LOUISVILLE, Ky. - California Chrome has won the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby.
California Chrome, trained by 77-year-old trainer Art Sherman and ridden by jockey Victor Espinoza, was the 5-2 morning line favorite entering the race and paid $7.00 to win on a $2 bet. He took control of the race at the top of the stretch and pulled away for the easy win.
Commanding Curve finished second and paid $31.80 to place, and Danza was third.
The race's announced attendance was 164,906.
The colt with the blue-collar pedigree cost his breeders and co-owners, Steve Coburn of Nevada and Perry Martin of California, only $10,500, $8,000 to purchase the mare Love the Chase and $2,500 to breed her to the stallion Lucky Pulpit.
"It's kind of like a dream come true for a lot of people," Sherman said, "because he's the first horse the owners bred, he made it to the Derby and what they paid for him. The smaller breeders in California, they've got a chance now. They don't have to spend a million dollars on a horse."
Beflrenly three California-breds had won the Derby - Morvich (1922), Swaps (1955) and Decidedly (1962). Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif., was hosting a party Saturday for the local hero, giving away T-shirts that said "Bring It Home, Chrome."
The flashy chestnut colt with four white stockings entered the world Feb. 18, 2011, in Coalinga, a small town in the San Joaquin Valley, known for producing fruits and vegetables, not a future Derby contender. Coburn and Martin named their racing operation Dumb Ass Partners because someone told them that anybody who buys a racehorse is a dumb ass. Their purple silks feature a green jackass on the back.
California Chrome brought a four-race winning streak into the Derby, dominating them by a combined 24¼ lengths. As the colorful Coburn said, "The horses he's been facing have been chasing that green jackass for months."
Although the race lasted only a tad more than two minutes, the annual rite of spring draws international attention to Louisville, a half-Southern, half-Midwestern city with more sky than skyline. Hotel rates skyrocket, with the better places downtown going for as much as $1,300 a night on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Derby Day dawned cool and clear on the banks of the Ohio, with virtually no chance of rain in Saturday's forecast. Unlike last year, when Orb splashed to victory, NBC race caller Larry Collmus would not have to sweat out identifying horses whose silks were obscured by spattered mud.
A month later, Collmus admitted to a few moments of terror while he described Orb's winning move at the top of the stretch. He was pretty sure it was Orb, but jockey Joel Rosario's shirt no longer appeared white. With about 300 yards to run, Collmus realized he'd called it right. "That's why I put a little extra emphasis on 'Orb'," he said, "because I was so relieved that I finally was certain it was him."
According to the National Weather Service, 2007 was the last Derby when not even a trace of rain fell at Churchill Downs. Besides last year, the Derby chart listed the track as sloppy in 2009, 2010 and 2011.
Among the visitors are hundreds of celebrities, many of whom make the scene at fancy parties on Derby eve. The Barnstable Brown Gala, Grand Gala and Unbridled Eve Gala were the prime destinations for A-listers, and on Friday night plenty of them showed up. Star quarterbacks Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers were in town, as were actor Jamie Foxx and NBA Hall of Famer Julius Erving.
Post time at Churchill was 10:30 a.m. for the first of 13 races on the sport's longest day. The gates wouldn't open for the world's most famous race until about eight hours later.
Long Island native Jimmy Jerkens trains Wicked Strong, who won the Wood Memorial on April 5 at Aqueduct. Jerkens' take on the riveting circus: "The Derby buzz is really something."