California Chrome won the the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby on Saturday at Churchill Downs.
Uncle Sigh set the pace for the first three-quarters mile, chased by California Chrome. But the horse with humble beginnings who entered with all the hype, California Chrome, waited until the stretch to make his move and ran away with it down the stretch to win in 2:03.66 for his fifth victory in a row.
California Chrome became the first California-bred horse since 1962 to win the Kentucky Derby, and Sherman became the oldest trainer to win the Derby, at 77 years old.
Commanding Curve finished second and Danza, trained by Todd Pletcher, placed third to round out the money. California Chrome paid $7 to win, $5.60 to place and $4.20 on a $2 bet to show. Commanding Curve paid $31.80 to place and $15.40 to show. Danza paid $6 to show.
Bettors and experts alike favored California Chrome leading up to the race in Louisville. Trained by Art Sherman and ridden by Victor Espinoza, he drew the fifth position and bettors made him a 2/1 favorite Saturday afternoon. And with good reason -- he won the 1⅛ mile Santa Anita Derby a month ago and 1 1/16 mile San Felipe by a combined 24¼ lengths. His story is interesting not just because he comes from a one-horse stable -- DAP, which stands for "dumb ass partners" and features a donkey as a on their silks. California Chome doesn't come from a strong pedigree either, the offspring of an $8,000 mare and $2,500 sire. Before Kentucky, he had never raced outside his home state, California.
Now he'll almost certainly be the favorite as the Triple Crown shifts to Baltimore's Pimlico Race Course in two weeks for the Preakness on May 17.
No horse has captured the Triple Crown since Affirmed edged Alydar in all three races in 1978, and only 11 horses have managed to earn Triple Crown honors, though every few years one takes the first two to give a bit of June excitement. In 2012, I'll Have Another won the first two races but was a scratch at Belmont due to a leg injury. In 2008, Big Brown suffered an injury ahead of the race as well, a cracked hoof. He ran but finished last. In 2004 Smarty Jones had his shot at history at Belmont, even leading the race before Birdsong passed him down the stretch for the victory.
The final leg of the 2014 Triple Crown, the 1½ mile Belmont Stakes, is set for June 7 in New York.