California Chrome wins the 2014 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Down - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

California Chrome wins the 2014 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs

Posted: Updated:
Victor Espinoza rides California Chrome to a victory during the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby horse race at Churchill Downs Saturday, May 3, 2014, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) Victor Espinoza rides California Chrome to a victory during the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby horse race at Churchill Downs Saturday, May 3, 2014, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A horse with a humble pedigree. A couple of working stiff owners. A 77-year-old trainer with his first Kentucky Derby horse.

Even Hollywood couldn't have made this up.

California Chrome made it look easy on Saturday, pulling away down the stretch to win the Derby by 1 3/4 lengths.

In a sport dominated by wealthy owners and regally bred horses from Kentucky's bluegrass country, this was a victory for the little guys. Owners Perry Martin and Steve Coburn bred an $8,000 mare to a $2,500 stallion to produce the winner of the world's most famous race with their one-horse stable.

[RELATED STORY:  Stars line red carpet for Kentucky Derby]

"This is just a dream come true and a great birthday present,'" said Coburn, who turned 61 on Saturday.

California Chrome ran 1¼ miles in 2:03.66 and paid $7, $5.60 and $4.20. The chestnut colt was sent off as the 5-2 favorite by the crowd of 164,906, the second-largest in the Derby's 140-year history.

His trainer, Art Sherman, became the oldest trainer to win the Derby, 57 years after he traveled from California as an exercise rider for Derby winner Swaps. He watched that race from the barn area; this time he smelled red roses in the winner's circle.

Sherman was all smiles after the race. "He gave me the biggest thrill I ever had in my life," he said.

California Chrome has the unlikeliest pedigree for a Derby champion. His mother, named Love the Chase, won just one race. She was purchased by Coburn and Martin, a move that prompted a trainer to call them "dumb asses" for getting involved in racing.

Feeling inspired, they named their operation DAP Racing, which stands for Dumb Ass Partners. Their silks include an image of a donkey.

Coburn lives near Reno, Nevada, rising at 4:30 a.m. for his job as a press operator at a 13-employee company that makes magnetic strips for credit cards and driver licenses.

Martin lives on the California side of the border near Reno, running a laboratory that tests high-reliability equipment, like car air bags and medical equipment.

Coburn and Martin's partnership is based on a handshake, and their wives are friends who enjoy the sport, too. The group came up with California Chrome's name by drawing it out of a hat. The horse hadn't even been out of his home state until this week.

"Sometimes you don't get a lot of respect," Sherman said. "We're in Kentucky and you know most of the Derby winners are bred here and few outside of Kentucky."

Sherman visited Swaps' grave near the Derby museum earlier in the week and whispered a prayer: "I hope he's another Swaps."

He sure was.

California Chrome extended his winning streak to five races, won by a combined 26 lengths. It was the second Derby win for Espinoza, who rode War Emblem to victory in 2002.

"I thought he rode him perfect," said Sherman, a former jockey. "I was riding the last 70 yards with Victor, so I think he was riding two. He had a lot of weight on him, I can tell you that."

Espinoza had California Chrome sitting comfortably in third in the 19-horse field as Uncle Sigh and Chitu set the early pace.

California Chrome made his move on the final turn in tandem with Samraat. It looked like those two would decide the outcome, until California Chrome sped away to become the first California-bred to win the Derby since Decidedly in 1962.

"This horse has so much talent," Espinoza said. "By the three-eighths pole I knew that was it. I could see other horses struggling a little bit, and he was just smooth."

Commanding Curve, a 37-1 shot, rallied for second, with Danza third. Wicked Strong was fourth and Samraat finished fifth.

Commanding Curve returned $31.80 and $15.40, giving trainer Dallas Stewart his second straight runner-up finish with a double-digit longshot. Danza, named for actor Tony Danza of "Who's the Boss?" fame, paid $6 to show as the 8-1 third choice.

Trainer Todd Pletcher came up empty with his four starters, finishing third with Danza, 10th with We Miss Artie, 12th with Intense Holiday, and 17th with Vinceremos.

Wicked Strong, the 6-1 second choice, was fourth. Samraat was fifth, followed by 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, and Wildcat Red. Vicar's In Trouble, ridden by Rosie Napravnik, finished last.

Before the Derby, Coburn had told anyone who would listen that California Chrome "would go down in history." He remains just as unabashed.

"I believe this horse will win the Triple Crown," he said, something that hasn't been done since 1978, when Affirmed swept the Derby, Preakness and Belmont in a five-week span.

"That's where we're going."

  • Auburn University SportsMore>>

  • 2014 USA Today preseason coaches poll: FSU No. 1, Alabama No. 2, Auburn No. 5

    2014 USA Today preseason coaches poll: FSU No. 1, Alabama No. 2, Auburn No. 5

    Thursday, July 31 2014 1:40 PM EDT2014-07-31 17:40:23 GMT
    The 2014 USA Today preseason college football coaches poll was released Thursday and reigning national champion Florida State sits atop the rankings.More >>
    The 2014 USA Today preseason college football coaches poll was released Thursday and reigning national champion Florida State sits atop the rankings.More >>
  • Auburn football announces two-game series with Clemson

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 4:38 PM EDT2014-07-30 20:38:41 GMT
    Auburn and Clemson have agreed to a two-game series beginning in 2016. Auburn will host Clemson on Sept. 3, 2016 and play at Clemson's Memorial Stadium on Sept. 9, 2017.The programs have played 49 times in the past, including three times in the last five years. Auburn leads the all-time series 34-13-2 despite losing the last two times it's played Clemson, in 2011 and 2012.The agreement with Clemson will fulfill Auburn's obligation to play at least one non-conference opponent from a Power 5 co...More >>
    Auburn and Clemson have agreed to a two-game series beginning in 2016. Auburn will host Clemson on Sept. 3, 2016 and play at Clemson's Memorial Stadium on Sept. 9, 2017.The programs have played 49 times in the past, including three times in the last five years. Auburn leads the all-time series 34-13-2 despite losing the last two times it's played Clemson, in 2011 and 2012.The agreement with Clemson will fulfill Auburn's obligation to play at least one non-conference opponent from a Power 5 co...More >>
  • Auburn QB Nick Marshall pays $1,100 in fines for marijuana possession, window tint violations in Georgia

    Auburn QB Nick Marshall pays $1,100 in fines for marijuana possession, window tint violations in Georgia

    Thursday, July 24 2014 3:33 PM EDT2014-07-24 19:33:03 GMT
    Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall has paid the fines for possession of a small amount of marijuana and a window tint violation.More >>
    Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall has paid the fines for possession of a small amount of marijuana and a window tint violation.
    More >>
  • Latest StoriesMore>>

  • Repairing burst Los Angeles main could take days

    Repairing burst Los Angeles main could take days

    Friday, August 1 2014 3:39 AM EDT2014-08-01 07:39:31 GMT
    Hundreds of cars submerged below murky water. A landmark basketball court, newly refurbished, showing signs of buckling. Soaked and stained carpets. An athletic track coated in mud.More >>
    Repair crews on Thursday were shoring up a giant hole in the middle of Sunset Boulevard caused by a ruptured pipe, as officials at the water-logged University of California, Los Angeles, continued to assess damage from the...More >>
  • Neighbors who rescued plane crash victims: "It's a miracle they survived"

    Neighbors who rescued plane crash victims: "It's a miracle they survived"

    Thursday, July 31 2014 9:50 PM EDT2014-08-01 01:50:59 GMT
    A family of four traveling to Tennessee from Florida crash landed their plane in central Alabama. More >>
    A family of four traveling to Tennessee from Florida crash landed their plane in central Alabama. More >>
  • Embattled Homewood hotel forced to close, guests left looking for new accommodations

    Embattled Homewood hotel forced to close, guests left looking for new accommodations

    Thursday, July 31 2014 9:50 PM EDT2014-08-01 01:50:02 GMT
    Guests at America's Best Inn Suites packed up and left Thursday. The Homewood hotel lost its business license and an extension to keep it running was denied.More >>
    Guests at America's Best Inn Suites packed up and left Thursday. The Homewood hotel lost its business license and an extension to keep it running was denied.
    More >>
  • Small plane crash in Helena sends 4 to hospital with serious injuries

    Small plane crash in Helena sends 4 to hospital with serious injuries

    Thursday, July 31 2014 9:29 PM EDT2014-08-01 01:29:14 GMT
    Authorities are investigating a small plane crash in Helena Thursday afternoon, a fire spokesman said.More >>
    Authorities are investigating a small plane crash in Helena Thursday afternoon, a fire spokesman said.More >>
  • Lackey goes from Red Sox to Cards for Kelly, Craig

    Lackey goes from Red Sox to Cards for Kelly, Craig

    Thursday, July 31 2014 9:26 PM EDT2014-08-01 01:26:42 GMT
    The Boston Red Sox have traded right-hander John Lackey to the St. Louis Cardinals for right-hander Joe Kelly and outfielder Allen Craig before Thursday's deadline, a person with knowledge of the deal said.More >>
    The Boston Red Sox traded right-hander John Lackey to the St. Louis Cardinals for right-hander Joe Kelly and outfielder Allen Craig before Thursday's deadline.More >>
  • Lethal injections on hold in Alabama

    Lethal injections on hold in Alabama

    Thursday, July 31 2014 9:19 PM EDT2014-08-01 01:19:47 GMT
    16 Alabama death row inmates have exhausted their appeals and are waiting to be executed. But, lethal injections will not be performed in the state at least until next spring. Republican state Senator Cam Ward says that will be the earliest lawmakers will be able to pass new legislation that will allow Alabama to get the drugs used for executions.Ward says that pharmaceutical companies are refusing to sell Alabama more drugs until they can get some type of protection or immunity. It's because...More >>
    16 Alabama death row inmates have exhausted their appeals and are waiting to be executed. But, lethal injections will not be performed in the state at least until next spring. Republican state Senator Cam Ward says that will be the earliest lawmakers will be able to pass new legislation that will allow Alabama to get the drugs used for executions.Ward says that pharmaceutical companies are refusing to sell Alabama more drugs until they can get some type of protection or immunity. It's because...More >>
  • Another decent start for Woods at Firestone

    Another decent start for Woods at Firestone

    Thursday, July 31 2014 7:50 PM EDT2014-07-31 23:50:46 GMT
    Tiger Woods took another step on one of his favorite courses toward showing his game might be turning around.More >>
    Tiger Woods showed signs of a positive recovery Thursday at the Bridgestone Invitational.More >>
  • Alabama gets commitment from 4-star cornerback Rico McGraw

    Alabama gets commitment from 4-star cornerback Rico McGraw

    Thursday, July 31 2014 7:47 PM EDT2014-07-31 23:47:50 GMT
    Alabama picked off another school's cornerback recruit. Four-star cornerback Rico McGraw flipped, verbally committing to Alabama after he had been committed to Georgia since January.The 6-foot, 190-pound McGraw is the No. 142 rated recruit according to 247Sports composite. He attends Ensworth High School in Nashville.McGraw is Alabama's 21st commitment for the 2015 class, and the Tide's second verbal of the week. Safety Ronnie Harrison committed to sign with Alabama on Monday.More >>
    Alabama picked off another school's cornerback recruit. Four-star cornerback Rico McGraw flipped, verbally committing to Alabama after he had been committed to Georgia since January.The 6-foot, 190-pound McGraw is the No. 142 rated recruit according to 247Sports composite. He attends Ensworth High School in Nashville.McGraw is Alabama's 21st commitment for the 2015 class, and the Tide's second verbal of the week. Safety Ronnie Harrison committed to sign with Alabama on Monday.More >>