California Chrome took the lead at the top of the stretch and then drove to victory in Saturday's $2 million Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. The 3-year-old colt defeated 18 rivals and covered the 1 1/4 miles in 2:03.66 in the opening leg of racing's Triple Crown.

Trained by Art Sherman and ridden by Victor Espinoza, California Chrome was the 5-2 favorite in the 19-horse field. Hoppertunity was an early scratch with a foot injury and the owners of also eligible Pablo Del Monte decided not to start the colt in the 140th Run for the Roses, leaving the field one short of the maximum 20 3-year-olds.

California Chrome broke well from the gate and proceeded to press the pace being set by 30-1 longshot Uncle Sigh. Also racing on the lead was Sunland Derby winner Chitu and Samraat.

Owned by Steven Coburn and Perry Martin, California Chrome moved easily to the lead coming off the final turn and quickly opened his advantage nearing the furlong pole. The colt cruised down the stretch and was able to post a 1 3/4- length victory over the late running Commanding Curve.

"I let him do his thing," Espinoza said."Let him enjoy the race, whatever he wants to do."

Finishing third was Arkansas Derby winner and 8-1 third pick Danza with 6-1 second choice and Wood Memorial champ Wicked Strong rallying into fourth. Completing the order of finish were Samraat, Dance With Fate, Ride On Curlin, Medal Count, Chitu, We Miss Artie, General a Rod, Intense Holiday, Candy Boy, Uncle Sigh, Tapiture, Harry's Holiday, Vinceremos, Wildcat Red and Vicar's in Trouble.

The 140th Kentucky Derby had 164,906 in attendance.

California Chrome can become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978. The Triple Crown will continue on May 17 with the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course and June 7 at Belmont Park with the Belmont Stakes.

"Art Sherman has come full circle from exercise rider for a California-bred that won the Kentucky Derby," Coburn said about the trainer who exercised 1955 winner Swaps, "to training a California-bred that won the Kentucky Derby."

The 77-year-old Sherman becomes the oldest trainer to ever win the Kentucky Derby and California Chrome becomes the first California-bred 3-year-old to claim the race since Decidedly in 1962. It's Espinoza's second win to go along with his 2002 victory aboard War Emblem.

"He gave me the biggest thrill I ever had in my life," Sherman exclaimed.

The colt pockets $1.4 million and bumps his lifetime bankroll to more than $2.5 million with seven wins in 11 starts. He's perfect in four starts this year for better than $2.3 million.

California Chrome won the Santa Anita Derby on April 5 by 5 1/4 lengths after beginning 2014 with a 5 1/2-length victory in the California Cup Derby at Santa Anita on Jan. 25. The colt won the San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita by 7 1/4 lengths on March 8 after he finished 2013 by winning the King Glorious Stakes by 6 1/4 lengths in Hollywood Park's final stakes on Nov. 22.

California Chrome returned $7.00, $5.60 and $4.20. Commanding Curve paid $31.80 and $15.40, and Danza paid $6.00 to show.

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