Not Only The People's
Champion - He's Our
words by Brian Fonseca • image by Frankie Leal
California Chrome possesses all the characteristics of a true “Golden Boy Rock Star;” he’s handsome, unique, intelligent, knows how to work the camera, and he straddles that all- so-cool balance of being friendly yet aloof. He can be picky and oh my does he love to run! Chrome is a rebel, an industry outsider, who rode east and captured Horse Racing’s Grandest Prize on its biggest stage, the Kentucky Derby. Along the backstretch to fame, Chrome captured the hearts and spirits of our sports crazed country, creating an inspired following of “Chromies.” He is indeed a true hero, a champion, and he’s OURS!
Chrome was born, or foaled, February 18th, 2011 on the East side of our Central Valley. His birthplace was the Harris Farms, a caring, picturesque oasis for would-be thoroughbreds, tucked away furlongs from Interstate 5, and just North of the popular Harris Ranch Farms restaurant. Chrome would then spend part of his youth just down the road in nearby Sanger, “turning out” in horse training parlance, where he essentially grew up healthy, happy, and ready to shock the world. Harris Farms trainer Per Antonsen, a humble, likeable, and veteran trainer, fondly referred to Chrome as being very “precocious,” and a horse who enjoys to race.
By now you may be familiar with some of his early story. Chrome’s owners Perry Martin from Yuba City, and Steve Coburn of Topaz Lake Nevada, affectionately coined themselves DAP Racing (Dump A -- Partners). The term came from a response by
a bystander to DAP’s purchase of Chrome’s future mother (or Dam) Love the Chase. Chrome’s father (or Sire) Lucky Pulpit, came from a long line of successful racing horses, including Seattle Slew, the Derby winner in 1977, and Bold Ruler, who captured one of Horse Racing’s other crown jewels, the Preakness, in 1957. Chrome and DAP were outsiders to the inner circle of the horse racing establishment. Many top race horses; including breeders, trainers, and training facilities; make their home in Kentucky and tend to be skeptical and cynical of California bred horses. However, at this point, Chrome has earned his DAP owners, a tidy sum of just over $3.5 million! Reports have the breeding fee for Lucky Pulpit at $2,000.00 and the purchase price for Love the Chase at $8,000.00. DAP struck gold; California style!
Coburn allegedly dreamt of a colt being born with 4 white feet and a blaze (which is a white stripe on the Chrome was denied a place in racing immortality as he finished fourth. Belmont is known for being the longest and grueling of the three Triple Crown races. Early in the race, Chrome was stepped on by a competitor, injuring a hoof. Like the true champion he is, even injured, California Chrome battled to the very end. Only eleven horses have ever captured the elusive Triple Crown, the last being affirmed in 1978.
All indications are that Chrome will race in the $5 Million Dollar Breeder’s Cup on November 1st and 2nd at Santa Anita Park. There also is a chance Chromies can see their horse run in the “Win and You’re In” races, scheduled for September 27th and 28th also at Santa Anita Park.
For me personally, it was an unforgettable thrill to be in the presence of such a majestic and wondrous champion. To the friendly people at the Harris Farms, in particular Debbie Winick, and to Frankie Leal, I am forever grateful for such a fantastic encounter.
Chrome, I love you man. And for the record, You Are The Man!